Thursday, June 11, 2009

Horses and Healing in Outer Mongolia (1)

When I was at the library a few days ago I picked up a new book, The Horse Boy: A Father's Quest to Heal His Son by Rupert Isaacson, that I have to share with you.

In a nutshell, the story is this: Rupert finds that his son Rowan, who is severely autistic, has an affinity toward horses. While Rowan is unable to relate to people, from the very first time he sees Betsy, a neighbor's horse, he has an unusual connection with her. When Rowan and Rupert begin riding together, it's an amazing experience for Rowan. He not only loves the horse, but riding seems to allow him to make verbal leaps he's never made before.

So...eventually, Rupert decides that the best way to heal his son is to take him to Outer Mongolia, a place where 6,000 years ago, the first horse had been domesticated, and a culture in which horses and healers are firmly entwined.

In Rupert's words: "What if we were to start our journey with the shamans of the horse people, who lived on the great oceans of the pasture where the horse was born, and then ride up to the forest of the taiga, Siberia, to see the shamans of Dukha, the reindeer herders, whose traditions of shamanism has been unbroken, I had read, for thousands of years, and whose shamans were considered the most powerful of the region? To travel from the shamans of the horse people to the older shamans of the reindeer people..."

Rupert, Rowan, and Kristin end up taking this journey, and while it's extraordinarily difficult--and there are disappointments as well as successes--the end result is that Rowan's behavior is magically transformed.

It's not that his autism is "cured," but that some of the most difficult symptoms--continuous tantrums, an inability to learn how to control his bowels (He's seven years old when the trip begins and not toilet-trained), and an inability to relate to other people or have a single friend--significantly change. It's the most uplifting book, and one I highly recommend. does this relate to bipolarity? That's my topic for tomorrow. Stay tuned.


jh said...

Wow, this post brought tears to my eyes. Once again, it shows how believing that transformation is possible and really listening to the soul and the world can affect real change. Thank you for such an inspiring and such a REAL story.

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Wellness Writer said...

Dear JH,
Welcome to my blog. I feel exactly the same way you do. It brought tears to my eyes, and made me feel that there are possibilities for healing that I'd never imagined.


KJ said...

I can't wait to read this book. I love stories where parents go to such lengths and show such commitement for their children. It is amazing the things that can be accomplished in the name of love and faith. I will stay tuned to find out how you tie it in to bipolarity.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear KJ,
Isn't it extraordinary? If it had been my son, I can only hope that I would have had the same insight, and the same willingness to pursue an "unusual method of healing" that was so difficult to arrange, and such an amazing adventure.

Actually, it's Rupert's insight on autism that relates to my feelings about bipolarity. I needed an extra day to figure out how to explain why it made such a difference to me.


winstondc2009 said...

As a special educator, I have heard stories about the close connection that can be established between children with autism and dogs, horses &/or other animals. I am glad to see this book published, and look forward to reading it soon. Lucky for me, school is out tomorrow, and it becomes reading season.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear winstondc2009,
Welcome to my blog. Actually, Rupert talks about this research in his book. And he's formed a foundation in Austin, Texas, to work with autistic kids and horses.

I've read about people who suffer from other illnesses who truly improve on "healing ranches," but the spiritual aspect of this is very appealing to me as well.

Have fun reading it tomorrow. I read online that the film version of the book will be released in fall of this year.


Jeff said...

thanks for your great post about The Horse Boy. Your readers can find more information about Rupert Isaacson, his son Rowan, and their amazing journey across Mongolia here:

We try to keep it up to date with the latest information we get from Rupert!


Wellness Writer said...

Dear Jeff,
Thanks for the additional info!


meadonmanhattan said...

Thanks, Susan, for bringing this book to light. I look forward to reading more about it on your blog. There's simply so much about science, physiology, psychology, spirituality, that we don't know about. One of our sons was kind of "tamed," if you will, with the gift of a cat for his birthday. It's like he became a calmer, more responsible person. Animals, art, music, etc., can have wonderful effects on us. I consider them God's gifts to us to delight in.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear meadonmanhattan:
Thanks for letting me know. I know that since getting our new dog Jack three weeks ago, I feel happier and more serene. Having had dogs for 14 years, their deaths were devastating, and we remained dog-free for a year.

But, once we were ready to adopt another dog, I was so glad. And now that we have, I feel so happy to have him in our lives.

P.S. That's nice about your son!