It was a usual day at the barn, when one of our lesson kids had talked to our trainer about bringing their old ponies from their Grandfather's farm in North Dakota to the farm. The little girl explained that she didn't want to be away from her two ponies any longer, because she was worried about them. After seeing pictures of a shining black pony (Snickers), and a small dappled gray miniature (Smokey), my trainer accepted and planned to put the ponies into the usual lesson program since our pony school-master is getting old, at the age of 27. The little girl gladly handed over the ponies as she knew they'd be taken care of.
It was a quiet winter night when Snickers and Smokey were brought to the farm. After an eight hour drive, they arrived. No one had expected to see the ponies so miserable. Snickers and Smokey hadn't had their feet tended to in over two years because the farrier at the old ranch "Didn't work with ponies". Snickers was far worse than Smokey, though hard to imagine as they both made the walk into a new life, if you could call it walking. The bones in all four of their hooves had also twisted downward, and the ponies were walking on their heels because their feet were in so much pain. Not my trainer, nor I, had ever seen anything so horrible in our lives. The minute Snickers got into the stall, he collapsed. I couldn't imagine the pain he was in, so I sat down next to this tiny, broken pony and gave him more trust and hope than I thought possible. No one could do anything but cry.
I stayed with that pony. The next morning when the farrier came out, he gave Snickers a 15% chance to live, as a "pasture ornament". That was enough for me. I knew that little black pony nickering constantly for someone, anyone, needed me. He needed someone to trust. My trainer asked me if we should try, or put him out of his misery. This was the first thing Snickers has taught me, always, always try. I looked my trainer in the eye and told her he was worth it, there was something incredibly special about him. She looked at me and said, "You have a lot of courage. I think Snickers does to."
After weeks of hand walking Snickers in his stall while he was on stall rest, I did so that he would find his rhythm again, how to walk. Over these few weeks Snickers would nip at you, turn his butt to you, but I was the only one who didn't give up on him. I was always trying, everyday. One day I took my chances, held a small baby carrot in my hand outside of his stall with the door open. I knew that if I could get him to trust me enough to travel out of his stall, I could trust him with anything. He was standing usually now, and he turned his head to me enough so I could see the deep longing in his eyes. He slowly took one step at a time, his legs shaking. He took steps to me, and once he got to me, it was like no other feeling in the world, and he nuzzled his head in my chest as I knelt beside him. Snickers taught me what it meant to trust and hope for things beyond your own power.
Snickers had now been at the barn for months, and we found a saddle to fit him, and a bridle that seemed to fit him exactly. I knew this had to be a sign, maybe, just maybe, he could walk around an arena. Maybe he could teach a child what it means to love a pony. Alas, after 1 or 2 weeks of hand walking him in a saddle, I knew he was ready. We had gotten the farriers approval that he could walk. That was more than enough for me. I slipped into the saddle and no, it was not a magical moment. I remember him bolting off, spinning at high speeds like a top reining horse, then bucking like no other pony. After almost an hour, I was able to reassure him that he could trust me with anything life threw at us. Soon, only a week or so later, he was prancing, absolute prancing around the arena with me on his back, walking and trotting. I had known this pony was something special. He made it through everything and exceeded our expectations. Snickers taught me that you really can prove everyone's expectations wrong. You can reach for the stars and the moon, no matter who you are or what has happened to you.
As the snow started to melt and the ice started to thaw, Snickers was making a faster recovery than anyone ever, ever expected him to. The farrier was shocked in disbelief and tells his story to clients across the state of the foundered pony who has been saved. Snickers got the approval long before Smokey that he could do every activity that a normal pony could. I was brought to tears, I was healing him. Snickers may not have had the prettiest or smoothest canter, but it was more than I could ever ask from him. Soon enough, we were jumping him. We called his old owner, the ranch owner, and he told us he was a jumper pony before he received him. This led us to great joy, and we free jumped him.
2' 3". The old, foundered pony that no one expected to live, was soaring over 2' 3" verticals and oxers. This pony was like no other.
There's more. After time, Snickers has been taught to collect, as well as extend his trot and canter.
It is now I believe, because of this 12.1 ebony hero, that life can throw you down on the ground for months, but if you have hope, you will be able to be happy.
I am 13 years old. Snickers came into my life November of 2009. 10 months later, I have never learned more than any human or horse. He has taught me to love, to trust, and to have hope. I have confidence that when ever my trainer asks me "Can your pony do that?" I know, that all we have to do is try. Snickers has given me hope that life isn't so bad. Everytime he nickers for me, or "tries" to stick his head out the stall(He's a tad too short) I know that I have given something a new life. Something to be happy for. I will stay with him until the day he dies. And I know, that once he is fully finished in training, he will touch another child's life.
Thank you, Snickers. I hope I have fixed you <3
True Story. Every word of it.