Sweet Honey Pony

April 10, 2013 at 11:35 am | Posted in Honey Pony, Horses, Kids | 7 Comments
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Well, this is a post I didn’t want to have to write so soon.

Our beloved pony, Honey, finally succumbed to the laminitis caused by the Cushing’s Disease, Lyme2011-07-27_16-17-23_828 Disease, and year and a half of neglect she had suffered. My goal when I adopted her was to give her the best retirement I possibly could and to ease any pain she had along the way. We did everything we could for her, but in the end her hoof and joint issues got the best of her and we simply couldn’t ask her to go on.

As every pet owner knows, this is the most difficult aspect of owning (do we really “own” them?) an animal. We almost always outlive them. And it leaves us with this awful responsibility and choice that we must make for our four-legged babies.

Honey was one of those really special ponies you don’t come across too often. Not only was she cute (never met a pony who wasn’t), she was incredibly sweet and willing (met a lot of ponies who weren’t). Oh, she had her moments… a warm summer day when she didn’t really feel like going for a walk and would plant her feet in the ground and let you tug on her head as if she were a 50-ton rock and you were an ant. But if you were patient and gentle and gave her time to think about it, she’d always decide to come with you.

She loved children and would get the sweetest look in her eye when they came around. Every single one of them seemed to fall in love with her, and the girls especially would spend hours braiding her super-thick mane and tail. If I had given them glitter and pink hair dye that pony would have been covered in it.

Roundpen StandingI loved how Honey would throw her scruffy-maned little head up at the sound of my voice or sight of me coming around the corner and shriek that sweet little pony whinny. I guess she had me pegged – carrots and scritches coming up.

So when she didn’t want to get up to eat anymore (although she would take her meal lying down if you put it in front of her) and I had to make the decision to let her go, it really was heart-wrenching. A friend who was trying to comfort me gave me some advice:

“What was Honey’s place in your life?” my friend asked,
“What doors did she open in your heart?
Think about why you two were brought together.”

I had never thought about losing an animal in this light before. Sometimes we think about why certain people come in and out of our lives, but seldom do we think about animals in those terms. Aren’t they just as important to us? Don’t they touch our hearts in the same way?

I thought about it… and I think Honey was brought into my life to remind me what it’s like to love unconditionally in difficult circumstances. Honey was sweet, but she wasn’t an easy pony to keep. She had numerous health issues and needed to be managed very carefully on a day-to-day basis. We were constantly checking and changing her supplement/vitamin/medication intake trying to find just the right balance. She had to be kept off grass and away from regular hay, and sometimes she would have mysterious stomach issues. I’d hoped she could be used as a regular mount for my children – especially Brady, who seemed to be much more grounded and relaxed when riding her. But that only proved to be possible for the first summer she was home. After that she was never consistently sound enough for regular riding. And of course I couldn’t ride her. I’ve always been the type that loves my horses but kind of wants to rush through all the custodial care and get to the riding. The only thing I could do with Honey was take care of her and love her. And somehow, she made this easy. She taught me a lot about patience, kindness and how to deal with chronic pain (I have a bit of that myself). She showed me that sometimes just being present is enough. And that a darling, damaged little body can hold a whole lot of love.

Honey 1So when it came time to let Honey go, I knelt in the thick bed of shavings next to her and put my forehead on hers. I thanked her for all she had done for me and my boys, and I told her the next place she would be going would be free of pain, free of limitations and free of fear. I know she heard me. I’m pretty sure she understood.

You touched everyone you met, little Honey-bear, and we will miss you very much. We’re all thankful for the gifts you gave us and the time we had with you. There will never be another one like you.


P.S. We have now found a way to immortalize Honey by telling her story in a series of children’s books. Go to www.HoneyPonyBooks.com or check out Honey’s FaceBook page.


Every Woman Loves A Baby

May 19, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Posted in Honey Pony, Horses | Leave a comment
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Please don’t ask me why I adopted this pony. I can’t explain it. After all, if you heard of a pony with chronic Lyme Disease, Cushing’s Disease, laminitis and any other of a number of lameness and health issues, wouldn’t you just have to have her? It’s just that I have known her for years, and she is SUCH a wonderful pony. So sweet and great with kids and, let’s face it, completely adorable. As my mother-in-law so wisely put it regarding puppies and ponies, “Every woman loves a baby!” She is so, so right. Just look at her. And since I have sooooooo much time on my hands between runs back and forth to both kids’ schools, 4,000 loads of laundry per week, hunting down “that red car with the yellow flames and black wheels. No, not THAT one!!!!”, and conducting endless dissertations on such important subject matter as why cats have tails and we don’t, well, I just HAD to HAVE her!

And so, enter Honey Pony, queen of cuteness, princess of problems. It’s been an interesting road trying to contain her chronic conditions, but it seems like we are finally getting the best of them. My wonderful barn manager, Linda, and I have been researching the management of Cushing’s horses, and since we share a philosophy that tends away from drugs and toward the all-natural, it’s definitely been a foray into uncharted territory.

Of course we had to start with diet. Cushing’s horses and ponies need to be on a low-carb diet. That’s right, you heard me. A low-carb diet. For a HORSE. You know, the ones who live on carbs? Well it, turns out this actually can be done. We found a great chopped hay product – Equi-Safe – that has nutritional pellets added and very low sugar content. She gets that plus a half a flake a day of the coarsest hay we can find, which we soak first to remove even more of the glucose.

Because of her dietary restrictions, Honey gets no grain and very little access to grass. If the grass gets too long in her small turn-out, we have to resort to a grazing muzzle which, even though it is bright pink, is the saddest thing EVER! That pony just stands there staring at us, bravely wearing her muzzle, and makes us all sob just looking at her! So we try to keep her on sand or very very grazed- down grass, just to preserve our sanity.

Needless-to-say, these types of horses require a lot of time and management. Did I mention how cute she is?? Once we got the forage part right, it was time to think about supplements. Apparently you can’t give Cushing’s ponies just ANY vitamin/mineral supplement. They have special low-carb needs! Again, we found a great product called D-Carb Balance. Vitamins and minerals, check. Next, we tried to address the chronic diarrhea these little darlings seem to have. As if I don’t have enough poopy butts to wipe at home, now I was cleaning my pony’s hind end at least once a week! Priobiotics helped, but in the long run, soaking her hay has done the most good.

Then we started to get a little crazy. Linda told me about a blue-green algae product she had used on her horses to clear up allergies, help with chronic Lyme Disease and also address Equine Metabolic Syndrome. It’s called spirulina, and it really does work miracles. There’s so much information on it out there I just can’t go into all of it here, but suffice it to say that sweet Honey-Pie is now getting 4 teaspoons per day and really thriving. I still have to monitor her closely and some days she looks a little off, but overall she seems to be glowing with good health. And miracle of all miracles, this year she shed out her winter coat – something she has not done in two years!

When I brought Honey home a year ago, she was skinny, dun-colored (her coat was once the color of honey), on Pergolide (a drug to treat Cushing’s), on Previcox (an NSAID), and was limping with every other step. Today, she is off both medications and getting the right hay, vitamins, spirulina, and MSM (to help with joint pain/inflammation and the uptake of the antioxidant glutathione). Her coat color is back, her dandruff is gone, her feet are never warm, and she’s got a lot more energy! And while she still does take the occasional lame step, we’ve certainly come a long way. I’ll be posting more if we decide to try additional supplements and therapies. And please, do not start sending all of your hard-luck cases to me. I am a sucker, but not THAT much of one. Or perhaps I am. Just don’t do it, it will put me over the edge.


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