A bold, brave story about seeking help for an autistic boy

This is a true story of a small boy named Rowan, the fulfillment of his parents dreams and plans.

The Horse Boy:

A Father’s Quest to Heal His Son

By Rupert Isaacson $27.95

Publisher: Little Brown & Co

This is a true story of a small boy named Rowan, the fulfillment of his parents dreams and plans.

His father is a horseman whose vision of parenthood includes teaching his son to love riding.

His mother who has a PhD is psychology looks forward to learning about and enjoying her bright new baby.

At four years of age Rowan is diagnosed an autistic.

He retreats from life and the only breakthrough comes, when his father introduces him to horseback riding.

The boy who is usually fairly uncontrollable, runs under a fence and stands under the feet of an unpredictable mare named Betsy.

She is surprisingly gentle with Rowan.

He crows with joy when seated in front of his father on horseback.

Rupert Isaacson is a travel writer who had visited many countries and had worked extensively with the Bushmen of the Kalahari. At that time their land had been appropriated for use as National Parks.

Isaacson worked on the Bushmen’s behalf, developing friendships and learning their ways. He became intrigued with their “strange culture of healing through the use of trance.”

As Rowan becomes more withdrawn and remote from his parents, (except on a horse), his father decides to take him to the Shamans for healing.

His research tells him that the right place to go with Rowan, is to the Shaman healers in Mongolia. Mongolia has an ancient history of Shamanism, and there are rivers and lakes sacred to the people.

This book tells of that journey by van and horseback to the land of the Reindeer people, who live almost on the doorstep to Russia.

Anyone who enjoys horses or travel (or both) will love this book.

The story is told exclusively by Rowan’s father, although his mother, who is not a horsewoman, goes along, filled with hope.

This search for healing seems both daring and foolhardy, as they visit “sacred” waters and consult groups of Shaman.

The country is wild, beautiful and empty. The eagles and other powerful totems add to the mystery.

Rowan is six when they leave for Mongolia.

He is not toilet trained, he often speaks in “echolalia”, (repeating what is said to him), and he’s never had a friend.

On the plus side, he is very smart in some areas, and has an instant rapport with animals. His parents use singing, joking, gentle teasing, patience and love to help him through this harrowing trip. The healing that takes place is quite wonderful. A bright boy is “brought back” from wherever his autism takes them.

No one can really explain the changes in Rowan, certainly not his father, who journeys in faith.

All of this trip was filmed and recorded.

When Isaacson’s returned from Mongolia they bought a piece of land in Texas and established New Trails Farm where autistics and neurotypical children are “treated” on horseback. This is a bold, brave story.

Peggy Freeman is a freelance writer living in Red Deer.

Just Posted

Red Deer group looking to keep roads safe for cyclists

A Red Deer cycling group is concerned about road safety after multiple… Continue reading

Smoke and pets do not mix

Take care of your pets during the smoky weather

Former Red Deer lawyer sentenced

Charges included possession of stolen property

Man causes mischief with axe in Ponoka

Arson and attempted break and enter charges laid

WATCH: Raising money for kids at the Gord Bamford Charity Golf Classic

Former NHL players, Olympians, pro rodeo circuit members and musicians teed off… Continue reading

Oilpatch fears delays as U.S. judge orders further review of KXL pipeline route

CALGARY — Potential delays in the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline… Continue reading

‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin dies at 76

NEW YORK — Aretha Franklin, the undisputed “Queen of Soul” who sang… Continue reading

Arrests in Burnaby, B.C., as order against Kinder Morgan protest camp enforced

BURNABY, B.C. — The RCMP arrested protesters Thursday as officers enforced a… Continue reading

‘Hot and dirty work:’ Commander describes fighting massive Ontario wildfire

BRITT, Ont. — From a helicopter flying over a smouldering swath of… Continue reading

Calgary Fire Department logs record opioid overdose calls in July

CALGARY — The Calgary Fire Department says there were a record number… Continue reading

RCMP in Burnaby, B.C., say Kinder Morgan protest camp to be dismantled

BURNABY, B.C. — The RCMP arrested protesters when officers enforced a court… Continue reading

Study: Smokers better off quitting, even with weight gain

NEW YORK — If you quit smoking and gain weight, it may… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month