The original horse from the Bit By Bit Therapeutic Horseback Riding Program at Rogers State University has been named to the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association’s Hall of Fame.
Sundance, a 21-year-old American Quarter Horse gelding, was honored for his role in the Bit By Bit program, which provides equine therapy to disabled children in northeastern Oklahoma. The horse will be inducted into the OVMA’s Animal Hall of Fame in the companion category during a Jan. 24 ceremony at the Brady Theater in Tulsa.
Sundance has been a fixture in the Bit By Bit program since it began in 1997. The program utilizes horseback riding sessions and other therapeutic interactions with the horses to help improve balance, walking, language and cognitive skills for participating clients.
Bit By Bit, which is a cooperative program between RSU and Oologah-Talala Public Schools, now serves 76 riders with 15 therapeutic horses.
Sundance may be in the Hall of Fame, but he’s not riding off into the sunset yet, said Linda Barron, Bit By Bit program coordinator.
“Sundance was the original horse when we started the program seven years ago and every child participating in the program rode him,” Barron said. “But every new child or client that comes through the program will start off by meeting Sundance, who still works with students every day.”
Barron said Sundance has the ability to build confidence, calm jittery nerves and get a shy smile and sometimes a giggle out of apprehensive riders or parents.
“He truly is a remarkable animal,” she said. “When he works with the students, he is very forgiving and will be totally focused on the student, and he has the ability to make tremendous emotional bonds with them.”
Sundance was donated to the Bit By Bit program by Corita Chandler of Claremore after farrier Denny Henderson of Claremore had recommended the horse to Barron.
Sundance was nominated for the OVMA Animal Hall of Fame by veterinarian Dr. Jim Shipman of Claremore.