Patch & Joseph: Learning patience and focus together

By December 24, 2019News

Our horses change lives every day. Sometimes, the changes are big–like Moe and Francisco–but sometimes they are smaller, more subtle. No matter how big or small though, our horses are helping people live happier, fuller lives. One such story is how Patch is helping Joseph Swim.

Joseph is 26 years old and has been diagnosed with autism and ADHD. He lives in a group home because it fosters an independent lifestyle. He shares a home with two roommates, and they all share the responsibilities of keeping a home, such as cooking, cleaning, and maintenance. Sometimes, Joseph gets overly excited or has trouble completing tasks–things that can make living with roommates challenging.

When Joseph started coming to Agape, his instructor thought that partnering with Patch would be just the ticket to helping Joseph with his goals of staying calm, focused, completing tasks, and sharing the limelight with others. She taught him how to work with Patch on the ground and would give him routines to complete while waiting his turn to mount up. At first, staying focused long enough to complete these routines was difficult. Joseph needed a lot of help from his volunteer. And, it turned out, Patch needed help too. You see, at the same time that Joseph needed to focus on his job, Patch was also having trouble focusing because his best friend, Lexi, was headed back to her pasture. Seeing Patch struggle with focus gave Joseph the push he needed. He learned how to help Patch stay present because he stayed present with him. Give – and – receive. That’s friendship.

With patience and persistence, Joseph went from having trouble staying in sync with Patch while having the support of a volunteer, to being able to trot along side of Patch through groundwork completely independent. Joseph’s new-found confidence isn’t just limited to working with Patch on the ground either. When he rides Patch, he is partnering independently there too. He can guide Patch through all sorts of figures at the walk and trot all on his own.

These days, when Joseph shows up at the barn for his lesson and sees Patch waiting for him in the grooming stall, Joseph brightly exclaims, “Oh, I missed you! How are you today?” The bond they have developed is undeniable. Joseph has an ongoing conversation with Patch much like his greeting that continues throughout their lesson together. It is a delight to see them working together.

With Patch, Joseph had an opportunity to discover the joy of not only receiving the rewards of friendship, but giving it too. Confidence, focus, and generosity through friendship – this is what Patch has taught Joseph. Yes, this was subtle and happened over time, but it is nonetheless essential to living a higher quality life. You can ensure that Patch continues to teach riders like Joseph this year. Will you consider sponsoring Patch? You can bring confidence, focus, and friendship to Joseph and many others.

I want to sponsor Patch.

Patch is a beautiful gelding with a huge heart. He wants nothing more than to please. Patch is very gentle when he's with the kids.
Patch gives a tremendous amount of love. In return, he just needs to be loved back and reassured that he's doing a good job.

Bonita SouthersVolunteer at East

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