Wordless Wednesday: equine therapy

Following my previous explanation of equine assisted learning, something great popped up on one of my Google Alerts.  The below infographic is a fantastic demonstration of what equine therapy is and what it can be used for.  The organisation I volunteer with doesn’t currently offer riding as part of any therapy, but as it grows, it is something which is in the plan, if appropriate for a given participant.

So if you’re still uncertain, take a look at this infographic.  Please feel free to share and let me know what you think!

equine learning_equine therapy_infographic_equine assisted learning_therapy_behaviour_children_young people_autism_ADHD_attachment_anxiety_treatment

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The Long Ride Home – book review

It can take me a long time to read a book these days.  Sometimes it’s because I’m busy occupying myself with other activities.  Mostly it’s due to the fact that I seem to struggle to pick one book and stick to it.  It might be time to make some personal resolution in order to change that, and picking up a new routine in the coming weeks might enable me to find that task easier (meaning: I’ll be commuting again, but not driving, as well as taking an hour-long lunch break, rather than a rushed 15 minutes).

But I digress.  It’s taken four months – almost to the day – for me to conquer this book (and, in fact, that’s far quicker than the embarrassing 18 months I spent on the author’s previous offering), but I’ve made it.

The Long Ride Home follows on from The Horse Boy, and if you’re in the UK and have heard of neither, it’s possible that you read none of the national or equestrian press: before I went abroad for the summer, The Long Ride Home was being promoted heavily by author Rupert Isaacson, and I’m reliably informed this didn’t let up all summer.  In fact, the books are still getting coverage now – I spotted Horse and Countryside magazine at the weekend because I recognised one of the pictures from the book on the cover, and the current issue of Your Horse states that an interview with Rupert will appear in the next issue.

When I finished reading The Horse Boy, I naively thought that things had come to a fairly happy ending for those involved, but The Long Ride Home tells the truth: yes, there was an element of finding a key to unlock Rowan’s autism, but at the same time, as often happens, other challenges surfaced.  The book highlights what should be obvious – that setting up a charity across two continents is a huge task, especially when you’re also trying to care for your child and manage the rest of your life.

I won’t spoil it for anyone – because you all should read it, horsey or not, and impacted directly by autism or not – but I will say that I read the book hoping that everything would turn out alright.  I found it to be a deeper exploration of the people and things around Rowan, whereas The Horse Boy was very much a tale of how one child struggles to find his way in the world.  Some of the book mirrors my own thoughts and feelings, particularly as I approached the end and found Rupert dive into some highly introspective moments of existential debate.  The book is a blunt example of the fact that, although things can look okay on the outside, there is often far more going on underneath than even the person living the experience may know.  I like the concept offered by Rowan’s mum, Kristin – a scientist, in fact – who asserts that it’s acceptable to say, “I don’t know”; this is something that many parts of society really struggles with – human beings need a solid answer to everything, and many of us feel pressure to be able to confidently and clearly answer questions such as, “what are you aiming for?” or “where do you see yourself in five years time?”

Next time I’m struggling to figure “it” out, I hope that I either reach for this book or remember the message that sometimes, it’s not even as straightforward as heading in the direction of your own ideal outcome:

“Working with autistic kids and horses had never been my dream…by throwing myself into these things that weren’t my dreams, by being in service to the dreams of others – others more vulnerable than myself – my own dreams were starting to come true.”

This book shouldn’t be read as a definitive guide on how to handle autism: the particular journey taken here is just that – specific, tailored towards what one family was able to organise to suit their own needs.  Nobody is suggesting that every family with an autistic child trek through Mongolia (and Mongolia surely wouldn’t cope with that sheer weight of traffic), but what it is pleading for is that people work together in order to find a solution.  Life is a group effort, and the part you play may not always be clear, but the purpose will eventually become obvious.  The book is more of an encouragement to do what is right, and follow your dreams, rather than doing what you think you should do.  It’s a message I wholeheartedly endorse.

To find out more about Rupert and his team’s work, visit horseboyworld.com

Not to be missed

Some things just have to be done.  A 35 hour trip from Sussex to Wales and back for a one hour talk less than five days prior to leaving the country for the summer might not seem like a good idea to most people, but it was something I needed to do.  The impetus for my trip was the launch of a new book – though it’s not just any book.  It’s the sequel to The One Which Saved My Life, and I had to have it, know more about it, and seize the opportunity to thank the author.

1. hay on wye clock tower

Hay-on-Wye: fair weather delivery failed

It was also the chance to spend time with my Mum and my sister before I went away.  My sister’s dedication to the cause outstripped even mine, as she suffered an interesting train journey in order to meet us in Hereford the evening before the session we were due to attend at the Hay Festival.  But it was worth the journey for all of us.

2. hay on wye literary festival signage

mmm, signage

When we arrived at the Festival the following morning, I proved that old habits die hard, tripping up and landing in Event Manager Mode.  Hay Festival is a well-established event and it shows: my keen eye found no fault with their signage, and was impressed by their branding.  Once I had a copy of the not-yet-available book and had discovered public wifi, I even found myself wishing I had an additional pair of eyes, so that I could read my book and Tweet about it simultaneously.

3. hay festival stage literature

joy: branding, staging, lighting

I settled on the book until the session started, when Tweeting resumed (hashtags used included #HayFestival and #aftermyownheart).  Although neither of my companions had read The Horse Boy, we all enjoyed the talk: Rupert is an engaging speaker, aided by his passion for the topic, and the hour flew by.

4. cheese book lunch literary festival

three types of cheese and a new book: what more could a girl want?

Judging by the size of the queue, Rupert’s hand got a good workout by signing copies of his new book.  Mine was one of them, and I was pleasantly surprised when he remembered me from our previous meeting (after all, it’s not stalking if you say hello).  I took my chance to tell him that a lot has changed for me in the 18 months since, that I abandoned my job to chase the dream, thanking him and his book for the inspiration.

rupert isaacson long ride home book

the chase continues

I’m looking forward to reading The Long Ride Home, and everything else that the summer of 2014 will bring.  If you’re an autism parent in the UK, take this opportunity to experience the Horse Boy Foundation for yourself.  If you are capable of reading, buy The Horse Boy and pre-order The Long Ride Home (US launch date still to be confirmed).  It might make you cry on a bus.  It could lead you to quitting your job.  Or maybe it’ll just make you think before you criticise That Parent in the supermarket with That Child.