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14-Year-Old Overcomes Fears On Horseback

Eli Weintraub was nervous.

He was trying to make his horse go from a walk to a faster speed—the trot.

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“I can’t, I can’t, I can’t,” said Eli as he rose up and down, up and down, to each beat of the trot.

He was riding a horse named Shasta—a Quarter Horse—that he doesn’t usually ride. 

Eli, 14, has autistic-like tendencies, though he’s undiagnosed.

“We call it Eli Syndrome,” said his grandmother Mike Trammell, who drives Eli to his weekly lessons at High Horses Therapeutic Riding Center.  Trammell calls herself the “Nanny slash taxi driver.” 

They’ve been coming to High Horses for the past six years—a 45-minute drive for them.

When he first started, Eli was too afraid to get on a horse. He was afraid of dogs, of animals, of grass, of forests--of everything, Trammell said.

“His anxiety level has gone down,” said Trammell. 

Trammell said Eli has learned how to plan. He’s learned that he’s in charge of making the horse stop and go. He’s in control of which way the horse turns. He’s in control of his fears.

“Being able to gain that confidence here in riding a large animal-he’s been able to quell that anxiety in other areas of his life,” his grandmother said.

Eli after his riding lesson on Wednesday.

Eli rides independently of side walkers. His posture and core strength has improved.

Sienna Whitney, his riding instructor, has worked with Eli for the past few years.

When Eli gets scared, she goes to his last success. She said they work in small steps to prove to Eli that he can whenever he thinks he can't.

“You did good, right? Sienna asked Eli after he finished trotting. “And you’re better for it?” she said.

At the end of his lesson, Eli said he likes to trot the most.

“It seems like it’s hard,” he said.

But he gets through it, every time.

In the end, it’s, “Just fun, fun, fun,” said Eli.

Eli is all smiles on his horse, Shasta, a Quarter Horse rescue that came to High Horses in October 2016.


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