“There have been so many client firsts and special moments credited to Phantom," said Bethany Nugent of Bethany's Equine and Aquatic Therapy Services (BEATS)
in Woodstock, Georgia, where Phantom serves as a therapy horse.
Bethany said, "My favorite is of a girl with selective mutism who spoke in a whisper only to her mother. Phantom's gentle soul gained this child's trust while grooming, leading and riding and she began to open up, to speak. After years of many therapies, it took only weeks for this child to feel safe and secure to find her voice. For a time only Phantom heard her and dutifully kept her secrets. But as her confidence grew, she brought her instructor and her volunteers into her circle. Phantom is a hero."
Phantom had a successful jumper career under the show name, Blue Eyed Phantom of the Wind, and was a lesson horse teaching kids of all ages the hunter/jumper world when he began his service providing Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies
at age 13.
Shortly into his new role, Phantom suffered an injury to his pelvis when running in a pasture, limiting his activity and the weight he could handle for nearly two years. But he never quit, and went on to become the most popular horse in the therapy program.
This tall (15.3) Quarter Horse
, registered under the name, Doc's Payback, is narrow and strong enough to hold a large range of clients. He is a therapist's dream. Standing quietly as children brush him all over and paint his hooves, he will gently sniff them, making them giggle as his whiskers tickle them, all the while just hoping they have a treat for him. Being so calm and trustworthy, he helps clients forget their limitations for a time and experience the joy of riding around the ring totally free. Nothing bothers him – well cows do, but not inclement weather, screaming kids, seizures, or the stray rooster escaping into the ring.
Several times he has headed toward retirement only to rally back with clear signs that he is happier working. Phantom has helped countless children and adults in Hippotherapy
, Adaptive Riding
, and the Special Olympics
racking up medals and wearing quite the array of costumes for the group musical numbers. While a colored jumper career is a distant memory now, Phantom’s impact has grown exponentially each year. It’s anyone’s guess when he will retire but he will forever have a home with BEATS and will always have an endless supply of treats.