Joy is a 5 year old pony approximately 14.2 hands high. Joy was rescued by the Georgia Equine Rescue, arriving at their facility with a body score of 1. She received care and nurturing. Nancy Faulconer of Cloud 9 Ranch acquired Joy. Nancy and her team gave Joy a natural training restart. Joy was restored to health and happiness.
Nancy Faulconer made Joy available for purchase and an anonymous donor provided the funds so Wild Horsemanship Center (WHC) could acquire Joy for more specific training, hoping to make her available for work in a therapeutic riding program.
Today, Joy is working at Special Equestrians in Fort Myers, FL. We reached out to Jan Fifer, Executive Director of Special Equestrians, and asked her to share her thoughts on Joy and the impact Joy has made on their program. Jan was very enthusiastic, and we had to share her story:
“After having a rough year where we had to retire three of our best horses, Special Equestrians was in a herd building phase like we had not experienced in 5 years. We needed horses but were not sure if we would be able to use such a young horse quickly enough to satisfy our needs. Some of our instructors and our volunteer coordinator made the decision to go meet Joy and Chris Cook at WHC in Reddick. This was the beginning of a great partnership in so many ways.
We got a demonstration that day that blew us away. This young horse was not only loving, kind and totally charming, she had riding skills that were amazing. The demo was impressive, but we needed to know if she could be comfortable with a leader and support people on each side of her, which can be claustrophobic to a horse. At Special Equestrians, we have a wide variety of riders with many different skill levels. Our horses must be so versatile as to be ok with all levels of riders with many different disabilities.
On October 28, 2016, Special Equestrians took a group of board members and horse leaders to WHC for a Horses Helping Humans workshop. We also took a horse trailer to bring Joy home in. Joy was very curious about everything she encountered and very eager to check out her new home. She took herself into our large mounting ramp (for persons with disabilities) shortly after her arrival. Most horses are wary of this large structure so Joy’s reaction was unique! In our sensory trail and our riding arena, Joy wanted to touch and put her feet on everything. She had no fear of “stuff”.
After simulated rides with instructors and volunteers, it was time for the real deal. Because of her young age, we were hesitant about putting her into the classes, however the first day we made that move, we realized that she could handle a lot of variety! Wheelchairs, big toys, walkers, nothing worried this girl. She is very social and she enjoyed the attention from everyone! Some of the students were counting the days until they could ride Joy.
Joy’s first rides were with two very different riders. The first rider was an advanced rider who rides independently. It went very well! Joy was happy to be in the mix and the young man was in horse heaven. He had been hoping to ride Joy for weeks! Her next rider needed a leader and two sidewalkers. Joy did an amazing job with this young man as well. She is honestly not bothered by anything. She is a pro at following the horse leader’s feet staying in tune with their steps and stopping when they stop. To have a horse who knows how to follow the feet of her horse leader is a fantastic thing for a horse leader in a therapeutic riding class. Because of her training at WHC, Joy came to us with this skill down pat!
I truly believe that Joy likes her job and Chris Cook knew that therapeutic riding was her destiny early on. We love Joy and we are proud to have her in our horse herd. Thank you WHC for this wonderful gift of Joy. Along with Joy, we have a partnership with WHC that has helped us to train our horse leaders and horses in the best way possible. Our training from WHC in sympathetic training techniques has been invaluable and it is our new standard of excellence for horse leaders at Special Equestrians. We have learned to be more natural and effective horse leaders. In this process, we are all winners…horses, volunteers, staff and most of all, our participants.”
We are grateful for the opportunity to help Special Equestrians fulfill their mission.
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