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Minis Rescued from Camelot, Part II
By Sonia Theobalds
Click for Part I
It took a few weeks to get "the little girls" settled into a routine, to ensure them that nobody was going to force them through a chute or drag them around. We learned that all three had started their journey in Pennsylvania, at the huge New Holland Auction.
Hope and Gracie were both extremely sensitive about their hind ends being touched, to the point of practically sitting down when approached. We surmised they had most likely been electric prodded on their way through the auction circuit. However, they eventually relaxed and learned to trust, to play with the other horses and come when called.
As the saying goes, "One man's trash is another man's treasure." These little ponies are
After a few weeks, I decided they were ready to be part of a program I am passionate about: The
Horse Tales Literacy Project
(HTLP). The program was founded by Tim Farley (son of the late Walter Farley, who wrote The Black Stallion books every horse loving child read in their pre-teens) and Mark Miller, owner of Arabian Nights Dinner Attraction in Kissimmee, Florida. Together, they recognize the importance of inspiring young children to read. All their programs are age-appropriate and work with state and national standards.
Basically, volunteers take a pony (or two) to a local school and visit with first grade children, giving them a short talk about safety and about how horses think and react. Then the children meet the ponies, pet them, and talk to them. The children are all given two of Walter Farley's young reader books on the first visit. On the second visit, the children learn more about horses and they read the books to the ponies!
When I learned that there were no volunteers for HTLP in the Northeast, I contacted Hope Elementary School and they welcomed the idea with open arms. Their school is the first in the region to participate in The Horse Tales Literacy Project.
With the help of friends, Holly Draper and Leah Gordon, we escorted Hope and Faith to the school one crisp January morning. Hope and Faith hopped right on the horse trailer, eager to see what all the fuss was about.
I asked the children if they remembered how nervous they were on their first day of school and they all nodded. I explained that the little ponies were nervous too, so if we moved quietly and slowly, they would not feel threatened and would want to return. The class was super and the ponies soaked up all the attention.
Most of the children had never seen "a real horse" or pet one. They commented on how they smelled, how they ate, how they reacted. It was a beautiful thing. Winston Churchill once said: "There is something about the outside of a horse that does good to the inside of a man". So true, so true.
The children loved meeting Hope and Faith and afterwards, they dove into the books! Faith was the star, she truly enjoyed the children; Hope hung back a little and observed. When the weather warms up, we will take Faith back for a second visit or have the children come to our farm to read Walter Farley's beautiful books to her and to our other horses.
In the meantime, Hope has found a new career. Tet and I try to take in needy horses and re-home them but we weren't exactly ready to let Hope go when the 'phone rang one Saturday morning. The caller was a woman with a blind horse who needed a mini or a pony to be his partner. She came and met Hope and they immediately bonded. Hope left a few days later for a trial period and she and her new blind friend, Splash, are now true partners. Hope wears a tinkly bell in her mane so Splash is aware of her location and Hope leads the way! Debbie rides Splash and ponies Hope alongside for long walks on country roads and Hope's new life as a "seeing-eye pony" suits her perfectly.
Faith, on the other hoof, turned to a life of low-level pony crime....
View Reader Comments:
Great story and I applaud you for the rescue, care, kindness, patience and love you've given these horses. And I bet these horses are so happy be be yours and to have such a wonderful, giving future ahead of them. This old gal is very proud of what you've done, doing and will be doing into the future; changing lives of animal and human - great double header!
Wonderful for children to see animals as living, feeling , responding beings to counteract the influence of seeing them only as Disney cartoon characters. Thank you Sonia for all your work in making a dark place rebound with Hope and Faith
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