Isabelle had her first hippo-therapy appointment last week. On Tuesday we spent some time visiting with the horses, feeding carrots and petting manes. Isabelle was interested, loved feeding them, but was a little anxious when we got up close.
On Wednesday we brought carrots again and Isabelle seemed much more comfortable, but I was fairly certain we would end up with Isabelle clinging to me and not much time spent actually ON the horse. We met Isabelle’s mount for the day, Sandy, who, when I inquired about her age was told “older than dirt.” Yeah, she looked it. Absolutely perfect for my 2 year old. Nice and easy, old girl 🙂
We picked out a helmet that I feared would bother Isabelle since it had to be strapped on, but instead she seemed thrilled to be wearing it. Then the therapist took Belle by the hand and lead her over to the mounting platform. Isabelle stood there, giving no indication of how she might react to what was happening. Sandy was quietly lead in between the platforms and Isabelle’s teacher placed her gently on Sandy’s back.
Instead of a saddle they had a pad and a strap that went around the mare’s belly that had two large handles by her withers. Isabelle immediately grabbed onto the handles and a tiny smile started to pass over her face.
She LOVED it.
We were halfway down the long side of the arena and Isabelle started to point and jabber. She was looking around and ‘talking’, even letting go of one of the handles every now and then which spoke volumes of how comfortable she was. The therapist would stop the horse, having Isabelle say “whoa” (which after a while, Isabelle didn’t want to say because she didn’t want to stop!~) and then she would wait for Isabelle to spontaneously say “GO!”.
This went on for several laps around the arena, all the while Belle was looking and pointing and occasionally bursting out into a sweet smile.
After we finished, Isabelle’s therapist (who has been working with kids for 26 years) said, “I do believe that was the cutest thing I have ever seen.”
And I have to agree 🙂