A Favorite Equine Therapy Moment

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When asked to comment on one of my favorite horse experiences, I just became dumbfounded.   There are so many that are special, it was very difficult to come up with just one.

After a several days of contemplation, I finally decided to share some (not just one) of my many touching experiences with the “soul mate horse” of my life, Sweet Georgia Brown.  Sweet Georgia Brown was a 10-year-old Bay gelding that I saw for the first time in 1975.  His registered name at that time was Diamond’s Shadow, but for years we had no idea that it was different than Sweet Georgia Brown.

We were at a horse show when I saw him enter the show ring for competition.  There was some kind of immediate connection for me and my family.  We all were immediately struck by him and knew we had to have him in our lives.  The following week we became his new owners or I need to say he became a valuable member of our family.  He became a show ring companion for each of us winning many ribbons and trophies under the guidance of my daughters and me.  There were many times when his remarkable performances led to victories over reigning World Grand Champions.  The unassuming, inexpensive bay gelding from South Georgia left a positive mark in many lives and left a legacy of outstanding memories.

After a long and successful show ring experience, Sweet Georgia Brown came home to live with us in retirement. However, the retirement was short lived in some respects.  He soon became the Senior Member of our Equine Team at Canopy Cove.  Since he was only on duty for short intervals it probably seemed to him that he was still in full retirement mode.  He appeared to love his new job and would stand tirelessly for hours for us to groom, give a bath, braid, paint his coat, or any other equine activity that we were conducting that day.  He knew his boundaries and was respectful of others boundaries as well.  For example, if he needed to shift his weight during our equine session, he would slowly pick up his foot and then just as slowly lower it back to the ground.  He would always give notice that he was about to move in order to avoid stepping on any unsuspecting toes.

During his forty one years of life he had the distinguished honor of being the oldest living Tennessee Walking Horse and was honored at the National Celebration World Championship show for his outstanding representation of the Breed.  He remained remarkably healthy during his forty one years of life, however, he developed an eye disease that eventually took his sight.  His spirit wilted and for about three days he had no interest in eating or drinking.  We were fearful that he was going to die from malnutrition.   After trying numerous things to help him adjust, I happened to think about a getting a companion for him to see if that might provide some hope for the old fellow.  Other than the loss of sight and hearing he was in very good health.  We found an 8 month old miniature filly and brought her home to see if he would let her become a sighted “buddy”.  He was intimidated by the other horses on our team and would shy away from them.  But we thought that being with a young miniature companion just might be work.  It was love at first contact –  I can’t say sight since unfortunately our special boy was unable to see his new friend and life saver.

Sweet Georgia Brown and his new friend (that we immediately renamed “Angel”) soon became inseparable.  He went on to adapt to his blindness and lived for another year and a half.  He maintained his honorable position as Senior Equine Member and kept up his “day job” with no interruption and  participated in Equine therapy as usual.

One of our favorite and most powerful equine activities is the “bonding braid” session.  Clients are invited to choose a horse that they would like to absorb a personality trait from and then to trim 3 strands of their own hair to braid into that horse’s mane.  Invariably, group after group, year after year, they would all choose Sweet Georgia Brown.  Many wanted to absorb his wisdom while others wanted to inherit his strength and kindness.

When he left us that rainy afternoon, he passed with a braid in his hair.  What a fitting departure.  We will always remember and miss our beloved Equine Friend–Sweet Georgia Brown.

~Lynda A. Brogdon, Ph.D., C.E.D.S., C.E.A.P.

Canopy Cove’s Eating Disorder Treatment Programs offer compassionate, comprehensive treatment for females, males, adolescents, and adults, who are struggling with Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorders and Co-Existing Diabetes, Depression, and Anxiety. Equine-Assisted Therapy is an weekly part of the Recovery process at Canopy Cove.

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