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Britches, and Ariana studied how Chy would follow Britches by the sound of her footsteps. So she began to lead Chy, making sure to stomp her feet as a signal to step up or down, or just to be careful. She noticed how Chy would carefully use her whiskers to fi nd the opening in the gate or other obstacles, carefully reaching out and touching with her nose. Ariana began to incorporate the things Chy did on her own into how she handled her when they played. She knew they could ride again, because Chy always listened to her and loved to play and had a heart as big as the moon. Ariana set about inventing ways to communicate to Chy the things she couldn’t see. First, as she led Chy, she began to add words to her stomping feet signals.


She taught Chy to step up, step down, slow down and later even jump. She led her through the poles, allowing Chy to stop and touch each pole as she had seen her investigate the gate opening. Together they learned the barrel course the same way—one step at a time. When Chy was ready, Ariana rode her through the courses and began to add leg and body cues to the voice cues. T eir runs became fl awless, and Chy was so sensitive that if Ariana got out of balance she would adjust to rebalance her. Eventually there came a day when Ariana thought perhaps they could


leave the farm and go to a fun show. Chy loves to have fun. But Ariana still worried and it turned out her worry caused Chy to refuse the trailer. Looking back now, Ariana says Chy knew it was really Ariana who wasn’t ready. Just as Ariana was always careful to look out for Chy, so did Chy look out for Ariana, and she knew her partner was not quite herself that morning. And just as sometimes she needed to adjust to rebalance Ariana in the saddle, she made an adjustment to keep her safe that day. A few months later they tried again, and this time all went well. It was their fi rst fun


show since Chy lost her sight. In every event they entered they placed in the ribbons. T ey’ve been to a few more shows, always placing in the ribbons. T ey are back on the trail too. On the trail Ariana will always allow other horses to go ahead because she noticed Chy does rely on a horse in front to lead the way and follows their footsteps around obstacles.


“SHE’S NEVER HAD A BAD DAY” T rough it all, Chy has never had a bad day. Ariana says she never once acted mean


or ever wanted to give up. She is always willing to happily try the next new adventure. Chy loves people, she loves fun and she loves going places and meeting new friends. Chy and Ariana have discussed more exciting plans for their future. T ey are planning to visit therapeutic riding centers and work with children and veterans. Ariana believes that Chy’s big heart and powerful determination to overcome her own situation will help change lives. She knows it has changed hers. T eir journey together continues and in the near future they will begin to invite others to be part of their journey, showing folks that circumstances are not obstacles, just diff erent trails to follow. And seeing with your heart may be the very best kind of sight of all.


Dutch Henry is a writer and novelist who writes about “People & Horses Helping Horses & People.” He resides in Virginia with his wife of 36 years,


Robin, and a horse, dogs, cats and chickens. Dutch also does T erapy For T erapy Horse Clinics at therapeutic riding centers across the country to help horses maintain proper posture, movement and body carriage—because therapy horses can use a lit le therapy, too. You can reach Dutch at dutchhenry@hughes.net—he would love to hear from you. His novel, “We’ll Have the Summer,” is available on Amazon and at www.dutchhenryauthor.com


T ey put Chy in a paddock with her friend, a safe older horse named “Together we soar.”


WWW.TRAILBLAZERMAGAZINE.US • December 2012 | 67


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