The local boy finds strength in horseback riding

Jul 12 – Jonathan Hartman admits that his 12-year-old son Alex has had his fair share of struggles in life so far.

Alex was diagnosed a few years ago with seizures and cerebral palsy, and he often has trouble sitting alone and raising his head.

But put Alex on a horse, said Jonathan, and he’ll try to maneuver the reins while balancing himself in the saddle.

And that’s exactly what Alex did on Saturday morning as he took part in the Assist Riding class at the Howard County 4-H Horse and Pony Show.

For the past nine years, Alex has been riding horses at EquiVenture Therapeutic Riding Inc. , based in Russiaville, Saturday had his first appearance at 4-H.

Russia-based Bonnie Flynn helped create EquiVenture in 1993, and she said the organization — which is completely free for families — has a very clear mission statement.

“We work with children with special needs who are receiving treatment,” she told the Tribune a few minutes before Alex’s ride. “We’re very repetitive in how we do our lessons. It’s ‘one, two, three, walk.'” One, two, three, wow. “…as far as Alex goes, he has developed a lot of core strength being on a horse. He can’t sit on his own, but he is much stronger than he was before. The transformation in that is absolutely amazing.”

Because of his condition, there are four people helping Alex ride horses at all times.

Two on the horse’s side, one leading the horse, and the other sitting in the saddle directly behind him.

On Saturday, Jonathan joined their side, occasionally smiling at his son and offering encouragement as the boy rode through the arena.

“Anytime you can see your son smiling and enjoying something…” Jonathan said, his voice sagging, “As a parent, any time you can make your child smile, it makes your heart warm… and I hope he gets the same feelings that he does.” By the other kids. This is a chance for Alex to show off in the spotlight.”

Alex’s mother, Kristi, agreed, noting that she hoped others in attendance would see Alex at the playground on Saturday and feel inspired.

“It’s great for him to be able to do things that everyone else can do,” she said. “A lot of families may not know about the program, so this is a chance for them to see this and learn about what EquiVenture is doing for kids like Alex.”

Jonathan noted that at the end of the day, children with special needs can do whatever other children can do, and their accomplishments should be celebrated as well.

Referring to his son, Jonathan added, “Even if he did not appear on the horse that he was enjoying it, I think he would still feel proud to show what he had been learning all these years.” “A lot of people here know me and know Alex’s status and are friends with family, but many of them don’t see what he is like on a daily basis. So I’m glad this finally gives them a chance to see Alex in action.”

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