by Caitlyn Andrews
February 05, 2016
Each month, we feature a therapy horse at LoveWay Inc., a non-profit equine assisted therapy riding center. The LoveWay Horse of the Month for February is Josie. Josie just retired last month. She has already left for her new home, but she still deserves her time in the spotlight! She made quite the impact during her time as a therapy horse.
Josie is a 22-year-old, bay Quarter Horse mare. She joined LoveWay, a non-profit therapeutic riding center in Middlebury, IN, in July 2008. Before LoveWay Josie lived out West as a ranch horse. This means that Josie was well trained, already loved trail riding, and was mostly a "plug-and-go" horse. "Plug-and-go" horses are the ones that easily fit into the program without much additional training. They're basically ready to go to work from the start! Josie required a little desensitization training but slipped into therapy work easily. Josie has two brands, Rocking J and 202, from her previous life that set her apart from the other horses at LoveWay.
If you look closely you can see Josie's "202" brand beneath her winter coat.
Josie was a therapy horse for LoveWay for 7 years before she retired at the end of January this year. The LoveWay staff had noticed signs from Josie lately that it was time for her to retire. Josie had been shying more than usual and it seemed her ulcers were bothering her again. Josie has always had problems with ulcers, but she had gotten to the point where she wasn't comfortable in classes anymore. The staff knew it was time for her to move on to a more relaxing environment.
Chris Stice, the assistant program manager and PATH certified instructor at LoveWay, says that Josie is one of her favorite horses and she is very happy about Josie's retirement home. Josie is now living with a LoveWay volunteer who fell in love with her. Chris said she was lucky enough to witness a moment of trust between Josie and the volunteer one day. The volunteer kissed Josie on the nose and instead of shying away Josie leaned in to get her kiss. She knows that Josie is moving on to her perfect home.
Here she is enjoying the unusually mild Indiana winter.
If you've been around horses then you've probably kissed a horse muzzle or two yourself. You're probably thinking it's not a big deal. However, it was a big deal for Josie. Even though she made a wonderful therapy horse, Josie was abused in her past and has difficulty trusting people. The LoveWay staff don't know specifics of Josie's abuse, they've just seen the aftermath. There have been many signs. After all her time at LoveWay, Josie still had moments where she was nervous about people touching her ears or flinched when the saddle was put on. She prefers women to men, another indicator of her abusive history. Even with her past, Josie is still a sweet horse and a camp favorite. She just prefers quiet, slow movements around her.
There is a silver lining to Josie's sad story. It makes her a perfect match for students at LoveWay who have experienced abuse themselves. Children with a history of abuse have been able to bond with Josie over their mutual past and her need for people to be gentle with her. The children are able to relate to her. Josie has also been able to help students that are lacking in confidence build their own courage.
It's often difficult for a horse to overcome a history of abuse. What makes Josie so special is that not only has she overcome an abusive past, but through LoveWay's therapy program she has become an inspiration to children struggling to overcome their own experiences.
Every horse that joins the LoveWay staff brings something unique to the program. Just as Josie was a good match for children who had been abused, the other horses at LoveWay pair well with students of certain needs. Honey, for example, is the perfect fit for a girl with Rett Syndrome because of her personality, broad back and rhythmic gait. Next month we'll be featuring a horse that has been a great fit for children with autism.
When a horse retires from the LoveWay therapy program it's always bittersweet. Josie has gone to a great home, but there can never be another Josie to take her place. Fortunately, LoveWay has a stable full of unique therapy horses. The LoveWay staff always do their best to pair each student with the horse that fits them and their needs. There's no telling what the next horse to join the LoveWay team will bring to the table or whose lives it will touch.
If you want to help an organization that is making a real impact in children's lives, then look no further than LoveWay. As a non-profit organization, LoveWay is always in need of donations and volunteers. Contact LoveWay today to see how you can help!
by Caitlyn Andrews
January 16, 2018
Not every horse can become a therapy horse. Some horses that enter the LoveWay program don't end up staying for long. It takes a special kind of horse to be a great equine-assisted therapy horse.
Rupert is one such horse
by Caitlyn Andrews
November 17, 2017
Could your horse be suffering from painful ulcers? Your horse could have ulcers right now and not show any signs. This guide will tell you the most important things you need to know about ulcers. You'll learn why ulcers are so common in performance horses and how to prevent, manage, and treat them.
by Caitlyn Andrews
October 11, 2017
Veterinary and Poultry Supply is a proud sponsor of LoveWay. Each year LoveWay hosts a large trail riding event with activities for the whole family. The event is LoveWay's largest annual fundraiser. This will be the 23rd Annual Ride-A-Thon and all of the money raised from the fundraiser goes directly toward running the nonprofit.