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That First-Time Joy of Petting a Horse

'23 Special Edition

Look closely. Do you see it? Just one finger, touching Diego’s side, and Lauren’s face instantly came alive with the most pure reaction of joy. There’s a little more to the photo though. Minutes before, Lauren did not want to meet Diego. She watched as others came forward to pat Diego and even give him bear hugs. Lauren kept a 12 foot distance from Diego and even recoiled when Diego innocently looked in her direction. We get it. Horses are big, and their behavior is often foreign and difficult to interpret at first. They are very different from dogs and other animals people commonly come in to contact with. Even with the consistent training and conditioning Diego receives to perform his job as a service horse, this little pony is still 830 pounds. But we’ve seen this many times before. Lauren was unsure, but intrigued by Diego. By repositioning Diego to the side, placing the leader between Lauren and Diego as a buffer, and with the support from another friend, Lauren inched closer at her own pace, and extended one tiny finger. The moment the tip of her finger met his fur, the suspicion lifted and Lauren made a new friend.


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