Horse Therapy

As you know Gwendolyn adoresmini horses. She just lights up whenever she is around them and clearly gets so much from seeing them. But Quicksilver, the mini horse breeder, is not super near us, which got me thinking about the possibility of being involved with a horse therapy non-profit called Hearts Therapeutic located here in Santa Barbara. I was hesitant to call them at first as I wasn't sure Gwendolyn was old enough or if our very special needs would fit in with their program — and perhaps I was nervous about the idea of my delicate baby around BIG strong horses. As luck would have it, our friend started volunteering with Hearts recently and Gwendolyn naturally came up. So last week we ventured out for a casual meet and greet (i.e. meet the horses and see if this is something worth pursuing for Gwendolyn).

Before we even got in the car to go, I asked Gwendolyn if she wanted to see the horses and her entire body quivered with excitement. And when we arrived she was anxious to get out of the car giving me her “Hurry up, Mommy!” sound. Gwendolyn was in awe of the horses and didn't take her eyes off of them. She quickly started fussing telling me she wanted to get out of her stroller — get closer to the horses. Now I like horses, but I don't have tons of experience with them so I wasa little nervous that the horses would be spooked by the sound of her suction machine or would try to pull her BiPap. But apart from nibbling her bright green sleeping bag (which I quickly tucked away so it no longer looked like a yummy grass treat) they weren't bothered by any of her equipment. In fact, something amazing happened…

It is as if they immediately knew Gwendolyn wanted nothing more than to be near them…that she needed them…because they whinnied a friendly greeting, they came over to us, they held very still, they turned to allow us to pat their necks, they whined when we walked away. It was amazing! This is especially powerful with one horse in particular. Tota is a big, beautiful, regal looking horse — she made sure to show us her good side and all the muscles in her neck! And Tota is definitely a presence — and a little intimidating. But Tota's body language completely changed when she saw Gwendolyn. She was ever so gentle, she was slow in her movements, almost as if she knew she needed to put me at ease. She came right up to the fence, bowed her head, blinked slowly into Gwendolyn's eyes, and I swear I felt an immediate and intense connection between them. Gwendolyn patted her neck, touched her nose, rubbed her cheek, and just gazed at her.This was thrilling to me, but I am now completely in love with Tota because when we spoke to the director and recounted our wonderful interaction with Tota she was amazed as Tota is known for her “spirit” and feisty nature.

We, of course, went back this week and this time we got to feed the horses carrots. We also got to meet all the other horses that had been out riding the week before. They each have their own clear and distinct personality. And they each warmed my heart. But Tota, beautiful proud Tota, has stolen my heart forever!