Martha LaMarche, Portland – Will

Prior to visiting Summit Equine Assisted Therapy at Ruff Ranch, my experiences with horses and my son had not been the least successful. I am so grateful to have met Michelle and Jessica, and that together we are really onto something good here with my son.

In the Fall of 2009, visited a therapy center in Portland with every hope that it was going to be a magical connection and fun day, it started out that way at least. Will was looking at the horses in the pasture and they were looking at him and then it was time to go into the barn. He had one of the worst tantrums in public EVER! It was traumatic for both of us. But, I am persistent and decided to try it again another day. This time he wouldn’t leave the exciting gravel parking lot, and would not even look at horses in the pasture. So I gave up on horses, for awhile.

I found a stable near my house that allowed us to visit, but once again he would not enter the barn. The horses were poking their heads out looking at HIM!  And one day down at the Eastbank Esplanade there were two Portland Police Officers on horseback, he would not even look at the horses, so I really did give up.

Until this September, when I took Will out to Summit. They let Will check out the whole ranch and play with the gate, play with the office door and check out the porta-potty. They brought Gary the horse to Will. My daughter and I touched Gary, and pretty soon Will walked backwards up to Gary and rubbed up against him. I could have cried! They proceeded to play peek-a-boo with the office door and the porta-potty. Will tolerated Gary being in his face and was giggly and laughing the whole time. Success!

The second visit happened at the end of The Horse Boy Method training clinic that was held at Ruff Ranch Stables. Once again Jessica and Michelle followed Will’s lead. They put my daughter up on a horse and we tried to get Will up there with her. He would stay for about 2 seconds and then want down. We played chase with my daughter up on the horse. At this point I felt we had about a 3% chance of getting Will up on a horse.

Gary being the brilliant horse that he is, thought to himself, “I bet if I take a really big POO right in front of this kid, he will really like me.” And boy was Gary right! Will loved it, and he laughed when Jessica started kicking the poo! And within minutes he was saying “kick it” unprompted at least five times in a row. They then brought out a sensory ball. I started bouncing Will on the ball, and then he was put up on another horse, Bella  just for a few seconds. We did this repeatedly until I had a feeling he was ready and we let him stay up there. (This is all on video.)  It was magical. He loved it and he was fine when the horse would take a few steps backward, we could move him around and he was touching Bella and her mane. He probably stayed up there for 15 minutes, we sang songs and it was just so relaxing and fun.

Third visit: We played with Bella in the round pen. We tried chasing, and putting him on for a few seconds, and letting him run around and kicking POO and finally with a little game of tickle he was up again. At first with his legs on one side with Daddy holding him. Jessica led them around and around the pen. Eventually he swung both legs to the correct position and before we knew it, he was saying “Walk” when he wanted the horse to go. Another successful day at the Ranch!


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