This week's letter is H.
H is for horse and hearts.
One of the many things I love about the program that my daughter rides with, and that my husband and I put much of our energy and time into is that there are two horses there that I call the Bread and Butter Boys. Duke and Ben are old fellows. When I say old, I mean old, 25+ years. Other than being older and Ben being blind in one eye, these two guys are troopers. While they are not used for lessons regularly anymore, occassionally, we will have a little rider, or a timid rider or a fragile rider and the honor of being trusted goes to one of these two old boys.
Duke and Ben both had long careers as working horses and then they started their second careers as therapy horses or lesson ponies. Keep in mind, these two lesson 'ponies' are gigantic draft horses. But, they took to the children right away.
Over the years, both horses have learned to their jobs so well, if they don't feel the rider is firmly mounted they will wait, patiently, until the humans remedy the situation. If their little riders get wobbly or off balance they come to a gentle stop to wait for one of the side walkers to help the rider re-establish their seat.
They may not be speedy, they may not be showy or flashy anymore, but they are mighty. They are fine fellows that I adore. As do many of the other volunteers.
Their nickname, The Bread and Butter Boys comes from something the owner and founder of Untamed Spirit Therapeutic and Education Program, Barbara Ford said to me. She told me that Ben and Duke were two of her original horses for all the years she has been working with special needs riders. They were with her from the start and did whatever was asked of them. They were her 'bread and butter' horses.
Today, Ben and Duke are now almost retired completely, and Barbara cares for them both with a great deal of love and gratitude. They may not be young and spry anymore, but they are loyal and gentle fellows who did their job. A job well done. Enjoy your days of grazing and playing in the paddocks and the fields. You earned every wonderful moment!