I’ve known Steve since early 2007, primarily through his volunteer work at the Kids & Horses Therapeutic Riding Center where we both continue to work. I’ve watched his skills grow as he has consistently (and persistently!) pursued his passion for horses, and people.
I never appreciated him more than this last year when a health issue kept me from being able to ride our therapy horses, or even do any basic exercising. As the Equine Manager for the Center, this was a most difficult situation and I relied on Steve heavily to keep the stable “working sound”. People tend to think that therapy horses have it made in that they “don’t work much”, “only have to pack around little kids”, and receive “the best of care”. The reality is that our students, with their anxieties, lack of physical stability, and interpersonal issues, provide huge mental and physical challenges to our horses. Keeping them emotionally (yes, horses have emotions!) healthy and happy in their work is difficult, under the best of circumstances.
Steve is able to mentally challenge the horses with his unique approach to horsemanship and keep them fit for classes and willing to partner with our instructors and students.
Specifically, Steve focuses on exercises designed to build each horse’s confidence and soften their normal “flight or fight” instincts. As a result, horses become less resistant and more comfortable (desensitized), to new or unusual events or surroundings.
The same rules apply to people, and Steve was, and is, able to teach other volunteer horse handlers similar techniques. The change of pace he offers on the ground and under saddle, to both horses and humans, goes a long way towards making Kids & Horses a happy place for, well, all of us!
I wish him well in this endeavor, and would recommend him as a breath of fresh air in the equine world. We need more folks with balance, love, and in Steve’s case, the ability and desire to give 110% to all the right things!