He started at the beginning of the week in our second round of classes. He is a gentle boy, often expressing his gratitude to his horse saying “thank you Ruby” but seemed to struggle to actually touch her, especially when on the ground and saying good bye.
It was the end of the third class, “Ribbon Friday” (Each Friday we distribute ribbons donated by local equestrians to signify a completed week of horse therapy) and we were winding down. I had just helped him off his horse and he turned to his horse to say good bye however, what happened brought everyone near to a complete halt.
He took her muzzle gently in his hands and pulled it toward his face, quietly praising her and expressing his love. He comforted her, as he felt she might have eaten to much hay (a new round bale had been put out the night before–how did he know???) and falling to his knees, he buried his face in hers. Then he stood, still gently speaking and caressing her and again going to his knees, he kissed her muzzle gently. Ruby, perfectly still, closed her eyes and breathed deeply, and he breathed deeply with her. Standing to his feet, one more hug, and off he went.
I waited for the group to clear, stuck in the place where I sat, floored by the exchange of emotion I witnessed between the horse and boy. What had just happened?? Obviously, this little boy, struggling with autism pressed past some sensory limitations but my gut told me it was much more than that. The depth of emotional exchange was intense and focused. This kind of strong relational expression seemed to be indicative of something being set free or made alive. Being finite and trapped in a brain that relies on the sensory for understanding, I can’t know what happened but suffice it to say that something DID happen. It was a miraculous exchange of another kind and we were there to witness it.