I Need a Sponsor
Speedy was rescued in 2009, before Mea Ola’s Place was formed. He and two other horses were out in a field in the neighborhood where I then lived. My daughter Hannah and I spent the summer riding our horses, and we would frequently ride past the field with these three horses. As fall set in, we noticed that the three were losing weight. Some of our other neighbors were becoming concerned as well. We lived in Southern California, in the Tehachapi Mountains at an elevation of about 4,300 feet. We knew that winter would be coming, and that these horses had no shelter at their home. They were not in very good shape, and now they were losing the weight needed for warmth.
In late November, my friend and neighbor, Terri Sturn, and another neighbor and I decided that we had to do something. Terri had extra room in her barn, and at the very least, she was going to ask the owners if she could move the horses to her place for the winter. The owners instead said she could have them! However, Terri could not afford to feed three more horses, so we three pledged to pay the expenses for one horse each.
(I'd like to give my thanks here to Terri for helping to save those horses. She is an amazing woman, who runs the RISE program in Tehachapi, a program that uses horses for therapy for those with physical and mental disabilities. Although she does not run a horse Rescue, this woman has saved many, many horses.)
Hannah went to Terri’s place after school every day, and cared for the three horses. She faithfully groomed them, "loved on" them, and helped feed and water them.
By that next spring, Hannah had become quite attached to Speedy. She had started riding him once he regained his weight, and Terri approached me about their relationship. She thought Hannah, now fourteen, was ready for a horse like him. Up to this point, from the time she was five years old, Hannah had been riding a BLM mustang who was pony-sized, and she was outgrowing him. I had been unable to ride with her since December because of problems in my neck that required a c-spine surgery in the spring of 2010. So, with me out of commission, Hannah was doing most of her riding at Terri’s. She had also been asked to join the Dust and Diamonds Equestrian Drill Team and had been practicing with the team on Speedy.
We were already paying for Speedy's feed, so cost was not the issue; but I hesitated, unsure about the advisability of adopting Speedy for Hannah. My biggest concern was that Speedy was not a young horse. He was already twenty-eight years old! However, he had no idea he was that old. He was sound and speedy! But, I worried that he wouldn’t live much longer, and I was concerned that Hannah was going to be heartbroken. I was also concerned that he could hurt himself doing the things she wanted to do, like participating in High School Rodeo and on the Drill Team. However, when I had a vet examine Speedy, no reason could be found why these two shouldn’t be a pair. So, we brought Speedy to our place to be Hannah's horse. (Scooby, her Mustang pony then became my son’s mount.)
(Old age is sadly one of the chief reasons why horses are abandoned, or left out in fields with no shelter, or disposed of at auctions. But older, more settled horses can be mellow love-bugs, and who is to say when a horse is too old? As we have seen right here at Mea Ola's Place, "too old" is very old indeed. None of our senior horses has yet reached that age where it can no longer be useful at all. We have learned that "older" horses deserve second and third chances. As proof that older horses are often written off too soon, consider the many horses in their teens, and a few in their twenties, who have completed the grueling course in the Tevis Cup Equestrian Endurance Ride, the one-day, 100-mile race-ride along the ridges and ravines of the High Sierras in California, held every year in mid-summer. The 2015 Tevis Cup winner was a seventy-two-year old man, riding a fourteen-year old mare. Neither of them was "too old." And at age thirty-four, our Speedy is still going strong in 2015. So please, don't pass up an older horse as "too old" when you find one that is just right for you in all other respects.)
The full adoption of Speedy for Hannah was very successful, and the two were quite the pair! They had so much fun together: swimming, trail riding, doing drill team routines, and competing in goat-tying events during High School Rodeo. Once, she even rode him through a fast-food drive-through! Speedy would do anything asked of him and would enjoy any task in front of him. He loved to travel. As a matter of fact, when he would see a trailer, all we would have to do is open the door and he would literally run right in!
After Hannah graduated from High School in 2013, she left home to work on a ranch in Montana, taking Speedy and another horse with her. Then, she moved to Oregon, and again, she took her horses with her. When she finally settled on moving to Texas, she explained that Speedy was starting to show his age, and was getting arthritic, so she was no longer riding him. She asked if he could come back to me and to MOP for his retirement, something she knew he would enjoy. So, upon Hannah's move from Oregon to Texas, Speedy came home to stay, in February 2014. He has been an invaluable part of MOP ever since.
Speedy is our practice model when we are teaching people to halter and lead a horse. He is so patient and will walk very slowly, at whatever speed a person wants to walk. He is very intuitive with people, so he adjusts well to beginners. We use him a lot with novice seniors for this reason. He is also great with kids, and loves to be painted by their hands during camps. (Of course we use non-toxic finger-paints.) We do not allow him to be ridden any faster than a walk these days as he is now thirty-four years old, although he still doesn't know it! He loves to be ridden bareback around the ranch and also to have camp kids sit on him while he is led by a volunteer staff member.
Speedy’s forever home is MOP. He is such a good asset to our programs, that I hope this boy will make the record books for the oldest horse because, other than showing some occasional stiffness, he is as fit and healthy as a horse half his age!