Archive for June, 2011

Tallulah’s Birthday and Project Pony

 Have I ever mentioned that Lu loves horses and ponies? If I haven’t, well let me mention it now. And if I have, I will reiterate: Tallulah LOVES horses and ponies. For as long as I can remember horses, ponies and their cousins zebras have been pretty much her most favorite animals. And since she had to have a Birthday party with out cake, ice cream, pizza, hot dogs, burgers, and all sorts of other things most kids get to have at their parties, instead we focused on hiring a pony. Lu was in heaven.

 The party was going pretty well for Lu even before the pony arrived. She was excited by the balloons and people and presents and things. I don’t think she ever tried the chocolate fondue but she loved the allergen-free cookies my mom made. She was actually in a great mood the whole time. And because she didn’t know the pony was coming, she didn’t even realize it was an hour and a half late getting there, which was too bad for the kids who had to leave for naps and things. But for the kids who stayed, Stormy showed up and was a terrific treat!

Once Lu got onto Stormy’s back she was fantastically calm and serene. She patted him as she rode and even leaned down to kiss his mane a few times. When it was time for someone else to ride, she got off and let them ride but kept hold of his lead rope and walked the circuit with him, never letting him out of her sight. She pet his nose. She hugged his neck. It was wonderful to watch her being so caring and loving with him. There was no doubt in our minds, Lu is a true horse lover.

I’ve heard and read a number of things about autistic children and equine therapies. We even took Lu to one person who claimed to be that and I left with the impression that what we needed to find was a remarkable horse and we could do without the therapist. That therapist at least. So after watching Lu with this pony Stew and I made up our minds, it is time to get Lu a pony of her own. And so began Project Pony! The search for the perfect pony for Lu. Gentle, kind, bombproof, small, not too old so they can bond and grow together for several years, but not too young either.

 We wanted a pony that she could ride for several years, and then if she gets serious about riding she can move onto something bigger and Myffy could keep riding the pony for a couple more years. For those of you who may not know us very well, we live on a ranch with cattle and horses, so one more tiny mouth to feed isn’t that big of a deal for us. I’d also like to say to anyone who thinks we are spoiling our kids by buying them a pony, how many times have your kids had to have birthday parties with no cake or ice cream or any of their favorite foods? How many times have your kids had to leave their own party to go be hooked up to a machine that pumps liquid amino acids straight into their stomachs? And frankly, with an autistic child who has a hard time engaging with and enjoying the world around her, I really don’t think there is any such thing as spoiling her right now. It’s kind of like saying you’re spoiling your baby by responding to it and giving it your full attention 24/7. Babies need attention 24/7 and right now so does our Lu. And she needs a pony. Sorry if I seem a little defensive here. I’ve just had a few snide comments lately about all of the many things I do for my kids and the possibility that I might be spoiling them. The truth is that if I could do more for them than I am doing right now, I would happily do it. And they aren’t spoiled. End of story.

 So the search began. We looked at a number of different options and price ranges. But in the end we went with someone that Stew found through a friend who gets ponies from the Amish out east and brings them west to sell. Which means not only are they saddle broken, they are also trained to drive a cart. How awesome is that? I’m already envisioning Halloween with the kids in the cart Trick-o-Treating. When we arrived at the place in Chandler we were led out back to where the ponies were and Lu immediately gravitated towards Cinnamon and her baby, who was the horse the owner recommended for Lu. She has worked with some special needs children before and was just as calm and sweet as she could be. Lu ran up to her and reached way up to her back, trying to pull herself on. She walked around front and touched Cinnamon’s face, she walked all around her, touching and hugging. The baby (who I want to call Nutmeg) was only slightly less calm than his mother and tolerated both girls walking around him, looking at him. He is about the size of our dog Wheezy, already halter broken and completely awesome! In the end we left with Cinnamon, Nutmeg, a cart, harnesses, a saddle, bridle, halters and all the tack. It was a deal and a half and Lu couldn’t have been happier. A successful conclusion to Project Pony! Coming this summer: Pony Party BBQs out at our ranch on the weekends for all of Lu’s and Myffy’s friends!