My name is Lupita –
I am eating some hay in the paddock with my friend Misty. The rust and honey colored leaves are scattered all over the ground. I can feel winter coming. Misty, my best horse friend, and I both hear the sound of someone approaching our paddock and we lift our heads. Dana is coming with two lead ropes in her hands. Misty and I amble over to the gate because we know that it’s time to go into our stalls. Dana gives me a soft stroke on my neck and whispers some soothing words. She connects the lead rope to my halter as she walks with me. I happily follow her. Dana and I are both teachers. (But I am better. Just ask Misty.)
In the barn, Dana brings in our riding student and she introduces her to me. She is a small girl named Becky about ten years old. There is something different about Becky but I don’t what it is just yet. Dana tells Becky that my name is Lupita and that I am the sweetest horse in the barn. I agree. Dana asks Becky to pet me, but she hesitates. She seems to be nervous around me. I don’t understand why because I am so lovable! Dana helps Becky extents her hand toward my neck. I really want her to stoke me so I stand as still as I can but by mistake I sneeze. Becky takes a quick step back and says “What was that?” Dana says “Lupita sneezed! Horses sneeze just like people!” Becky laughs and says “I like that sound!” Then she extends her little arm out and touches my furry neck. “Wow!” Says Becky. “Lupita feels just like my teddy bear!” I am proud of myself because I know that I am the furriest horse in the barn.
Now we walk into the riding arena. I notice that Becky is walking slowly and placing her feet down very carefully as if she is feeling each step she takes with her foot. Her head is bent slightly downward. Becky carries a white and red thin stick and touches the ground in semicircles in front of her with it as she walks.
When we get into the riding arena, Dana gives Becky my lead rope. Dana holds Becky’s hand as they walk me. When Becky says “whoa”, I stop because I know that word. Becky smiles and laughs. She is feeling more comfortable now. Dana asks Becky if she is ready to ride and she says yes. Becky gets on the mounting block with Dana, and I walk right next to it. I stand as close as possible because I want to help Becky. I know that I have to stand very still for her when she gets on. I can sense that she is wobbly and insecure on her feet. Dana helps Becky get in my saddle and of course, I am amazingly perfect. Becky holds on very tightly because she is nervous. So I don’t move an inch. Dana puts an arm over Becky’s leg to help steady her. She asks Dana what I look like. Dana tells her that I have four legs and a long tail and that I am very pretty. (I agree). Becky touches me. Dana tells Becky that she looks beautiful in the saddle on top of my back. Becky says “Really?” and glows.
I will take good care of Becky and be an unforgettable teacher. I really like her. She is like a little foal that I will nurture and raise to be healthy. Becky is a gentle soul, and I sense that she needs me to help her learn to have better balance and coordination. I will walk slowly for her and stop when she gets off centered. I plan for her to become more confident. If she learns how to ride me (the special pony that I am) then she can be very proud of herself!
Dana tells Becky to take a deep breath. Becky inhales and sits up a little taller in the saddle. Dana asks Becky if she is ready for me to walk forward three steps. Becky says “Yes! Walk on!” So I take three careful steps forward and then stop. Becky laughs out loud and says “That’s an amazing feeling!”
I love the sound of children laughing. Dana gives me a big stroke. I am so proud of myself. I am the best teacher ever! Then I sneeze again. This time Becky says with a giggle and in a happy confident voice “I love that sound! ”
Ride Kind Therapeutic Riding
Equestrian Director at The Ranch at Bethel