Whether someone knew horses or not, they could tell Goldie was special. Her love and compassion were always amazing to see and even more amazing to experience. She was the perfect example of what a therapeutic horse should be.
Perhaps it was her own personal history that made her so special. "When Goldie first arrived at Ride Atlanta, also known as the Reece Center for Handicapped Horsemanship
, outside of Atlanta, Georgia, the mare had a sad look in her eye," recalls Wade Wheeler. Wade had rescued her from a neglectful situation. "We showed her what it was like to be loved. In turn, Goldie poured out more love than imaginable. She turned into a happy, playful horse that understood her purpose in life and loved it."
That purpose was providing Equine Assisted Psychotherapy
to hundreds of riders. Goldie was a once in a lifetime horse for those involved with the program, and she would do anything that was asked of her. She was careful with riders and would stop on her own when they would become off balance, not moving again until they were safely in place. She was the horse who was used to introduce new riders who were tentative or afraid of horses. When something new was thrown her way, Goldie never flinched, never balked and never worried. She did what was asked of her, did it happily and confidently. Her wonderful spirit, attitude and love for what she did showed through and kept her going for 42 years. Witnessing what she could do and would do for new and experienced riders alike was truly like watching a miracle unfold. She knew her riders were special, she knew her job was important and it seemed that she gloried in all that she did.
Goldie wasn't all work and no play; the mare had a mischievous side as well, sneaking out of her stall better than Houdini. She never went far though, as she was usually just headed to the feed room to get herself a snack. She definitely had her own ideas of what her feeding schedule should be!
When it came to work though, she was all business. She settled into being a therapeutic horse both physically and mentally. She loved what she did and it showed every day.
In 1996, Goldie carried a Paralympic
rider and torch as they passed through the town of Thomaston, Georgia. Prior to that day, due to past unfortunate events with horses in parades, the city officials did not want any horses in the parade. But Goldie's demeanor and presence were so impressive to the entire town during that parade that the city council overturned their no horse policy.
The following year, the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship
recognized Goldie as the 1997 Equine of the Year. To say that Goldie made an impression on people is like saying the Olympics is just another athletic competition. Goldie left a lasting impression of love and generosity on the hearts of everyone she came into contact with. She spoiled many people and will always be remembered and missed.