Therapy Horse Hero of the Week: Bailey

“My 11-year-old daughter, Ella, is a childhood cancer survivor. She has been through more medically in 10 years than most older adults. Cancer has left her with physical and mental scars, and more recently she has developed severe panic attacks and anxiety.

On top of starting medications and therapy, somebody mentioned to me that we should try riding. Ella is a huge animal lover so I thought this would be a good idea. We found a place close by that offers horse riding lessons—and this is when we met Bailey, a beautiful Quarter Horse. There was an instant connection. It was a huge accomplishment just getting Ella to go to the barn as she had not been able to ride in a car for several months due to her anxiety.

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Since meeting Bailey, however, Ella visits her 3 to 4 times a week, taking the 13-minute drive without panicking. Ella used to wake up every morning feeling nauseous, now she wakes up asking to see Bailey. She says that Bailey has changed her life. Bailey makes her feel more confident and strong.

Ella has been pushing herself to learn new skills like trotting and cantering, Western and English style, and even some jumping—things that she never would have imagined being able to do just a few months ago. She looks forward to challenging herself and pushing herself to discover she has no limits.

For the hour that she is on that horse, all of her worries and pains go away, and all she is focused on is riding that horse. Bailey is so gentle and patient with her. It is like she instinctively knows just what Ella needs. She seems to sense Ella’s gentle nature and performs in equal measure. I thank Bailey every day for reawakening Ella’s spirit and bringing joy back into her life. Cancer has lost its battle. Anxiety has lost its battle. Ella has won and it’s all because of this horse named Bailey.” —Michelle R

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