An Autism Diary

A day in the life of David Hartley

No Longer Just a Dream

0118141534_blogToday, David got to do something that he’s been dreaming of for years now. 🙂 He got his first real horseback ride complete with lesson and he will be able to go back for more once a week. 🙂 We finally were able to get him approved for SSI so I can finally afford to make one of David’s dreams come true (he’s wanted this more than anything since he was 2). It’s such a wonderful feeling. ^_^ The guy that runs the place knows about his Autism (officially severe ever since the bad round of cluster seizures in February 2013), so he paired David up with a teacher that has plenty of patience and a gentle way about her in hopes it would help. It definitely did. 🙂

0118141601_blogDavid took to the lessons right away. We had a few focus issues as he was distracted by the other horses a few times while going through the lessons about brushing, horse history (minimal), and how to saddle up, but once he got on that horse his grin stretched from ear to ear and that teacher had him wrapped around her pinky. lol He was so calm up there too and so collected and with it. It was truly a beautiful site.

He took to the lessons well too. So well, that I was told that he was the best first-time student that instructor had seen and she was really proud of him. 🙂 0118141602_blogHe of course has some rough spots to work out as he is still a beginner, but he was doing so well that he even advanced to the point of being allowed to steer his own horse around the ring with the instructor standing back and supervising, calling out the occasional reminder (straight arms, focus, slow down, etc).

David really seemed to be exactly where he belonged too. Like he was born to be in the saddle. He was so comfortable, calm, collected, and “connected” if that makes any sense. He still has a lot to learn of course, but I think we found the place David is able to shine and where David feels the most free. And it’s on the back of a horse. 🙂


Here are a few extra peaks at David’s first lesson. 🙂






0118141602a_Close up_blog.






  1. Aw! Giddy up, Cowboy David! You look a natural. I’m a farm girl and it’s really hard to ride your first horse. You look like a pro! Next stop… rodeo and roping bad guys!

  2. I just stumbled across your blog and I’m so happy that I did.
    I too have a son with autism. He is considerably older than your son, but like your son, he rode horses. I enrolled him in riding therapy classes in his early teens and he loved it. During his high school years, his job coach got him a job at a YWCA camp. His job was tending to the horses. He would brush them, fill their watering troughs and do other horse-tending jobs. His payment was a 15-20 minute ride. Money meant nothing to him, but those few minutes on a horse were priceless.
    I hope David enjoys years of riding and that the connection he builds with the horses will be the start of many other connections in his life.

    • Thank-you very much 🙂 and thank-you for sharing your story about your son too. I am hoping to be able to keep horses in David’s life now that he finally has them in it. When he’s older, I will have to see if I can find someone to do the same for him as the YWCA did for yours (trade work for riding time). David would love that. 🙂

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