Kiss Me Quick

(1995 – )
Owned by Loudoun Therapeutic Riding, Inc.
Inducted: 2021

Photos

Kiss Me Quick, known as Gnomeo, is good at everything he does. A seasoned horse show veteran with literally a million miles under his girth, Gnomeo joined the therapy horse herd at Loudoun Therapeutic Riding, Inc. at 14 years young in 2011. While he was ready to retire from the rigors of competition, when Kathy Blaine, Loudoun’s Program Director, accepted him on trial, it was clear that nothing phased this seasoned professional, and he had a wealth of life experiences to share with their younger clients.

Having visited him first at his home and seeing that he was sound, sensible and the perfect size for our smallest riders, Blaine felt confident in his suitability for Loudoun’s important work of connecting people with physical, intellectual, and emotional challenges to the healing power of horses. Gnomeo passed every screening test with flying colors.

His quiet demeanor is the perfect introduction to the wonderful world of horses for even the most timid participant. Blaine commented, “he is a ‘horse in pony clothes’ because of his steady, quiet, tolerant temperament and extraordinarily willing attitude. Plus he is super cute – a beautiful pony actually.”

Though he is the smallest herd member of the herd at 12.1 hands, his impact is arguably the largest given the wide variety of activities, services and therapies in which Gnomeo participates. From therapeutic riding (first words, first rides) to Hippotherapy (first independent sits), to community library/school visits to our senior citizen’s programs (Silver Spurs) to summer camps (lots of fingerpaint) this remarkable (never naughty…mostly never) small pony steps up in a big way.

“To partner with a horse is to share its strength and grace. The experience can be life-changing. We know because we see it happen every day. Our Gnomeo has reached several thousand people over the past decade, and we hope he will be able to reach thousands more,” said Blaine.

As the mother of one of Gnomeo’s young riders says “In Chiana’s first 3 years, she had 20 plus medical diagnoses and at least 15 specialists. Chiana has Noonan Syndrome along with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Sensory Processing Disorder, and multiple communication challenges. She latched onto Gnomeo like he was her secret friend – an animal she could ride! Nothing could have been better motivation to work on therapy. He moved. She could go on adventures. He was smallest like her, and she didn’t notice how riding was working her body, her voice, and her thoughts. She has been riding Gnomeo for more than 5 years now. Over time, her voice has gotten bolder, her core has gotten stronger, her coordination has improved, her confidence has grown. She surely would have been lost without Gnomeo and the confidence he has allowed her.”

Heather Payne, one of Loudoun Therapeutic Riding’s Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructors (CTRI) who teaches children with physical, intellectual and emotional challenges, says this about Gnomeo, “With this pony, I have witnessed first words, independence and pure joy. I have such faith in this pony that I will let him go at liberty with a young student who needs something a little different in their lesson plan. I have such trust in this pony knowing he will take care of his riders. Whether they are a hippotherapy client who can’t yet sit up or a riding student who is striving for independence, he will ensure they get what they need.”

“Hard-working and wise equines are the heart of a successful therapeutic horsemanship center,” wrote the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH, Intl.) in announcing that the smallest member of Loudoun Therapeutic Riding’s herd of therapy horses, Gnomeo, would be the recipient of the 2020 PATH International Equine of the Year Award. This prestigious international prize is awarded annually to the best equine working in therapeutic horsemanship as demonstrated by their impact on their riders.

Gnomeo is a shining star amongst many and an extremely worthy representative of all the amazing equines supporting participants in centers around the world.