Monday, October 14

the main attraction

It's notably humorous to be in an environment surrounded by people with 'unexpected' bodies, cognition, and social acuity, and still be recognized as the odd one.

I'm greeting riders in the participant lounge, and a tiny boy with Downs' Syndrome peers up my empty sleeve, curious where my arm got to.

I'm waiting to assist a young man with limited verbal ability to mount his horse, and he turns his face to Finneas and plants a firm kiss on my tiny arm.

I'm standing in the middle of the arena, honing my teaching skills, and a young woman who was barely able to overcome her own fear to get on the horse, points toward me and calls out, "What happened to your arm?"

No matter where I go, I'm still different. But it's OK, really; because I like being myself.

But maybe it's not about being different; maybe it's just about recognizing that we are not the same, that we each have something unique to offer.

More than being odd, the program participants are starting to recognize me as familiar. As I enter the pre-riding zone, they run toward me as if I were the Pied Piper of horsemanship; but it's not horses they are anxious to see.

On the trail, one rider, eyes fixed on me, twists his head almost completely backward to get a longer look. I'm certainly amused, and strangely flattered, that in the midst of all the excitement, I'm still the main attraction.

I stifle a smile.

"Look where you are going," I call after him, "or you are going to fall off your horse."