Thursdays Are Special
Sometimes he would come on Thursday and not even be able to get out of the car because of the seizures. Still he came, week after week.
His caretakers said he knew when it was Thursday, even though he knew little else and could not communicate how he knew. He could see, but not speak, could not even sit up unassisted. Yet, he knew when it was his day to go ride. He was only ten, and he didn't live to his teens.
Nevertheless, his story, which includes horses and horsepeople who made him smile and gave him something to look forward to one day a week, must be told.
Many years have passed and many children have benefited from various therapeutic riding programs. But none touched me as much as this one boy. He required a steady horse, one with patience with his rider's inability to balance and an understanding of the boy's need to occasionally lay his face on the mane and just breathe in horse smells. We had several wonderful horses that filled the bill.
One volunteer would walk beside this youngster on the right and help hold him in the saddle, one would control the horse and another would walk on his left to steady him and be his instructor for the day. Any breakthroughs, no matter how small, were recognized and rewarded. A smile, an attempt to move a hand or leg in the right direction, even attention focused on the instructor or the horse were considered achievements.
One week, he was in very good spirits. This followed several weeks when he was either too ill to come or he had suffered seizures in the car and was forced to miss his lesson with the horses. But that day, he smiled. He seemed alert and willing. #p#副标题#e#
We were stopped and waiting for another rider to be helped when my young student reached out and touched my hair. My hand was on his leg, so I knew he was steady, even though my eyes weren't on him. I looked around and knew he was trying to tell me something. The horse stood motionless, as if he knew his movement could distract or confuse his rider.
"What?" I asked. It was unusual for him to reach out and touch, to even control his hands enough to do so. He reached out again and stroked my hair, as he sometimes did to the horse's mane on good days.
I realized that my waist-length hair was back in a ponytail, and that he wanted it to hang down. Perhaps he wanted to see it, like the horse's tail in front of us, free and swinging. Or perhaps I had worn it down in other classes with him and it wasn't the same today. For whatever reason, I knew he wanted me to free that ponytail, so I did. He looked at me, managed to touch his hands together a couple of times in what he used as clapping, and he smiled at me.
Our lesson continued and he seemed to have a better time that day than I could remember him having in any other class. He reached toward me and I put my head so he could touch my hair several times while we were walking along.
I didn't know as his attendant carried him back to the car that it would be the last time I saw him. He missed several weeks, then I went back to college. I found out months later that he died not too long after that.
But instead of mourning, I thought of him in heaven, running out to his favorite horse, not having to wait until Thursday or for his attendants to help him. He and his horse would gallop across clouds, with him laughing and the horse's tail streaming freely behind as the wind sang through their hair.
There is a heaven for horses and for little boys who know what day they ride, even when they don't know much else. I'm grateful for having seen that desire, and for understanding that God gave us horses and little boys and that they all aren't the same, nor should they be.