Tony Roberts

I got involved with Horses for Hope in 2011.  I started coming around the barn because I had just started dating Gwen, the founder.  Honestly I am a skeptical person by nature and really didn’t understand how horses could help people. One afternoon a little boy around 4 years of age with Down Syndrome came up to me and held up his arms for me to hold him so I picked him up.  This little guy couldn’t even speak, he would just point and grunt at what he was interested in.  So for about ten minutes he would point at things and I would carry him to see what he was interested in.  Then he pointed to a new horse that we had just gotten on the property a couple of days before.  We walked over to the small pasture area this horse was in for him to look at her.  This horse, her name is Moon was about fifty feet away when we approached her fence.  When we got to her fence she stopped what she was doing, turned to face us and stared directly at this little boy.  I could tell she was looking directly at him and not at me.  Then she started tipping her from side to side as she studied him, he of course began to get very excited.  Then the horse walked towards us and stopped directly in front of us.  Now the little guy in my arms got really excited because this huge animal had come to see him.  Then the most amazing thing happened, this horse reached out to this boy and nuzzled his cheek ever so gently with her lips.  This little boy just lit up, I mean he really came alive with such excitement.  He started rubbing the horse all over her head and face, his little hands went up her nose, over her eyes and he even pulled on her ears and this horse stood perfectly still with her head cocked in a position that allowed him to easily reach her.  You need to understand how unusual this type of behavior is for a horse.  They are very protective of their head and face because they need all of those body parts to survive.  It’s very unusual for them to allow someone to handle them like this especially someone that was as excited and moving as erratic as this little boy was.  After he was through the horse just stood and stared at him for a few seconds then she slowly turned and walked away.  My experience that afternoon with that little boy sold me on the benefits of horse therapy.  I knew that little boy may never score a touchdown, hit a home run, kick a field goal or make a three point shot but I saw him do all of those things that afternoon.  He had his moment in the spotlight that day and it was a horse that gave it to him.  More importantly I truly believe that God used that little boy and that horse to show me where I was to spend the rest of my life.  That night at supper I told Gwen about what had happened and she started crying.  She had never seen anything like it in her more than forty years of horse experience.  We had just started dating but that night I told her that regardless of where I relationship went I would help her with Horses for Hope for the rest of my life.  Five years later we are married and I’m still seeing miracles happen.