Tag: Equine assisted therapy

Table for Two – Chapter 8

Table for Two – Chapter 8

T-Squared Energy Connections[i]

July 2, 1971 – Coming Home

Author’s Note:  When I started this series of posts about people who grace a Table for Two, I had no idea where it would lead.  As we travel through the last fifty years, I feel it is important to address historical issues as they occurred.  Thank you, readers for taking this journey with me, wherever that might lead.

Tom Savino returned home from Vietnam to protesters and accusations of being a baby killer.  The transport plane carrying Tom and fellow soldiers taxied away from the main terminal after landing in the United States.  Ground crew directed the plane to a small service hangar to avoid disruptions to commercial flights.

Armed guards escorted the soldiers to military buses with darkened windows.  The loss of his left arm, just above his elbow made it difficult for Tom to shoulder his gear.  A guard hoisted Tom’s duffel, tossing it into the luggage compartment under the bus.

Twenty-four hours later, Tom arrived in Hartsburg.  A joyous contingent of family and friends greeted him at the bus station waving small American flags.  The smile on Tom’s mother’s face and the bear hug from his father helped, but the horrible acts of war he witnessed and committed overshadowed the excitement of coming home.


chapter-8-scone“Look at you Sara, no leg braces.  Love the cane; very fancy.  I ordered you a coffee and Independence Day Scone.  I hope that’s okay.”

“Sounds perfect!”  Grinning ear-to-ear, Sara hugged her cousin Stuart, joining him outside Table for Two.

“Two years of equine assisted therapy training did wonders for me.  I’ll always need a cane to help with balance, but no more hardware to lug around.  I’m so excited, Stuart.  I told you about the job I applied for at a Therapeutic Riding Center for the Handicapped in Michigan.  I start August first.  Can you believe it?”

“I didn’t know there was such a place till you told me you were applying for the job.”

“It opened last year and is the first of its kind in the U.S.”

“What about your dream to turn Gramps’ farm into a therapy farm?”

“That is still my dream.  I can’t think of a better way to learn how to make that happen.  I’ll get real-life experience and pick their brains on how to get started here.”

“Maybe I can visit you at the Center.  I have another year of graduate school at the University of Michigan.”

“I have something serious I want to discuss with you Sara.  The Fourth of July Parade Committee asked me lead the horse guard with you again.  I want to ride with the guard, but there is someone I believe deserves the honor of leading more than I do.  I spoke to the Parade Committee about Tom Savino taking my place.”

“Didn’t he just get home from Vietnam?”

“Tom arrived a couple of days ago; I went to his welcome home party.  He lost part of his left arm and is having a hard time adjusting to the mixed reactions people have about serving in Vietnam.”

“Tom didn’t start the war.  He stepped up and went when his number was called.  Maybe we shouldn’t be there; but people need to get a grip.  Taking out their frustrations on Tom is wrong.  It’s just wrong.”

“I agree, Sara.  I was lucky; being in graduate school kept me out of the draft.  If Tom is willing, I would like him to ride beside you.  A show of support and appreciation from the people of Hartsburg could go a long way toward making him feel like the hero he is.”

“Great idea, Stuart.  Have you talked to Tom about it?”

“Not yet.  I wanted to be sure the committee would back me on this.”

“A little equine therapy might help Tom too.  Let’s talk to him and make it happen.”


If you have never seen the Vietnam Memorial, I recommend you make the effort to visit the miniature version as it travels around the country.  I guarantee it will touch you on a visceral level.

PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is defined as having flashbacks, upsetting memories, and anxiety following a traumatic event. It was first officially recognized as a mental health condition in 1980, only five years after the end of the Vietnam War. For hundreds of years, these symptoms have been described under different names in soldiers from many wars. However, Vietnam Veterans with these symptoms were the first to have the term ‘PTSD’ applied to them. Despite the passage of 50 years since the war, for some Vietnam Veterans, PTSD remains a chronic reality of everyday life. – See more at: Public Health VA [1]

A Few Statistics

Vietnam War – Casualties:[2]

United States: 58,119 killed, 153,303 wounded, 1,948 missing in action

South Vietnam: 230,000 killed and 1,169,763 wounded (estimated)

North Vietnam: 1,100,000 killed in action (estimated) and an unknown number of wounded


[1] http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/publications/agent-orange/agent-orange-summer-2015/nvvls.asp

[2] http://militaryhistory.about.com/od/vietnamwar/p/VietnamBrief.htm

[i] T-Squared – In astrological charts the t-square configuration is a dynamic pattern that links and inter-locks energies. It can be seen in the major events, challenges, and themes that are encountered in life.

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Table for Two: Chapter 4

Table for Two: Chapter 4

T-Squared Energy Connections[i]

July 4, 1967 – Firecrackers

“How about a big hand for Sara Gibson, our leading lady and her horse Lilly,” the parade announcer said to the crowd in the reviewing stand.

“Sara’s been riding horses since before she could walk. Let’s all thank Sara and her cousin Stuart for getting the Hartsburg Annual Fourth of July Parade off to a beautiful start.”

Sara and Stuart waved to the moms, dads, grandparents and especially the kids lining the streets along the parade route.

Stuart leaned over toward Sara, “Let’s double back to Table for Two when we reach the end of the route. We can watch the rest of the parade and try the red, white and blue cake on the menu.”

“Sounds like a plan Stuart. I didn’t have time for breakfast this morning and I’m starving.”

* * *

Out of breath, Lucy, one of the twins who owns Table for Two, brought two slices of Firecracker Bundt Cake and two strawberry milkshakes tochaper-four-1 the table.

“Sorry it took so long getting your order out. Sadie’s off on an internship with an accounting firm in St. Louis this summer. I hired two part-timers to help, but I guess they both found better things to do today. Sadie owes me big time when she gets home.

“Did you notice the flyer? Table for Two will be open Friday nights for coffee, desserts, poetry and folk music. Mayor Jerry wants to bring more business downtown at night. He and Gladys will be here. Let me know by Thursday if you’re coming and I’ll reserve a table for you.”

* * *

“Thanks for doing the parade with me Stuart. I didn’t want to lead it by myself.”

“Glad to join you Sara. How many weeks since we went riding together? I want to catch up with you before the summer is over and we are both back at school. I’ll start.

“I declared a major in biochemistry, one of the hardest degrees at the University.  Ugh! I’m taking a summer lab class to lighten the load in the fall. Between lab hours and working part-time at the pickle factory, I meet myself coming and going. At least with labs there’s no homework.”

“Pickle factory? What on earth do you do at the pickle factory? I thought pickles grew in a field not in a factory,” Sara said with a smirk on her face.

“Very funny. Pickles start as cucumbers but are fermented, pasteurized and processed before they reach the store shelf. I measure the acid, pH, sugar and salt levels in the pickle liquor. The Food and Drug Administration publishes strict guidelines about pickle juice. Making pickles is a science,” Stuart said, holding back a laugh.

“Did you say you are majoring in biochemistry? What will you do after graduation, come up with a better pickle recipe.” Sara bit the inside of her mouth to stop giggling.

“Just what the world needs, a better pickle. Seriously, I love the research aspect of biochemistry. In another year or two I’ll decide on a specialty. How about you Sara? Any ideas what you want to do with the rest of your life?”

 

chapter-four-4“I think so. I’m going for a Master of Science in Physical Therapy with a specialty in Equine Assisted Therapy. It’s new in the United States.  However, Scandinavians started working with polio victims like me in 1946.  Eighteen years of riding helped me both physically and mentally. My leg braces disappear when I’m on a horse. I want to give other people with disabilities the same opportunity.”

“Wow. I didn’t realize you could get a degree in equine therapy. Does it include a class on the fine art of shoveling manure? Where there is a horse, there’s a shovel.”

“I think extra credit is offered for mucking the stalls. It just so happens Greeks used horses for therapy way back in Hippocrates time. I’ll need to make the case for completing my Master’s thesis in Germany, when the time comes. No formal program in equine therapy exists in this country, yet. Germany offers the best curriculum in the world.”

Sara and Stuart finished their Firecracker cake and shakes.

“Want to meet here Friday night, Sara? I’ll bring a friend if you do.”

“Sounds like fun. I’ll ask Lucy to save us a table for four.”

“Speaking of mucking out stalls, we better get Lilly and Dandy back to the farm. I’m sure they are ready for some oats. And when horses eat oats, horses make manure, and there’s bound to be a shovel nearby.”

“Let’s do it.”

chapter 4 fireworks.jpg

 

[i] T-Squared – In astrological charts the t-square configuration is a dynamic pattern that links and inter-locks energies. It can be seen in the major events, challenges, and themes that are encountered in life.