Tag Archives: horseback riding

Eleventh Heaven

By Amanda S.

Maybe I was looking for stability. Dad used to manage Target distribution centers – he’d get them up and running for 18 months, and then our family was off to the next site/state. At some point in eighth grade, deep into a diary one weekend, I decided I needed something that would ground me, keep me me, and that the number 11, with its mysterious pull lately, was the answer. “It’s the first two marks when you’re drawing a smiley face!” I reasoned in the diary. Okaaay.

And then, 11 changed my life.

I started small, making wishes at 11:11 a.m. and 11:11 p.m. and setting my alarm clock for 7:04 or 9:02 because the digits added up to 11. I felt me, and it got sillier. I’d eat 11 M&Ms at a time, watch TV at volume 11, cheer anyone in a #11 jersey.

In a move that sticks with me today, I decided that the 11th of each month, I’d do something new and different – that no matter how many times my family would move, how many new schools full of strangers, I’d have one thing for me. Maybe a new shirt to wear that day, or sampling a new food (still hate you, mushrooms!) Bigger attempts have been made, like horseback riding, trying peanut butter beer at the Great American Beer Festival, flying first class, and getting tossed from a mechanical bull.

mechanical bull ride

The point is, it’s a built-in way to challenge myself.

Sometimes it’s still a small act – I’ll use all my Birchbox products for the first time on an 11th, or I’ll see a movie at a theater in a part of town I’ve never been to on an 11th. And sometimes it’s a big act – I adopted a cat on a November 11th and named her Ellie. I tried like mad to get married on 11/11/2011, but so did every bride in Arizona, so my anniversary is 11/5/2011. On 11/11/2011, though, I nailed a $300 PaiGow Poker hand and ziplined across the old Las Vegas strip, so it’s not all bad.

I thought I may get engaged on an 11th, but Kit knew that and he waited until the 12th. When he brings home flowers just because, there’s always 11 stems. The extra ends up with a coworker or a stranger outside the store. (Oooh that MAN.)

I listen more than speak and tend to be an introvert, and I think all the moving, with the finite time to meet people and grow friends, made me a people-pleaser more than I care to admit. So I cling like crazy to 11ths. Just ooone day a month, I can nerd out, do what I want, find or add meaning to whatever I want. There’s always a buzz in the air those days.

Sometimes it drifts to others. Every so often, someone will mention making a wish at 11:11 or forward me a news link that “11/11 is the equivalent of ‘Black Friday’ in China.” Warms my dumb old heart. As it turns out, I have traditions that are freeing and all me no matter where I am.

Hippotherapy for My Hip (and My Soul)

Horse Spirit Rider Angela
By Angela N.

I was born with a deformed left hip joint. My parents, ranchers in North Central Texas, discovered the problem when I failed to walk around age one in the mid-1950s.

My life journey since then has included a number of challenges. Starting at age one, I spent six months in a “frog cast” from my armpits to my ankles to force the deformed hip socket to change from a plate shape to a more normal cup shape. Then when I was 28 years old an orthopedic surgeon told me that it would be a bad idea for me to go through a full-term pregnancy because my left hip joint was still fairly deformed. Finally, at age 52, I had successful total hip replacement performed by a talented Dallas surgeon (a grateful shout-out to Dr. Michael Champine!). Recently, I found out that my birth defect was caused by a rare connective tissue defect called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

Now as a bionic babe, I am trying to live my life as normally as possible. For several years I assumed that I could never ride a horse again since tradition dictates that riders have to use their left legs to pull themselves up on horses’ left sides. Many horses would spook if riders tried to mount them from the right side.

This was a tough blow for a kid who got her first horse — a sweet paint horse named “Pronto, the Pinto” — in second grade. I was one of those horse crazy little girls who had horse figurines on a display shelf in her bedroom and adored books by Walter Farley, the author of The Black Stallion. Farley helped me to fall in love with reading.

Two years ago one of my friends who is a fellow horse addict suggested that I check out therapeutic riding places in the Dallas area. Known as hippotherapy (“Hippos” is Greek for horse), this type of therapy uses specially trained horses to help people with all types of disabilities. A recent magazine article in Experience Life magazine titled “Horse Power”
explains how hippotherapy helps riders boost their self-confidence through interaction with horses.

Starting in January 2014, I began taking riding lessons and volunteering at SpiritHorse Therapeutic Riding Center in Corinth, Texas, which is north of Dallas. The facility serves adults with various health challenges and disabled children with conditions such as autism and cerebral palsy. Providing free services to financially disadvantaged children, the facility uses specially trained horses and staff to ensure the safety of the riders. They also have adaptive aids such as a wooden mounting platform with steps to help riders easily mount the horses.

The wonderful horses and staff at SpiritHorse have greatly enriched my life by letting me get back in touch with my inner cowgirl.