“My heart has been stolen, and I am glad to say the island of Tobago is the most thoughtful thief. The beautiful people who occupy its cultivated land have moved my soul beyond what I thought was possible. The project is not just a place for therapy; it is a place where anyone of any size, shape, and age can go to be revived. You are given more than an opportunity to ride a horse. You get to feel the emotion, the passion, the luxurious mane and coat of the horse, and the both of you form a powerful team as the journey along the trail ride begins.
The history behind every animal at the park is very unique, however I am not a spoiler here! You must go to the project to hear all about the peculiar animals, told by two truly passionate people: Veronika and Lennon, the founders of it all. The love and dedication they have for the program, and for people who go to experience the trail ride (and often much more), is surreal and purely inspiring. I find it quite an arduous task to find the right words to explain the magic that happens there. Every inch of their park area was built upon love. The workers, volunteers, and the children who go to the park for therapy designed each piece of artwork. As I learned more about the park and the foundation of people who created it all, I was in utter awe.
I spent a lot of time with the children who came to the park for therapy, most of them with a disorder and/or a disability of such inhibiting their ability to function properly in their daily life; many of the children were on the autistic spectrum, or diagnosed with Downs Syndrome, others had to be held by a caregiver during the first few years of their life. I would walk around the park with the children and other volunteers, helping to strengthen both the spinal and lower extremity muscles in the body of each child; it was a very emotional rollercoaster to say the least. For some of the children, I would simply be assisting Veronika with placing the child in a prone position on a horse. While the child rested on the horse, feeling it’s heart beat and sensing the calmness of its emotions, her and I would massage the hands and feet of the child to calm of the nerves innervating the muscles. I learned such a valuable lesson that day, that no matter if I have a certification, a degree, and become a professional in the field of Physical Therapy, nothing is more important than what I learn when I am extant with a child during spiritual healing. I could sense the pain the child was experiencing and all I wanted was to transfer it to my own body. Nevertheless, God has a reason for everything and that day he showed me a glimpse of the person I can become. When it came time to say goodbye, I absolutely refused to let any of them believe that I would not be back again. It was and is the truth; I will return when I am able to.
As I boarded my first flight out of Tobago it felt like I had chains around my ankles, enough weight to make it hard to walk. It was enough weight to make me realize that I had done exactly what I went there to do, and I was proud of myself and so very thankful for my fifteen days in Tobago. I would highly recommend this Internship to others seeking an experience in Equine Therapy. The project also encourages others to visit the facility for a tour, or gain hours of volunteering with the children at the park.
Thank you, to all of the hardworking people at the project, I could not have done it without you. Indeed, my soul has been revived. I willingly leave part of my heart in Tobago.
Jessa Yvonne Baisden ”