Though Adopt a Senior Pet month recently ended, no matter the month senior equines have a lot of wisdom and experience to offer their adopters. Sarah discovered that a senior horse was the perfect fit for her son, Charlie.
Sarah inherited a love for horses from her grandpa, and from the time her son was born she looked forward to sharing her passion with him. Once Charlie was old enough, she found him a Miniature Horse. When Charlie got too big to ride his tiny equine, she worked to find him the right pony. But after meeting a few ponies and experiencing some difficulties, Charlie was becoming nervous around horses. They couldn’t seem to find the right fit.
Frustrated and pony-less, Sarah turned to ASPCA Right Horse Partner West Virginia Horse Network (WVHN) for help finding him a match. Sarah was in luck: a new group of ponies was about to arrive through the ASPCA Horse Adoption Express. This relocation program transports horses and ponies between Partner shelters to help them find wonderful homes more efficiently. One of these ponies was Annie, a senior who had been lovingly surrendered by her owner to This Old Horse (TOH) in Minnesota for safe rehoming. Knowing they had many ponies and a limited pool of adopters looking for a smaller equine, TOH sent Annie and her herd mates to West Virginia, where a group of adopters and foster homes, like Sarah, were eagerly waiting to meet them.
Sarah was already committed to taking one of the other ponies home on a foster-to-adopt trial, but was instantly taken with Annie when she stepped off of the trailer. “Truth be told, I fell in love with her just leading her to the trailer that day. But we already had a smaller pony from the rescue who we were trialing. We dropped Annie off to her foster and kept tabs via Facebook updates,” remembers Sarah.
Annie was bigger than the pony Sarah had brought home to foster, and the smaller size of the other pony seemed less intimidating to Charlie. Still, Sarah kept in touch with the other foster, and when Annie needed someone to evaluate her under saddle, Sarah jumped at the chance. After a great ride, Sarah knew Annie was perfect, but Charlie still needed some convincing. Sarah decided to bring Annie to her farm to foster with the hopes that Charlie would start to warm up to the larger pony.
At 17 years of age, Annie is a senior horse. Senior horses typically bring experience and wisdom into their relationships and can be a great fit for a young or beginner adopter. That was part of the reason Sarah believed Annie would be a great fit for her son, despite her being slightly larger in stature.
The Moment It All Clicked
A breakthrough moment took place at a riding meetup at a nearby arena. At first, Charlie barely wanted to ride. He’d hop on Annie for a few moments but then ask to get off. Finally, on the last ride, Annie got scared and bolted. What could have shattered Charlie’s remaining confidence ended up being the exact thing he needed to realize he could overcome his fears with Annie.
“She started to bolt when another horse passed her at speed and Charlie was easily able to bring her back under control. That small act of confidence boosting was all it took,” Sarah recalls fondly.
From that point forward, Charlie and Annie have been inseparable.
“Annie is the center of Charlie’s world, and he is the center of hers,” shares Sarah. “When he is gone away from home, I can tell she misses all the attention. She follows me around like a lost puppy when she usually couldn’t care less about me.”
Every day after returning from school, Charlie’s first question is about Annie and if he can go ride. Their partnership has blossomed, and the pair recently won a year-end award on a local competition circuit. When they’re not perfecting their skills for the next competition, Charlie enjoys taking Annie out on the trails around their house.
Annie is exactly the partner and friend Sarah had hoped to find for Charlie. Annie takes good care of her young rider, and his confidence has grown under her watch.
“He frequently rides Annie around the farm bareback in a halter, and I don’t have to worry a bit about them. I know she’s taking care of my kid.”
After bringing several horses home who were not the right fit, Sarah understands just how important it can be to find the right horse. She credits WVHN for their ability to help match adopters and horses. And the pony she first brought home instead of Annie? She ended up being too energetic for Charlie, which made her the perfect match for another family.
“Working with an ASPCA Right Horse Partner allowed us to adopt Annie and find the right match for the other pony too. Two families and two ponies won in the end,” Sarah enthuses. “I am so glad I met Annie that day and that we got the opportunity to adopt her! She is exactly the horse my son needed to get his confidence back and his love of horses and riding. He’s invincible when he’s with Annie. She is definitely his #RightHorse!”
Feeling inspired and ready to adopt a horse of your own? Visit myrighthorse.org to browse hundreds of adoptable horses nationwide by breed, gender, or discipline.
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