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On Thursday June 6, 1996, I made this entry into Dillard’s journal as if he was writing: “9:30 – Coffee Creek Riding Center – first class of therapeutic horseback riding. Wore brown cowboy boots and hat, pink helmet. Rode Miss Scarlet – petted and kissed her. Helpers – Kim, Annie, and Lisa. Played basketball, hoop and stick game, red light/green light, exercised, and raced! Grand Moe and Mom with me.” Thus, the relationship of boy and horse, student and volunteer began. I “let” go that morning as I watched my 2-year-old son being carefully carried away from me by a teenage girl to meet and greet a gentle giant. The teenager, Kim Cloud, and the giant, Miss Scarlet touched the body, mind and heart of Dillard Drew. Their gifts of time, self, and love are most evident today.dillard1Dillard’s body needed assistance just to sit upright on Miss Scarlet. He wore a wide belt about his waist for support, and he tightly grasped two handles for control. Today, Dillard rides in a saddle and “drives” the horse with a gentle pull of the reins steering through a course of orange cones.Dillard’s mind expanded as his cognitive awareness was stimulated by games like locating colored blocks and finding the surprise inside the block. Also, large numbers and letters were strategically placed around the arena so Dillard could find and identify them. Games of “count the dots on the dice” and “hide and seek” with an object about the horse encouraged cognitive growth. Presently, Dillard will quickly and verbally direct volunteers to his favorite games of therapy.In all areas of development, Dillard has progressed and matured as a result of Coffee Creek Riding Center, but it’s his heart that’s been touched most tenderly. He shares his heart with a young woman whom he trusts, listens to, and loves dearly. Kim has taught Dillard independence, perseverance, and pride on top of a horse. She is always greeted with a flirty smile, a bear hug, or a soft kiss. And a piece of Dillard’s heart belongs in heaven with Miss Scarlet for upon her back she inspired him to learn about himself and his possibilities. On January 10, 1997, a possibility bore reality as Dillard walked independently with his two canes for the first time! That very same day as we were joyfully celebrating, Miss Scarlet gave up her life. (Scarlet age 30)Although her years of service are done, one day, Dillard, the man, will ride Miss Scarlet again! He will pet her nose, hug her back and thank her for her gifts of loyalty and unconditional love.Paula Drew – Dillard’s Mom – 9/21/98
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