When someone says “therapy horse,” most people automatically think of an older horse that is calm and that has been trained for the job. However, this doesn’t apply to all horses in my book. Yes, a horse needs to be calm and have a good temperament, but that doesn’t mean you can’t teach them. I’ve had experience with therapy horses, but the one who stands out as particularly special is Glory.
I have a condition called arthrogryposis multiplex congenita. I can’t stand without braces and I use a walker and wheelchair. I’ve had a love for horses since I was 6 years old, and I’ve wanted a horse ever since. It was a dream of mine to have my own horse and ride. When I was a teenager, my parents agreed to let me ride at a therapeutic riding center. I was so excited to ride every week and be around horses. Sadly, one of the horses at the center passed away a few years after I started riding there. So now the center was on a search for a new therapy horse. I was on a mission to find that perfect horse for the center, but little did I know I was going to find the perfect horse for me.
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While on the search for a horse, my family and I discovered a herd of horses a few miles from where we live. None of the horses were broken to ride, except one. And that one was a chestnut Tennessee Walker named Glory. The owner of the horses was interested in this good cause, so he offered to donate Glory to the therapy center. However, there would be one condition: that Glory would be my horse no matter where she ended up. I couldn’t believe someone had just given me a horse!
Glory hadn’t been ridden much in the past five years, so the therapy center was concerned she wouldn’t be a good fit. I believed in Glory, so I decided to give her a chance. I quit riding at the center and started riding Glory at the farm where she lived. Glory progressed with each ride and I now had a new mission: I would turn her into my perfect therapy horse.
A few years after Glory was given to me, my family brought her home. I felt like my dream was complete, that I now had a horse at home to care for and ride. We still had some work to do though. Glory had spunk and was a bit spooky sometimes, so I worked on desensitizing her to objects and movements. I can now ride her with gunshots going off in the distance or the wind blowing the trees. Looking back, I know I made the right decision. Glory deserved a second chance, and I’m so glad I took that chance. It took some work to turn Glory into my therapy horse, but it was worth it. Glory may have not been the perfect horse for a therapy center, but I know she’s the perfect horse for me.
Therapy horses are made in many ways. Some horses were born with a calm temperament, and some, like Glory, just need some teaching. We just need to believe in them and be patient with them. Glory changed my life for the better and I’m so glad I gave her a chance. —Jewell C.
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