I want to share with you what Riding Unlimited means to our family and especially my son Jason.
Jason will turn 29 in December and has been riding horses since he was 13 years old. Jason has Cerebral Palsy, a seizure disorder and is semi- paralyzed on his right side. We were told he would never be able to sit up or have control of his lower extremities. The doctors also said that he would not be able to communicate, interact with others and gave us a very dismal outlook on his future.
An occupational therapist came to me one day and told me about children like Jason benefiting from therapeutic horseback riding. I remember thinking “She must be crazy! There is no way I would put my son on a horse!”. She told us of a place in Ponder that offered horseback riding for special needs children and adults. She suggested we visit and see for ourselves and then we could decide.
We were very reluctant at first but decided we could at least meet the people. We were amazed at the arena, the instructors, the volunteers, but most importantly the horses. I thought “why didn’t we do this sooner”?!
The horses seem to know they had special riders and there were children like Jason riding horses! Just to see their smiles and they way they seem to bond with the horse gave us hope for Jason. We knew then that Riding Unlimited was the place Jason needed to be.
Jason began riding the next week and because of his lack of control he had several side walkers to help him ride. As time went along he began to gain control of his body where he could actually sit on the horse unassisted. Jason’s dismal future outlook began to change.
When Jason turned 15 he took his first step! I know that the horseback riding enabled his body to feel the motion of walking and give him the strength he needed to progress. Jason now walks with assistance and is able to walk on his own short distances and it all began with a drive to Ponder Texas and a place called Riding Unlimited.
While I wanted you to know the progress he made physically, I also want you to know the progress he has made emotionally and socially. If you could see Jason on an everyday basis where he is usually controlled by his disability and then you see Jason when you put him on a horse and see his ability to ride, it is amazing! From the time Jason gets on the horse his total demeanor changes.
He feels in control, capable and he loves it! He smiles, laughs, talks (Jason is non verbal but he says words and makes noises like he is telling you-watch me!). During his riding time he is in control of his environment, and you can see the sense of accomplishment on his face! His interaction with the volunteers and instructors would melt your heart.
Riding Unlimited provides the opportunity Jason needs to continue his progress. Their commitment to the riders is amazing! I give thanks to God for giving me the courage to take that 30 minute drive to Ponder Texas that day and for Riding Unlimited for their staff, volunteers, horses, and giving our family a new outlook on the future.