April 2017 LoveWay Horse of the Month: Gus

by Caitlyn Andrews April 11, 2017

Featured Therapy Horse April 2017

LoveWay Inc. is a non-profit equine assisted therapy center located in Middlebury, IN. Veterinary and Poultry Supply, Inc. is a proud sponsor of the LoveWay horses. Each month, we feature one of the horses on our blog. This month, we'll be introducing you to a Quarter Horse with an interesting past. Meet the April 2017 LoveWay Horse of the Month: Gus.

Gus: The April 2017 Horse of the Month

Most horses that join equine assisted therapy programs weren't bred to become therapy horses. Mac, a Gypsy horse that was given to LoveWay through a gift horse program, was an exception to the rule. However, most horses come from a variety of backgrounds and have lived full lives before they join a program like LoveWay. Gus is one such horse. He had an interesting life before joining LoveWay as a therapy horse.

Gus started life as a show horse. He was shown on the Quarter Horse circuit. He excelled as a showmanship and Western pleasure horse. He was born at MSU as a part of their breeding program. If you were to see Gus in person, you could tell that he was well bred and built for show.

Therapy Horse at LoveWay Indiana

Pictured Above: Gus has great confirmation. He was bred to be a show horse and did well in Western pleasure and showmanship.

Pictured Below: Gus is often mistaken for Junior, another horse at LoveWay. You can see the similarities in Junior's picture below!

Junior September Featured Therapy Horse

Gus was purchased by a woman named Shelly when he was three years old. He's 21 years old now and spent the majority of his life with her. He had a very promising future as a show horse and that's what Shelly intended to do with him. But, life has a way of changing our plans.

Shelly was a devoted foster parent to special needs children. Her children took up a lot of her time and she never got the chance to show Gus. That's okay, though. He still lived a happy life with Shelly and her family. Gus is a patient horse that loves children, so he did well with Shelly's kids. She didn't know it, but his time with her foster children was preparing him for life as a therapy horse.

Unfortunately, Shelly recently passed away from a terminal illness. When she passed, Gus was given to her good friend, Shawn Eckert. Shawn and her daughter, Savannah, are certified equine massage therapists and are often at LoveWay working on the therapy horses.

When they first got Gus, Savannah wanted to keep him to use for hunt seat. Though he would make a great hunt seat horse, Shawn and Savannah decided it would be better for him to become a therapy horse at LoveWay. Shawn said that Shelly would have been happy to know that her beloved horse went on to help children with special needs.

Gus's New Life as a Therapy Horse

Gus has only been at LoveWay for six months now, but he already has some fans. One student, in particular, has bonded with him. The instructors could tell that this student wasn't enjoying her time at LoveWay as much ever since her favorite horse, Wilma, retired. She hasn't been able to click with another horse. That is until Gus came along. The instructors knew she had finally found "her horse" when she trotted on Gus for the first time and said, "He feels like Wilma!"

It's not just the students that have fallen for Gus. When a new horse arrives at LoveWay they are evaluated during a trial period. Each instructor has to approve of the new horse. Chris Stice, Instructor and Assistant Program Manager, is notorious for being reserved in her judgment of the new horses. She doesn't fall for new horses easily. When she saw Gus during his trial ride she surprised everyone when she said that she loved him.

It comes to no surprise to Shawn that the horse she helped rehome to LoveWay is such a good fit. She has helped LoveWay find horses before and she knew Gus would be perfect for the program. The nice thing about being donated by an equine massage therapist is that Gus gets to see his donors frequently when they come to work on the horses at LoveWay. And sometimes when they visit, Gus gets a massage!

Many of the horses at LoveWay benefit from regular massage therapy. Gus is one of them. As one of the larger therapy horses, Gus is often relied on to carry some of the heavier riders. This can be hard on his back, especially when riders are unbalanced. While Gus posed for his Horse of the Month pictures he stood on something called an EquiVibe. An EquiVibe is an equine therapy vibration plate that aids in performance, rehabilitation and the prevention of injuries. Gus stood on the plate for 20 minutes and when he stepped off you could instantly tell that his sore muscles felt better. He seemed to be walking easier. The horses at LoveWay work hard and the therapy provided by S & S Wellness keeps them feeling their best.

 Gus April 2017 Therapy Horse

Pictured Above: Gus tests out the EquiVibe, an equine therapy vibration plate used by S & S Wellness. He felt better after just 20 minutes!

About S & S Wellness

Shawn and Savannah Eckert have been working as certified equine sports massage therapists for about 4 years. Their slogan is, "We Will Massage Them All - Big and Small." They aren't just referring to the various sizes of horses and ponies they work on, they also provide massage therapy for dogs!

Shawn and Savannah have been in the horse industry their entire lives. They train horses and have horses of their own. Savannah competes in barrel racing. This means that they've more than once helped out a client by working on their horse during a show that they also happened to be at.

S & S Wellness Massage Therapists

Pictured Above: Shawn (left) and Savannah (right) of S & S Wellness - Certified Equine Sports Massage Therapy - pose for a picture with Gus after his therapy session.

S & S Wellness is based in Michigan and most of their clients are in Goshen. However, if you have a horse that needs to be worked on they are happy to haul to most locations that are within a reasonable distance. Just ask! They offer a discount for multiple horses.

If you're interested in having S & S Wellness work on your horse (or dog!) just give them a call at 269-503-0951, 269-503-0945, or reach out on Facebook. Shawn often has massage therapy giveaways on her Facebook page!

Help Out at LoveWay

If you would like to donate a much-needed therapy session to one of the LoveWay horses then talk to Cait Wilson, LoveWay's Equine Manager. Just call LoveWay at 574-825-5666 and ask for Cait!

If you want to get involved with LoveWay they are always in need of volunteers and donors. Find out how you can get started on their website!

Caitlyn Andrews
Caitlyn Andrews


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