My Horses – Honey

How Honey Found Us

One of the things that has been helping to keep me sane these days amidst the sticky-floor-cleaning and tear-wiping are my attempts to write and illustrate a series of children’s books about our pony, Honey. I want to tell her story while also introducing very young children to the concept of animal neglect and rescue. I just want to plant that tiny seed while they are young in hopes that some of them will one day decide to rescue their pets from a shelter. Plus Honey is so darn cute I just had to immortalize her in some way!

I always say my animals choose me. I swear this is true. For instance, when we went to the shelter to get two kitties after our adopted barn cat died, I had three rules: no females (too moody), no long-haired cats (I think that one is obvious) and no kittens (Too much work! And the adults don’t get adopted as often.). Guess who stole my heart? The sweetest, most long-haired, 7-month-old (still a kitten!) Maine-Coon-looking female! I took her out of her kennel and she just purred and purred and rubbed her little face on me and for the life of me I could not put her back! And she has turned out to be one of the best cats I’ve ever had (that’s my Olive, BTW). And crazy Monty (our male)… well, somehow he spoke to Matt by just sitting there looking cool. And it’s a good thing we took him, because with all his crazy and destructive habits, he wouldn’t have lasted long with most people.

But I digress…  Let’s get back to our Honey-bunny. This is how she found us:

For years, Honey belonged to some dear friends who were trainers and managers at the farm where I boarded my horses. She’d stick her little face out of her stall and look at me with those sweet, bright eyes and of course I couldn’t resist sneaking her a few carrot tips. She was a wonderful lesson pony – sweet and sound and super-safe – and all the little girls who rode there spent hours putting about 4000 braids in her super-thick mane and tail. Then one day lucky, cute little Honey was purchased by some other friends of mine for their then 3-year-old daughter. They loved her and rode her and showed her. But over time, their little girl grew up and got too big for the pony. They didn’t want to part with her, but saw no reason to keep paying board for her at the farm. So they sent her off to live with some family friends at a farm nearly 4 hours away. Apparently these folks had lots of land and other animals, and my friends thought Honey would thrive there for a year or two until their son was old enough to ride and enjoy her.

This is where it all went wrong for our poor Honey.

After a year and a half, the people who were supposed to be caring for Honey called and said the pony was lame and they no longer wanted her. They then proceeded to drop her off at the boarding farm in the middle of the night. I guess they didn’t want to have to face anyone, because let me tell you something, that pony was a MESS! She was thin as a rail (anyone who has ever had a pony knows they are super easy-keepers, meaning they can practically live on air – you have to really NOT FEED a pony to get it to be thin!), she was filthy and matted, but worst of all, her feet were nearly destroyed. All the heel and frog tissue (that is the soft tissue that acts as a shock-absorber beneath the hard hoof) were completely rotted away! No one had cleaned that pony’s feet in over a year! It was so, so sad, and everyone at the boarding farm, not to mention my friends who owned her, pulled together to help poor Honey get well. She was dead lame, could barely walk, and had also developed chronic Cushing’s Disease, which requires careful management of diet and hoof health. And we knew that she had contracted Lyme Disease a few years back, which can also affect hooves and joints, so this pony needed some serious care.

To my friends’ credit, they worked very hard to bring her back, carefully putting weight back on her and soaking her feet 3x/day for weeks and weeks until the thrush infection that had eaten away her heels and frogs was gone and healthy tissue started to grow back. After a few months, my friends decided that they could no longer carry the financial and time burden of caring for the pony, so they began to look for a new home for her.

I think you know where this is going…

Much to my husband’s dismay (“Don’t you think 3 horses is a little excessive for one person?” “Um, no. There are 4 people in this family. I think we are one short!” The poor man had no chance.), I hitched up the horse trailer on May 22, 2011, and Honey joined our human/equine/feline family. I have a little two-stall barn with a sand paddock at home (perfect for sore feet), so I trucked her home for the summer and nursed her. She still needed to gain a lot of weight and her feet were still very sore. My two little boys and I showered her with love and attention while carefully managing her diet and exercise. Slowly, slowly, she started to come back. Her eyes got brighter, her coat color improved, her all-over-body dandruff began to subside (that pony must have been itchy – she rolled in the sand about 5x/day!), and even her hooves began to heal – by the end of the summer she was sound! Now little miss Honey-bunny splits her year between the boarding farm (winter, brrrrr) and our backyard. My kids adore her and even the hubs slips her a carrot now and then.

Oh, who am I kidding? I am the one who adores her the most! As my mother-in-law said, “Every woman loves a baby!” and Honey is definitely my baby.

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