It was a rather nostalgic experience. It was a beautiful afternoon driving out to the country. Perfect weather, perfect breeze, and perfectly happy 7 year old eagerly awaiting a dream come true. I pulled up to the beautiful farm with a yellow home and white trim. The barns were a crisp red and the grounds were beautifully manicured. Horses grazed in the front lawn. She grabbed my hand with such excitement. The stable was something you see in a movie. It was a big barn with rows of horse stalls each filled with one of the majestic animals. It was meticulously clean. For me, it was one of the those experiences that I ask myself, "Am I dead?" "Is this heaven?" Everything was picture perfect. Mostly, I was so happy for Lillie. Thank you, God, for letting me experience this with her.
I've researched off and on different stables to see what they offered. It never panned out much due to varying reasons, but this summer I was at a garage sale and saw a poster advertising a specific stable geared toward children.
I contacted them and immediately became best friends with the owner. She told me Lillie reminded her of her granddaughter. We both knew these specific horse lessons would be a perfect fit for her, but the cost was something we weren't willing to put toward our budget.
Short story shorter, she called me a couple weeks later and told me that a donor had offered to pay for Lillie's lessons. We couldn't believe it. So, the Kentucky Derby here we come!
She told everybody for months she was taking horse lessons. She knew what gear she needed. She knew the time, the place, everything. We met some friends on the bike path today and she said "Hi! I lost a tooth and I am taking horse back riding lessons." She told the lady at Hy-Vee grocery store.
Horseback riding is a very healthly form of exercise. Riding a horse strengthens muscles, makes blood in our veins run faster and makes us breath deeply. I was speaking with the wonderful lady running the program. She shared with me so many amazing stories about different children suffering from brain injuries and how they've made miraculous strides through horseback riding lessons. A new horse riding program has been started for soldiers suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (Horses for Heroes). Some children she has dealt with cannot walk. A horse can help them learn how to walk. These children can ride on a horse's back to places where they wouldn't be able to get on their own.
She has helped many autistic children and other brain injured children who have trouble trusting and communicating with other adults and children. Because riding horses requires both sides of the brain to work, the rider retrains the brain through various exercises the instructor teaches them to perform. When the horse walks, its back gently rocks the rider's body. It lets the rider relax and rest. A horse is a wonderful animal. It reads and reacts to humans very well.
Getting fitted with her riding helmet.
At the end of the lesson, Sandy asked Lillie what she wanted to do with the horse. Lillie said, "Jump!" So, they let her jump over a little pole. I knew she would say that because of the movie!