In 2001 a plucky little bay pony joined the Agape herd and began serving small riders in therapeutic riding and all manner of people in equine facilitated learning. Though he is only 13 hands tall, his personality is indomitable and his disposition always joyful. His name, of course, is Jitterbug.
Our dear Jitterbug is now 29 years old and has served in more than 5,400 lessons at Agape since 2001 (WOW!). While he remains joyful in his service and mischievous in character, we cannot deny that he shows a little less pep in his step. That is why we want to honor Jitterbug this Christmas season with a gift he really deserves–retirement. retirement.
The retirement of any of our horses is bittersweet. We are sad to see them go and miss their presence in the barn, the pastures, the classes; but we celebrate their service and applaud the new adventures they often go to after Agape. Jitterbug, though, just might be a little more special than most. It would be hard not to be after 16 years of service. The average therapy horse serves in his or her position for about five years. Agape, like most centers, has never been blessed by such a long-serving horse. A tenure such as this deserves quite a celebration.
And celebrate we shall! Jitterbug will officially retire from service on December 18. Between now and then, we intend to celebrate The Month of Jitterbug! Look for fun interviews with Jitterbug himself on social media, as well as interviews with students he has served over the years. Join us at the Christmas party on Dec. 8th from 6-8pm at our Cicero location to honor Jitterbug. Our founder, Cheryl Miller, will be presenting him with a plaque to commemorate his service here, and he will be available for photo opportunities with your family.
You may be wondering what’s next for Jitterbug. Cheryl Miller, the founder of Agape, will be taking him home. That’s right, he’ll just be on the other side of the fence! He’ll join Cheryl’s Haflinger, Lucy, and I’m sure the two of them will be best of friends in no time at all.
We all have favorite memories of Jitterbug, and we hope that you’ll share those memories with us. Some of our favorite memories include Jitterbug’s BIG personality, which could be witnessed in EFL classes. A herd of familiar horses would be in the arena socializing…a herd that Jitterbug was not familiar with. And when Jitterbug would come in, he’d give everyone a lesson in what it means to stand tall and be confident. That little pony could size up that herd in seconds and take charge every single time. It’s one of the reasons we love Jitterbug, and one of the reasons we’ll miss him when he retires.
Several of our riders, just like Lexi from the video here, made special tribute videos for Jitterbug. You can view them all on the Agape YouTube Channel playlist called “A Tribute to Jitterbug.”
What memories do you have of Jitterbug? Please share them with us here and don’t forget to join us this Friday to celebrate Jitterbug!