Second Volunteer Day!

Volunteers from our first Volunteer Day

Getting ready for our Second Volunteer Day! Please help! Wilderwood needs YOU on Saturday, August 31, 2019, 9:00 a.m. to noon.

Activities include:

* Marking the arena with gabions
* Painting the planter underneath the Wilderwood sign
* Laying weedcloth and rocks in the Meditation Garden
* Lining the roundyard with latilla panels

and, of course … hanging out with the horses and dogs!

We really need you! Please show your support and sign up today at the Wilderwood Equine Therapy facebook page.

Visit to Colorado State and Temple Grandin Equine Center

This month, we were very fortunate to receive a lovely invitation from the Temple Grandin Equine Center (TGEC) at Colorado State University. As an autistic person, this was a special place for Bec to visit as well as an opportunity to meet the splendid people and amazing equines there who are working with innovation, drive, and passion to make the TGEC happen.

TGEC/CSU is a very special place, too, for Bec and Mark because, believing in and supporting the mission and goals of TGEC, they have chosen it to be the recipient of their entire Estate. This generous gift will assist TGEC/CSU develop its future programs and facilities to ensure continuation of innovative equine activities and therapies.

We look forward to future visits along with collaboration and sharing opportunities!

Image courtesy Temple Grandin Equine Center/Facebook

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

Home-made cavaletti

While “home-made cavaletti” sounds enticingly like Italian ice-cream fashioned in a farmhouse kitchen, they are instead equine training aids. We were pretty happy about how well these home-made cavaletti rails turned out. We will be using them as part of Odie’s physical therapy program, helping his muscles come back and improving his flexibility.

Preparing the Pasture

With five ever-hungry horses, preparing and planting the pasture for summer grazing is an imperative task! All winter, we added organic matter to both the front and back pastures and were fortunate enough to (finally!) procure a tiller to help better prepare the soil. In February it was time to test the sprinkler system — and repair many of the sprinklers knocked over by the horses last season!

Now, in early March, it’s time to plant the seed. We chose an Equestrian Mix from a local nursery and seeded into the newly-tilled and turned earth. It smells so good and, well, earthy! While Mark drove the tractor, I sat perched on the bucket, hand sowing the seed and waving royally like a Queen!

Newly-tilled soil, ready for planting grass seed from our local Trees That Please nursery.
Four types of seed in this one “Equestrian Mix.” With a little help from some spore-enhancing growth powder from our local Soil Secrets, we’re hoping the pasture will look green and lush in no time!
Waving from the bucket of the tractor to one skilled operator and tractor driver — and a pretty darn good husband, too!
Water! The gift of life … and hopefully lots of summertime grass for hungry horses!