FREE AT LAST
Tam Cordingley, CSI Instructor, SAAB Member
most of us the freedom to go where we wish is a given. We can get up and
walk across the room, go into buildings, take hikes in the woods. My good
friend Mickey knows no such freedom. Mickey is a young woman who had
always been active. Then one day the
She was thrown through a plate
and lost one leg above the knee
of the muscles in the other leg. Forced to use a wheelchair to get around,
of having a horse and riding
into the sunset
seemed lost. She had always wanted to a horse of her own to
trail ride with friends and family.
Then the miracle happened. Mickey
Joan is a horse trainer, not
just your ordinary
show horse trainer but a multi-species trainer whose performances
draw top billings across America. To Joan, the realm
is endless. Joan had trained
a horse for
a young paraplegic doctor a few
years before so
maybe she could train one for
had just bought a paint stallion, 6 years old. She didn't really need him
but felt the pull to get him anyway. He was a quiet horse, big and strong,
but totally untutored. In a discussion the thought came up that maybe Mickey
should see this horse. It was love at first sight. Mickey loved the big
sorrel paint and Pawnee seemed to recognize that this was what he had been
born to do. He walked to this pretty lady in the wheelchair and put his
head down into her lap to be petted. There wasn't a dry eye in the place
as we all realized why Joan had bought Pawnee.
Mickey and Joan agreed on the
Pawnee started on the road to
being an assistance
You see, Joan doesn't just teach
be nice so the handicapped can
she teaches them to lie down
next to the
wheelchair so a handicapped
rider can mount
independently. The indignity
of being put
on a horse, needing a ramp, having
placed in a hoist is not for
They can mount, dismount for
a picnic or
a rest, and then get back on the horse
be truly free and self-reliant.
Assistance horses need to be
taught to overcome
the horse's natural fear of being
by a moving object (the wheelchair). They then
have to accept someone getting on them while they are lying
to lie down readily on command,
and very still while the rider mounts,
which goes against his every instinct. Then he must get up very
gently so the rider isn't unseated
especially easy for the prone
horse who has
never had to arise from anything
but a good
roll) and above all, he must be a gentle
The horse also
has to learn
to stand motionless while the
person dismounts, untacks the
grooms him. Pawnee can even be
safely led from a wheelchair.
This training takes about 3 months.
Joan teaches the rider to manage
safely. From breeding stallion
horse is quite a transition.
And, yes, he
is no longer a breeding stallion.
safety he was gelded after the
initial training. bsp;bsp;
The joy that shines from Mickey's face as her horse rises up and carries
her where she wants to go is
amazing. The bond between these two is touching as Pawnee gently nuzzles
his person and Mickey kisses her horse.
Four legs are better than two and as Mickey
says " Now we have five legs."
INDEX: Dog Obedience Training
The Personal Dog Defined Pt 1, Professionals forget...
Training The Personal Dog Part 2, Now it's time to develop
Training The Older Personal Dog Part 3, Convert an older dog
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