WE'D LOVE TO OWN ... KATIE
Particulars: 1986 unregistered Appaloosa, 15.1 hands
Owned by: Colorado Therapeutic Riding Center (CTRC) in Longmont, Colorado
Working gal: As a therapy horse, Katie carries seven different riders each week and is handled by at least 20 different volunteers. "Some horses-Katie's one of them-when they learn what they're doing, love their job. She just gets it," says Mary Mitten, program coordinator at CTRC. "Some people think her job is easy because she's just walking around, but so many different riders and handlers can wear on horses that thrive on consistency."
Patience is her virtue: Able to carry beginners and independent riders with ease, Katie is eternally patient when riders give her mixed signals or sit off-balance. "A rider might pull back while the leader is still asking Katie to go forward, but she doesn't get frustrated with them," Mary smiles. "It's something that you can't really train, it has to be in them." She's also one of the go-to horses for the center's most nervous riders, because she never lets their nerves transfer over to her performance.
Old pro: A natural fit for CTRC, Katie came from a dude ranch in Estes Park, Colorado, where she spent over a decade taking guests on trail rides. Not able to keep working up and down steep hills in the mountains, Katie is kept sound and happy working in CTRC's indoor and outdoor arenas. When workers at the center went to look at horses for donation at the dude ranch, they first passed up Katie in search of a bulkier horse. "But she was so sweet and easy and great in hand, we had to take her."
Always listening: Katie's foxy ears, small and turned in at the tips, sometimes give the impression that she'sangry or upset. That's not the case, though, as she is just listening closely to her rider's and leader's cues.