It’s what we dread hearing the moment we lethargically roll out of our warm, snug beds after the abrupt ending of a dream void of school, worries, and stress. It’s what makes us groan after hearing the reoccurring plead from our teachers to strive for nothing less than the Wildcats’ best. “It” is the insistence of hard work to reach our goals. While we may gripe every time we hear it, hard work is the true key to achieving our goals and the perfect world of our dreams.
Every weekend I get up early to work at an equestrian therapeutic center where the staff and volunteers commit themselves to the clients. The clients of the center are dedicated, but playful. They are blessed, but physically and/or mentally disabled. Together, the volunteers, staff, and clients, work together to attain the same goal, to ultimately improve the standard of living for our clients through therapeutic horseback riding.
Therapeutic horseback riding, which utilizes horses to benefit disabled riders, has been dated back to the time of Alexander the Great and is now used at three different equestrian therapeutic centers in the Houston, Texas area. These sites each accept a wide variety of clients, ranging from those who need little help to those who have little control of their muscles. My first client was a twenty-year old mentally disabled autistic boy. He was a taut young man, not able nor wanting to stretch his leg over the back of the horse to sit down in the saddle or to pull his legs down in the stirrups. In the beginning of the year, he could barely keep a hold of his reins due to his lack of muscle control nor was he able to keep his arms down by his waist due to his inflexibility. Once the instructor realized why he was unable to do most of the tasks he was asked to do, she had each of us side walkers work with him before class on improving his flexibility. Sitting him on a barrel and holding his hands in ours, we would take turns pulling him forwards and backwards, stretching his abdominal muscles, biceps, and thighs. With each class, I began to see a gradual change in his performance and abilities. He could sit in the saddle straight, keep a hold of his reigns without anyone’s assistance, and hold his arms down by his pockets. With all of these improvements he was no longer just a disabled individual, but an individual who had surmounted his disabilities and was now able to do more simple tasks that many people take advantage of. He proved that with continuous hard work and focusing on one’s goal, one can accomplish his goals.
We’ve all heard it. It has been drilled into our brains by our schools in hope that it may actually stick. No matter how many times we may hear that we need to work hard in order to receive that acceptance letter from the university of your dreams when that moment only seemed to exist in your dreams, we know, as students, that hard work is essential to and the only way to achieving our own set goals.
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