The Horse Boy Foundation is the brainchild of Rupert Isaacson, and grew out of his experience with his son Rowan’s autism. In April 2004, Rupert’s son Rowan was diagnosed with autism. At first Rowan seemed unreachable. However, whenever his father took him walking into the woods behind their house his tantrums would lessen. Contact with nature seemed to calm Rowan’s dysfunctions.
One day, Rowan ran away from his dad, got through the fence into their neighbor’s property and in among his horses. Rupert, a lifelong horseman and ex-professional horse trainer, had been keeping his son away from horses, thinking his child would not be safe around them. However, that day he witnessed something extraordinary Instead of trampling this squirming, babbling little child lying on his back among their hooves, the horses backed off gently
Then the alpha horse of the herd, a mare called Betsy, came over and began to lower her head in front of Rowan, to lick and chew with her lips. This is the sign of equine submission. Rupert had never seen a horse voluntarily make this submission gesture to a human. Clearly something was passing between the horse and his boy.
After talked to the neighbor, who owned Betsy, he got the key to the tack room. For the next three years father and son rode Betsy every day. Eventually Rowan began to talk, to engage with his environment and with other people.
In 2007, Rupert Isaacson and his wife took their five year old autistic son Rowan on a journey across Mongolia. They traveled in a mini van and on horseback from traditional healer to traditional healer. There was great improvement in Rowan’s behavior after the trip.
The journey resulted in the 2009 bestselling book and PBS documentary of the same name: The Horse Boy. After returning from Mongolia, the Isaacson family started the Horse Boy Foundation to help make horses and nature available, free of charge, to other children, autistic or not, who might not otherwise have access to them. Since then, he has been working internationally with autistic children and horses at camps and centers in North America and Europe.
Rupert will be in the San Francisco Bay Area doing a 2-day clinic for parents, therapists, horsemen and anyone else who is interested in learning the Horse Boy Method. The clinic will take place on February 9 &10 in Half Moon Bay California at the Square Peg ranch at Canyon Creek Equestrian Center.
On February 7th, there will be a screening of his documentary film at The Menlo Circus Club, in Atherton, Ca. Rupert will be available for a book signing and a Q&A. He will talk about his journey and read from both The Horse Boy book and also The Healing Land, which tells the story of his life with the Bushmen of the Kalahari in Southern Africa.
The Horse Boy foundation website: http://www.horseboyfoundation.org
The Square Peg foundation website http://www.squarepegfoundation.org