I Saw A Child
I saw a child who couldn’t walk,
sit on a horse, laugh and talk.
Then ride it through a field of daisies
and yet he could not walk unaided.
I saw a child, no legs below,
sit on a horse, and make it go
through woods of green
and places he had never been
to sit and stare,
except from a chair.
I saw a child who could only crawl
mount a horse and sit up tall
Put it through degrees of paces
and laugh at the wonder in our faces
I saw a child born into strife,
Take up and hold the reins of life
and that same child was heard to say,
Thank God for showing me the way.
At the time, I worried that it would be too sad to work with children who might be terminally ill. My own children were very young and I wasn’t sure how I would be able to handle it. What I found was happiness. Children who were none verbal tried to speak to the horses; children who arrived at their lessons stressed from the day, beamed with pleasure. For many children this was the highlight of their week.
The movement of the horse as a person is riding at a simple walk gives them balance, coordination and self-confidence. The movement and unique walking gait of a horse or pony most closely resembles that of a human. Therefore, when a person is riding a horse, the rhythm and motion is therapeutic; the body gains strength through its adjustment to the horse’s gait. A new study conducted in Texas supports the positive outcomes of equine therapy.
Several national associations affirm the impact of equine therapy. The American Hippotherapy Association recognizes hippotherapy and its use of equine by physical, occupational and speech therapists. “Hippotherapy” is defined by the organization as “a type of treatment that uses the multidimensional movement of the horse in medical treatment.” A rider telling his horse to, “Walk on,” or “Whoa!” is considered therapy for an individual with speech challenges.