Tuesday, May 12, 2009


STAR is a therapeutic riding facility that our boys have been able to attend for the last nine weeks. Although STAR is for handicapped and/or mentally disabled kids, our boys qualify because of some problems with Fetal Substance Exposures. Max and Misha each struggle in different areas because of this but really are highly functional. In some ways we feel guilty taking them to ride alongside other kids with much more visible issues. That said, we are increasingly aware that the boys have difficulties in ways that we don't see with our eyes but that do impact them significantly. (I have mentioned before the challenges with schoolwork)

STAR has been, without question, the highlight of each week for them and they count the days from one week to the next with eager anticipation!

Each session is one hour long and the boys start by caring for their horses: brushing, cleaning their hooves, saddling, etc... Then they ride. they learn to follow directions as their instructor calls them out.

Max loves his horse and loves all animals. This has been something that he has really had to teach himself to do and we are proud of him for taking the initiative to be brave. His horse's name is Breeze. He draws pictures of Breeze every Sunday in Sunday School using a little horse stencil that they have. Then he delivers his pictures to his helpers with pride.
Misha has made great strides since he has come to live in our family! Once terrified to the extreme of everything from puppies to primary-colored plastic bugs, he has readily looked forward to riding his horse, Freckles, and brushes him with little indication of his sensitivities. I do still notice a little timidness near the horse's face and neck but as he brushes the rest of the horse, he looks like any other little boy happily brushing a horse! The best thing is that he tries. He pets the horse's head and talks to Freckles when he walks by. He does this partly to show others that he is not afraid but he doesn't realize that he is actually teaching himself not to be fearful!

The boys have one more week of riding. I have yet to warn them. They have loved it and we have loved giving them this opportunity!

The rest of the family watches the boys ride. Today Hannah finished her homework and the other girls picked flowers. Vitali took care of Misha's hat.


Lynn Falk said...

Adorable pictures! What a great idea to help the boys! I'm glad to hear about their progress. I hope they won't be too sad when they find out there is only one more week left.

Anonymous said...

Riding horses--doesn't every child want to do that? I can remember wishing that I could have a horse when I was young. When I went to Bible School, I had a friend whose family owned a ranch with several horses. What fun it was to spend Saturdays there! I can really identify with Max and Misha and their love for "their" horses.

It's wonderful that they have made so much progress!

Grandma Falk