Special horse bonds with special-needs child

When Kaitlin N. decided to stop by the Harmony Equine Center one day on her way to practice with her horse at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, she had no idea the detour would change her life—and the lives of her family. That was the day Kaitlin first met Q, a paint yearling who came to the center in March 2014 with 57 other horses that had been removed from their neglectful owner in southern Colorado.

Q was frightened of people at first, but it wasn’t long before his friendly, curious side began to show. Our trainers worked with him regularly in the round pen and on the obstacle course, where he eventually mastered the bridge, tarp, tire, banners, two-by-fours, foam noodle forest and other obstacles. By the time Kaitlin and her boyfriend, Robbie, adopted Q in December 2014, he was a sweet, easygoing horse who had learned how to lead, pick up his feet and load in a trailer.

Since that time, Q has been dubbed “Shock Top” by Robbie, who is a fan of the beer by that name but says it also reflects how the little paint shocked the entire family by being so mellow and laid-back. That sense of calm is especially important in Shock Top’s interactions with Robbie’s special-needs nephew, Miah, who has shaken-baby syndrome. Says Robbie, “Miah can be a little hard on animals because he doesn’t know any better, but even through all the grabbing and yelling, Shock Top never leaves his side. It’s like Shock Top has an extra sense and protects Miah.”

Adds Kaitlin, “When we adopted Shock Top, I knew he was special. His unique pattern and amazing personality are what made me fall in love with him, but on the day he met Miah, I knew he wasn’t like any other horse I’ve had. Shock Top and Miah love each other. And that’s what I love about horses: They don’t discriminate among people. Shock Top has been a blessing to all the lives he’s come into contact with. Thank you, Harmony Equine Center, for giving us the opportunity to own such an amazing creature!”