Meet Our Families

V.J. Meets Roni

Rocky Mountain Rider

V.J., a 15-year-old boy with autism, meets Roni a 2-year-old Quarter Horse filly owned by his aunt Juli Doyle, of Shepherd Montana.

Juli wrote:
“My brother and his family came up from Wyoming, as they do every Memorial Weekend (to visit my father’s gravesite in Rockvale). They have a son, V.J., who is autistic. He cannot speak, but is always making loud strange sounds and is constantly moving. He carries toys, pillows, noise-makers, etc. with him at all times to keep his hands, arms and mind occupied (otherwise he loses his patience and temper and gets very frustrated, at times even hitting himself). Needless to say, animals are usually very stand-offish with him, and he has never shown any interest in them at all.

I went out Saturday afternoon to feed the horses and everyone came along. I was quite a-ways ahead of everyone with the wheelbarrow of hay. I turned around to head back and there was Roni, my gray filly, at the gate with V.J. and his parents. Roni had her head lowered and was sniffing V.J. He was actually being calm and touching her on her face. He seemed interested in no one else, just V.J. nor was she interested in eating hay with all of the other horses. V.J. started swinging his arms with his toys and noise makers after a few minutes, and even that did not bother Roni. She just stood there holding her head down next to him. It was as if she knew he was mentally handicapped and it was OK. She did not startle or move away. It was really quite moving.

“We were all amazed at the calmness that Roni had with V.J. We were even more astonished at the fact that V.J. actually was calm and seemed interested in and concentrated on touching Roni, even if only for a few minutes. It was very moving and special moments that we will all remember