Kelly mom and Romeo

Kelly Finds a Sense of Belonging

When Kelly started high school, her mom was looking for an after-school activity where her daughter, who has autism, could thrive.

Now Kelly never misses her Thursday night riding class at Fieldstone. It is where she is most at ease. She comes out of her shell and is more verbal than anywhere else, says her mom, as Kelly grooms her horse, Romeo, and visits with her instructor, volunteers and friends.

“Kelly has found a way to open up and feel part of something here,” says Kim, her instructor. “She has a sense of calmness. There’s no judgement and she can just be herself and feel accepted.”

When Kelly comes to groom Romeo, she greets him with a gentle smile. As she brushes him, he lowers his head and closes his eyes. They have formed a connection.

When she rides Romeo, she sits tall and has a gentle pressure on the reins. You see their trust and confidence in one another as they trot around the arena. As Kelly comes to a halt, she gives him a pat and says, “Good boy, Romeo.” When she says “Walk on,” or “Trot,” he
promptly moves ahead.

“She has a natural ability,” says Kim, her instructor. “When Kelly’s on Romeo, there is no autism.”

This past spring Kelly developed a seizure disorder which requires extra assistance. Her mom, a parent mentor for Geauga County ESC, took our volunteer training and now walks alongside her during class to ensure her safety. Thursdays are extra special as mom and daughter relish being around the horses together, laughing and smiling.

Kelly’s passion for horses can be seen in her artwork. She often draws Romeo and recently painted two horse shoes for her room. As you walk down the barn aisles at Fieldstone, you can see many of her horse drawings
donning the stall walls.

“We can’t ever imagine not being involved with Fieldstone. It’s that special to us,” says Kelly’s mom, who says her husband is hoping to volunteer someday soon, too.