a calming routine for a participant with Alzheimer ’ s
My wife Donna began riding as a teenager , and as an adult she owned a Morgan named Whippoorwill Sachem . For 27 years , Donna and Sachem were a pair , showing in competitions , open dressage , and cross-country events . We lost Sachem in 2009 , but Donna ’ s love and connection to horses never waned . In 2015 , Donna was diagnosed with Alzheimer ’ s-related dementia , which causes her mind quite a bit of chaos .
Donna ’ s time at High Hopes began in the fall of 2020 — grooming and spending time around the horses . Since then , it has been fascinating and a fabulous surprise to see some of Donna ’ s old behaviors return . One of the first things Donna ’ s instructor , Chelsea , noticed was that when Donna cleaned her grooming brush she banged it on the wall of the barn . This was a habit
Donna had used when grooming Sachem and not something High Hopes taught her . Clearly Donna ’ s memory muscle was kicking in !
Donna loves her Fridays at the barn . She cooperates with showering and managing personal hygiene on the days we go to the farm ; these activities can be difficult without a reason to do them . I believe that even if one does not have a long history around horses , as Donna does , being around these gentle giants has a calming effect . I wish we had started Donna at High Hopes sooner . I firmly believe that initiating this program earlier would have had an even greater and longer lasting effect .