Today I received a phone call from the school that brings disabled riders to our Horsepower program. The conversation started with incomprehensibly fast talking, great enthusiasm and praise as to how much they appreciate our program, and how they are seeing great changes in the children who attend. Their excitement was overwhelming, appreciated, and yet, I began to wonder if they were wanting something... They proceeded to explain that they are closing school for the month of August, our winter holiday month, and even though they are not scheduled to have therapy sessions at A Future and a Hope during the school holiday, they were wondering if I could bring the horses to the school, an hour's drive away, so the children could have a week of therapy at the school as part of a winter camp type thing. Although this idea is not a bad one and hopefully will be a goal for the future, it was not thought through very well so I began to ask some questions:
ME: How will I get my horses to your school?
(I assume they think we will walk them there and back the 62 km to the school (38 miles!))
ME: If I manage to get them to the school, where will they sleep or stay when not in use?
THEM: Ummm.... in the compound. (hearing my sigh that this was not adequate, they began fumbling for answers) We can set up a tent for them!
(I am thinking about the hazards of ropes getting wrapped around legs, tent pegs in hooves, this definitely not a good idea.)
ME: Who will look after the horses during the night?
ME: What about feed?
THEM: More silence.
At this point, I am beginning to fill in the silence with guesses as to what they are thinking. "They don't eat grass alone?"
ME: Do you have a budget for transporting the horses to your school? It'll cost about $264.00 (26,400 KES)*
THEM: We hoped you'd volunteer!
At this point, the lack of knowledge from these teachers was getting frustrating. It was to be expected. They haven't interacted with horses a day in their life, let alone other pets or animals. Why would I expect them to think this through or to understand that horses require attention, money, and so much effort?
In my heart my thoughts were pumping with each pulse: I was thinking, "You realize I volunteer every week? I'm not paid by any one. I don't have the means to bring horses to town every day for a week, nor the logistics!"
But instead of responding, it was my turn for silence. After a pause...
ME: I'll call you back after I talk with my husband.
Johnny and I met for lunch, and I told him what the school requested. We discussed it at length- he saying it is impossible to do, and me retorting that IS possible, we just need to figure out a way to do it in the FUTURE... because the reality is, we cannot afford $260 a day for transporting the horses, nor money for hiring someone to look after them, plus feeding them there, plus them not having a stable or anything... it just isn't feasible nor safe without better planning. If we owned a horse trailer, it might be more feasible in the future so it isn't something to just forget about.
I called the school back and explained that the reality is this would be a fabulous idea for the future, putting on a 'therapy camp' for these kids, but unfortunately, we cannot do it at this time...
This is actually the SECOND time this conversation has happened. Another group wants me to bring horses to their project to help with disabled children. Again, they do not understand that I can't just fly the horses to their project which is literally 34 km away (21 miles).
The exciting thing is that Horsepower is in demand. More people are seeing the importance of how horses can help children with all sorts of needs as well as bond them with their parents or guardians, and this means they will continue to take the efforts to get them the physical and emotional therapy they need.
One of the issues we have in this beautiful country Kenya is that parents of a child with disabilities do not understand that the child needs physical therapy. To them, a doctor's checkup once a year or so is enough. They lack understanding that therapy is an on going process that builds upon itself bringing the child to a higher level with each session.
This desire to see more equine therapy in the schools is promising. It means that they are learning and understanding the needs of the children.
Now if we can just get them to understand that even though I am not charging a fee, I can't just hire trucks or walk for hours on end to bring my horses wherever whenever they like. Horses need to be looked after properly just like children do!