Thursday, July 6, 2017

"Changing Gaites" by Stephanie Welter

    “Too blessed to be stressed!” That’s the response you get from Guy Kaughman when you ask him how he is. Guy has a lot of reasons to answer differently, he’s been through a lot. But, he believes it is part of his job to remind people that no matter what one’s circumstances in life, if they look to their blessings they will see how blessed they truly are.
   As we arrived at the Changing Gates stables we took in the breathtaking views, and my heart skipped a beat. It had been years since I had ridden a horse, but I was excited, and could not wait to see my kids on the backs of these big beautiful beasts.
   Guy had invited to treat us to trail rides because he specializes in helping individuals with special needs connect through horseback riding and knew my son Ben would most likely love to ride!
    Changing Gaites is not like most stables. As guy hand selects each horse and determines based on its personality who will be riding it, he is telling stories of how these great creatures changed his life during the lowest point he ever thought he’d ever experience. He said he got on the back of a horse, rode for three hours and knew he had found his new addiction.
    Over the years he began to see how horses had the power to connect and heal individuals who had various kinds of special needs. He knew it was a calling and began cultivating a stable designed to do just that.

   As Ben mounted the back of Shadow we heard the amazing story of how Shadow the Arabian nearly lost his life when Guy first found him. He truly is a miracle. He lived and was never “supposed” too after a horrible entanglement with barbed wire. Since his recovery was nothing short of miraculous, Guy considers him an “overcomer” and loves to team him up with special individuals who are also overcomers. Ben, my son is indeed fits that bill. He has overcome countless challenges that come along with a diagnosis of autism, and continues to break through barriers as he learns new language, social skills and academic skills each month!
    On that beautiful Sunday afternoon, riding through the fields and hills of Taylors falls, guy also explained to us that one of the most fascinating things about horses is that they mirror our behavior. If we are nervous, they sense it and mirror it back to us. If we are in charge and in control, the horse is quick to obey, but if we are light on the reigns, or afraid to assert our commands, the horse will test us and look to take the path of least resistance.
    My husband, myself and each of my children learned a bit more about ourselves that day, and we were gifted with a memory that will last a lifetime.
    I have the utmost respect and admiration for people like Guy and his staff at Changing Gaites who dedicate their time and gifts to helping individuals with special needs find a new way to connect, express themselves and enjoy new rich

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