Javier’s first step was meeting the right horse.

Javier and Ben

Eleven years ago, Javier lived in his home country of Spain. Eleven years ago, Javier was paralyzed from the waist down after a car accident crushed part of his spinal cord. Even after surgery to repair the damage, he was told that walking would be unlikely. Even his parents had reservations about his recovery.

Javier didn’t accept that. He moved across the Atlantic to Miami, FL to pursue a heavy physical therapy program. That’s when he was introduced to Whispering Manes, and the people and horses there.

Whispering Manes is a therapeutic riding program in Miami, FL. They work with people who have different levels of horse riding ability and who have varying types of disabilities. His physical therapist highly recommended that he attend classes — or almost forced him to attend, to hear Javier put it.

It was clear to the staff at Whispering Manes that Javier wasn’t a horse person. The horses didn’t care, they helped anyway. He may not have liked the idea of working with horses at first, but it was hard not to notice how much improvement he was making. Javier’s attitude toward the horses has gone from sour to a cautious optimism, and that only seems to keep improving as his connection grows stronger with the horse he works with most, Ben.

Ben is a cross between a draft horse and a paint horse, and Erin, the executive director at Whispering Manes, describes him as having the best qualities of both. Ben is the second horse that Javier has worked with at Whispering Manes, and he’s the horse that Javier has had the deepest connection with. Javier even refers to Ben as a friend — something he never expected to call any of the horses before starting. And now all of the hours of therapy with Ben and on his own are paying off for Javier. He recently took his first step under his own power since the accident. He’s confident there will be many more.

Learn more about the programs at Whispering Manes

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