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"Hayden" .... by Phoebe
"I’ve always had a passion for horses and when I was fourteen years old, I met a horse who changed my life. Hayden was a lanky, red-bay, ex-grand prix horse and when I arrived at the barn where I took riding lessons one Sunday in April, I was ecstatic to discover that I would ride him that day. I practically skipped to his paddock and as I haltered him and gazed into his liquid brown eyes, his kind expression melted my heart.
I knew he would be a forever friend!
A year passed and I continued to work with and ride Hayden. My passion for horses grew and I became involved with a volunteer program called Spirit Therapies, which provides horseback riding lessons for mentally and physically disabled kids. I loved being at Spirit and before long, the warm and compassionate atmosphere was like a second home. Getting to know the children, their families and the other volunteers was an amazing experience! I loved watching the children develop bonds with the horses as well as their own strength and confidence.
Sadly, about a year after I began working with Hayden, he was afflicted with Laminitis, a condition that effects his hooves and makes it difficult to walk…. Similar to us walking daily with a rock in our shoe. It was sudden and I was crushed when my riding trainer at the time told me that Hayden would probably never jump again. He had suffered a few serious injuries during his lengthy jumping career before I began riding him, and he was nearly seventeen years old. Hayden had taught me so many wonderful things and allowed me to advance considerably in the riding arena. Although he was reduced to walking at the time, I decided to take over Hayden’s rehabilitation.
Nine months later, Hayden was walking, trotting and cantering. He would never jump again, but he had regained his soundness and energy. During those months, Hayden and I developed a friendship like no other. Each time I arrived at the barn he greeted me with perked ears and a joyful whinny. We spent countless hours walking together along the trails around the barn. While Hayden surpassed the obstacles he faced during his recovery, the time we spent together fostered a relationship too strong to ever be abandoned.
Soon after Hayden began to heal, I became involved with another equine volunteer program, White Horse Youth Ranch (WHY Ranch). WHY Ranch runs a therapy program for Socially-Challenged kids, rather than disabled ones, but it was very similar to Spirit Therapies. The program is located on a large, beautiful property fairly close to my house. Again, I fell in love with the spirit of the organization, the people I met, and the kindhearted animals.
Time passed, and my mother and I decided Hayden would be happier if he could retire. We could not afford to send him to a retirement ranch out of state and began to search for more reasonable options. Although I loved Spirit Therapies, the small barn did not have room for another horse. Suddenly it dawned on us,.. WHY Ranch would be the perfect place for Hayden. We contacted Amy and Curtis Terry who run the ranch, and they agreed to come meet him. Like me, they fell in love with Hayden at first sight and a week later he was boarding a trailer headed to White Horse Youth Ranch (WHY Ranch).
One warm day in May, Hayden stepped off a horse trailer into his forever home at WHY Ranch. I was there to greet him as he gazed at the vast grassy fields and towering trees. He would spend his days grazing, frolicking with other horses and sharing with shy and socially-challenged children the unconditional love he has always shown me.
As I prepare to leave for college, I am confident that my best friend is in good hands, and I will forever be thankful for my four-legged companion and the time we spent together."
Phoebe & Hayden
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