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Written by Gayle Nobel   
Thursday, 01 October 2015 13:47

Kyle has been theraputic horseback riding for 18 years. Last night was his first night back after being off for the hot Phoenix summer. He also missed a bunch of rides at the end of last season because of his cycles.

It wasn't surprising when he had difficulty mounting Monte, the horse he rides. This happens once in awhile but since it had been so many months, he was extra nervous and uncertain about mounting. Knowing Kyle, I don't believe it was about riding. It was most likely about getting his body to do what it needed to do to mount from the raised platform.

Fortunately, his instructor, Leslie, and the volunteer who helps him, Clint, both know him very well. They get Kyle and they get "it". This is HUGE!

Kyle was so fearful he was hanging on to Leslie and Clint and the railing for dear life. They appeared to stay calm. They did not push or force. They gently encouraged. After they tried for a few minutes, it seemed he was not going to be able to ride. The more attempts they made, the more his stress seemed to rise. Even though they were slow and deliberate and used the magic 1,2,3 count, and had me come and encourage him from behind the platform, Kyle just held on tighter as his fear and resistance grew.

When it became clear what they (including Kyle) were doing wasn't working, they did not give up or tell us to go home. They brought Kyle into the arena with Monte and allowed him, with support, to lead Monte around by a rope for a few laps. Kyle gradually began to relax. He just had to walk and hang on to the rope. He could do that. We all exhaled.

After a few minutes, they decided to try again. While there was some hesitation and uncertainty, Kyle's stressed feelings seemed to have diminished tremendously.

Fairly soon, he was able to mount. We all exhaled again. And if we weren't concerned about startling the horse or Kyle, we may have all cheered. It was quite a moment. Quite a triumph. We were cheering on the inside.

Kyle slowly began to relax and little by little, his comfort and confidence returned. He enjoyed himself riding Monte last night. We enjoyed watching him enjoy himself.

This evening stands out for me. I'm grateful to Kyle's horse team for their expertise in knowing how to support him. It is truly an art. And if he was anywhere else, I would imagine the outcome, as well as the process, would have been much different.

It wasn't necessarily about their skill. It was more about their attitude. About who they were with him. About the patience and caring that seeped out in the decisions they made and the actions they took. It's something that can be so subtle, it's hard to describe.

But you know when it's there and when it's not. And it can't be forced. It has to be felt. And gotten. And from that place, whatever they chose to do, would have been the right decision. Because working with and being with Kyle is an art much more than a skill and certainly not a science. Intuition is the guidebook.

Kyle dismounted with ease. He chuckled as he walked away. Hard to know what he was thinking, but I'm guessing that chuckle was not random.

He also stepped in horse urine and brought it home on mud embedded in his boot sole. Our puppy made sure we were aware of it. But that's just a side note.

I'm very grateful for Leslie and Clint who have been part of Kyle's life for many years. Though they were apart for a few years, thank goodness they reunited 3 years ago. And then there is his horse, Monte. He has a special bond with Kyle too and was quite patient with everything last night. Monte's owner, Chris, is kind enough to let Kyle ride on her property. So creating this experience for Kyle is a team effort.

Kyle conquered fear and uncertainty. Leslie and Clint helped make that possible. The rest of us were part of the audience.

I felt my heart glow afterwards. Perhaps I wasn't the only one.


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Last Updated on Thursday, 01 October 2015 20:34

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