Surprise will soon celebrate her 34th birthday and the beginning of her second decade as a Therapy Pony! More kids who are dealing with unkind life situations have learned to smile, sit straight and feel the glory of accomplishment while riding, leading or loving Surprise over the years than anyone could count.
|Surprise in 2000|
Surprise has always loved being a friend to all, a teacher, healer, confidant and cheer leader. All horses have the gift of being human’s best friend and even spiritual guide—some have an extra magical way of teaching us to hear them, learn from them, thrive with them. Surprise is one of those.
Half the children in Buckingham county VA have learned to ride with Surprise’s gentle guidance, or taken her to shows, or have had children of their own who have mastered equine essentials from the thoughtful tutelage of Surprise. You see, long before Surprise began her second career as a Therapy Pony, she had been a teacher, a lesson horse.
|Surprise in 1998|
She has always been an award winning show pony, and LaRue Dowd, our host at Sprouse’s Corner Ranch, and program director for Heartland Horse Heroes, remembers showing her own pony as a youth, and competing with Surprise. She remembers Surprise at VA State Fairs winning not only the blue ribbons for Gymkhana, but Hunter too. “Something few ponies do at the same show!” LaRue beams. Surprise has, over the years, introduced more children to the art, fun and excitement of showing, striving to be the best they can, and winning ribbons, than perhaps any other pony in VA. She has the heart, desire and love to teach. And does with grace.
|Surprise and a few ribbons|
Surprise has no plans on retiring any time soon. She continues to give regular riding lessons for beginners. She is also one of Heartland Horse Heroes primary Therapy Ponies. Often she’ll be the first new participants learn from, her understanding, compassionate ways, and short stature, easily overcoming fears some children bring to therapy about horses. She has often gotten youngsters over their fears allowing them in time to move on to taller horses. She loves her job, her life, and her kids.
|Surprise teaching a youngster to sit tall and have courage in equine assisted therapy|
Surprise the teaching pony. Short in stature, towering in human connection, teaching skills, love and understanding. She is a Therapy Horse, in every sense of the word.
Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry