When the kids come to the center each week, many of them look forward to riding more than anything. Each student has their favorite horse and most of them can’t put their helmets on fast enough when their name is called to go out to the riding ring. We love to see the smiles on their faces as they trot for the first time or try a new exercise, and we do everything in our power to make sure that the kids get their time with the horses.
Every week I wake up on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday morning to go to the Foundation and the first thing I do is look out my window. If I see cloudy skies or hear the pitter-patter of rain, I immediately wonder if the kids are going to be able to ride. The riding staff works as hard as they can to get the kids onto the horses, but sometimes the weather has other plans. As we have talked about on the rainy days, the weather is up to chance and we have no control over it. Although the first rainy day brought a few disappointed faces during circle time, they quickly learned that rain does not deter us from fun with the horses. Sandy and the rest of the riding staff are very quick to think of activities incorporating the horses that result in smiles and laughs just the same.
On past rainy days the students have worked on grooming, learning horse parts, and drawings of horses. They have also loved using chalk to decorate the horses. The riding staff are amazing at changing their plans and lessons to work with the weather, and although we have been lucky to have very few rainy days, each one seems to develop into an eventful and productive morning for the students and staff.
Today was a rainy day. As it was the last day of the summer program for our SAU 13 group, the riding staff was determined to make it as enjoyable as possible. I walked outside to see what they were doing, and the horse was completely “made-up.” The kids had taken chalk and given the horse a total make over-blush, eye shadow, and they drew on eyelashes. Mindy the horse loved the attention, and they even added diving rings around the ears as earrings. After the horse was all dolled up, the kids took their chalk and created tic-tac-toe boards all over the horse’s body and immediately entered into a tournament. The kids were laughing and smiling ear to ear. Fortunately, there was a break in the storm and each student was able to get on and ride for just a few minutes, which ended up giving them more time with the horses than usual.
It is very challenging when you’re expecting to do one thing and the plan suddenly changes as a result of something you can’t control. For some of the kids, it can be very difficult to change their expectations and understand why they cannot do what they had been planning on. Today was a silly, fun, and memorable day with the horses and although the plans changed, the kids were happy to participate in the unique activities with their favorite horses. I have never watched a more energetic round of tic-tac-toe, and all of the kids handled the change gracefully and truly enjoyed themselves-even in the pouring rain.