DENVER, Colorado — The National Western Stock Show is back in Denver for its 114th year.
In 2020, visitors and exhibitors alike will get the chance to meet Lovebug, the Stock Show's newest ambassador.
Two-year-old Lovebug is a miniature horse and a certified therapy horse.
"A service animal usually is trained to do a specific task to where Lovebug’s task is just that, she gets to come in and give snuggles and joy and be loved on by people," her owner and handler Audra McNicholas said.
Lovebug has lived with the McNicholas family for nearly a year. During that time, she's visited countless hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and different events and functions.
"They have proven that therapy animals bring a lot of psychological benefits for people with stress and anxiety," said McNichols. "They also help boost being social with each other and helping people feel comfort and joy."
Lovebug's ability to put those around her at ease makes her the ideal ambassador for The National Western Stock Show. Over the course of 16 days, Lovebug will soothe more than 650,000 people.
"She will be throughout the Stock Show. So, instead of a “Where’s Waldo?” It will be 'Where is Lovebug?'” McNicholas said.
The miniature therapy horse will be available for selfies but may need some work on her framing.
It may sound like a cushy gig but it requires hours upon hours of training.
"I have a certain amount of hours that I document for her, as well for myself as a handler. I also document the events that she goes to, the kinds of places that she’s been, and the number of people she’s been around.
I’m always documenting that and all new noises and events," McNicholas explained as Lovebug stood in her living room with McNichols two young daughters climbing all over her.
Lovebug the therapy horse will be available to visitors and exhibitors who can find her every day of the Stock Show.
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