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EXERCISE #2 I had writ en a number of stories by

“Therapy horses take their jobs seriously. From the interviews I’ve conducted for stories, most folks who know say only about one horse in 25 or 30 has what it takes to become a therapy horse. They have a happy but demanding job, and need to possess a way of thinking that puts others first. Therapy horses carry

precious cargo and much is expected of them.”

then about therapeutic riding centers and the miracles that happen there, but all of my interviews had been over the phone, as the centers were great dis- tances from me. I had decided to search out centers near enough for me to visit in person, excited to witness the magic fi rsthand. I did witness magic, and lots of it, on my fi rst in-person interview. And when I wrote their story I was reminded of the excitement on chil- drens’ and volunteers’ faces. For one lit le boy it was the fi rst time he’d ever caught a ball. How we cheered! I still get teary-eyed thinking of it. I decided what I thought I saw in the horses was actually me not really get ing it...yet it tugged at me. Over the next few months, I had

the opportunity to visit several more therapy centers for interviews. Oh, we had splendid times. What a treat! And a few times I was even allowed to participate as a sidewalker. I visited centers with both children and adult participants. With horses purchased specif ically because their breed enjoys a reputation as great therapy horses and centers operating with all donated horses as well as a mix- ture of both. Every place I visited was a happy place with clean, well- managed barns; well-kept, well-fed horses; wonderfully polite and knowledgeable staff and volunteers; and lively and eager participants. I had several great stories to write celebrating the wonderful things that happened in those barns. I did, however, begin to notice in many of the horses the same stiff ness and discomfort I

Gently place your hand on her poll and wiggle it lightly. T is releases tension in the poll, neck, jaw and mind. T is is the second step in loosening the topline. Note: if your horse does not appreciate being touched on the poll, start on the neck wherever she likes it. Af- ter you get a release, such as lowering the head, with both your hands cupped over the top of her neck, continue the wiggle down her neck to the withers.

thought I saw earlier. Unset led, I did some checking and discovered that indeed, horses who do equine-assisted therapy oſt en develop a few kinks in their bodies. And in fairness, any horse doing the same job repeatedly does, too. Even lesson horses and show horses can become a lit le stiff or locked up here or there—they are just more likely to let us know they are unhappy about something. But most therapy horses have that frame of mind to endure and not show their dis- comfort too boldly. T at personality trait of caring more for others than themselves is exactly

With both hands, lightly cup your hands over the vertebrae and topline, and gently wiggle each

vertebra all along the back, including the tail to its tip. (Note: If your horse’s

back dips down, she might have a sore back.) T is releases tension all along

the back, even down into the shoulders, hips and

legs. T is is the third step in releasing the topline.


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