The Testimony From The Parents of Sweet Ashley Guyer
"Ashley Dawn Marie Guyer was born on September 3rd, 2002. From birth she has had her struggles; born drug and alcohol addicted due to substance abuse from her birth mother she was taken into protective custody at birth.
Jody and myself, Chris, took her into their home at 2 days of age as foster parents and years later were able to adopt Ashley and her two brothers, Devin (now 13) and Demetrius (now 15).
Although some of Ashley’s deficiencies were immediately known (drug and alcohol withdrawals, feeding/swallowing problems, unable to hear) others have uncovered as she has grown. She has a spinal column/brain stem disorder known as Arnold Chiari 1 malformation which in some cases left untreated can result in permanent muscle loss and/or death due to organ failure.
She underwent surgery (not her first nor her last) to correct this issue at the age of 3 – a major surgery which very nearly cost Ashley her life but being the trooper she is came out screaming!! Ashley has been diagnosed with Autism, Velo-facial cardio disorder, Arnold-Chiari 1 Malformation, has a Y22Q11 deletion chromosal disorder, muscular problems, hearing deficiencies in both ears, macular degeneration, a rare bone disorder which is still being researched and other issues as she grows!
Ashley’s mother, Jody has been a true advocate for her and does not stop when Doctor’s can not come up with diagnosis for her symptoms and is unrelenting until resolved! Every aspect of Ashley’s life has been guided by her mother – doctor’s, diet, playing, therapy (speech and physical) and Jody will fight tooth and nail to ensure she has what she needs to have Ashley live the best fullest life!
As Ashley is full blooded Native American she has a natural affinity towards animals (dogs and horses being her two most favorites). When the opportunity came up to get Ashley involved with Equi-librium (my younger sister has Down Syndrome and benefitted from horseback riding therapy with Equi-librium so I was familiar with their program and success) we jumped at the chance!
Due to her Chiari 1 Ashley was extremely quiet from birth and saying she was shy from strangers (especially men) is an understatement. She was at first a little shy to even get on her first horse but that went away very quickly and she soon eagerly anticipated each therapy session.
Her mother and I were always excited to see her in the arena with her side walkers and would wave and take pictures but Ashley would look down and shy away. It was not an overnight change for her but she has grown exponentially over the years. First by holding her head up when riding as well as her posture and her confidence level rose as well. Still somewhat shy you could see her sneak in some words with her side walkers from time to time.
She became more comfortable around the horses and naturally around Kent Crumpley with Equi-librium. Kent was one of the very first men that she felt comfortable enough around to speak to – she wouldn’t even talk with her male Doctor’s at the time! Jody and I kept Kent up to speed with her progress (again which was not noticeable from day to day but huge over large time periods). Ashley was moving forward, doing very well physically, emotionally and her confidence rising!
If you had to define one moment that I knew this was the best therapy Ashley could ever have was on the last night of riding for this fall session and Kent asked Ashley to come out into the arena. She was only somewhat hesitant but came right out and stood next to Kent. He said he wanted to recognize Ashley and how proud he was of her and how well she has done – at this point he brought out a rope and said he wanted to give this to her – the rope he used at a National Roping Championship! Ashley smiled (which is not an easy feat since she doesn’t have very strong facial muscles) and accepted the rope which she proudly hangs by her bed to this day! The impact Equi-librium has made goes well beyond just Ashley and horses have become a way of life for the entire family. At one point Kent had told all the families that the therapy was in danger of not continuing due to funding which just devastated us.
Jody and I both knew what an impact this program had made on Ashley and didn’t want her regressing. It was such a concern that we actually started to discuss purchasing a horse! After speaking to several friends and keeping in close contact with Kent about the fate of the program we did end up purchasing a pony to ensure Ashley would be able to be around horses and to continue to ride. Of course a few days later Kent contacted us and let us know the program would indeed continue – Oh Well – now Ashley is twice as thrilled!!
When the next therapy sessions began we found out that Ashley’s therapy horse, Kommander, would be retiring. Ashley had ridden that horse since she was 4!! After several deep discussions we realized that Ashley’s pony, Spirit, would be getting a stable mate!
Not to be cliché but words cannot express what an impact Equi-librium has had on Ashley. Now the moment she gets on her therapy horse and until she leaves she is chatting away with her side walkers – even if she has just first met them! What a huge difference this has made for not only her but all of us! In fact on the last ride of this fall session she said “I better make this one count!!”.
Ashley has now been through 18 surgeries (and counting) she is doing great. One final story of Ashley’s proudest moment. Kent had approached me about an upcoming rodeo and asked if Ashley could ride in it with Kommander – to represent not only Equi-librium but also to have a retired therapy horse to do the honors! I was a little reluctant not sure how Ashley would do in front of a large crowd and announcer but decided to go for it. When we arrived we parked quite a distance away from the arena but Ashley was very insistent to carry her own saddle into the stable’s (quite a feat for her but she did manage). She entered 4 events and took 1st place in all 4!!! Everytime her name was announced and she accepted her trophy and ribbons she smiled (so much she told me her face hurt). My wife and I said to each other this is what it is all about!" ~Guyer Family