Saddle Up, Cowboy

More than two years ago, at Alden’s developmental preschool, some people came to visit the school. These awesome people brought horses with them. Miniature horses wearing superhero capes. Alden was three at the time, but has never forgotten about that visit. He continued to bring up the horses at random times over the past couple years.

First time up on the horse. Headed off to adjust the stirrup height – he’s a tall kid!

These horses, and the people who brought them, are part of an organization that does horse riding therapy for children with disabilities. This includes children with autism. We had been looking into getting Alden signed up for lessons there for a long time now, and on the waitlist for about the past year. Well, it is finally Alden’s turn for horseback riding and he is thrilled.

Our hope is that the riding lessons will improve Alden’s core strength. He has a difficult time sitting up in a chair or even on the couch for more than about one or two minutes before he begins to “melt” down onto the seat. That ability to maintain a seated posture is only going to become more important as he gets older and has to spend more time seated at school. In addition, we’re hoping the lessons will also help with his self-confidence. Being a little boy able to control and care for a great big horse can do wonders for your belief in yourself! We’re hopeful Alden’s independence and self-confidence will get a big boost from these lessons.

They had the kids go on a “scavenger hunt” for the letters to spell the word “horse” as a way to practice steering the horse, starting, and stopping.

So last week was Alden’s first lesson and he absolutely loved it. The horses are all extremely well-trained, and there are many instructors around at all times. Less than ten minutes into his first lesson, Alden told them that he could take it from there and didn’t need the instructor holding the lead rope anymore. I guess the self-confidence is already kicking in! He also did a great job maintaining an excellent posture on the horse for the entire forty-five minute lesson, which is about forty minutes longer than I have ever seen him do in a chair, even on his best days. The motivation to not fall off the horse is very strong!

Alden got to experience a “trot” for about 10 seconds on his first day and is now already asking when he’ll get to gallop.

Alden wishes he could go ride the horses every day (me too, kid. Me too). I’m so happy to see him loving this and being so excited about it. We have to spend about ninety minutes in the car for each forty-five minute lesson, but I think it’s really going to be worth it for him.

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