I haven’t posted about horse therapy in a while partly because Courtney has been going through a rough patch with it. It started a few months back when she would start crying in the car as we got closer to the stables. We didn’t take it as a sign to stop therapy because once at the stables she would seem happy. Yet she wasn’t all that happy once she got on the horse. We also did t want to stop therapy because Alyssa and I truly enjoy our time with the horses.
Ms. Christine and I were determined to figure out what changed for Courtney. Was it the change from bareback riding to riding with a saddle? Was it riding inside versus outside? Did something spook her?
After testing out a couple different theories, we finally came to the conclusion that it was the helmet. But why? Then it dawned on me. This aversion to the helmet started around the same time she became very dependent on her headphones. It’s gotten better but when you take Courtney’s headphones off, her hands immediately cover ears and you can sense her anxiety increase. So of course it made sense that horse therapy was starting to be stressful. When it was time to ride, we ripped her security blanket from her. Makes complete sense!
We have been working on her decreasing the wear of the headphones. We don’t want to make her uncomfortable so we are doing it delicately and definitely not keeping them from her. But there are going to be times where she may need to take them off so we are working on it.
Today’s therapy session was fantastic. She tolerated us removing the headphones and putting the helmet on. And…there were smiles while riding the horse again. I was so excited to see that smile. So glad we stuck it out. Just another reminder how behaviors are a form of communication. There is a reason for every behavior. Sometimes it’s hard to find the reason, but taking that time can pay off!