Seymour couple take therapy miniature horse into the community

Wherever he goes, Flash lights up people’s lives.

As they pet his black and white mane or feed him peppermints, his calm demeanor provides comfort.

Since becoming a registered therapy miniature horse through the National Service Animal Registry last fall, the 4-year-old has brought a lot of joy to his owners and everyone else he encounters.

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Soon after Flash became registered, Kristye and Rob Lewis of Seymour decided to start taking him into the community.

His first outing was Oct. 20, 2017, for Help at Home’s Halloween party at Shops at Seymour. He was in costume, too, wearing cowboy attire.

“All of the kids, they enjoyed it,” Kristye said.

Then Dec. 8, 2017, Flash attended Help at Home’s Christmas event and got his picture taken with Santa. Of course, he got to tell Santa what he wanted for Christmas, too.

“He got pretty close to Santa, so he probably did, probably more peppermints,” Kristye said, smiling.

The event that stood out most to the Lewises was this year’s Easter Egg Hunt for Eggstra Special Children on March 31 at the playground at Emerson Elementary School in Seymour. The hunt, organized by White’s Chapel United Methodist Church, provides accommodations for children with physical and developmental disabilities and special diets.

After the event, Kristye said Pastor Tom Judd became emotional while petting Flash.

“I think it was seeing everything he had done with the kids for the day, seeing how much the kids love the horse. A lot of people have a calming experience around him,” Rob said.

“That was touching,” Kristye said.

Flash also attended a fundraiser for Kaly Hudson on July 15 at the Knights of Columbus.

“That was interesting because that was his first time in downtown Seymour, and the K of C building has the glass that is mirrored, so going past that, he’s like, ‘Oh, there’s another horse’ and then ‘Oh my! Mom’s dressing me like this?’” Kristye said, smiling.

Once he got inside, Flash fit right in.

“We kept telling (Hudson) that we would bring Flash sometime so she could see him, and when we went in, she came wheeling up in her electric wheelchair, and that was the first time he had ever been around it, and he was perfect,” Rob said. “He didn’t get spoofed or anything like that, and she had a good time.”

Flash’s most recent appearance was The Arc of Jackson County’s ice cream social Aug. 16 at Cornerstone Community Church’s shelter house.

On Friday, Flash will visit a nursing facility for the first time when he stops by Covered Bridge Health Campus in Seymour for a social hour with residents.

“My grandma is in her 80s, and her and my great-aunt would come over to the barn, and we would set up a lawn chair and she would brush his mane, and he would just sit there and eat grass while she did it,” Rob said. “She loved it.”

When Kristye saw her grandmother in a nursing home, she realized they didn’t have a lot to do. She knew Flash would brighten their day.

“She wants to take him and have people enjoy him,” Rob said.

The Lewises aren’t surprised Flash does so well around people.

When they visited DSF Miniature Horses in New Salisbury three years ago, Rob said Flash stood out among the nearly 50 miniature horses there.

“There was one pasture, and I call them the misfit pasture, but they really weren’t. They were separated from the herd for other reasons, and he was a misfit,” Rob said. “I just fell in love with him, so when we got home, I told Kristye, I said, ‘I want that little horse,’ and she said, ‘What little horse?’ because she didn’t even notice him. I said, ‘I’m telling you there’s something special about this one.’”

Cindy Seacat, who runs DSF Miniature Horses with her husband, Randy, told the Lewises that Flash wasn’t for sale. Then she said she would like for Flash and one of his siblings to stay together.

The Lewises wound up getting Flash and his brother, which they named Kingsley. They then had three miniature horses at home. Jonesy is their other horse, and he’s 9.

Flash’s breed is Appaloosa, which is why he has the black and white spots on his back, while Kingsley is a Pinto, and Jonesy is a regular miniature horse.

The more the Lewises were around Flash, they realized he would be a great therapy horse.

“We would take Kirstyn over in the pasture because we were always over there and she was always messing with him somewhere, and she would lay down in the grass, and Flash would come right to her and be sniffing her,” Rob said. “He was always so gentle with her, and then any time somebody was around that was handicapped, it seemed like he had that kind of connection.”

Kristye went through the process to get him registered. A veterinarian technician evaluated Flash, and a veterinarian signed off on his health records.

Flash became registered Oct. 18, 2017, and he will have to be re-evaluated every two years.

When Kristye decided to start taking him into the community, she bought some outfits for him to wear. Pop a peppermint in his mouth, and then he is suited up and ready to go.

“Everybody enjoys seeing him, and I enjoy taking him and seeing all of the enjoyment that it brings to people,” Kristye said.

“When we take him inside somewhere and there’s people, it’s like he connects so well with them,” Rob said. “He’s just a special little guy. Kingsley is a good horse, but I don’t know if he’s ever going to be as calm and comfortable in the situations like what (Flash) is. He’s just a good boy. I love him to death.”

Kingsley also is a registered therapy miniature horse, but Kristye said he is not quite ready to go on visits.

“He’s a year younger, and although he passed testing, I feel he needs a little more training yet,” she said.

The Lewises don’t charge anything for Flash’s appearances. They just enjoy volunteering their time.

“If we can make somebody’s day, then that’s all that matters. That’s the way I look at it,” Kristye said. “If I can go somewhere and make one person smile that maybe was having a bad day or something, then we’ve done our job.”

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Meet Flash” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Name: Flash

Animal type: Miniature horse

Age: 4

Birthdate: Aug. 3, 2014

Sex: Male

Weight: 175 pounds

Breed: Appaloosa

Accomplishment: Became a registered therapy miniature horse Oct. 18, 2017

Owners: Kristye and Rob Lewis of Seymour

Favorite foods: Carrots, apples, grass and peppermints

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Flash, a registered therapy miniature horse, provides equine therapy visits to health facilities, schools and other special events.

To set up an appearance, contact Kristye Lewis at 812-521-0901 or [email protected].