By Dan Roark
I like to call Tommy the gentle giant. Tommy is a blonde, Belgian draft horse, vintage 2003, who came to New Hope via a kill pen. It’s sad that some people can’t see that a horse can do other things, even if it can no longer do what it did previously, which we suspect – in Tommy’s case – was being a plow horse.
Being on the back of Tommy – weighing in at 2000 pounds – is like being on top of the world. And I say that from experience. Which can be intimidating to a new rider. But for his enormous size, Tommy is surprisingly in tune to his riders’ needs. In time the rider that began by being intimidated comes to love riding Tommy. He teaches riders to focus and steer confidently by smashing cones or poles if not kept focused and directed.
To further illustrate Tommy’s sensitivity to his riders, he has been known to alert staff to an impending medical issue being experienced by a rider. Not many people can say they work with a 2000 pound animal with feet the size of dinner plates. His hoof prints resemble that of a prehistoric animal.
Tommy is a pleasure to ride. He doesn’t care what kind of saddle a rider uses or if the rider even uses a saddle at all. All those riders who ride Tommy thank him after the ride and present him with his favorite treat – frozen bananas with the skin still on.
Ride on and ride for hope.