This weeks volunteer work was with Riding Unlimited.
When I first pulled in, my immediate thought was how beautiful this place is. The wind was blowing and all you see for as far as your eyes can see is open fields and horses. I had to stop and take a big breath. Seeing the horses in that setting was so peaceful.
Now as most of you know, I work with lots of different animals, all the time. What you don't know is I've been afraid to work with horses. I'm afraid of being kicked by them.Cathy made it easy to work with them today.All of the girls told me that you stay 6 inches or 6 feet away. That way the horse can't hurt you. So as you can see this was my fear to get over. I did it. I stayed very close to the horse and Cathy.
He melted my heart. I loved this horse!
One of the very special riders I met today was Jim. He was the inspirational forces behind Riding Unlimited. Jim shared with me that the horses walk is very similar to a human walk. People in wheelchairs that are unable to walk have muscles stimulated in them when on top of a horse walking. Jim also feels that the confidence and self esteem the riders get from the experience will stay with them for a life time.I watched Jim go from his wheelchair to the horse and carriage, His face brought tears to my eyes. This was so much more then just a ride to him. It was good conversation with his instructor on a beautiful day doing what made him truly happy all at once. To see this man, that at times is hard to understand, shout out "Whoa" very clearly to the horse and the horse respond. Well you can imagine the pride in his face.
I watched as each of these very special people mounted their horse. The instructors and volunteers are encouraging them to do the best they can. The riders are really holding the reigns, turning, stopping and walking the horse. They have signs posted throughout the arena to look for when given the direction.The instructors look at the posture of the rider and guide them with the commands for the horse.
The type of saddle used is dependent on the riders ability and muscle tone. The English saddle has no handle for the rider so they have to use only the reigns, it also requires more use of the leg muscles.The Western saddle has a handle and is bigger to make the riders more secure. Everything is thought of for the rider. I loved to see the riders faces so proud and happy to be with these gentle giants. This absolutely makes your heart stop.
Their love for people and animals is truly unlimited.