Thursday, October 24, 2013

Kindness in their eyes

Last weekend my husband took our family horseback riding as a gift for my birthday.  As long as I can remember, horses have been a source of relaxation for me. I think it has something to do with their gentle power. There is something about the kindness in their eyes that melts my heart. Climbing on a horse takes me to another place. It has been so long since I have ridden, so this was the perfect gift!

Since our move to Texas, I have promised the boys that we would take them riding, so they were both excited. Neither one of them had ever been on a horse, so this was going to be quite an adventure. I figured Hunter was going to be a nervous wreck. Because of his Aspergers, any change is difficult for him and the unknown is even worse, so I wasn’t sure what was coming.

When we arrived at the stables, the guys working there helped each of us saddle up on the appropriate horse. Grant (non-aspie and 8 years-old) was the first to get on his horse. The horse's name was Texas. He was a large, brown, beautiful horse. Grant acted like he had been on a horse a million times. He looked so comfortable. He seemed to instinctively know what to do. I have to say that it warmed this mom’s heart.

The guys gave me a beautiful horse by the name of Poppy. Poppy was an eater. She would eat the grass and plants and leaves off the tree, so while watching over everyone as they mounted their horses, I was struggling with her a bit, but man was she fun!

Hunter (12 year-old aspie) was next. His horse was named Cookie. Cookie was a black and white spotted horse. It was the one both boys wanted, so he was pretty excited to get to ride him. Hunter had not been nervous all day (much to my surprise), but while we had been waiting for our horses, he seemed to get more and more nervous by the minute. I was really nervous to see how he would react. I was praying for no meltdowns. When it was his turn, my boy climbed on that horse like it was nothing….and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Jeff was next. I think he got the oldest horse they had!! The horse’s name was Blazer. We were all chuckling. Somehow, Hunter and Grant got the young, spry horses, and Jeff got the one who had been around the block a few times! It made for a great laugh.

We took a trail ride, and we were with several other families. Grant was so ready to go that he ended up with another family at the front of the group. I ended up few people back from him, and Hunter and Jeff (with his very slow horse) ended up at the back of the pack.

The trail ride was beautiful. It could not have been a more perfect fall day. It had rained right before our ride, so the greenery looked fresh and beautiful. It was a late afternoon ride, so the sun was starting to go down. The lakes we passed had that beautiful evening glow from the setting sun. Grant would turn around every once in a while to point out a cactus or a deer in the woods. I had to keep reminding him to HOLD ON with both hands because he was getting so excited.
 At one point, we had to go through a gate, so I trotted Poppy up to Grant to help him guide Texas. We both made it through just fine, so I turned around to check on Jeff and Hunter. I was amazed at what I found. Hunter was smiling! I mean really smiling!! I mean that innocent, childlike, nothing like it smile!! Of course I’ve seen it before, but it has been so long! It was before our move to Texas away from family, friends, and familiarity.  It was before these horrible thing called hormones invaded his body. It was before those hormones mixed with Asperger’s Syndrome making life so confusing for him and such turmoil for all of us. I teared up! I breathed! I smiled. Unlike the gentleness in the eyes of those horses, Hunter’s eyes, so many times have fear and confusion and anger. For that hour long ride, his eyes too had a gentleness in them, a kindness to them. It was an amazing transformation!

When the ride was over, Grant could not wipe the smile off his face. He was so excited! He just kept asking if we could do this again. Hunter had a different reaction. He walked around to each of the horses and pet them and stared into their eyes. The horses stared back. He seemed changed in that moment.

When we got in the car, Grant said what an amazing time he had and asked how soon we could do it again. Hunter said something even more amazing, “I loved that more than Minecraft!” Jeff and I looked at each other with our mouths wide open, as I said, “I’m so glad buddy!! We will have to do this again very soon!"

What an amazing day!!!