My name is Charlie Avent and I am autistic. I want to tell you about how a horse named Oscar saved my life and helped me to become an apprentice horse whisperer.
Before I discovered horses, I was constantly upset and depressed. I was bullied at school for having autism and I felt like a complete outcast. In my second year at college I was struggling to make sense of my life, to find meaning or purpose in myself. I hated myself for having autism. Then one
day, my art tutor Patricia took me to meet Oscar.
Oscar is a horse. A bay Thoroughbred, and from the moment I met him I felt my own self pity become lost in a sea of love. I was told he’d had a difficult start in life, too, and I felt like he was asking for my friendship. In return he said he would help me learn his language and that he would never let me fall back into myself. Since that day my heart has been set on becoming a horse whisperer!
The connection I had with Oscar was amazing and Patricia could not believe what she was seeing. She decided to arrange some horse therapy sessions for me with a real horse whisperer!
The stable yard was run by a lady was called Dawn. She practices Natural Horsemanship. When I arrived at Dawn’s house I was loudly welcomed by Hector (the friendly, big, black Labrador) who Dawn keeps as her friend and companion. Dawn took me to the main field where her herd of horses were waiting to be fed with their morning hay. As soon as I saw them I knew that this was an amazing place where I would learn a great deal about horses.
I feel rather silly now but I asked Dawn if she had heard of my hero, Monty Roberts.
She replied, “Of course, I am a Horse Whisperer!”
I was totally amazed to hear this. It was the most incredible feeling, to realise exactly what was happening! This was my destiny – to help Dawn and to become a horse whisperer apprentice.
Over the next year I became more confident, competent and able, and I even got to meet my hero – Monty Roberts. When I told Monty my plan he advised me to make my own luck, wished me good learning and told me to go for it!
I soon realised that I wanted a horse of my own and had already decided on the name – Spirit.
We arranged to visit a stables with some horses for sale and I was introduced to a young and very handsome colt. Although I instantly liked his spirited nature, Dawn said no to my buying him. So we went to the next paddock where I met a young ISH x Thoroughbred and I immediately fell in love!
Her name was Summer’s Rain.
We agreed on a price with the breeder and this amazing horse
became my own on June 20th 2010.
Spirit and I have a wonderful relationship and since we met I have extended her name to Spirit Of Summer’s Rain. She is an extremely easy and kind horse despite still being young. We play and learn as partners and I have been training her with Natural Horsemanship methods almost totally unaided.
Oscar is still a close friend to me even though I don’t get to see him nearly as much as I want to. Dawn has since become part of the Horse Boy Foundation and works alongside Rupert Isaacson, author of the book The Horse Boy. Along with Gillian Naysmith, she now runs therapy camps for autistic children and their families. I work as an assistant on these camps and do my best to look after those who need special help. I enjoy telling the visiting families about my life-changing experience with Oscar, and introducing Spirit to all those who wish to meet to her.
Spirit and I want to inspire others to try Natural Horsemanship. We also want to inspire others with disabilities or difficulties to focus on their strengths and interests. Our message is: Your interests are your strengths.
I am now writing a book called Following The Hoofprints which I’m hoping to publish in 2013.