His show name was My Thriller, and I have rescued him twice—once when he was a 2-year-old pony in a killer pen at the stockyards and again about 12 years later when his show career was cut short because of Cushing’s disease and founder.
Situations change, and sometimes people are no longer able to care for the ponies they once loved and showed. However, someone has to step up and continue to care for that pony, or it will ultimately end up in a bad situation, such as where I initially found My Thriller.
Thriller’s career included wins at major shows like USEF Pony Finals, Devon (Pa.), the Hampton Classic (N.Y.) and HITS Ocala (Fla.). He was many times zone champion and many times ranked high in the year-end national awards. He served each owner with all he had to give.
I never had the pleasure of owning Thriller during his show days. My passion has always been pony rescue, and thousands, yes, thousands of ponies have come from the stockyards to our farm where we rehabilitated, trained and resold them very inexpensively.
I am still delighted when I see my former ponies winning today. During USEF Pony Finals this year, I recognized the pony jumper Cookies & Cream as one of my previous rescues and met her current owners, with whom I shared photos of this amazing pony as a youngster at our farm. The owners, and even the previous owners who were there to support this pony, were delightful and have cared well for this little mare. Another rescued pony, One Hot Pepper, has appeared at Pony Finals several times as well. It’s inspiring to know where these ponies came from and to see where they are today.
Now, back to Thriller. He has been back on our farm for close to three years now. He is sound and happy. However, when I took him back, I was promised that at least his medicine, Prascend, would be paid for. Due to changed circumstances, however, his previous owners are now unable to continue to help financially with the medicine or veterinary care. So, now we are up to four “retirees” that have returned to our farm.
We also keep a few nice Welsh mares and enjoy raising a few select foals each year. I’m a retired schoolteacher, so the plan is to sell these registered foals to supplement the farm income, so we will be to be able to continue to help ponies in need.
I am asking that each owner remember the horses or ponies that carried them around the show ring and worked hard for them. Know where these animals are in their retirement, and, if it is possible, please help contribute to the care of the retired animal. I can tell you that it would be highly appreciated! These animals worked hard for you. Don’t forget them as they grow old and are no longer competitive. It shouldn’t be on the shoulders of others to support your retired animals, when many of these animals have been in the lives of many people.
IN THE FORUM, horsemen are invited to express their views and offer constructive criticism on any topic relevant to working with and enjoying horses. The opinions expressed by the writers are entirely their own and not necessarily those of The Chronicle of the Horse.
Cindy Bellis-Jones, along with her husband Hugh, is a lifelong horse person. Hugh is the Executive Director of the American Hanoverian Society and Cindy, who recently retired from teaching science for 28 years, has worn several hats in her association with horses. She has instructed at the Kentucky Equine Education program and conducted a pony rescue for more than 30 years. She still rescues on a smaller scale, but in the past few years she has been contacted more often about retired show horses needing a safe place to live out their years, which inspired her to write this column.