I want hippotherapy.

While I’ve never really been an avid fan of horseback riding, there’s something appealing about it.  I have gone riding a few times.  I do like horses.  I never importuned my parents for a pony, as I knew it would be more realistic for me to run away and join the circus than for my mother to allow any more pets.  But there’s still an attraction.  I collected unicorns.  I learned to draw a horse realistically before any other animal.  I fantisized about being The Man from Snowy River.

While it’s too late in life for me to be a champion jockey now, there is something still there.  I think it has something to do with syncing the rhythm of your body to that of another being.  It’s the same kind of exhilaration that comes from being part of a smooth crew team.  Pulling in that rhythm as one does something to the mind, connecting you in sensation and experience.  You and the horse or you and the team are feeling the same movements, feeling the same air stirring around you, adjusting your bodies to fit each other’s movements.  While I don’t quite understand how that adjustment connects us, it indicates some sort of subliminal ties.

Perhaps that’s why therapy on horseback, or hippotherapy (not hypnotherapy), is becoming more popular for children.  Now, i know all of you are asking what the ‘potamuses have to do with horses, but never fear, I will explain.  Hippos means horse in Greek, and hippopotamus means ‘water horse’.  Personally I think they could’ve gone with something closer to manatee, like manapotamus (water cow) or ‘river beast’, however you say that in Greek.  Calling a hippo a horse is like calling an elephant a dog.  Sure, they could both be pets named Rover, but one can nap at the foot of your bed and the other one needs a barn to sleep in.

So far hippotherapy being used in conjunction with other forms of therapy to correct problems with vision and sensory perception as well as balance.  If you think about it, it makes sense.  You need an acute sense of balance to stay on top of a moving object like a horse.  Some of us (Hello, my name is Stacey) need an acute sense of balance to continually stand upright.  Same thing goes for sensory and visual perception.  Horseback riding broadens the range of experiences in these areas, forcing your brain to learn.  But what most parents are saying is that the therapeutic value is even more intense in regards to emotions.  Children might not necessarily be excited to go to therapy.  It can be frustrating, and can ruin a good mood.  But what kid doesn’t want to get up on a horse?  It’s a mood booster as well as a therapeutic exercise.  a) I want that and b) when and for how long will my health insurance cover it?

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Black Cloud, White Feather

I hope that at least one or two of my previous posts has proved me to be a quasi-intelligent person, because this one certainly won’t.  But they say the first step in overcoming your problems is to admit you have them.  Well here goes:  I have a unicorn addiction.  And it’s not a small one.

At first it started out small – little figurines, a music box or two that my parents would buy for me.  But then it got bigger – unicorn busts, unicorn clothing, even unicorn shelves to put more unicorns on.  I just couldn’t stop.

A part of my craving was the classy movies of the time, the Last Unicorn in particular.  And while I no longer have the same admiration for the author of the book, Peter Beagle, that I once did (I’m still waiting for my copy of ‘Two Hearts’, you putz), the movie does have a certain self-empowerment message and additional charm that I approve of.  However, other standards of the day, particularly ‘Legend’, left something to be desired.  Has anyone seen legend as an adult?  Or at least listened to the musics?  If not, don’t.  And the dirty horses they used to play unicorns were just sad, really.

The other two unicorn movies I can recall from my childhood were both Unico movies:  The Adventures of Unico, and Unico and the Fantasic Island.  Both were pretty classy.  In the first a devil learns about making friends  and a little girl (Ok, cat first, girl later) learns about being content with what she has.  Pretty classy lessons.  I think I’m going to try and say classy in this post as many times as possible.  Anyway, in the second one a fat cat learns not to be a bully, and a snotty older brother learns to be less snotty.  Kinda.  So that’s classy.

The point is not many of these movies have much to do with today, or at least where I am today.  Sure, Last Unicorn is a good little lesson for a younger girl just learning to stand on her own to feet, finding her own way.  And the Unico movies do give some kiddie friendship and respect lessons.  But really, I think as an adult I’ve already learned most of these lessons.  With the possible exception of the being snotty one – maybe I should watch that second Unico again.

But it brings me to the very first Unico movie, the one I’ve never seen, that may have a lesson I haven’t learned yet.  Unico: Black Cloud, White Feather was never translated into English.  Thus far I have been unable to secure a version with English subtitles – but as I’m writing this I realize I have a friend who is a Japanese translator.  Duh.  Leo, I need your superpowers.  Anyway, the supposed plotline is that Unico is running away from the jealous gods again, who don’t think he should have the right to make people happy.  This time he ends up at a highly polluted city where he makes friends with a girl who is suffering and very ill due to the pollution of a nearby factory.  Obviously, as it is his nature to make people happy, he’s going to shut down the nasty, evil factory that makes technological devices at a cheap, cheap price.  And it came out decades before “An Inconvenient Truth”.

I’ve been mildly sick since Thanksgiving, as has Mike.  Maybe this whole living together thing means we’re just passing it back and forth alot.  But really, I just think it’s the factory.  I’ve got to find that evil factory that’s polluting my personal airspace.  Say, where’s my unicorn?