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As Rowan becomes more withdrawn and remote from his parents, (except on a horse), his father decides to take him to the Shamans for healing.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

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