Daria lived with her babushka until the diabetic woman became too ill too care for her granddaughter. Daria was eleven.
The rural area in Russia which was home to Daria and her babushka was also home to cows and horses. As a little girl, Daria roamed among her neighbors' large animals. She grew comfortable with them, despite their size and strength. When the young girl had to enter an orphanage, she left behind one of her great loves--farm animals--especially horses.
Before we even left Russia, Daria found ways to make it plain to us that she yearned for contact with horses again. Last night she got her wish.
Daria is now volunteering for an organization called STARS that is just about three miles from us. STARS gives disabled children who are normally so limited by their handicaps, whether mental or physical, the freedom of riding a horse.
The STARS "campus" is down right pastoral. Rolling green hills are the background for its red buildings, numerous horses and farm cats.
When a rider arrives at STARS each week, she is required to find her helmet hanging on a hook in the barn. Then she is helped onto the same horse each time. The animal waits patiently next to a ramp during the process. Below the little girl Daria would be helping is mounting "Brownie" by backing onto the horse then swinging around.
Once I knew Daria's rider had mounted, I went outside to watch for them to exit the barn. I had a feline companion during my wait.
When Daria's team emerged, she was on the far side of Brownie.
One of Daria's responsibilities was to help her rider maintain her balance with what STARS calls an "Arm over Leg" hold.
In this photo, Daria's team is the second from the right. The kids are just about to do pole weaving.
All in all, I think the evening was as theraputic for Daria as it was for her happy horse-rider!