Thursdays Are Special
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Sometimes he would come on Thursday and not even be able to get out of the car because of the seizures1. Still he came, week after week.

His caretakers said he knew when it was Thursday, even though he knew little else and could not communicate how he knew. He could see, but not speak, could not even sit up unassisted. Yet, he knew when it was his day to go ride. He was only ten, and he didn't live to his teens.

Nevertheless, his story, which includes horses and horsepeople who made him smile and gave him something to look forward to one day a week, must be told.

Many years have passed and many children have benefited from various therapeutic2 riding programs. But none touched me as much as this one boy. He required a steady horse, one with patience with his rider's inability to balance and an understanding of the boy's need to occasionally lay his face on the mane and just breathe in horse smells. We had several wonderful horses that filled the bill.

One volunteer would walk beside this youngster3 on the right and help hold him in the saddle, one would control the horse and another would walk on his left to steady him and be his instructor4 for the day. Any breakthroughs, no matter how small, were recognized and rewarded. A smile, an attempt to move a hand or leg in the right direction, even attention focused on the instructor or the horse were considered achievements.

One week, he was in very good spirits. This followed several weeks when he was either too ill to come or he had suffered seizures in the car and was forced to miss his lesson with the horses. But that day, he smiled. He seemed alert5 and willing.

We were stopped and waiting for another rider to be helped when my young student reached out and touched my hair. My hand was on his leg, so I knew he was steady, even though my eyes weren't on him. I looked around and knew he was trying to tell me something. The horse stood motionless, as if he knew his movement could distract6 or confuse his rider.
"What?" I asked. It was unusual for him to reach out and touch, to even control his hands enough to do so. He reached out again and stroked my hair, as he sometimes did to the horse's mane on good days.

I realized that my waist-length hair was back in a ponytail, and that he wanted it to hang down. Perhaps he wanted to see it, like the horse's tail in front of us, free and swinging. Or perhaps I had worn it down in other classes with him and it wasn't the same today. For whatever reason, I knew he wanted me to free that ponytail, so I did. He looked at me, managed to touch his hands together a couple of times in what he used as clapping, and he smiled at me.


Our lesson continued and he seemed to have a better time that day than I could remember him having in any other class. He reached toward me and I put my head so he could touch my hair several times while we were walking along.

I didn't know as his attendant7 carried him back to the car that it would be the last time I saw him. He missed several weeks, then I went back to college. I found out months later that he died not too long after that.
But instead of mourning, I thought of him in heaven, running out to his favorite horse, not having to wait until Thursday or for his attendants8 to help him. He and his horse would gallop9 across clouds, with him laughing and the horse's tail streaming freely behind as the wind sang through their hair.

There is a heaven for horses and for little boys who know what day they ride, even when they don't know much else. I'm grateful for having seen that desire, and for understanding that God gave us horses and little boys and that they all aren't the same, nor should they be.


1 seizures d68658a6ccfd246a0e750fdc12689d94     
n.起获( seizure的名词复数 );没收;充公;起获的赃物
  • Seizures of illicit drugs have increased by 30% this year. 今年违禁药品的扣押增长了30%。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Other causes of unconsciousness predisposing to aspiration lung abscess are convulsive seizures. 造成吸入性肺脓肿昏迷的其他原因,有惊厥发作。 来自辞典例句
2 therapeutic sI8zL     
  • Therapeutic measures were selected to fit the patient.选择治疗措施以适应病人的需要。
  • When I was sad,music had a therapeutic effect.我悲伤的时候,音乐有治疗效力。
3 youngster PffwQ     
  • I rode the youngster on my back.我让小孩骑在背上。
  • That youngster works with a will.这小伙子干活有股傻劲儿。
4 instructor D6GxY     
  • The college jumped him from instructor to full professor.大学突然把他从讲师提升为正教授。
  • The skiing instructor was a tall,sunburnt man.滑雪教练是一个高高个子晒得黑黑的男子。
5 alert KK8yV     
  • Drivers must be on the alert for traffic signals.驾驶员必须密切注意交通信号。
  • The rabbIt'seems to be very alert all its life.兔子似乎一生都小心翼翼,十分警觉。
6 distract ms9xo     
  • Don't distract my attention.不要分散我的注意力。
  • It was all a ploy to distract attention from his real aims.那纯粹是障眼法,用以分散人们对他真正意图的注意力。
7 attendant CNHz1     
  • She was interrupted by the entrance of an attendant.服务员进来,打断了她的话。
  • We met the officer attendant on the general.我们见到了随从将军的副官。
8 attendants 993ca34f9d1507c315d158138a19374b     
n.服务人员( attendant的名词复数 );侍者;随从;伴随物
  • Other flight attendants and passengers are believed to have fought. 我们相信其他服务人员及乘客也都进行了斗争。 来自时文部分
  • Psyche gave ear to the admonitions of her vocal attendants. 普绪喀听从这些有声无形的外人的意见。 来自辞典例句
9 gallop MQdzn     
  • They are coming at a gallop towards us.他们正朝着我们飞跑过来。
  • The horse slowed to a walk after its long gallop.那匹马跑了一大阵后慢下来缓步而行。