Back on Track ‘Horse Therapy’: Samantha & Rocky

Miniature horse, huge soul.

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When I was 10, I had a terrible riding accident where my horse ended up collapsing and dying on me. Determined to keep my love for horses alive, but still apprehensive to ride again, I volunteered my time at a local rescue that specialized in small equines: miniature horses and ponies. Every weekend, my parents would drive me an hour to this rescue and drop me off. I spent the whole day there and completed tacks such as feeding, grooming, lunging, driving, training for obstacles and jumps and even working with the babies. I was given a project: a two-year-old gelding who was turned out with about ten mares. My first mission was to catch him. Three hours later, the tiny terror dragged me through the barn and into his stall. His story, although short, was simple. He came from abuse. He had no trust of humans and certainly hadn’t known love.

Although Rocky was my project, I think I was the same for him. He taught me lessons I was sure that I was teaching him. Trust: to know that anything I presented him wouldn’t bring danger. It was a slow process, involving countless hours of brushing and many secrets shared, but those were all building blocks. Selflessness: to do for others, despite yourself. Rocky didn’t enjoy having braids in his hair or pink ribbons on his body, but it made me happy. He sat for hours listening to my stories and stood still when I pressed my cheeks into his shoulder and wrapped my hands around his neck. He didn’t even mind the countless tears braided into his mane. Most importantly, love. I’m not entirely sure how something so small can love so much, but he does. I can hear it in his whinny and see it in his eyes. I’m as much his as he is mine. Rocky has been there through the loss of a beloved horse, a divorce, a broken home, countless moves, break-ups, fights and numerous other events. Through it all, his love never changes.

Throughout high school and college, people were sure I would lose interest. Instead, I took Rocky to Nationals and won. People now saw the star that I knew he has always been. With his show career booming, we did all we could to keep it alive. Sadly, an inherited weak trachea has limited his work, but not his heart. Now as a registered therapy horse, people can receive the same healing feeling as I have. Rocky was a rescue horse, but I’m still not sure who saved who. I strive to be the person my horse thinks I am. And to this day, I will never be able to repay the incomprehensible love he has given me. Rocky might be a little horse, but his heart is anything but little. I am hoping to share a piece of what he has given me with as many people as possible. Rocky is the best horse… ever.

Here at Horse Nation, we believe that the best therapists are our own horses. We love sharing the stories of special equines and the lessons horses have taught us — email yours to [email protected] to be featured in an upcoming edition of Back on Track “Horse Therapy.” Go Back on Track, and Go Riding!

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