Valerie DaileyThe turn towards Spring brought along with it some significant shifts for Valerie Dailey and her daughter Samantha. After ten years working alongside her mom and the Showcase team – first as Social Media Manager and then as a Realtor – Sam was offered an incredible new opportunity in Denver, a move that was both exciting and life-changing. In what seemed a poignant closing of a circle, she and Valerie found they also had a decision to make about an old and very dear friend.
Samantha DaileyMel is a 20-year old quarter horse that had been with the family since Sam was in college. She learned to rope cattle on his sturdy back, and she trusted him implicitly whether they were working or pleasure riding. He was a close companion and a trusted partner who was always ready for a jaunt and a rumble.
“I used him in my ranch horse classes, and would go ride in the arena with him for fun,” she remembers fondly. “He really helped me get my confidence back with horses, because he’s just so patient and laid back, and he really enjoys people.”
But the old fellow was starting to feel arthritis in his joints, and couldn’t ride the way he once did. Most of his days were occupied hanging out in the paddock with the cows at the Dailey farm, and although he was now an equine enjoying the leisure of retirement, he’s an intelligent, inquisitive soul who needed more than bovine stimulation.

“It’s just like anyone else; you want a job, something to do that gives you purpose. It makes us happy to feel productive.”

— Valerie Dailey. Broker and Owner – Showcase Properties

A closeup view of Mel the quarter horse.“He was sort of just sitting out there in the pasture with nothing else to do,” Valerie explains. “And that’s not good; he really needs to be around humans and other horses and socialize, enjoy their company and attention, get a brush and some pats and praise. ”

What he needed was a receptive and eager crowd to play to, and fortuitously, Valerie thought she had just the place in mind. At a recent equestrian event, someone had mentioned Stirrups n’ Strides needed horses for their therapy riding program, and she immediately thought of them as a possible new home for Mel.
Stirrups n’ Strides is all about relationship-building between rider and horse as a form of therapy. Any rider, whether a beginner or an expert, will tell you about the benefits of consistently partnering and working with a horse and how it’s helped them not just improve their skills – but their day-to-day lives. Therapeutic riding helps people with mental, physical, and emotional challenges work through their difficulties in a safe, empowering environment – with a partner who doesn’t judge, only accepts.
Mel is led through the barn as another horse looks on.“It’s been shown multiple times in medical research that movement is beneficial to people with limited functionality. To me it’s so important that we have these programs to give people the ability to feel again and to find their strength,” Valerie explains.

Samantha loved the idea. “It’s a super cool program,” she enthuses. “Just to see the kids’ faces light up when they’re with the horses or on the horses is proof for me of how it makes such a huge difference.”

It helped that she was already familiar with the organization. “I’ve been there a few times through the Marion County Association of Realtors,” she explains. “And we’ve sponsored some of their events, like a golf tournament and  a murder mystery weekend fundraiser, which was a lot of fun. We’re also going to sponsor a horse’s feed for a year.”

Once they made contact with S&S, that started the ball rolling, with representatives from the organization coming out to meet Mel. “They came out and took a look at him and felt he would fit their program quite nicely,” Valerie says. “It really was an ideal situation for everyone – most importantly Mel.”

“He loves attention so this really is the best place for him, being around kids and people, getting regular exercise that’s easy on his body, and getting the emotional and mental stability he needs. He helps the riders, and they help him.”

— Samantha Dailey REALTOR® – Showcase Properties
Mel looks inquisitively at the camera.Mel relocated in February to his new home at Stirrups n’ Strides’ Hillcrest facility for the requisite 60-day trial period, as is required for all S&S horses. This way, the program managers can acclimate them, evaluate their temperaments, and make sure they’re functioning and healthy in the new environment. Mel took to it almost immediately and is flourishing, happily working with therapy patients each day.

“It’s just like anyone else; you want a job, something to do that gives you purpose. It makes us happy to feel productive,” Valerie points out. She kept tabs on Mel’s progress over the first few weeks and was pleased he was back in his element. “He’s doing great.”

“He loves attention,” Samantha laughs. “So this really is the best place for him, being around kids and people, getting regular exercise that’s easy on his body, and getting the emotional and mental stability he needs. He helps the riders, and they help him.”

She feels confident he’ll live out the rest of his life in comfort and safety, and that made her feel a lot better as she prepared to move cross-country, knowing her old friend was well cared for. Just as she’s starting a new chapter in her life, she’s happy he’s starting one of his own, helping people in most need of what he offers.

“It was just the right time and place,” she beams. “It’s a good home for him.”

If you’ve enjoyed reading about our agents and their connections to the local community, here are some of our previous Agent Stories for you to check out. For more equine related reading, be sure to visit our Equestrian posts here.