I have always wanted to be a Special Education teacher. I started deciding what I wanted to do in the eighth grade. This was also around the time I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Asperger’s is an autism spectrum disorder; people with it show difficulties in social interactions, and reading body language. For me, I have trouble making friends and having age appropriate conversations. It is difficult to read people’s emotions, which sometimes gets me into trouble. I have been given the gift to be able to help teach other children with special needs how to ride horses, and also learn about how the horses communicate with these riders differently then a “normal” person. Through working with Ian I have been able to obtain a better understanding of my career goals.
I started riding with a Therapeutic Horseback riding program called “One Step at a Time.” I started riding because I enjoyed watching my sister ride, and it seemed challenging and fun. Jo Wood was my riding instructor. Working with horses helped to increase my self-confidence, and self-esteem. I also developed better relationships with people. I improved my social skills as well as riding. I also found a connection with an amazing animal that was very forgiving. Horseback riding became my passion. I rode with Jo for seven years. I participated in the Special Olympics, for Bucks County. Everyone at the Special Olympics has some type of disability, and find joy in doing what they love. The smiles are like nothing you can imagine. It just opens your heart up to people.
I not only participated in the Special Olympics as an athlete, but I went as a volunteer in 2009. I worked with many of the athletes. I helped the athletes get ready for bed at night, and I talked to the athletes, and helped the newer ones get comfortable because they were nervous. I also helped at meals, getting food and drinks for the athletes. I grew so much from this experience, and became more educated about Therapeutic horseback riding.
For my senior project, I am teaching kids with special needs how to ride horses. This is also known as therapeutic horseback riding. Therapeutic horse riding helps develop a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well being. These children I see and work with have a relationship with the horse and are very happy when with the horse. Therapy through horse back riding helps raise their self-esteem. The children also learn essential skills. Therapeutic riding improves balance, creates trust and creates friendship between horse and rider. There is also a sense of independence for these kids, to be able to walk and steer a horse. It is absolutely amazing to see. It is important to understand how horses behave naturally to understand how they work with people who have special needs.
Horses are incredible animals. They seem to sense when people have special needs, and they try their best to adapt to meet these needs. The horses are unbelievably understanding, compassionate, and...