The Tale of Two LaddiesWritten by Robert J. McLardie
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Laddie was about 200 lbs. overweight so I decided to put him on a diet of last year's hay and continue with a program of gradual conditioning in round pen. At end of 8 weeks he continued to lose weight and had been trimmed a second time. His conditioning and training was now allowing me to ride him in 70 x 120 ft outdoor riding ring. I was pleased with progress. He felt solid under saddle. Corresponding with arrival of Laddie, second little laddie entered my life. His name was Joshua and he was a 4 year old autistic boy. (Autism is a disorder that causes delays in social and emotional development, language skills and behavior difficulties.) He visited farm quite frequently as care and training of Laddie continued. Joshua loved to be outside and farm offered a safe, secure and new environment for Josh to explore. I was able to establish a relationship with Josh very quickly and he was very willing to take instructions from me. Although many other people had great difficulty in communicating with him, I was able to create a special bond with him right away. Joshua functioned at higher end of autism spectrum and he did have some verbal skills and was able to understand instructions that were short if he had time to process information. Joshua always took everything that was said in literal sense. Josh loved all horses at farm but he seemed to show special fondness of Laddie. Whenever I was working with Laddie Josh wanted to help. Many times he would bring his favourite toy, a Star Wars light saber and run around riding ring waving it at Laddie who got his work out bye running away from Josh. One exercise with Laddie using lunge line was to teach Laddie to stand still and face me and then to come to me by giving him a hand signal. Josh would watch this process. Josh loved to make lunge line whip up and down like a large green snake towards Laddie but wouldn't keep eye contact with big gelding. (People with autism have difficulty making eye contact.) Being concerned that Josh should know where horse was I would shout "Josh keep your eye on horse!" Josh would still shout "Whoa Waddie!"" whip lunge line and look down at ground. On closer observation I noticed he would peek at horse by slightly raising his head and indeed had one eye open and one eye closed. He had one eye on horse!! Josh could not say Laddie, he used to call him Waddie. He got very confident working him in round pen and arena. He could lead him and give him instructions to whoa, and walk on. Their relationship progressed to level where Josh would walk alongside him going to left, Josh would say "Who Waddie" and lift up his right arm and big horse would stop. Then Josh would lean his upper body forward and point his right arm and say "Waddie walk on." Laddie walked on. This is a unique example of bonding that is possible between a human being and a horse. School was especially trying for Joshua. He required constant supervision and they had not yet mastered skills required to communicate with him. One day school called his mother to tell her that she would have to pick Josh up from school because did not want to take him on a field trip. Josh's mom could not believe that with all of their education and knowledge that they would refuse to try and take Josh on outing with his class. Joshua was also upset so his mom brought him out to farm as a special trip. Joshua then asked if he could RIDE Laddie. "Bob, Bob, I Want to wide Waddie, prease, prease!!" I saddled up big gelding and Joshua got up on horse without any fear. I led them around farm as Joshua gave Laddie and I directions to go right, go left, cross bridge, walk here, walk there, whoa, walk on. Nearing end of ride we crashed through brush and walked through an old creek bed. As we got closer to barn Joshua could see his mom. He shouted at top of his lungs, "I Win!! I Win!!" His mother and I looked at each other in amazement. Where did that come from? When I helped Joshua down from horse he said to me "Thanks for most beautiful horse wide!" We were both brought to tears. A day that had begun with frustration and hopelessness had ended in exhilaration and success! In retrospect, both this horse and this boy had many challenges and obstacles to overcome and yet each in their own unique way were doing their best and giving their all. We couldn't have asked for more. I know my role was that of teacher and trainer but I know I learned so much from Joshua and Laddie about facing life's challenges and obstacles that may be in our paths, on how to start a new life and to leave past where it belongs, in past. Live in moment and live in hope of an ever unfolding future. For this I thank them both. p.s. I wintered Laddie on a strict diet. He continued to do well and in spring a little girl and her mom came and took Laddie to his new home.
© 2000 Robert J. McLardie
You may contact Robert through following: Telephone: 1-250-413-3152 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org URL: http://www.cornerstoneapproach.ca http://www.cornerstoneapproach.com
For the last three decades Robert is a special horse trainer and clinician with expertises in a wide range of horse breeds, in the UK & North America. He is living on Vancouver Island BC, Canada. Robert travels to teach his own horse training method called: The Cornerstone Approach, this innovative way to foundational training program for all horse breeds. Check www.cornerstoneapproach.ca for details, and www.al.bc.ca for the upcoming books.
Outdoor Gear For Your Favorite ActivitiesWritten by Corby Morris
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Canoeing and kayaking are other popular sports for those who enjoy nature. What should you have packed to take on river or lake? Carrying yolks, boat cushions and chairs, pump, safety kit, floats and life vests are important. Need help choosing a canoe or kayak? Consider type of water you will be paddling on (lake, river, or ocean) as well as types of expeditions you will be venturing into.
The avid runner must be fit and in great physical shape. However, youíll need more than that to be successful at this activity. Good running shoes are an absolute must, along with specialty socks to help your feet. The right clothing will also help. As you try on running shoes, pay attention to comfort. You donít want to worry about blisters or sprains later on!
So skiing is your hobby? Maybe you prefer snowboarding. The list of gear for skiers and snowboarders include skis, boots, poles, avalanche safety equipment, helmets, bindings and goggles. Of course, what you dress in is vital. A warm, waterproof ski coat or parka is essential, as well as hats, waterproof gloves, socks, pants and earmuffs. What skis or snowboard you need can be determined by your style and skill. With so many fun things to do in great outdoors, everyone can find something they will love. Just donít forget to pack all of right gear!
Author and writer for Adventure Racing Central.