The Difference a Horse Makes

RVHR PicI have had so many amazing moments this year at Healing Strides of Virginia that is located just south of Roanoke on Naff road. How lucky I am to be part of something so pure and good.

One story in particular burns in my heart. I am not sure why it touches my soul so deeply, but maybe after you read my story, you can tell me. This is Jimmy’s story:

I first saw Jimmy at a Hoedown being held by HSVA for its clients. He was dancing with my friend Carol in the arena to the fantastic band TruGrit! They were both all smiles, and shortly after, Carol whispered that he would soon be one of our new riders.

Not long after that Jimmy arrived with three of his caretakers in tow. We led him into the paddock area where he met Sugarfoot, and we handed him a brush. We then led him to the mounting area where we explained the lift and how we were going to get him up and onto the horse, the lift can be a bit daunting because it is designed for riders needing a great deal of assistance, but they have to do their part and hold on tightly as the lift “hugs” them.

But Jimmy took to riding like a pro, and off we all went into the arena – Jimmy, Sugarfoot, and all the girls. We were so delighted with the ease and comfort he displayed; although Jimmy is non-verbal, his smile spoke volumes. He was able to steer his mount (direct rein) and followed all of our instructions very well.

That’s when a memory from long ago consumed me. Here I was, looking at this sweet, smiling man, who was having the time of his life. His smile stretched from one ear to the other and his face was beaming because his smile was so big and bright.

My mind went to a time when I was 10 or 11 years old and I too was having the time of my life. Riding as much as I could every day, loving my pony Penny, playing with all my friends at the barn – I was as happy as a girl could possibly be, and I knew I was lucky to have those things in my life…and at that moment, so was Jimmy. He was like a child who could not ask for anything more at that moment. He was riding and loving every minute – free, walking with healthy legs, so happy, without a care in the world.

So, I know that I am part of something so much bigger than me when I am helping at HSVA. I have seen what a horse can do for the soul. I know that for a few minutes a week, I can help take Jimmy – and others like him – to a happy place, that only a horse can provide.

There are so many great moments we see every day and I know that I am the luckiest girl in the world to be part of this mission to reach hearts that otherwise would know much less happiness. My heart is filled with love and joy every day!

Dee’Anna Wright

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