Growing Beyond Myself
I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears (Psalms 34:4)
Reaching, seeking, and stretching all indicate areas of growth. Adaptive vaulting challenges not only physical effort but emotional effort as well. Vaulting’s unique environment and equipment provides opportunity for participants to reach beyond themselves. They discover physical and emotional boundaries can move. Flexibility becomes a metaphor as well as a physical experience. With Warm Beach Horsemanship’s equine partners and volunteer support, participants experience freedom.
Jessica has been part of the Warm Beach Horsemanship community for three years. While astride Doc, (pictured left) her emotional and physical restrictions fall away. Released from her walking stick for a while, she is transported into a realm where her athleticism has an opportunity to shine.
In the beginning, she admits she would never have imagined she possessed the strength, agility, and flexibility to perform vaulting moves while mounted on the horse, because of her Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Her hands and mind are free while vaulting! She can imagine and remember the mind to muscle connections.
“On Jessica’s first day, she was incredulous that a horse could make such a difference in her life,” remembers Pam Whims, Warm Beach Horsemanship volunteer. Riding horses is clinically proven to effectively “push a pause button” on the advancement of neurological symptoms.
So what is adaptive vaulting?
Many people incorrectly think vaulting involves jumping or leaping over something. Equestrian vaulting in and of itself is an art form, combining dance, gymnastic elements, and harmonious rhythm with the horse. Warm Beach has a rich history of supporting vaulters up to the international level of competition. However, vaulting serves ALL people.
The equipment and temperament of the horses allow for participants to explore where they “begin and end.” They reach the edge of themselves and find courage to stretch a little more. Vaulters face forward, sideways, and backward. They stand up, kneel, and lay down. No other sport allows for the continuous contact of “skin-to-skin” pressure that horse riding and vaulting provides. This deep pressure helps emotional regulation. In addition, the circulatory, endocrine, internal organs, and respiratory systems are subconsciously regulated through the movement of the horse.
For clients like Jessica, trust and courage go hand in hand. She found a safe place to stretch, reach, and grow beyond herself. The Lord provides the place, the people, the horses, and the equipment at the stables. He has impressed upon me that healing comes through touch. We are called to validate, encourage, and build up one another. He is faithfully creating a beautiful community of clients, volunteers, and staff at Warm Beach. We all benefit from His exhortation.
-Ginger Reitz, Assistant Horsemanship Director
Warm Beach Horsemanship