Seth* began riding with Giant Steps in 2010. He is non-verbal, and lives with autism spectrum disorder. Although Seth seems to enjoy horseback riding, he exhibits signs of a fear of heights, as demonstrated by his reluctance to get on his horse. Once mounted, Seth is quick to follow directions and to ask his horse to walk on (with a hand tap). He seems happiest when experiencing the movement of his horse, but has always needed physical assistance from his volunteers to use his reins to halt and steer his horse. It is almost as if he doesn’t want to disturb the movement he is experiencing by using reins.

In early 2016, Seth had an emergency medical procedure, and had to stop riding for eight months. When he rejoined, his fear of mounting had escalated, and there were a few times he would not mount. Through patience and perseverance each week, Seth rebuilt his confidence in mounting. He continues to enjoy riding, and is quickly making progress after his long absence.

Last week, we were thrilled to see Seth use his reins with no reminders and no physical help from his volunteers to steer his horse, the wonderful Milly. For our riders living with autism, we are frequently focused on having them follow directions the first time, and without reminders from volunteers, so this type of advancement is huge. Or, as we like to call it, a Giant Step. Congratulations to Seth, his loved ones, and his Giant Steps family!

*name changed to protect the privacy of the individual