This week in camp we have another little girl who is on the autism spectrum. She is very high functioning, just her processing time is a bit slower, and she takes most things you say literally. I have been working with her and really trying to focus on my language and the directions I am giving to her. At first, I was just trying to make sure she was safely on the horse, so I was not as focused on it. But I started to realize, I needed to be concise. When we first started off she was on the mounting block about to get on the horse, I told her to ‘jump up,’ and she literally just jumped up and down because she didn’t understand. Once she was on the horse, I told her to look up, and she stuck her head straight up staring at the sky. I told her to hold her hands like ice cream cones, and she stared at me and said, ‘but I’m not holding ice cream cones, I’m holding reins.’ I smiled and said, well you are so right, and tried to think of another way she would remember how to hold her reins correctly. The other trainers were getting frustrated and did not understand this and simply thought she was trying to be difficult or funny. I tried explaining that she takes things very literally and just be very direct and thorough with your language. Instead of saying, look up, try saying, “let’s look straight in front of you.” As time went on, she began to trust me and kept asking me to watch her on the horse, she was a proud little rider by the end of the day. If you’ve met one child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism. No one is the same. And that is beautiful.
Wake up at 7am and make coffee (much needed).
8am — milk mama goats which usually takes about an hour because they are stubborn girls.
9am-12pm — work individually teaching my little girl with autism about horses and riding. We usually only ride for part of it, then I redirect her with the goats and all of the other fun things on the ranch.
12-1pm — a little break in my day to grab food & relax for a hot second.
1-4pm — another kids camp, this week there are only two little boys. brothers. smartest kids, and can seriously entertain themselves so easily. yesterday the head trainer and I were pretty much zombied out from being tired and we were grateful the boys could talk each others ears off and we didn’t have to do much (bad, I know).
then my day is over, and a couple nights ago I did an evening trail ride, hopefully I’ll be able to do a few more of those before my time is up.
now, onto another day on the ranch. xoxo
Today at horse camp Leslie informed me there was a little girl who’d be coming down to ride and she had autism. She thought it would be perfect for me to work one on one with her since I have the experience with both horses and children on the spectrum. She didn’t know exactly how severe this little girl was or even her age. Turns out, she is eleven, and is on the more severe side of the spectrum. She came waltzing down with her puppy in toe, Prince Caspian. Apparently she is a total animal lover and the family bought her this puppy to work with her. I worked one on one with her and her behavior tutor, and we got her on a horse in no time. She took pride in riding, and held onto those reins with a huge smile on her face. The independent feeling a child gets, especially with a disability, from riding a horse is truly amazing. At the end of the day, the little girl turned to me and said, “I get an 80%” Too cute. I can’t wait to see her at the end of the week at the horse show.
We arrived in Ashland at the Flying L Ranch yesterday late afternoon. As we pulled up, we assumed we would get a quick run down and get settled. Boy, were we wrong. We were instructed to get in our jeans and grab a pair of gloves, because we were ‘buckin bales of hay.’ Both unsure of what that consisted of, we jumped in Leslie’s huge ass truck with her three pooches and drove off to a huge pasture with about 300 bales of hay. Let’s just say I need to work on my arm muscles and I never knew my fingers could be sore. This morning we woke up and learned how to milk the mama goats. Aly and I now want to own goats, because they seriously are adorable and have such personalities. We are going to learn how to make goat cheese and hopefully yogurt. After the utter tugging (we were both naturals), Aly helped Leslie fix the rose garden irrigation system, and I worked the kids horse camp. Tonight, I think we are on goat milking duty, and if so we are for sure busting out our headlamps and snapping some epic pics., stay tuned. I think a trail ride is on the agenda for tomorrow. That is all for now. xoxo
Waiting to board my 6:45am flight to Portlandia and then off to Ashland to start this adventure. We have absolutely no idea where we’ll be sleeping/exactly what we’ll be doing, but that’s what makes it even more exciting. All I know is I will be surrounded by horses and goats and beautiful scenery for three weeks, and I don’t think it can get much better than that. Stay tuned! xoxo