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Horse Sense of the Carolinas: A Horse's Best Friend!

Sergeant Gus – From Police Horse to Therapist Extraordinaire

Do you remember who your best friend was ten years ago? Back then, you would have recognized them anywhere, but what about now – are the memories still as fresh? Would you still pick out their voice, sight unseen, from across a wide, rolling field?

That best friend could probably make you laugh when you were feeling so sorry for yourself you didn’t think there was any way out. She could help you find the confidence to tackle a major challenge or keep your ego in check if your head was starting to get a little bloated.

That’s because relationships are what help define us. They push us to be our best, and help us shine, and the best ones are everlasting.

Here at Horse Sense of the Carolinas, we "get" relationships. Relationships between people, but, more often, relationships between a human and a horse.

Ten years ago, we were lucky enough to meet Sergeant Gus, a handsome chestnut Quarter Horse with a kind eye and a cheeky grin. He came to our farm from the Asheville City Police Department. He had developed a touch of navicular and was no longer able to perform the gritty police work required of their mounts. His partner, Officer Reneau, knew he deserved the best retirement home he could find, so he sat down with us and we had a chat about our intentions for his Gus (only the best, of course!).

Apparently satisfied that we would give Gus the love and attention he deserved, we were entrusted with his best friend and police partner.

In the decade since, Gus has been one of our best therapy horses. His steady, solid temperament makes him a great partner for kids with ADHD and adults who need help focusing their energy and attention.

We hadn’t seen or heard from Officer Reneau since Gus came to us, but a couple of weeks ago, on Martin Luther King Day, we reconnected. That morning, we got a knock at our door. Reneau had been driving by and saw that there were several cars at the farm, and so he took a chance and decided to stop in and see if Gus was still with us.

Gus was turned out in the field with six or seven other horses, so we all went out to say hello. They were a ways away, and I called Gus a couple of times, with little result (they had just been turned out, so were no doubt wondering what was up!).

Officer Reneau tried a couple more times, and almost immediately we could see Gus across the way, ears pricked up and head scanning the horizon for his old friend. After a few moments, he saw us at the fence and galloped over. The reunion between Gus and his old partner was magical – you couldn’t have witnessed their happiness without feeling their joy.

That bond, forged a decade ago, persisted.

Those relationships are what pull us through tough times, and what make us strive for excellence. Neither Reneau nor Gus would be who they are today without the other.

Some may scoff at the bond between horses and humans, but those of us lucky enough to witness it first hand know better.

Have you experienced a true bond with an equine partner like that between Gus and Officer Reneau? We’d love to hear about it.

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Reader Comments (8)

Wow, what a wonderful story. It brought tears to my eyes and I don't know either "partner" but I did feel the joy in the reconnection. Thanks for the touching story and for all you do for so many.

March 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKathleen

This story gave me great comfort as I lost my horse Barney of 30 years to a stroke and subsequent euthanasia in the spring of 2010. I also lost a horse of almost 20 years in the fall of 2010 due to a kindness euthanasia related to a disabled leg. After keeping Lucky comfortable for many years, age was against us. I miss both of them more than words can ever express and often wonder how it will be when we do eventually meet again. The image of Reneau and Gus meeting again, even after much time had passed, made my heart smile and comforted my soul.

March 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Kelly

No one knows has identified the particular wave of energy in our consciousness that allows the connection between us and our horses. I would like to think there is mutual volition involved in keeping the flame of memory alive enough so that recognition such as the display in the story is possible. It is certainly a thing of beauty, born of innocence and love. It was meant to be for all of us, for anyone who reads this...go forth and love your horses with wild abandon. Thank-you for sharing.

April 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Canfield

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