Strength, Confidence, Achievement...
One Hoofbeat at a Time

Phantom's Story

  
My name is Phantom – well it’s Doc’s Payback because I’m a registered QH with a storied show career a lifetime ago; and then there is my “show” name Blue Eyed Phantom of the Wind – omg, it is on my bill of sale papers but I try not to use it, I mean I’d get beat up in the pasture if anyone heard that and I don’t run like the wind any more.  So everyone knows me by Phantom and I mean EVERYONE!  I’ve been part of BEATS, Inc since it started in 2003 and I have worked my way into every newspaper article, every course they hosted, every party – you name it, I was front and center.  It’s the blue eyes – they stand out against my bald face.  What can I say – I’m amazingly handsome, even now at 28 years old. 

So for 15 years now I’ve been THE mount of choice for many, many kids and adults in hippotherapy and therapeutic riding.  I’ll never forget one of my first.  It was before my mom started BEATS and I was “just a horse” at the barn she was working at.  My mom loves to work with kids with brain injury.  So she brings in this teenager who had been in a car accident and wasn’t progressing in rehab.  He took one look at me and raised his head, reached out his arm and made a sound.  The kid’s mom went nuts.  I mean I’m used to such a greeting but apparently he hadn’t done those things in a while so she was crying.  Yea me!  But my true colors shined through when the kid was put on my back.  I stood perfectly still forever while they figured out the safest way.  I walked carefully and predictably while FOUR sidewalkers helped this boy sit up.  I couldn’t see him but they said he was smiling so I kept walking for as long as they asked.  He came five times and then one day he cancelled and my mom came in later crying.  The boy had died from a shunt blockage.  A few days later my mom came to the barn after the funeral to unwind and my old owners were there taking pictures of me (who wouldn’t).  They said they were making a poster to sell me – WHAT???????? My (new) mom asked how much they wanted, walked to her car, wrote a check and took my lead rope from them and brought me over to some grass.  I just grazed while she cried and cried. I whinnied at her when she drove off that night and the rest is history.  She always says she will close the doors when I’m gone – I hope she is kidding since BEATS helps so many kids but I’m glad to know she loves me that much. 

So again – for 15 years now – I’ve seen it all.  Kids of all ages and all abilities.  My mom says my movement is very gradable.  No clue what that means but I just do exactly what my leader tells me whether it is with words or body language.  I even know what the word ‘serpentines’ means and I do them even when my leader forgets.  I can be led with a lead rope but I also love being long lined.  It makes me feel in charge and I hold my head so perfectly.  For the kids who don’t need a leader I listen so patiently.  I’m 15’3 and I watch my waist so I fit a broad range of kids.  My FAVORITE thing is Special Olympics!!!  SO MUCH FUN!   Our team does these group numbers to music.  All of the kids dress up and we horses do too.  I was the most handsome steed for Aladdin!  I’m a gelding but I still loved all that bling!  And not to brag but you should see my gold medal collection from the past 7 years! 

Kids love to brush me, give me treats, walk me around.  I don’t like it much when volunteers tighten my belt and sometimes I turn my head to let them know but they make a funny noise at me that I guess means “don’t you dare” and I fear losing my treats so I just bite at the wall and they laugh at me.  I’m getting old so it take some nice meds to keep me comfy – I love those meds!  Despite my age my caseload keeps growing!  I do 10-12 sessions a week!  I’ve come close to retiring several times.  Mom worries about me so any time I merely flinch the vet is called – so embarrassing.  The message she leaves is the same every time “it’s about Phantom.  I know I’m over reacting but I can’t lose him….”  Awww.  I keep telling her I’m not going anywhere any time soon.  I show her in everything I do.  Sure I’m sore (she’s no spring chicken herself and she gets sore too – so Advil for her, Robaxin for me!) and we keep going.  Our barn trainer is working on a horse “to replace me when I’m ready” but good Lord that thing is all over the place.  I need to show him the ropes a bit longer. But I admit, we are taking it year by year now.  So for that reason, I nominate myself for the PATH Horse of the Year for 2015 so that I can assure myself enough bragging rights to get carrots every day, even when I’m retired.