It was a regular giddy-up Sunday afternoon when residents of Tuscan Gardens, a retirement community off Colbert Lane in Palm Coast, received an equestrian surprise. A 26 year-old horse named Dude, escorted by trainer Candy Thompson, arrived to greet and interact with a gathering of residents outside the front door. In his time at Tuscan Gardens, Dude strutted around, let the seniors pet him, and even ate oranges right out of their hands. For those who maybe can’t enjoy recreation like they might’ve used to, it was a unique and fun way to spend a weekend afternoon.
Among the Tuscan Gardens residents who got to meet Dude was 99 year-old Jean Davis (pictured at left). “It’s great,” Davis said of the experience. Asked if spending time with horses is how she expected to be spending her golden years, Davis replied enthusiastically: “Oh yeah!”
“He’s really calm in his demeanor,” said trainer Thompson. “I said, ‘Well I have a horse and I’ve worked with seniors my whole life before we moved down here in March of 2014’, and I’m a senior programs case manager for the Illinois Department on Aging through our local health department. We come down here, my husband opened up a business, the Tropical Turf Team, and I work with him. We’ve been building our business and I thought this community has been an awesome home, so what better way to give back?”
Asked if she took Dude on visits often: “This is my first one down here! I hope for many more from all over Palm Coast. He’s a senior horse, he’s 26 years old. I did barrels and poles on him.” On how Dude did interacting with Tuscan Garden’s residents: “[He did] absolutely wonderful. He is just calm and he enjoys people. He’s a senior, so he’s enjoying the seniors! We really loved it. Palm Coast is a great community and seniors in my opinion are the backbone of this world.”
(All photos taken by Stephen Helfrich. Click to enlarge)