Some stories just have to be shared!

Sometimes it takes a special horse to help you realize it's time to slow down and appreciate a really good story.

At Lilja, we are always excited to tell the stories of our clients who have such wonderful stories to share. And when we're busy, it's often hard to take a step back and find the time to share a story – just because it's a great story. But when your kid's beloved therapy horse wins "Horse of the Year" at age 30 and you find out he's retiring from the program, you just have to take on a little pro-bono project to make sure that story gets heard!

This fall, as Buddy, a former show horse, retires from his second career as a therapy horse at We Can Ride, Inc., in Minnetonka, he will have been celebrated with ample amounts of affection – and an award.

The affection has come from the more than 300 riders with disabilities who worked with Buddy through We Can Ride, their parents, volunteers and staff, all of whom value him for his calm demeanor, steady gait and passion for his work. He’s helped riders gain balance, confidence and courage. He’s helped them achieve goals they never thought possible. And he’s been a loyal friend. This past weekend, Buddy’s fans celebrated and thanked him for his seven years of service, hard work and friendship with a wonderful retirement party at the We Can Ride barn.

Buddy will soon be traveling to South Dakota to live with his owner, who generously donated him to We Can Ride after a successful career as a hunter/jumper show horse. Having "purchased" Buddy for just $1 when she was a teen, she saw the gift as her way of paying it forward. And her gift has paid dividends for Buddy's riders! The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) agreed, honoring Buddy as “Region 6 Horse of the Year.” Region 6 includes Manitoba, Minnesota, North Dakota, Saskatchewan, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

We Can Ride is a small non-profit, so the staff and volunteers were thrilled to have the Lilja team share Buddy's story with the media. Even among all the breaking news, Buddy's story reached Twin Cities audiences in the Minnetonka Sun Sailor and from Bob Collins at MPR News.

They agreed with us – Buddy's story had to be told, because Buddy's story isn't just about him. It's also about the hundreds of riders with disabilities he has helped at We Can Ride.

Posted by: Linda Tedford