Her voice was strained and tired as she described the stress and challenges their family was enduring.
But most of all, what she wanted was her baby boy with her. Though it’s been years, I can still remember hearing her pain as she told me how it just wasn’t right leaving him there at the hospital and driving home without him.
As if it weren’t enough that little Jamie was born two months premature and had to be hospitalized, his parents were warned very early that his future would be challenging and he would likely experience developmental delays.
The warnings came true and then some.
At 3-years-old, Jamie was diagnosed with autism.
My friend did everything the experts suggested, making sure Jamie had occupational and speech therapy, doctor’s appointments and more. Of course some things helped, but with it all, Jamie still had a ways to go just to master the simple tasks in life.
Willing to do anything to help her son, my friend even took suggestions that yanked her outside of her own comfort zone.
After all, who would have thought someone like Big Bob could help a little kid whose problems had names like, “sensory integration dysfunction.”
But he did.
My friend was terrified the first time her little boy was placed atop one of the huge therapy horses and stood anxiously waiting for the panicked explosion that was sure to come, but it never happened.
Instead, something magical took place and in no time, the same child who struggled with coordination on the ground was doing “helicopters” with his arms and stretching across the back of a moving horse.
Jamie didn’t fall, he didn’t scream and he didn’t shake in terror.
The difference in Jamie was instantaneous and grew with each excursion to the riding stable.
“I had no experience with horses whatsoever — beautiful creatures, and whatever it is they have, it is very special,” his mother recently wrote to me when I asked her to write a guest piece telling her son’s story for online blog readers.
“Some of the children there were severely handicapped and they would arrive in their ‘zone’ but as soon as they were put up on the horse the laughs would begin… Need I say more,” she followed.
Imagine going through life struggling with difficulty walking, or running or even doing simple things such as swinging your arms in unison or balancing or connecting a smell with a shape and a sound, being able to understand how they’re all tied together — all those little things most of us take for granted and never even think about.
Beautiful to watch from the ground, somehow when you climb on the back of a horse, all that beauty and power is shared with you. Perhaps it’s because when you’re on the back of a horse the very earth changes beneath you or because there’s something surreal about a being so powerful and strong allowing you to direct its course.
Not only are they just fun to be around, but through the sharing of their legs, balance, eyesight and gentle spirits, horses are able to equalize, giving back the things that sometimes life leaves out. And as if all that weren’t enough, there’s a touch of something else they give, something special.
Whatever that magic is of theirs, there’s nothing else like it in the world, most especially for Jamie.