by Caitlyn Andrews
September 01, 2015
LoveWay Inc. is a non-profit organization located in Middlebury, IN. They offer therapeutic equestrian services for individuals with physical, mental or emotional disabilities. The volunteers and staff put a lot of hard work and long hours into making LoveWay the wonderful organization it is today (and we'll be featuring the humans of LoveWay soon), but for now, we're going to focus on the equine staff.
These are the horses that come from various backgrounds and go through rigorous screening and training to become therapeutic riding horses. Just as no two snowflakes are alike, no two therapeutic horses are the same. With that being said, let me introduce you to the September 2015 LoveWay Horse of the Month: Ace.
Ace is the newest addition to the LoveWay equine staff. When a new horse is brought on to potentially become a therapeutic riding horse at LoveWay they are typically given 30-60 days to settle in. In that time period, the staff will assess the horse and put them through a series of tests, such as trail riding and introducing them to the lifts that help disabled riders onto the horses' backs, to determine if they will be a good fit for the program. Some horses need a longer time to adjust to their new surroundings. RJ Arndt, the equine manager at LoveWay, knew that Ace was the perfect fit after just two weeks. He passed everything they threw at him with flying colors. "I don't think I've ever seen him spook," said RJ of Ace.
Pictured Above: LoveWay Equine Manager, RJ Arndt, with Ace
When LoveWay decided to add another pony to their staff they had specific criteria. They needed a pony, something around 50" that would be less intimidating for some of the riders, saddle broke and between 6 to 18 years of age. A good attitude was a must. An ad was placed to find the perfect pony. There were many people that responded to the ad, but not many of their ponies made it through the initial phone call screening. The LoveWay staff had gone to look at only 2 ponies before they went to see Ace. He belonged to an Amish family and when they arrived to see him the owner's children were riding him bareback in the driveway. His old owners had purchased him from an auction to drive a cart, but Ace had no interest in driving. He would just stand there wearing his harness and refuse to move.Riding, though, was no problem and that's exactly what he would be needed for at LoveWay. RJ said that you just get a vibe when you look at a horse and you can usually tell if they will be a good fit.
Riding, though, was no problem and that's exactly what he would be needed for at LoveWay. RJ said that you just get a vibe when you look at a horse and you can usually tell if they will be a good fit. Ace had a good vibe. At 52" and 11 years old, Ace fit the bill. He needed a little dental work but was otherwise healthy and ready to go to work. In fact, Ace adjusted to his new home so quickly that even though he was picked up in June and accepted on staff in July, he was able to participate in LoveWay's recent able-bodied camp.
Pictured Above: Ace (right) with his friend, Sunny (left)
Now that Ace is on staff, everyone at LoveWay has gotten to see more of the chestnut pony's personality shine through. Ace is typically mellow. The only time he gets a little worked up is when he has to leave his buddy. He shares a paddock with Sunny, a Hackney cross pony. Sunny and Ace are about the same size and follow each other around the paddock like each others' shadow. When he's outside with his friend Ace is always the first to eat. He is never mean about it, but he loves food. He even has learned how to show his handlers when he wants his grain or treats.Every LoveWay horse has a small opening cut in their stall with a flap covering it so feed can be added to their grain
Every LoveWay horse has a small opening cut in their stall with a flap covering it so feed can be added to their grain tubs from outside of the stall. Ace has learned how to push open this flap and stick his nose out in the aisle way whenever he's ready for his food.
As much as he loves his food, Ace hates carrots. He also hates fly spray. He has a very short list of dislikes. With students, Ace is always laid back. He can be curious but is never pushy. Sometimes he even gets a little lazy and doesn't want to trot during classes. He does love getting attention, though, and enjoys being brushed.As I was speaking with RJ about Ace, I got to see firsthand what she meant about his laid back personality. Ace stood patiently for us for the entire interview. He never jerked on the lead rope, he never tried to walk off, and only once did he reach down for grass.
As I was speaking with RJ about Ace, I got to see firsthand what she meant about his laid back personality. Ace stood patiently for us for the entire interview. He never jerked on the lead rope, he never tried to walk off, and only once did he reach down for grass.
I only got to spend one afternoon with Ace, and I was definitely impressed with the little pony. He was sweet, well-behaved, and laid-back. On top of all that, he's pretty cute, too. Ace will be participating in the next semester of LoveWay classes this fall. The semester starts September 8, 2015. He could be in up to 3 classes per day, with several students riding him every week.The LoveWay staff does their best to pair riders and horses that click with each other. Ace could become someone, or several students', pony for the semester. I don't think he'll have a hard time bonding with someone. Once you meet Ace, you'll see it, too. He's a pretty likable guy.
The LoveWay staff does their best to pair riders and horses that click with each other. Ace could become someone, or several students', pony for the semester. I don't think he'll have a hard time bonding with someone. Once you meet Ace, you'll see it, too. He's a pretty likable guy.
Pictured Above: LoveWay Horse of the Month, Ace, posing for his close-up.
If you would like the chance to meet Ace (and some other wonderful horses) and help out with a great cause then check out our page on LoveWay or LoveWay's website. LoveWay is always in need of volunteers to help with all aspects of running their non-profit. Now that they have Ace, LoveWay is no longer looking for a pony to join the team. However, they are in search of a gentle, draft cross horse for some of their taller riders. If you have a draft-cross that you feel would be a good fit then contact LoveWay today!We do have a donation drop box and change jar in our Goshen, IN, store located at 120 S. Greene Rd, Goshen, IN 46526 for LoveWay donations. Click here for a
We do have a donation drop box and change jar in our Goshen, IN, store located at 120 S. Greene Rd, Goshen, IN 46526 for LoveWay donations. Click here for a list of suggested donations. Every little bit helps.
UPDATE: As of the beginning of 2016, Ace is no longer at LoveWay as a therapy horse. Sometimes, horses that seem to be the perfect fit initially don't end up fitting into the program. Ace did his best, but a low pain tolerance and hurt back kept him from enjoying his new job. He now lives as a pasture buddy for someone's elderly horse who needed a friend.
by Caitlyn Andrews
April 02, 2018
At VPSI, we're proud to be able to sponsor the therapy horses at LoveWay. LoveWay is an equine assisted therapy nonprofit in Middlebury, Indiana. The nonprofit is well-known in the community for helping children with disabilities through their therapy classes.We've featured many of the special horses at LoveWay in the past. This time, we're putting the spotlight on a horse and rider pair: Gus and Suzanne...
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