The World of Living with Horses

The Power of Horseback Riding- Ginger’s Summer Ride

My daughter Ginger started riding when she was 3.5 years old and still rides to this day!  At the time, her physical therapist suggested it to help with her muscle control which we eventually found out was due to cerebral palsy.
It was a summer riding program on the beautiful grounds of The Winery At Holy Cross Abbey in Canon City, CO. There were 3-4 children in each class & several adults & volunteers walking next to each child. I remember my tiny little girl next to this huge white horse. Ginger walked straight up to her horse with no fear & leaned in close to “hug” her horse placing her little tiny head on his great big chest and wrapping her arms around him as far as she could reach. Then she got on that huge white horse & rode like she was born to ride. From that moment on, she was the happiest kid in the world on the back of a horse! It was our first experience with total freedom for her!At the time Ginger was 3 1/2  years old and just learning to walk. For Ginger, the horses gait while riding helped re-pattern and actually taught her body how to walk and move. It was a turning point in getting her to connect with her body and send the right signals to her brain about how to move her body and control her muscles. She recognized the rhythm of walking on a horse which she was able to translate into walking herself. After that her walking improved as well as her physical strength & ability to move.
This summer riding program was life changing for Ginger and memorable!  At one point during this month long program, we witnessed a life another changing miracle!  A little boy, 5 or 6 years old, who had autism, was placed on the same horse with Ginger and as he wrapped his arms around her waist, they started to walk and move with the horse around the arena, then it was as if a light bulb went off and we watched in awe as this little boy who rarely spoke opened up and started to talk to her in full sentences as if telling her a story!  He continued to talk the whole time they were riding much to the joy of his mother & grandmother who were watching in tears as they witness this little miracle. It was one of the most powerful & beautiful moments I have ever experienced with horseback riding. The horse, Ginger & the little boy had this uncanny connection and a few moments of PURE FREEDOM!
By Maryann Baker