So this is my son Spencer, who was born prematurely, is 6 years old, and diagnosed classically autistic. He is riding his pony Misty, an 11.2 hh Welsh/Shetland cross mare who we have had for about 8 months. Spencer has been riding since he was a baby, but only been riding off leadline for about 5 months. Misty is in heat, grumpy because the biting gnats were REALLY bad (are they seriously impervious to all kinds of fly spray?), and being buddy sour because I have Claymore tied near the barn. I'd just hopped off him for a few minutes to take pictures - forgive her attitude, or as Spencer puts it, their "arguments".
I removed the audio, because at about five different points during the clips I hollered "GET OUT OF HER MOUTH!!!", or "HEELS DOWN!!", RIGHT into the camera microphone *lol* Sorry!
Also, minor disclaimer, I'm aware he needs to move up from his 10 inch saddle to his 12 inch saddle that I've already gotten for him. I keep telling him if he had longer stirrups he'd bounce less in the trot. But one of his typically autistic traits is he has a LOT of trouble dealing with changes. He's used to this saddle, and I have to give him a while to mentally adjust to the idea of a new saddle before I can switch it on him.
And yes, he's riding in crocs - I know, I know. He's outgrown his boots and I haven't gotten new ones yet - nor were we planning on riding yesterday afternoon. It was a split second decision - I was feeding the chickens and he was begging to ride. I should have at least made him change into his sneakers, but I didn't. Don't yell at me.
But the thing is.....look at him smile. Look at him speaking to me. It's hard to remember that not all that long ago, he was completely non-verbal, non-communicative, and would not make eye contact with anyone. This is what inspired my dreams to open my own therapuetic riding facility. I firmly believe dogs and horses are a large part of what has opened up his world for him, and I am so grateful that we found this amazing little mare. She is worth more to me than all the money in the world.