Yesterday was our last day of summer camps for this year. It went really well despite being so very hot. Of course having my niece with me at the stable made the day automatically great.

My niece helped to groom the horses before going off with her group of kids to color T-shirts and play games. While they played I helped to lead horses on trail rides and in the arena during lessons. When we finished with that the instructor and I went to join the kids in the games they played and their snack. My niece was disappointed she didn’t get to ride due to a lack waivers being signed by her mother, but she had a good day in the end. Of course, I’m an awesome Aunt so why wouldn’t she have had a good day?

My niece really likes horses, they’re big and peaceful and quiet and make her feel relaxed when she’s around them. She’s ridden before, I put her on my lesson horse and gave her a mini lesson a little while ago. She is a very good rider and does very well with the horses and ponies. My niece has anxiety issues like me, she gets easily stressed and worried.

It has been proven that horses help to make even the most anxious person(such as myself or my niece) calm down and relax. Their heart rate is slow and relaxed and helps to relax our heart rate when it’s fast and stressed. Horses are a great way to escape from reality and all the troubles life throws at us. Horses have always been my get away from life, I’d probably live in a barn if someone didn’t stop me. It makes sense then, that horses have been used as therapy for children of all ages and all backgrounds. Children like my niece, who have anxiety issues and self-esteem issues and a lack of confidence respond very well to these gentle giants.

At the Beekman Therapeutic Riding Center we use horses to give physical and emotional therapy to children and adults of all ages. It is amazing watching the change in each and every one of our students as they spend time with our horses. One of our students this year at summer camps came last year. He has Autism and when I first met him he wouldn’t say a word to anyone. When I asked him a question he punched my arm and walked away. He wouldn’t make eye contact and respond to anything and touching him made him draw farther away. I spent most of my time working as his horse’s leader and talking to him. It didn’t matter if he responded or not, I just talked about anything and everything. Every now and then I’d crack a joke and he’d chuckle and tell me how lame a joke that was. At the end of the summer camps we had a conversation and he gave me a hug. This years camps he talked and talked and talked and talked AND talked. His parents last year told me they were surprised I could get anything out of him at all and now look at him. He’s a chatter box. Being around our horses, I think, gave him the confidence to start looking people in their eyes and talk to them. Now we just gotta work on his being rude to people haha. Another one of our students we had last spring also never said a word. She would make vocal noises but not actually talk. Then one day I was leading her horse and she tapped my shoulder and pointed to a tree, saying, “Pretty leaf”. Shocked, I stopped her horse, Colby, and retrieved a leaf for her. She carrie that leaf the rest of the day and continued pointing things out to me that she found pretty. Her smile was big and wide and her eyes were bright and alert. We spent an hour talking about how pretty the green leaves and purple flowers were.

Horses have been used for therapy for as long as I can remember. They help make so many lives better in so many ways. I smile when I think about all horses have done to shape my life and how they chose me. I smile when I think about all the lives horses help to change and all the little girls like my niece who feel just a little better every time they’re around horses. I. Smile.

Go out and hug your horse today, and if you don’t have a horse, go find one and hug it anyways.

Have a happy ride~

My niece, Yahmoni Nicole, proudly displays her T-shirt she colored on her own. What a beautiful smile.

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