Terri Farley
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August 1

Today Gram came home singing from her volunteer job at the Pegasus Horse Therapy Center for kids with disabilities. She made us chocolate milk shakes too, and promised to go riding out to the river with me tonight. And it was all because of Sweetheart.

Sweetheart was my mom's horse when they both were young, but after Mom died and Sweetheart got older, no one rode her much and she was bored. So Gram donated her to the Pegasus center. She's a sweet paint mare—kids love her and she's been helping them with all kinds of problems for about a year.

Kids in the Pegasus program have to help clean up around the Center before they get to ride. Some rake out stalls, some empty trash, stuff like that, and at first it seemed kind of mean to me, because I'm pretty sure I couldn't rake while I used crutches, or carry trash in a wheelchair, but that's part of the deal.

Gram says Sweetheart outdid herself with a boy named Solo. She's been worried about him. He doesn't have physical disabilities, but he has emotional problems. He doesn't talk and no one at Pegasus had ever seen him smile until today.

Sweetheart and two other horses (Violet and Speckles) were in the corral Solo had to clean. While he was shoveling up manure and putting it in a wheel barrow, Sweetheart came over and used her teeth to delicately lift off his tan cowboy hat! When Solo looked up in surprise, she waved it at him and moved away at a trot.

Solo stood there looking after her, with his mouth open!

Gram and another volunteer were at the fence watching, but they decided Solo didn't need help. So they just stayed where they were.

Sweetheart kept her eyes on Solo as he put down his shovel. Then she flapped the hat, saying "Come and get it!" and he did. But each time Solo got close, Sweetheart held her head high and pranced off, still holding his hat.

Instead of getting frustrated, Solo understood Sweetheart was playing, and he started smiling, and then, he began running after her, laughing!

Finally, Sweetheart let him take the hat from her mouth and he put it on and went back to shoveling like nothing had happened.

When it was time for him to ride, though, Solo pointed at Sweetheart, and even though he could have ridden this cool black therapy horse named Cowboy, he crossed his arms and waited for Sweetheart. And for the first time ever, instead of just letting his arms hang while the leaders on each side of the horse made sure he stayed balanced in the saddle, he picked up the reins. He didn't smile again, but they could tell Solo knew the reins went directly to Sweetheart's mouth. He wanted to be in touch with her, I guess, and Gram said he was so gentle.

It's so amazing the difference one horse can make to one human.

I think I'll go give Ace a hug!