“What we look for in a therapy horse [at Hearts & Horses]: patience, intelligence, strength, and kindness. Shortly after he stepped off the trailer, we realized Rocket has these qualities in spades.

Rocket came to our center after retiring from working cattle and barrel racing. A 16h Quarter Horse with soft, dark brown eyes capable of melting your heart, Rocket is a gentle giant in our barn. Nothing phases this ranch horse who touches the hearts of each of his riders. His connection with one family, in particular, is unforgettable.

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Cheryl was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s and Benson’s Syndrome which affected her vision. Things were hard for Cheryl. At first, she was wary, but soon realized Rocket is a gentle giant capable of giving her freedom back. They spent an hour each week slowly traversing the arena. Rocket was always willing to stand quietly when Cheryl needed a break. During those moments, she would naturally begin stroking his shoulders, and there was no protest from Rocket! Cheryl came to life each day she spent with him.

Over time, Cheryl’s husband David began volunteering with her and he too fell in love with Rocket. The couple arrived early to spend time loving on Rocket in his favorite spots, producing a reaction only those two could produce from him. Each week, our team would try to sneak into the barn to catch a glimpse of this special interaction. After Cheryl’s passing, David still comes to the barn once a week to give Rocket his scratches.” —Summer A. 

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