03 February 2011

Hippotherapy

We heard the brakes screech on the local bus and a few minutes later women, children and babies of various sizes came filtering down the dusty path to the small shelter where mats, toys and pillows had been placed on the ground. Most of the children were carried, one young boy was in a stroller, a couple able-bodied children toddled past the mats straight for the ring. One eager little fellow was intent on identifying each person present. These children are special, very special indeed. They are living in a local orphanage on the other side of the city. This group of about ten are chosen each week because they are most in need.

Some have extreme disabilities. Some have been found on the street. Some were dropped at the orphanage by their parents who didn't want them. One will never grow larger than an infant. All of them will benefit from a morning out and a ride on a horse.

That's where I come in.

A few minutes before their arrival I had mounted an unfamiliar horse for the first time. Twice around the ring led by the farm owner and I was deemed ready.

Ready for what?

Ready to tuck these kids close to my body one by one, holding them close, letting my torso follow the movements of the horse and letting them feel the same movements as we ride the horse around the ring. It's therapeutic, you know. For the kids.

It's called hippotherapy.

This was my first time. This is part 2 of my recent 'spice up my life campaign.' However, in this instance I might not use that phrase. It just doesn't seem right.

One boy, about four years old has hydrocephalus. His parents, living in Saudi Arabia, traveled back to their home country just to drop him off a the orphanage when he was an infant. His precious large wobbly head sits on a frail, disfigured body. He comes each week but has never ridden before. But make no mistake... he knows that the other kids have gotten to ride horses.

I was asked to take him on the horse with me.

Oh my.

I expressed some concern but willingness to try. So he was placed in front of me on the horse. I cradled him upright as best I could, one woman walked on each side of us... six caring hands holding onto this dear boy on top of the horse. His face changed from one of fear to one of joy. A smile spread. And then giggles escaped his lips and his eyes shined with joy as we rode in circles.

He rode a horse.

He and I felt the rhythmic soothing gait of the gentle horse together.

It was a special time. It's a small thing, to give an hour a week to snuggle these dear children on a horse, but I'm so blessed to offer my time. I think that hippotherapy can make a difference, but I know that our smiles, loving touch, attention and care is only a small display of the love that God has for them. I'm thankful that He can use me, one hour a week at a horse farm, to show that love.

2 comments:

  1. So sweet... what an awesome opportunity to let God use you to touch children who perhaps need to feel accepted and loved the most!

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  2. You're an answer to a prayer that we say with the kids before bed every night - Please shine your light in the lives of kids who are abused or neglected or scared or ill so that they can see that the world isn't always a dark place. God bless the light you shine, Suz!

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