Richard Kaiser of Crystal Lake, Ill. and his daughter Mika, the "hunter/jumper of the family," had acquired their first horse the previous fall. Though the gelding was doing fine by himself, Richard couldn't help think how much he would enjoy a companion.
It was while looking through an equestrian magazine that they first spotted an advertisement for "A Home for Every Horse." "We went right over to the internet and looked for the closest facility that had horses for adoption," Richard says.? "We knew we wanted a pony because they eat less and make less of a mess than a full-sized horse. We filtered the criteria on the equine.com website for adopted ponies, and up came Dapple. We knew that he was blind and has conformation issues, and we knew that he would be perfect because we could give him a great home."
They went to pick up Dapple from the Society for Hooved Animal Rescue and Emergencies, or S.H.A.R.E.
"We got home late that night--S.H.A.R.E. was three hours away, one-way-and put Dapple in the stall next to Storm, our 7-year-old Paint gelding," he continues. "The next morning, we took Storm and Dapple out into the pasture and let them do their ?smelling' thing, and all went well. We then turned them loose in the pasture and it was amazing to see a 1,200-pound horse ?jump for joy'? he looked like a deer going thru a corn field. They have been buddies ever since."
Now, Richard says, you rarely see them more than 10 feet apart, and while Storm is being ridden in the arena, Dapple waits and watches from the pasture.
Some adjustments were necessary initially. "When we first brought Dapple home he was pretty shy, and whenever he felt like he was being cornered, he would rear up. This was a learning experience for both Dapple and us, because he is blind on the left side," Richard explains. "Now you can approach him and he will spin to see who is coming so no one gets hurt."
The pony is also a bit of a prankster. "While trying to bring him in one night, Dapple picked up his lead rope and trotted off with it to the middle of the pasture, dropped it and then looked over his shoulder at me [as if to say], ?So you want to play, do you?'" his new owner recalls. "We ran around in the pasture for about 20 minutes and then he came in for his dinner. Now you can call him from the barn and he will come in...especially at feeding time. We have found his clock to be pretty accurate, too!"
This has been a worthwhile experience for Richard and his daughter. "Dapple had a hard life previous to coming to our home, and we are glad that he is here safe and sound," he says. "On another note, we just adopted a dog into the family and the horse, pony and dog play in the pasture frequently."