Great Oak Celebrates a Graduate

Great Oak Celebrates a Graduate

Graduation is celebrated worldwide, honoring people who have successfully completed a course of study.  At Great Oak, we like to celebrate special occasions with Blue Ribbon moments. This month’s we are honoring our first official Graduate. 

In February of 2019, Lead Instructor, Eva Finnan, had the privilege of assessing a woman who had fallen from a horse which resulted in a severe concussion and a vestibular nerve injury.  During her assessment, she explained that twenty-four hours a day, her world swayed as though she were on a boat and she was unable to work or perform normal activities.  

She followed a Post Concussion Syndrome recovery protocol, which helped, but her goal was to go on a trail ride again. Her sense of position in space was no longer accurate and she constantly had to do checks and balances to locate her hands and feet.

When she first arrived at Great Oak, the plan was to start slow.  She worked hard and increased her riding time from once a week to twice a week.  She rode with and without stirrups and practiced a lot of exercises with eyes closed, relying on our dedicated volunteers to lead the horse.  Two-point exercises progressed to what Eva calls “The Titanic Position” – standing up in the stirrups balancing over the pommel with hands out wide, looking straight ahead.  She was so excited and fascinated to find that this exercise actually forced her to find her feet and the correct position in the saddle when she sat down.

It was this moment when she realized she could sense where her feet were was very emotional.  What she had experienced in the saddle gave her the confidence to navigate her way through an airport without her husband’s assistance. 

In June, our rider went on holiday to a dude ranch.  She and her husband enjoyed trail riding and at the end of our 2021 Summer Session, our hard-working and determined rider walked, trotted confidently, cantered, and “Graduated” from Great Oak!