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Intern Insights: Dustin

Dustin Baker, an undergraduate Kinesiology student at UAB, has been interning at the Barn for the past couple of months. This internship will be the final step in his work towards his undergraduate degree. Afterwards, he plans on attending graduate school in order to become an occupational therapist. During the Winter Term, Dustin was a huge help in both daily chores as well as lessons. Dustin did a write-up on one such lesson, and I thought it was a unique insight into the progress that particular student has made. So, I decided to share it with you all. I hope you enjoy! (P.S. If you’re ever out here on a Thursday or Friday, please tell Dustin “thank you” for all of his hard work!)

“Over the Winter Term, I have witnessed Collin, one of our remarkable students, make great improvements in his cognitive ability. At first, Collin was having some difficulty maneuvering his horse with the reins. The instructor would give him a direction to go and he would pull the wrong side of the reins. As weeks passed, Collin has shown us that he is better at pulling the correct side of the reins and his vocal responses to the instructor are improving.

So far, in all the lessons, we are able to make out his words when he says, ‘walk-on’ and ‘whoa.’ His speech is difficult to understand at times and we have to get him to repeat himself on occasion; however, the phrase ‘walk-on’ and the word ‘whoa,’ have been all that I personally have witnessed him vocalize toward anyone while on his horse.

In Collin’s lesson last week, he started off with a good amount of energy but after 30 minutes or so, he seemed to start to doze off. His eyes were looking heavy and we started directing him toward the gate, without telling him that we were ending the lesson. When he saw the gate, he knew what was about to happen and he motioned his horse to whoa, then vocalized what I am sure to be the word ‘more.’ He said the word in a low tone so I informed the instructor of his discussion and we continued on with the lesson. He made so much progress that day cognitively.”