Dear Dedicated Pony Express Lovers,
I feel like I am writing the letter of my life today, and in many ways it is. For it is about my life’s work. We are at a cross road and when I say we I mean The Pony Express Equine Assisted Skills for Youth. On one hand I feel like it’s nothing short of a miracle that this year wecelebrate 32 years of service to Sonoma County youth and horses in need. On the other hand I know it is going to take nothing short of a miracle for us to make it another year, much less another 32 years. But our story is worthy of just that, a miracle; for it is the kids and the horses that make miracles happen at this safe place they all call home.
Casey has been with us since she was nine. She is now seventeen and a senior in high school. Casey no longer rides as her weight has become an issue and she herself has not yet decided if she wants to be a boy or a girl. Yet she dearly loves all of our horses and ponies, and most importantly our program is her safe place as we accept her for the beautiful person that she is. And she is very beautiful, both inside and out.
And then there is Kelli. Kelli was born a crack baby to a woman in the throes of addiction and the after effects continue to affect Kelli on a daily basis. At seventeen Kelli spends more time parenting her one (and only) parent, when what she really needs is just one good parent. I am grateful that Kelli and Casey are best friends so they will always have each other. Our program is her safe place.
Christina is as brilliant as she is tall, and she’s very tall and still growing. When Christina first started in our program three years ago she was silent, literally. She did not speak, not even when spoken to. At that time Christina was heavily medicated and suffering from severe anxiety and depression. She rarely got out of bed and had no interest in stepping outside herself, much less stepping outside. Though still home schooledChristina is no longer on the heavy meds. She is at the ranch everyday helping to care for all of our fourteen horses and ponies. And Christina has no problem telling me just what I need to do and how to do it, and she’s usually right. Our program is her safe place.
Sunny is definitely the cute one, and she would be the first to bring that to your attention. Sunny was born to a mom whom has six kids, most with different fathers. Sadly Sunny has no idea who her father is and has no respect for her mother. Despite Sunny’s less than desirable home life, she is a brilliant young lady excelling in school and sports including horse sports and is determined not to fall, or follow in her mother’s footsteps. Not unlike Kelli, Sunny is old beyond her years as she has grown accustomed to having to care for her many younger siblings, and at the same time parent her not so qualified to be parent. Our program is her safe place.
Jasmine is the funny one. She jokes about the (family) baby shower she (just) went to where a gang fight broke out. There were real guns and real bullets at a baby shower where real babies were present. Evidently this happens all the time as her large Hispanic family doesn’t all wear, or swear by the same color. Some like red and some like blue, and none of them like each other. Jasmine does know who her Dad is, but he is not much of a father and does not figure in her life. Our program is her safe place.
And of course who could forget Daniel and Davis, the only two guys brave enough to venture into the Pony Girl herd. They too are amazing. Both are eighteen years of age and both suffer from autism. Something about horses, all animals really, that bring calm to all of the different storms stirring inside many, too many of our kids. Our program is their safe place.
These are just a few of our kids. They all have amazing stories, not unlike our horses and ponies…
As an equine rescue our horses and ponies come from all over. Sometimes I find them, but most times they find me. Not unlike my kids, most if not many of my horses come from abuse, and abusive homes. Milo was no exception. When I first met Milo he was a school horse in a local riding program. Though small in stature, Milo was big in pride and tried really hard to go along and get along at the riding school. But too many inexperienced riders pulling and kicking soon had Milo pulling and kicking to get away from the pain that already existed within him. And so they sent him away to a place where he would be sold to the pound, by the pound. Thankfully I found him first.
And then there is Midnight; a little black and a lot of pony. When I first met Midnight he was in a field of goats. His owners liked to ride dirt bikes in his field and chase him. Hence his field of dreams turned into nightmares and no one could catch him. By the time we (it took six of us), did catch him his halter had grown into his nose and there is still a permanent scar in its absence. Not so long ago Midnight was awarded an Equus Award by Sonoma County Horse Council for all of his good work at Howarth Park on behalf of Sonoma County kids everywhere.
Balou and Mindy’s stories are similar. Both found by Sonoma County Animal Control literally starving to death from a lack of food, and the lack thereof of anyone who cared enough to feed them. Balou now looks and feels fabulous and is thriving as Aleyah’s equine partner. Mindy is equally beautiful both inside and out, not unlike Cheyenne who is the only one who can and does ride her. And then there is Lily, rescued off the race track. Lily belongs to Jamie and the two of them make magic happen when they are together, and they are magical to, and for each other. And Mariah rides Peanut, and they are oh so cute together, a little peanut on a big Peanut.
All of our horses and ponies are the most amazing partners and teachers to our equally amazing kids. They teach us how to listen, not just with our ears as we are accustomed, but with our eyes. Our equine partners require of us to stay present, focused, and engaged in their presence, not to mention off of our technology; something that is nothing short of a miracle for teenagers these days. They keep us grounded literally in what is real, and really important. In doing so, they have the unique ability to heal, and be healed when given the opportunity. Our program provides just that opportunity to both our kids and our horses.
Sadly, our program is now at risk and in need of a rescue of its own. With fourteen horses and ponies and as many kids, our costs have exceeded the monies that we can and do generate at Howarth Park. We are in dire need of financial support if we are to continue to be able to support those that so desperately need our support. You can meet and greet all of our kids and horses up close and personal. And then you can see what I see, and see that this program is worth fighting for, and funding for. Please help me to keep this safe place for all of our own. Thank you.
Please go to our website at www.theponyexpressrocks.org and find out more about donating to The Pony Express Equine Assisted Skills for Youth. Your donations are tax deductible (Tax ID #80-0370392). Thank you.