Dancer

(1993 – )
Owned by JoyRide Center
Inducted: 2017

Photos

What makes a great therapy horse? "My son has autism. He is non-verbal with behavioral issues," said the mother of one of Dancer's many clients at the JoyRide Center in Magnolia, Texas. "I am always amazed that Dancer never startles or responds negatively, even when my son would have emotional outbursts. Dancer would allow my son to calm down as the session progressed. I am amazed at Dancer's tolerance, and by being tolerant, Dancer has taught my son to be tolerant."

In his youth, Dancer was a racehorse, but his true calling came in 2010 when he arrived at the JoyRide. He has been the equine partner of Kassie Collins since then. Kassie, a PATH Registered Instructor and a physical therapist. serves as the Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist at JoyRide. "He's done it all, from giving a steady first ride to apprehensive new clients, to working in competition with independent riders," said Collins. In 2016, Dancer was named Equine of the Year by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) International.

Dancer is intelligent, loving, and strong--offering up a consistent walk no matter the activity on his back. He excels at matching his pace to a rider’s needs whether that’s a slow pace to re-balance or a fast pace for more sensory input.

The horse also has the unique ability to give cues as to his rider’s state. Dancer scrunches his nostrils or yawns when his rider is starting to unwind internally or even have a seizure, which happened in the case of the autistic child. "Dancer was so in tune with my son that during the midst of what appeared to be a great ride, Dancer indicated to the instructor that my son needed to get off. I was confused, but within hours, my son had a serious seizure. I believe Dancer felt the seizure coming on," recounted the mother.

Dancer gives one-hundred percent of himself every working day. A "joy to ride", he makes the impossible possible for so many."Dancer has greatly impacted our lives," says the grateful mother. "He will continue to be family forever."