Therapy Horse of the Week: Kipling

Our therapy barn (Heartland Horses Equine Activities and Learning) was given a Shire who was a hunter. When Kipling first arrived, we were all in awe of him. His feet are big as dinner plates, his long fetlocks are magnificent, and his head is huge (but so is his heart, as we were to find out).

We instructors wondered how our little students would do with such a large horse. We used him to carry our heavier-weight riders in our therapy sessions, but all the little kids wanted to ride him since he was the biggest horse in the barn (the cool factor).

When one little girl hopped up on him at the mounting ramp and rode him around as though he were a pony, we all realized what a treasure we had been given. Kipling is always up for anything, whether it’s drill team, competitions, therapy sessions all morning, trail rides, or just a quiet grooming session in the stall.

Kip is especially good for our volunteer who is a veteran. She says that Kip knows when she is having a rough, painful day. He lets her work out her low times grooming him, and he knows how to ask for treats. It is immensely gratifying to see him perk his long ears up and stick his head over the stall rails when he sees someone heading into the little kitchen at the barn to get carrots or apples out of the fridge.

Everybody loves him because of his gentle-giant nature, his wonderful training, and his willingness to do most whatever we ask him to. The only thing he does not like is to be in the arena at night with the bright lights on him and the stands full of spectators. He’s just the kind of guy who doesn’t like a big show; he’s humble, gentle, easy to please, and always ready to please and help others. —Lisa B.

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