Therapy With Horses – The Road to Glory

Even with a disability, a dream of caring for and riding a horse can come true.

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Jewell Cox caring for her horse.
Jewell loves caring for Glory and forming a strong bond with her horse.

Therapy with horses is possible, but bringing a horse home seemed nearly impossible a few years ago. With my disability of arthrogryposis, people didn’t believe I could care for a horse. With my leg braces and push wheelchair, it looked impossible for someone like me to have a horse of my own. I proved them wrong, and it took courage and determination to get what I’ve always dreamed of.

Young Rider Magazine LogoThroughout my love of horses, I have learned to never give up. There were many times I could have given up, but I chose not to. I’d wanted a horse for 11 years until I was given a chestnut Tennessee Walking Horse named Glory. Glory changed my life from the moment I met her, and I knew I was going to keep her in my life. I rode and bonded with Glory for two years before she became mine.

On October 4, 2019, my lifelong dream came true when we brought Glory home. Glory and I have been through so much just to get to this point. My family built a barn for her, and we got a goat to be her companion. Glory was brought home at the beginning of fall break, so I had plenty of time to spend with her.

Up to the Challenge

Having her home felt like a dream. I would look out the window and couldn’t believe she was out in the field. I went out several times a day to brush, talk to, and spend time with her. She did very well with moving to a new home and getting used to our goat, Flash.

Having my horse at home has also brought new challenges. I’ve always dreamed of caring for a horse myself, but in reality, I couldn’t. It was the worst feeling that I couldn’t do everything to care for Glory. I wanted to be as independent as I could, but certain tasks got in the way of that. At first, I couldn’t even push myself up the gravel ramp to the barn without getting my wheels stuck.

Jewell Cox standing next to her horse.One day my parents were busy and I wanted to go outside to check on Glory. I wasn’t going to wait for help, so I got my braces on and went to my wheelchair. I got in it, put my crutches on my lap, and rolled outside. When I got to the ramp of the barn, I parked my wheelchair and stood up with my crutches. I then walked up the ramp with my crutches to see Glory standing there at the gate waiting for me. I made it and stayed on the outside of the gate for my safety, but I was able to stand there to talk to Glory and give her attention.

It was very hard learning how to do things in the barn, but I wasn’t going to let simple obstacles stop me. The weather was also a big factor when going out to Glory. My mom would say, “It’s raining, are you still going out?” I of course responded, “Why do you even ask me that? You know I go out there no matter what.” My mom would just smile at that answer. I won’t let any weather stop me unless there’s lightning.

Working Hard

After a few weeks of Glory being home, I was learning how to be more independent when getting around. I was now able to push myself up the ramp to the barn and even help scoop manure. While learning how to do things on my own, I also was preparing myself for riding by building more core and arm strength.

Aside from physical therapy, I work out on the treadmill, use an arm machine, and do core exercises on an exercise ball. I feel so much stronger than I did before, and I feel like I’ll be an even stronger rider.

Not only have I been preparing myself for riding again, but my family and I have been preparing Glory. My dad and I have worked on some basic groundwork skills that will help when riding. With some more training, Glory will be a great horse.

Living a Dream

Jewell Cox riding her horse.I believe in Glory, and I always will. Riding her helps me gain balance and strength, and mentally she is my therapy. On a hard day, I can go talk to Glory and everything is OK. She’s also my best friend.

I’m excited to finally start living my dream with Glory. This is a new chapter for us, and I couldn’t be more excited. She has the best home and is loved very much. I will ride her all the time, and I will progress with my equestrian skills. I’ve also had a dream of barrel racing, but for now, Glory and I are just going to ride for fun.

Never give up on your dreams, no matter how hard the road may be to get there. Anything can happen in your life as long as you don’t give up.

This article about therapy with horses by Jewell Cox appeared in the Winter 2021 issue of Young Rider magazine. Click here to subscribe!

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