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Mini Therapy Horse and Owner work wonders, Part I

Published: 9/17/2011
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Editor's Note:  Marsha Craig uploaded a Your Horse picture of Lily. I saw the photo and wanted to know more. Please read her marvelous story.
Stay tuned for Parts II and III


By Marsha Craig

I'm 65 years old and Lily is my first horse of any kind.  When I was very young the
people across the street had horses I could ride whenever I wished.  I didn't know how to ride. I just saddled up, threw a leg over and hoped for the best.  I never realized there was an art to riding properly which now explains why Red and Mr. Ed tried to shed me off their back quite often. The last time I rode a horse I was 18.

I don't remember exactly what prompted me to get a horse (old age and memory
loss go hand in hand).  I do know Jack, my significant other, said NO. 

I found Lily at Laneway Farm in Taunton, Massachusetts.  The owner, Karen, showed me three minis; Lily being the smallest and somewhat homely in comparison to the others.  But the moment I saw that little creature, I was sure she was going to be mine.  Being too young to leave her mother, Lily had to stay with Karen who graciously allowed me to visit when
ever I could.
 
During this time I was sole caregiver to my 95 year old mother.  In October, 2008 she suffered a major stroke and after being in hospital a week I brought her back home with Hospice. 
We settled her into her bed and asked if she liked being home.  She said, "not home."  We showed her everything familiar to her including the dog and she repeatedly said,"not home."

I was sorta kidding but finally said, "Jeez, Ma. Lily is out in the pasture,
you want me to bring her in?"  She got a crooked grin and managed to say, "you
show Lily."  Lily had only been with us a month and never had been in the house.
But off I went to the pasture, walked her up the handicap ramp, into the kitchen and
into Mom's bedroom. 
The room was very small with about two feet of clearance around it.
Lily walked into that room like she'd been there a hundred times.  Walked around
the bed, stretched her head up over the hospital beds bars. Ma reached over and patted Lily's nose and sighed. 
I asked her if now did she believe she was home and she replied, "yup."
 
That was the defining moment for me to start training her in hopes to become a therapy animal.

I gotta be honest, I never thought it would really come to fruition but if someone asked if she was just a pet, I'd tell them she's being trained for therapy work. 
Ma passed away November 4, 2008.
We started training the following week and we trained for a year. 

Photos: Lily with Craig's mother. Lily and Marsha on Lily's first elevator ride.

[Read Part II]

View Reader Comments:

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9/17/2011 Nina Fuller
Marsha, what a wonderful story. I'd love to hear more about the work you do with Lily, if you'd like to share. My e-mail is ninafuller@roadrunner.com.
9/17/2011 Mary O'Neill
I am so excited and happy for you. I know with a lot of hard work and patience Lily will become a super little therapy mini horse. Best wishes and lots of love!!!!
9/17/2011 Christine Giguere
this was a great article and I am sure it made a lot of people happy to see her little face pop up over the rails to greet them. Something about those soft little muzzles
9/18/2011 Helen Annunziato
Marsha, what a beautiful story. It brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing.
9/19/2011 Helen Annunziato
Marsha, what a beautiful story. It brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing.
10/2/2011 Dana Massi
Hi Marsha, This is a beautiful story! I am interested in what you are doing and wondering if you would speak to me about it? (508)353-8901
10/10/2011 marsha craig
Dana, very nice talking to you and I do hope you'll call again and make a date to come on over. Look forward to hearing from you!
10/10/2011 marsha craig
Nina, Sorry we missed you. Saturday we visited the Brockton VA Psych ward. Our supervisor asked that we do an out of the ordinary visit - a visit to one of the vets who was on a 24/7 supervised suicide watch. I can't begin to tell you what a wonderful visit it was. The room was just like what you'd see in the movies but no bars on door and no door at all, only a table in the archway where a door should be and an attendant sitting at table just watching his every moment. Lily strode into his room, he swung his legs off the bed and his face just lit up like a christmas tree lighting in boston common!!!! We talked, we laughed, he wanted to know all about Lily and our dog. We visited him for about 1/2 hour and as we walked away and down the hall our supervisor turned and said that was the highlight of her week and that obvioiusly the visit had made this vets day so much brighter. And thats why we do what we do - makes the heart soar!!!
1/2/2012 Alison
Marsha, thank you for posting your touching story! I knew Lily as a youngster and I have a cute short video of her that I'd love for you to see! I used to board my Miniature at Laneway Farm, and loved Karen's minis so much I ended up taking another one with me when I moved! Please send me an e-mail at trrrot at yahoo dot com :)
5/14/2012 renee cyr
i have a mini horse that i would love to use for therapy..im just not sure how to grt started..i live in auburn maine. any suggestions?

   
"My horses are my friends, not my slaves" - Dr. Reiner Klimke