Several years ago I lost my arm in a very traumatic freak accident which also resulted in the breaking of many bones and the damaging all of my major joints. There were 16 surgeries in four and a half years to put me back together. Sadly for me, my favorite thing to do had been to ride my horse. I had been so very active on horses, riding for the U.S. Forestry and for Search and Rescue as a volunteer, competing and riding for leisure every free moment away from my satisfying career as a classroom teacher. My life was close to perfect! THEN I woke up in a helicopter on my way to U.C. Davis Trauma Center, practically in pieces. I couldn’t work or play the way I had known. It was a year before I could slowly walk. My life had taken a very sharp turn leaving me emotionally afraid of the future and insecure about everything in life. I knew God would somehow make good out of this tragedy, but I didn’t see how. I felt tired, weak and dependent. I found my only happiness in the love of my family. Of course my grandchildren were my source of smiles, and I was truly grateful to be still on this planet, but my enthusiasm quotient was really very, very low.
Sometime after the 14th surgery, while in a skilled nursing facility, I heard about a therapy program involving horseback riding. If I could have jumped up and down, I would have! It was several months before I got the nerve to risk calling them. What f it wouldn’t work for me? My spirit had sunk so low, I thought I couldn’t do anything, even therapy! But they said I could come, they would see me!
My first day at Horses for Healing I found they could actually get my repaired and metal bones up a ramp and on a horse. Sitting there, surrounded by people holding me gently in place, I suddenly felt lighter than air, and the world suddenly appeared in full technicolor. I was actually back on a horse. Then as the volunteers carefully led that gentle beast forward, the rhythm of his walk set into motion a dance that my body had all but forgotten. That’s when my spirit broke free, filled me up and flooded out in the form of the happiest tears I had shed in years.
I have been to Horses for Healing many times since, and in addition to the sheer joy that I have felt each time, my broken parts have begun to work together. My balance on and off the horse has improved. My brand new hips, are working and walking without a limp. I am learning to mount with one arm. I have become stronger and can get on from a 3- step unit without the ramp. I am NOT afraid to try, both at Horses for Healing and in my life! As I look back, I did have faith and hope, but it seemed on such a far distant horizon. Now FAITH and HOPE are UP CLOSE, LARGE and IN 3-D!
I, like many others, have been blessed by what Horses for Healing is doing for me.
My name is Joy-celin Paul. I am 73 years young and my goal is to ride independently again with my grandchildren.
Someday I will volunteer for Horses for Healing.
I have Multiple Sclerosis. When looking to deal with symptoms associated with this condition I learned about therapeutic horse riding. Turns out horse riding is something beneficial when dealing with a disability. Enjoyable therapy sounded intriguing so I learned more. Why a horse? These gentle animals provide a unique multi-sensory means of therapy; the shape of their backs provides a perfect platform. Their pelvis is like ours in that it has a three-dimensional movement (up, down, and side to side). Their gait simulates our walking and the repetitive motion helps a rider improve muscle tone, strength, posture, flexibility and balance. A horse’s natural rhythm gently moves muscles and the spine. (more…)