After rocky start, Brendan enjoying the ride

Brendan Bueschel rides at Heartland Farm Learning Center as part of his ongoing horsemanship therapy. (Ethan May photo)

For the Republic-Times

Eager to come into this world, Brendan Bueschel arrived three months premature and only weighed one pound, four ounces.

Brendan’s early arrival was further complicated by a grade four brain hemorrhage resulting in medical and developmental issues, including autism.

His mother Brenda Bueschel and aunt Gale Branson made it clear Brendan had overcome quite significant health obstacles in his early years; he spent three-and-a-half months in the neonatal intensive care unit.

With plenty of help from doctors, family and teachers, Brendan was able to graduate from Waterloo High School. Now 21, he is a transition student at WHS, where he received the perfect attendance award this year.

Even with a myriad of doctors appointments and common illnesses that come and go, Brendan was determined to not miss a day of school.

“Before the year even started, Brendan told me he wasn’t going to miss a day,” Brenda told the Republic-Times.

Brendan set his goal and reached it. The goal couldn’t have been reached without some help along the way, and Brendan receives help in a unique way.

At around age 4, Brendan began horsemanship therapy. Working with horses can serve as both a learning tool and as exercise. Riders learn to not only ride, but also the responsibility that comes with caring for horses.

Located in rural Columbia, Heartland Farm Learning Center has been giving Brendan lessons for the past few summers. 
Branson remembered nearly pushing Brendan onto the horse on his first lesson with Heartland. Today, Brendan guides the horse himself and is even learning to guide the horse with one hand while trotting.

Riding helps Brendan in many ways. It helps physically by building up strength in his legs as the horse is encouraged with gentle nudges with his feet. Brenda also said she has seen her son’s confidence and independence boost the more he rides.

Terri Timmermann and her daughter Rachel will give Brendan his lessons twice a week this summer. They are both pleased with Brendan’s steady progress. Terri said it is “toughening him up” in some ways.

When asked about what he likes the most about working with horses, Brendan said he enjoys learning new things from them.

When not at school, Brendan works at the Oak Hill senior care center in Waterloo, where the residents enjoy his company. He is one of the biggest St. Louis Cardinals fans you will ever meet and enjoys going to as many games as possible.

Brendan is also the guy to talk to if you need directions or want to know what the weather will be like this weekend. He’s an expert in both fields.

It’s still unclear what Brendan will do after he finishes the transition program.

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