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    How A Girl With Autism And A Misunderstood Horse Saved Each Other

    "You don't own the horse, you own her heart."

    It was the beginning of February in chilly Menomonee Falls, Wisc., when Lindsay Thompson prepared for her first riding lesson with horse trainer Rachel Devita-Anderson.

    "She wouldn't even look at you," Rachel said, recalling Lindsay's first lesson, "she refused to talk and she would hide behind her mom."

    Lindsay's social issues are her greatest challenge. Eye contact, communication, affection, and trust are extremely difficult for her.

    Throughout grade school Lindsay was bullied by her classmates for being "quirky."

    One afternoon during a lesson with Lindsay, Rachel pulled out an angry 6-year-old quarter horse named Joleen.

    Around Lindsay, Joleen was remarkably different. The horse lowered her head and yawned, a sign of relaxation and trust.

    With Rachel's guidance, Lindsay and Joleen made amazing progress.

    Autistic riders were deemed "unsafe" by the 4-H horse curriculum, but Rachel fought for therapeutic classes to be introduced for Lindsay.

    With this amazing opportunity, Lindsay and Joleen were ready to take on the Racine County Fair.

    We're in this together," Rachel said to Lindsay in the ring. "It's you, me and Joleen. We are here for you, just like you are here for us.”

    Joleen and Lindsay took home three first-place blue ribbons at the fair.

    Lindsay will take on the State Horse Expo this September with Joleen and Rachel by her side.

    "You don't own a horse," Rachel says of Lindsay and Joleen's relationship. "You own her heart, just as she owns your heart."

    Follow Lindsay's journey on her Facebook page, Lindsay's Hope-Horses Helping Kick Autism.