Five Months’ Difference

What a difference five months makes. Below, on the right, is a photo of Odie when he first arrived with us in December 2018. Next to it, on the left, is a photo taken yesterday of Odie.

His muscle tone is coming back (thanks to good feed, therapeutic exercise, and massage) as is his weight. Yesterday, we felt he was strong and ready enough for a first ride! He did great, though we are taking it slowly. There is still such a long road to recovery. He looked absolutely magnificent being ridden with the dappled sunshine through the cottonwood trees dancing on his beautiful mane and tail.

Afterwards, because the day was so warm, we bathed him (his first bath here). This marked the final elimination of all physical traces of his horrendous experience at the Kill Pen. He had a nap in the afternoon sunshine and breeze, which dried him, and then had an early supper — which he enjoyed immensely.

The difference five months can make, along with lots and LOTS of love, attention, good food, exercise, grooming … and did we mention LOVE?!

Odie’s First Day

This video was taken on Odie’s first day. It shows him distressingly thin (he looks so much better now!) and malnourished, including noticeable muscle loss along his back, protruding ribs, and loss of tone and muscle over his rump. It’s also interesting to consider the dynamics of him being “looked over” and “sounded out” by the herd.

Odie’s First Day at Wilderwood

Viv and Desi Playing

As we work on developing the Wilderwood curriculum, we are looking for (and finding!) videos of the horses to incorporate. Here is one from about a year ago showing Viv and Desi playing on a summer day. Saeed is not particularly impressed with the antics of these young ones!

Vivaldi (The Baby) and Desi (Desperado) playing on a summer day.

Hor/tism: the Parallel World of Horses and Autism

“Horses were basically my salvation. If I hadn’t been able to go down to the horse barn and take care of the horses and clean the stalls … I would have just been miserable.”

~ Temple Grandin ~

My name is Bec Evanko. I write this as an autistic horsewoman, a Ph.D, a small and fragile soul, someone who, through a combination of luck and tenacity, somehow made it despite incredible odds against it, and someone who is forever grateful to the magnificent horses who were with me on this journey.

Horses are a lot like autistic people.

We are prey animals. In many ways we are gullible, naïve, open to literal interpretation, liable to be wary and learn our lessons well when we are hurt or frightened. We can be flighty and afraid of things for reasons that neurotypical people find hard to fathom.

But when we trust and learn to love, we are fiercely loyal, devoted, and dependable, willing and wanting to please, and also happy to be left to our own devices without the constant need for human company. 

We recognize and respond to kindness.

We fear and flee from that which we do not understand. We learn our lessons through repetition and reward. We seek reassurance and comfort. We find solace in our own kind (autistics with autistics; horses with horses) and find incomprehensible much of the neurotypical human world.

Whether (horse) grazing on grass in pasture or (human) working diligently at a computer on a given task, we can focus for hours and do not wish to be interrupted in our pursuit.

We need familiarity before accepting the new.

We do movements for our own understanding and comfort that you do not understand and sometimes strive to curtail.

We need to build trust before permitting you into our world.


Viv and Des

Today we spent time working with the little ones. It was also the first day we rode Desmond under saddle! — being so close to his third birthday (April 11), it was time. He did great! Gentle, happy horse; interested and curious, yet also quite focused and calm.

We then worked with the Baby (Viv), who is close to his second birthday (also April 11). He did wonderfully well, too! Although not yet close to coming under saddle, we took time with Viv with his turns, voice commands, and becoming accustomed to strange things like mounting blocks and cavaletti rails. Viv is so gentle. We looped the lead rope over his head and he just stood there, wearing it proudly!

These two boys have been raised with lots of gentleness and love, and give it back to us in abundance. Love our boys!

Baby (Vivaldi)
Baby (Vivaldi) and Bec