A Tulsa child fighting cancer got some much-needed therapy this weekend, thanks to an arena and a pony at the Tulsa State Fair.
In the arena, there's not a worry in the world for Gaige Queen; and riding Rocky gave the 6 year old a break from his newest reality – cancer.
“I think it's really therapeutic for him,” said Gaige’s dad, Alex Queen.
Gaige’s mom, Coye Queen, said, “He's a pretty strong guy, but it has a tendency to take his energy level down a little bit.”
Doctors diagnosed Gaige with Leukemia ALL three months ago, and since, he's been forced to focus on hospital stays and chemo treatment.
Gaige loves animals but had never ridden a horse or pony before. So, when the Angel Heart Farm called to ask if he'd like to show a pony at the Tulsa State Fair, the answer was yes.
The connection with Rocky was instant.
Angel Heart Farm founder, Tracy Kujawa said, “It was in a second that he saw Rocky and he just, his eyes lit up, and my eyes teared as they are now, and just the bond that I saw.”
Kujawa opened Angel Heart Farm in Nashville 15 years ago. It uses horses and ponies to help children living with chronic and life-threatening illnesses.
“Equine therapy, we call it that, but it's way more than that. It builds confidence, it builds responsibility,” Kujawa said. “It's something to look forward to...the first time you meet a horse, the first time you brush a horse, that first time you trot, there's just pure joy. When you have joy in your life you can overcome just about anything.”
Kujawa is in Tulsa showing a Welch pony with a cancer patient from Tennessee but wanted to grant a wish to an Oklahoma child while in town.
“He's a real natural,” she said.
It’s a gift that's giving Gaige something positive to focus on – a new love for horses that he’ll carry with him the rest of his life.
“You can just see it in his eyes,’ Coye Queen said. “You can tell he's really proud and it gives him a sense of, kind of courage and ownership.”
After seeing the way Gaige responded to the pony, his parents say they're now looking into getting Gaige his own therapy pony.
“As a parent, it just makes you feel so proud, being able to look out and see your kid be good at something so quickly,” his dad said.
“We've seen several ponies for sale here that he's been begging for us to purchase for him,” his mom added. “I have a feeling in the near future he will be riding a lot.”