We went back to horseriding today after a few weeks break. We’ve had school holidays and Beth was sick on the last lesson of term. Things have changed there which is a shame, Marion who had been Beth’s teacher has resigned so they seem to be at a bit of a loose end at the moment and had Rick teaching. Let me set the picture for how it has been for the rest of the year.
Beth had been doing riding with Riding for the Disabled for over a year at Officer when we heard that the RDA at Lysterfield was starting to do lessons on a Saturday morning. Officer would take us about 40 minutes to get to and Lysterfield only 15 minutes so we jumped at the chance. Marion was a fantastic teacher and always came up with a theme for the lessons which was great as Beth gets bored and does whatever she can to get off or disrupt what she’s doing. For example, I take her to the toilet as soon as we get there, then put her shoes and hat on and away we go. I’ve had to tell them that she’s been to the toilet because if she gets a bit bored she’ll tell them that she needs to go. Of course they would let her off and set the horse up again ready for the arduous task of putting my long legged girl back on. I’d send her back in and off she goes again so now they generally don’t let her get off. Or she’ll say she wants to do round the world which is what they used to do at the end of the lesson in Officer. Round the world is where you swing your leg over and sit side saddle, then over again so you’re sitting backwards, then over again the other way, then round back to the front. Well they did this for her and even let her ride backwards for a while which was terrific until she tried to say goodbye and there was still half a lesson yet to go! Honestly, just as well I can read the little bugger’s mind cos she’s a hard one to figure out at times!
Anyway, Marion always had a lesson plan. One week it was an aeroplane trip to Queensland. They had to pretend to go up the runway, leaning forward as they went, then back at another time. As they took off they leaned back again then got ready for their refreshments, riding around all the time. She gave them warm cups of milk to hold then when they were finished she gave them books to read. Of course, getting the book back from Beth was a challenge in itself! They went through turbulence, then landing. When they got to their destination they went swimming but the crocodiles were in the water so they had to try all different strokes to get away! It was just brilliant, they get a real occupational therapy session as well as the enjoyment from riding. Another time they had to make a cake, going to one end for the ingredients and down to the other end to tip them into the bowl on the ground (all from up high on their horses.) After all the ingredients were added they had to mix it all up then the muggins mums had to taste it! I just closed my eyes and hoped that nothing else had floated in there!
For fathers day Marion had set up mini stalls so that the kids had to do fathers day shopping. She said that it was Bunnings at horse riding, she gave them all $5 and they had to count and pay at the end. Her lovely husband Bill even did a sausage sizzle! And she had showbags the week the Melbourne Show started.
Rick was always the grumpy helper.Â Rick was the one when we first started that suggested that Beth use a roller. This meant that she had no saddle but just a big girth with handles that went around the horse which secured a sheepskin rug that Beth sat on. This meant that to stay on she had to sit up straight and it worked too. She only had to use it for a couple of weeks and most of the time she just sits up straight automatically now. There was a little girl at Officer who when we first started was in a wheelchair. She was placed lying face down over the saddle with padding, first one way, then another. By the end of our time she was almost at the stage when she could sit up (aided of course), it was so heartening to see. You can’t underestimate the physical benefits of horse riding, it’s almost works like pilates in the sense that it relies on your core muscles to get you through it. It’s actually called Hippo Therapy quite often. Dopey me who thinks quite literally at times (must be MY autistic tendencies) was picturing riding on hippos when first told of this!
I’ve always been a bit scared of Rick because he’s quite gruff and rough but at the same time I think his hearts in the right place.
So there we were this morning with Rick doing the lesson. He’s waving his arms about pretending to swim and doing all sorts of things, trying to be upbeat all the time. And to his credit he really did do a good job of it, but of course all the kids wanted to know was when was Marion coming back? Beth was pissed off too cos usually there’s a few young teenage girls there so she gets to talk about their favourite movies and what character they like in films such as High School Musical. Today there were 2 dads walking around with her who had no idea how to talk to this funny girl who has a memory like an elephant and needs to know everything about you to store in there! As a little bonus, she learnt how to take off her helmet too. Crescent, the horse she rides on is huge and Beth is so tall so of course she has to get off to get her helmet put back on. I’m sure she’s storing that one away right now. “OK, try the toilet trick, no that one wont work, ask around the world, no not that one, I know, take off helmet! Dadaaaaa, got em again!” Let’s see what little tricks she’s got up her sleeve for next week’s lesson!