LoveWay Horse and Rider Team: Gus and Suzanne

by Caitlyn Andrews April 02, 2018

LoveWay Horse and Rider Pair

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

Gus and Suzanne Horse and Rider LoveWay

Suzanne's History at LoveWay

Suzanne started riding at LoveWay when she was 12 years old. She was acting out in school, so she had also just started homeschooling. Today, Suzanne is 19 and has grown up a lot since she started coming to LoveWay.

She has made many personal improvements. She's grown to be more patient, to stand up tall, and be a better listener. Suzanne takes the lessons she learns at LoveWay and applies them at home. When she's eating she remembers to sit up tall like she does in the saddle. When she's with her family she remembers to listen like she does with her riding instructors.

Suzanne has always been shy but her time at LoveWay has helped her to come out of her shell. Her grandparents and instructors have all noticed how Suzanne has become more social over time.

Suzanne's Equine Partner

Over the years Suzanne has been partnered with many different horses. Lilly was her first horse, but now she rides Gus.

One of the most important things that the staff at LoveWay does for the students is to pair them with the right horse. Horses all have different personalities, abilities, strengths, and riding styles. A horse that's a perfect fit for one student might not be a good match for another.

Suzanne used to ride Wilma. The two were closely bonded and Suzanne loved "her horse". When Wilma retired, it was obvious to everyone at LoveWay that Suzanne wasn't happy when she rode anymore.

LoveWay Therapy Horse Junior

Suzanne was paired with Junior (above) before meeting Gus. Junior wasn't a good fit for Suzanne, but he's the perfect horse for her best friend, Lora!

The staff did their best and tried to pair her with different horses. None of them seemed to click. They thought Junior might be a good match. Junior comes from a background as a sheriff's posse horse. He does great for students of all riding levels and quickly became one of the most reliable horses at LoveWay.

On paper, the two seemed like they would be a good fit. In reality, they didn't form a bond.

Even though Junior didn't end up becoming "her horse", Suzanne got a fun story out of her time with him!

She was trotting on Junior one day and found out that he was faster than the horses she was used to riding. Junior was trotting too fast so Suzanne jumped off while he was still moving. Suzanne landed so gracefully that the volunteer didn't even notice. The instructor said Suzanne reminded her of an acrobat that day!

Suzanne Meets Gus

Junior may not have been the right fit, but it didn't take long for them to find the horse that was. Gus arrived at LoveWay at the beginning of 2017. Oddly enough, Gus and Junior look so much alike that they are often mistaken for each other. But, Suzanne knows the difference.

Suzanne was the first student to ever ride Gus at LoveWay. The instructors knew during that first ride that Suzanne had finally found "her horse". She was sitting up straight and smiling again. When they first trotted together Suzanne happily announced that Gus felt like Wilma! The pair has been inseparable ever since.

Suzanne and Gus at LoveWay

Suzanne and Gus make the perfect pair!

LoveWay as a Family Event

Suzanne has been fortunate to have supportive people in her life. LoveWay classes have been made into a fun, family night for her. Before going to LoveWay she goes to dinner with her grandparents. When her class is over they go to Dairy Queen together for Blizzards.

Her grandparents have also become involved with LoveWay. They help with classes, LoveWay events, and cleaning up around the stable.

Suzanne' Family at LoveWay

Suzanne with Gus and her grandparents at LoveWay.

How LoveWay Has Helped Her Grow

Every student that goes through a LoveWay program comes out with a different story. Each student also works on different strengths and grows in a different way.

For Suzanne, her years at LoveWay have not only helped her with her anger issues and listening skills, but it also encouraged her to socialize.

Suzanne met a good friend of hers at LoveWay. Her name is Lora. Suzanne and Lora were in different classes but the staff at LoveWay thought they would like each other. They swapped their times around so the girls could meet and they've been close ever since!

Lora and Suzanne love riding horses together. Lora rides Junior. Junior may not have been the right horse for Suzanne, but she's perfect for Lora!

Suzanne Demonstrates LoveWay Soccer

Suzanne's grandparents watch while Suzanne demonstrates how to play "soccer" with a horse. 

Sometimes, the girls play games like soccer with their horses. How do you play soccer with horses? With a horse-sized soccer ball of course! There's a large ball in the arena that the horses can push with their noses. The girls communicate with the horses to have them push the ball in the right direction.

Whether it's making lasting friendships or helping her with her own personal growth, Suzanne's time at LoveWay has been beneficial for her. It's no wonder that she can't help but smile when she's with her horse!

Fun Facts About Suzanne!

  • Favorite Blizzard: ALL of them! She and Gus both get a treat after their lessons. Gus isn't picky and will eat whatever horse treat, carrot, or apple that goes into his feed dish. Suzanne isn't picky when it comes to her treat either. When it comes to getting a Blizzard on LoveWay nights she loves trying all of them!
  • Favorite School Subject: Science, history, and math. Suzanne is a smart girl and loves these challenging subjects. It was hard for her to choose a favorite between them!
  •  Favorite Activity Outside of LoveWay: Suzanne loves clowning! She's a part of a Clowns for Christ church group. Her clown name is Lilly, after the first horse she rode at LoveWay. She got to be involved with the LoveWay Ride-A-Thon as a part of her clowning group this year and had a blast handing out balloons and stickers to the kids. She has a kind heart and visits nursing homes with her group, too.
  • Favorite Riding Style: Western. Most students ride in English saddles at LoveWay, but Suzanne is a real cowgirl and loves her Western saddle. It helps her keep her hips in the right position and sit up tall while riding.
  • Favorite Colors: Green, pink, and purple. Suzanne and her friend Lora have the same riding helmet. Lora's helmet is green so Suzanne got a purple helmet. She even has matching purple riding gloves!

Volunteer at LoveWay

LoveWay is always in need of volunteers to assist their program. The people that dedicate their time and effort at LoveWay are part of what makes this program possible for students like Suzanne. Contact LoveWay to find out how you can help!

Caitlyn Andrews
Caitlyn Andrews


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