Therapy Horse of the Week: Waldo

28-year-old therapy horse Waldo.

Waldo is a 28-year-old Haflinger gelding known for his even temperament and reliable personality. Waldo became the backbone of our programs being the only Heartland Equine Therapeutic Riding Academy, Inc. (HETRA) horse, still to this day, to touch lives in every program including Adaptive Riding, Therapy Services, Veterans Programming, Therapeutic Carriage Driving, Equine-Assisted Learning, and Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy.

In his 15 years with us, he has become a favorite of participants, instructors, and volunteers alike. He is our go-to horse for any complicated case and the dependable choice for our smallest riders. Today, you can commonly find him in Therapy Services with our most medically-fragile students. It’s as if he knows he carries precious cargo as he stands stock still for therapists to position riders in the most beneficial ways.

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He tolerates a multitude of positions for our participants including backward, sideways, and even laying on their stomachs over his broad shoulders. He is one of the few horses in our program trained to wear our therapeutic saddle, which allows even the most medically involved participants to enjoy the benefits and freedom of riding a big horse.

Over the years, Waldo has challenged hundreds of participants to improve core strength, speech, range of motion, confidence and self-esteem. Horses like Waldo are truly one in a million. You can tell just by looking into his big brown eyes, that he is happy with the work he does here at HETRA. We truly believe that Waldo knows how important his job is, changing lives one stride at a time. —Lucy C.

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