Hi, I’m Gus. I work here at Carousel Ranch. I’m a horse. I give riding lessons to people with disabilities. You might say I’m the therapist. A lot of people have their own ideas about riding a horse, but I thought it would be interesting for the humans if they heard what a lesson at Carousel Ranch is like from the horse’s perspective. Here’s the inside look into my head during a riding lesson. Ready? Hold on tight. Neigh!
It’s ‘one ‘o’clock on a Wednesday. It’s time for Rachael Benson’s lesson. Oh boy, here she comes! She’s one of my favorites. She always has a smile on her face. Usually, we spend the entire half hour walking around in the arena, but today, her riding instructor, Eileen, asked her if she wanted to go for a trail ride.
The words “trail ride” are music to my ears. I love the feeling of being out in an open field with all the green leaves. There’s always plenty of food on the trail. It’s a horse’s paradise. Rachael says yes. I kick my heels up in excitement. “Whoa Gus, take it easy.” Scott says as he pulls on my rope and pets my nose. I can’t help it. This is going to be a fun day for both of us.
Rachael walks up to the platform and gets on me. Scott closes the gate behind us and we head on up the trail. As we head up, Rachael and Eileen start singing songs and talking about things only humans can understand.
Suddenly, I hear them laughing. Rachael is laughing so hard that she can’t control her body and falls forward on to my mane. Ouch! That hurts!
What’s so funny? I wonder. I wish I could understand human conversation. Whatever the joke is, it must be pretty good. Rachael pushes herself back up and we keep going on up the trail.
Soon, I start to get hungry and try to head toward a plant. Scott pulls me away from it. “No Gus, not now,” he says.
You don’t really mean that. I think to myself. I try again. This time, I bend my head all the way down. I want that plant! Again, Scott pulls me away from it. “No Gus! Dinner time is later.”
I finally realize I’m not going to get what I want, and give up. I neigh as if to say, “Okay fine!” and we move on.
Suddenly, as we start to go down hill a little bit, there’s an awkward silence. It takes a lot of concentration for Rachael to stay in the center. We get down the hill, and Rachael and Eileen start talking again. About what, I have no idea. After all —I am a horse.
Finally, Eileen looks at her watch and tells Rachael It’s time to go home. We head back toward the ranch and Rachael gets off of me.
As she walks away, she says, “Bye Gus, I’ll see you next week.” I neigh as if to say, “Bye Rachael.” She giggles. I may not understand much about humans, but if there’s one thing I do know, it’s when they’re happy. Her giggle lets me know she understands me. She has such a friendly laugh!
After I say bye to her, I realize something. I have a purpose here at Carousel Ranch. My purpose is to bring joy to people with disabilities and their families. Maybe I didn’t get the food on the trail I was hoping for, but that’s okay. The smile on Rachael’s face makes my job worthwhile. That’s good enough for me. I look forward to seeing her every week!
* Carousel Ranch is always looking for volunteers! If you're interested in helping or would like to know more about the program, visit their website at: http://www.carouselranch.org/