I have always loved children and learning new things and helping someone when there is a need. Plus, I have always loved that warm feeling that comes to most of us when someone helps us or makes us feel cared for. What I hadn’t understood was how my helping someone else would actually help me.
In 2006 I came across Miracles in Motion, a therapeutic riding center. I had already googled my questions to this organization, finding that the center was for disabled people learning horseback riding. Rarely had I worked with the mentally challenged, but I was up for learning something new. I really didn’t know if I would even be good at this kind of work.
After completing my classes to become a certified volunteer I began the volunteer phase. Two times a week I drove 20 miles to lend a hand and meet new people with the same interests. What I later realized was that I was the one being lent a hand. The two horses that I called my own were Sonny and Billy, both very proud yet stubborn. I learned to work with them, making them follow me, rather than the other way around. There were days when I ended up on the ground, with my horse at the other end of the arena, but I continued to get back up. One of the children that I led around was a 7-year-old boy, Tyler. Tyler had become an excellent rider of 3 years. He started out as a very shy and rarely smiling boy. Gradually, he became a very engaged rider with a lot to talk about.
I always had the thought in mind that I was a little smarter, being the one handling the horse and helping Tyler. However, as each day came and went, Tyler’s hugs, laughs, and smiles became even greater. He had his tough days, but so did I. On my though days when I was not as talkative, he would sing goofy songs to me like “The song that never ends” and “Green Socks” just to get me singing too. He talked to me about cars, animals (his favorite being a horse), and his family. I learned so much about his life, and I shared some facts about my life as well. On most of the days while we were riding outside, Tyler was able to ride in the outdoor arena for the first time, and it was a big challenge. I continued to feel the reins being pulled and the saddle shaking even more as we walked and trotted up the hills.
At the end of the ride, we pulled Billy into the arena and dismounted. Tyler got off the horse and gave me a big hug and told me, “Thank you Renee!” And he smiled and glowed. As he pulled me along to groom Billy, he talked about his riding skills, and he told me I did a great job that day handling Billy. Tyler’s smile never stopped glowing all night, even when his mother came to pick him up. He couldn’t stop talking about Billy. I felt so good because I helped him learn how to ride. During that night’s discussion about the riders, I told everyone how much Tyler had improved and how much fun he had. The other volunteers also agreed they had never seen him so happy before.
At the end of that day, like Tyler, I drove home feeling lifted. Not only had I been able to help Tyler, but I really learned that anyone can make a difference, and I can definitely say I won’t be forgetting Tyler. I truly believe Tyler helped me to set aside my own worries and bring forth happiness and pride.
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