I am SO excited to introduce you to the newest member of our herd.
Meet Fancy the sweetest miniature horse you will ever find. This beautiful little horse is as kind and calm as she is darling.
We are working hard to get Fancy therapy certified.
She is the perfect candidate for a therapy horse because she is calm, loving, relaxed, and sociable with people.
Getting a horse therapy certified is no easy task.
It takes hours of special training, lists of completed tasks, and loads of paperwork.
But…it all starts with an amazing horse, with a very specific set of skills and qualities to create a friend that is a safe and successful therapy animal.
We have no doubt that Fancy will pass each and every test with flying colors, and soar right through her training!
Fancy has an extra special personality that attracts the attention of kids and adults alike. Her extra calm demeanor makes her very approachable.
Even kids who may feel a little intimidated by horses, find Fancy easy to love and they can’t wait to wrap their arms around her!
She thrives on attention, love, and kisses.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a kid or an adult, she is so happy to meet and get to know everyone.
She even loves the dogs on the farm!
Fancy was offered to the “Spotted Pony” team by an amazing family who has filled the little horse’s life with love and adventure! She taught their daughter the love of horses at a very young age, guided her through horse shows, learning to drive a horse and cart, and even gave lessons to other young horse lovers. It is clear that she has been the very best friend to a special family for many years. We are so happy that they believe in our mission and were willing to share Fancy with us!
We are so excited to be Fancy’s new keepers and can’t wait to take her along with us so she can continue to spread joy to others
We plan to take Fancy to book readings, libraries, schools, and other events where she can brighten the day of every new friend that she meets. We have big plans for a Fancy Fan Club, anti-bullying programs, adult high-stress work environment visits, Fancified youth bible studies, and so much more!
Her days will be filled with giving kids an opportunity to meet a real live horse, promoting literacy, and spreading joy to those who need it.
We are certain that this sweet little horse will change our little corner of the world for the better!
Miniature horses are horses defined by their small height. Depending on the particular breed registry involved, the height of these horses is usually less than 34–38 inches (86–97 cm) tall at the withers. While miniature horses fit a height-based definition to be considered a very small pony, many retain the physical appearance of the full sized horse and are thus considered “horses” by their respective registries. They have various colors and coat patterns. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miniature_horse
The Differences Between Miniature Horses and Ponies
Miniature horses and ponies are typically considered to be quite similar. However, several characteristics help differentiate them visually. At times, it merely comes down to memorizing certain breeds and whether they are miniature horses or ponies.
Of course, the primary difference between miniature horses, or horses in general, and ponies is their size. Although ponies are typically quite short, miniature horses are often slightly shorter than their pony counterparts.
Most of the time, ponies have to be under 14.2 hands high, or 57 inches tall. Miniature horses, on the other hand, can only be 34 inches tall from their withers.
It isn’t only about their height but also their overall build, appearance, and stature. Miniature horses are often finer than ponies, with more tiny elegance about them. Ponies are often compact, whereas miniature horses have muscular bodies with slim conformation. Instead of having thickset shoulders and necks, miniature horses have longer necks set above their bodies.
Sugar Bear is a 30-year-old halfinger. Haflingers are one of the longest living horse breeds. 30 years for a horse is like being 90 in people years and our sweet and spicy Sugar Bear isn’t slowing down in his old age.
While he causes a bit of trouble sometimes, and his food obsession knows no end…he is pretty darn special! Sugar Bear has a golden colored coat, and a curly creamy white mane and tail. We are always telling him that he has the best Fabio hair! He also has feathery feet like a draft horse. HIs stunning good looks make him a farm favorite!
There are 2 things that Sugar Bear likes best. Number one is food, and number two is FOOD! Breakfast and dinner time are his favorite parts of the day. Everything in between consists of him trying to get out of work, or finding extra snacks to eat.
Since I had little time to spend with him while my kids were small, we decided to borrow him to a therapeutic riding center. He got lots of love and attention, and he did fabulous work helping people of all ages at the riding center. Sugar Bear worked at a therapeutic riding center for 5 of the 13 years that we have owned him before he retired from therapy work. Haflingers are draft ponies which make their size and stature perfect for any sized rider! He was a perfect addition to a therapy program. He doesn’t move fast, he is strong and sturdy, but also low to the ground and made it easy for handlers and side walkers to assist riders on his back.
Not all horses have had such important jobs carrying the most precious and special cargo! He has always done the important stuff with such care.
He has also been my mom’s favorite ride for many years. His rocking horse canter makes her smile every time she rides.
Fun Facts: While Sugar Bear is too tall to officially be considered a pony at 14.3 hands, many horses of his breed can be considered ponies.
Sugar Bear’s nick name is “The Finger Breaker” because well, you can guess, and no pony is perfect all the time!
The Christmas rush is over. The parties are past, the concerts and practices are done. The hustle and bustle has come to a halt. When the chaos of the holidays ended I escaped to the calm and quiet of the barn. There was work to be done. I needed to catch up on my chores. My four legged friends needed my attention just like every other day. As I made my way to the barn that morning I started to think about what was the gift I was happiest to give my children?
Just like every Christmas, there were gifts on lists for my kids. The overpriced shoes, the newest games, the special sports equipment they couldn’t afford to buy themselves with their summer job cash. They are good kids. Motivated, kind, and hard working. They are responsible, trustworthy and dependable. They deserve everything they want for Christmas. Did we manage to give them the gifts my mom heart felt they deserved this Christmas?
As I dressed in my barn clothes to go do barn chores that morning, I didn’t ask for help. I figured the kids were happy to be home in their cozy pajamas enjoying their new gifts. I would sneak out and let them skip the cold morning chores. But, minutes after I hit the barn, I realized that they both had followed behind me. Both dressed in their new work coats ready to help. I watched my children tend to the horses, the chickens, the barn kitties, and the dog, I had to pause to think. I was taken back.
I could do the chores myself, but they didn’t let me. They worked happily, with joyful hearts. They stopped only to spend a quiet moment with whichever horse was being nosey.
They sang Christmas songs while they shoveled stalls, pushed wheel barrows and carried shavings. They chatted about how much they enjoyed visiting with family this Christmas while they threw hay, filled waters, and grained horses. This is who they are. They are helpers, hard workers, and doers. They are caregivers, team players, and my kind of cool! Watching them that morning, I started to think that perhaps it means more to them than chores to cross off the list.
Before they go to school, go to practice or open gifts on Christmas morning they know there are chores to be done. They do it without question day in and day out. Not because they wished and asked for it all, but because it is what they are accustomed to. They were raised with it, it is a part of their life. It’s a part of our family. My son doesn’t “have a horse in the barn”, but he never reminds us that this work isn’t his job. We are a team and whatever work goes with the life we have chosen is ours to share. The gift I am happiest to give them has nothing to do with something I can buy off of their Christmas list. As they get older I can see that the barn, the chores, and the life they live every day is the best gift we will ever give our kids. And I hope the barn brings them the same peace and sense of calm that it gives me.
It’s not glamorous, or fancy. I can be hard and inconvenient. It can be frustrating and overwhelming. There are no sick days or mental health breaks. There is no finish line and excuses don’t get the job done. There are no trophies or prizes. There is good and bad, heartbreak, broken fingers, and laughter and joy. But, they are learning to cope with it all. I’m so thankful for the the lessons the barn has taught my children. A grand gift that only those who live it can fully understand. Responsibility, persistence, patience, tenacity, commitment. Unconditional love disguised in work boots and hiding behind worn work gloves.
What they have learned will suit them so well as they become adults. In their work, at school, in their relationships, their marriages, with their own families one day. I pray they look back on their childhood and are thankful for the things the barn has taught them and the gift their Dad and I have always worked so hard to share with them!
As I look back on our holiday celebrations, I feel overwhelmed with the feeling that we, as a family, are beyond blessed with many wonderful things in life. But, as soon as the holiday hustle ended, and in the quiet of the barn on a winter morning I realized that the best gift I will ever give my children has nothing to do with their Christmas list and everything to do with the people they have become growing up in the barn.
Big Jim is a giant draft horse with the sweetest heart! While he is by far our strongest horse in the herd, he is also the calmest, quietest, and kindest. He hates to be away from his friends and he loves to get treats and enjoy love and attention from his people. Big Jim is a Percheron draft horse that spent the first part of his life as a working horse puling logs out of the woods with his sister as his teammate.
Jim weighs almost 2,000 pounds and is a whopping 18 hands high.That’s a BIG horse! He eats twice as much as a regular sized riding horse. Jim came to us when he was 12 years old, and we always say that he hit the work horse jackpot when he moved in with us. At our house he pulls a cart around for cart rides, but mostly he gets spa treatments from the kids, spends plenty of time grazing in the field, takes swims in the pond and gives the occasional ride to friends who visit, Fun fact: Big Jim’s favorite cookie is Girl Scout lemonade cookies. He cannot get enough!
There is this boy…who I didn’t know I would fall in love with.
The first time I saw Big Jim it was an early winter morning. The temperature in the truck said it was -20 below. I found myself in a thick forest covered in snow and ice. As I wondered how my husband and I landed in this frozen wonderland I looked over to see an impressive horse tied to a tree. He was 18 hands tall, weighed no less than 2,00 pounds. The white Percheron was adorned with a heavy leather harness and pulling yoke contrasting perfectly with his soft fluffy white winter coat. He stood perfectly still as a chainsaw ran loudly next to him tearing through a nearby tree. Before I knew it a giant tree was falling in the woods. An impressive crash, and the crunching of branches and tiny trees ended in a huge thud of the tree hitting the frozen ground. I looked over to see the big white horse, he had not moved a muscle. Eyes perfectly calm, not phased at all by an event that would have sent any other horse I had ever know running for the hills. Jim got right to work. A large log would be attached to a chain behind him. A loud and sharp “get up Jim” from his owner sent Jim into a pull that created another set of fireworks. Jim would carefully and aggressively maneuver down steep, snowy, windy hills all the while pulling a heavy log. A few clear voice commands and his sheer strength was all it took to accomplish what could not have been an easy task. As we reached the bottom of the hill the chain would be unhooked and Jim would head back up the hill for another log.
That was not before the only lady in the woods was tossed way up onto of his back, so she didn’t have to hike up the hill herself. Let me just say that this pleased me to the point that I forget that I was almost frozen to death. I had never been on a horse so tall. I was closer to heaven on his back.
Log after log Jim pulled with skill down that hill returning back up the hill without any direction or force from his driver. He knew his job perfectly and sweat was steaming on his back into the cold air. This was my first experience seeing a work horse do a job quite like this. The connection between Jim, and his owner was a force to be recon with. Both of them worked equally hard in the woods to complete a job that day without a thought of the cold or a single complaint. I had learned a whole new respect for loggers, their horses, and the heart of a pulling horse.
After the work was done we got the opportunity to sit and chat about Jim’s story. Jim was 12 years old at the time and had grown up skidding logs through the woods with his sister who had been a perfect match. Sadly, his sister passed away and his owner did not want to rematch him. He had been puling alone and this job was meant for a team of two. One look at my husband and I knew that Jim was going to come home with us. We didn’t need a logging horse but we were on the hunt for a companion for our only other horse on the farm at the time. My husband was sold on this manly horse and I agreed that I could stand to look this beautiful horse in our pasture every day. We would take him home and drive him around the property, maybe use him to help clean up the farm. The 2 horse bumper pull horse trailer that we had brought along was not going to work conventionally due to Jim’s size. We removed the divider and Jim fit in just fine as long as he stood sideways. He took up the entire trailer.
We stopped along the way during our 4 hour drive to check on Jim. I would run into the gas station and grab a small bag of carrots or an apple treat for Jim during his long ride home. Interestingly enough, he had no idea what carrots or apples were, and he was confused by the handful of treats in my hand each time I opened the trailer door.
When Jim arrived home we were thrilled to unload him and put him in the pasture with his new friend Toby. This was the first time in my life that I had thrown a new horse in the pasture and there were no fireworks. None. Nothing happened. They went to eating hay and the introduction was amazingly uneventful. We had recently lost a horse and Toby, who was the lonely horse in the pasture, really needed a friend. Both horses were missing their partners and both horses seemed just as pleased to have each other. It was a very sweet day for all involved.
I was shocked to find that, what was a normal daily routine for any of our saddle horses, seemed to be totally foreign to Jim. Everything from taking treats, to going in and out of a stall each night, to being brushed seemed peculiar to Jim. The more I got to know him the more I realized that he had never been treated like a pet before. He was clearly very well taken care of, but he had a job. He must have been taken out to complete a task, fed , watered, and returned to his pasture. He had never had a spa day, been taken out for a walk to eat grass, worked in an arena, brushed for the sheer purpose of time well spent.
I was not sure that an 18 hand Percheron would be the best choice for this 5ft 3in cowgirl who knew nothing about draft horses. He was so big, so strong. I would be at the mercy of this giant creature any time he moved. I mean, how could this mighty horse aggressively pull those logs out of the woods for hours and have any care in the world for the tiny human standing next to him? How would we get along, I couldn’t even reach his head to get his halter on. But strangely enough he turned out to be one of the calmest, kindest, easiest horses to be around that I have met in my 36 years of being around horses. Jim and I formed a very quick bond that has led to an amazing friendship. I am reminded that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. He had turned this quarter horse type cowgirl into a draft horse fan in almost no time at all.
Jim came home and my husband spent time driving him, giving cart rides and pulling the occasional log around the farm. My husband’s busy schedule didn’t allow for a lot of extra time with Jim. Lucky for me, the keeper of the barn animals, Jim eased into his new life of not so hard work and I was the lucky one who got to spend my extra time with Big Jim.
The kids and I quickly found spending time with Jim to be a completely joyful event and Jim quickly realized that any time one of us was near him that we either had treats, dinner, hugs or love to share.
I’ve never seen a horse appreciate a grooming, a bath, clipping, or work sessions quite like Jim. Some days I wonder if Jim is fully aware of the fact that he hit the work horse jackpot when he landed at our house!?
The kids started falling for the big white draft horse and coined the name Big Jim. I was shocked at his mellow personality and pure joy for any ounce of attention he could get. He seemed to relish any moment that we were willing to spend with him. The calm demeanor of this gentle giant led to hours and hours of brushing, pony rides, and memorable moments with our kids.
I will forever have fond memories of my little kids and nieces and nephews doting over the big grey Percheron, painting him for the 4th of July, Jim carrying them carefully on his back. Looking back at them as if he appreciates the tiny little brush strokes as far up as their short arms can reach.
Jim is happy to please and seems to enjoy not having to work very hard. It took about 2 round pen lessons for him to learn to join up and follow my every move. With a slight pressure on the top of his nose he will drop his head to allow me to reach his head. He is by far the easiest horse in our barn to clip, bathe, work with, and ride. He has no use for spooking or trying to get out of any job you give him. Somehow I feel like he appreciates the lovely easy life we have given him. He returns the favor by being a good calm buddy for everyone at our place. Not a human has stepped foot into our barn that has not fallen in love with Big Jim just like I have.
As Jim’s years at our place wore on…we found that he was working less and enjoying more. Days of pulling the cart turned to hot days standing in the sprinkler or swimming in the pond.
Spa days, good brushings, pony rides and play dates with an occasional short cart ride. It has always felt good to take care of the sweet soul. Never have I ever felt so appreciated by a horse.
I am forever in awe of his beauty. Every time I look out to the pasture and see him grazing in a lush green pasture I am reminded of how hard work pays off. Each day we have the opportunity to wake up and do the hard things, get the work done and also be good and kind to others just like Jim. Having a lot of power or strength is useless if we can’t work together and be kind and gentle to one another.
Big Jim was the boy I never knew I would fall in love with.
Jim is proof that there is so much power in being kind, forgiving and strong. These days Jim and I go for nice slow arena rides. My daughter loves to sit waaaay up there and trot, his huge strides make her smile and laugh every time. I feel so blessed to have crossed paths with this magnificent creature who’s heart is as big as his hooves. I love tucking him in at night in his clean safe stall. Every night I leave the barn and turn out the light to him hanging his head over the stall door, eyes begging for just one more pet. He is a gentle giant in the truest sense. Big Jim – His Heart is as Big as his Hooves!
Wow. It’s been a while! 6 years to be exact. So many things have changed since my last post. I’m a little older and, I like to think, a little wiser. The kids are growing into teenagers and life is very different than it was when they were littles. There are a few more critters on the farm and a few familiar fur babies that fill our hearts daily. Many hours and days of work on our property have made it even more of a home.
The world is in turmoil these days and a global pandemic has forced people to be far apart. It’s been a strange and scary time and we have been forced to stop doing a lot of things. My heart hurts for those affected by this virus and my heart is broken over the anger, fear, and drama that it has caused between people. It seems wrong to think that that there is a silver-lining because there is so much hurt in the world right now. It pains me to see so many people struggle, and I pray every day that it gets better. But all we have is hope and appreciation for the good. The silver-lining for me personally has been a chance to be home with my kids. Slow down. Enjoy the place my husband and I work so hard for. Take the time to look around at it and reflect. Connect with the animals that have been waiting patiently for our attention. As the days have ticked by I been reminded of what things ease my mind and heal my soul. This strange time has brought me back to the place I call home in a way that I never expected. Shining a light on the things that I have not had much time to pay attention to. The things that inspire me.
The past few months have allowed for countless hours spent with our animals, in nature, together as a little family unit, at home. The past several years have felt like a race. Survive the day and do all the things. This is the first time in years that I have stopped to pay attention. It has made me realize that, while I can’t save the world or fix any of these terrible things that are happening, I can do my part to spread joy, happiness, and hope. I decided it’s time to get back to blogging.
I hope you find posts that make you smile, make you laugh, and give you a break from the reality that things are hard right now.
I plan to share the joy our critters bring to us. We have 3 horses, 2 dogs, 2 cats, 9 chickens, and 4 geese who entertain us daily. They are each characters in our little story that make us laugh and smile, I hope the will do the same for you and your kids!
I hope to share easy family friendly recipes, house projects, activities, happy thoughts, inspiration, and more. Whether you have visited before or if you are new here I hope you enjoy following along with our little family and farm! After all it’s what is really most important in this crazy life.
WR Double Tuff Toby: Toby is an American Paint horse who stands 15.3 hands tall. He is a full-sized horse with a full sized personality to match both his height and his boldly colored coat. Toby and I have been together for well over 20 years and have had endless adventures together. Toby has done it all parades, horse shows, rodeo pageants, trail rides, therapy visits, riding lessons for kids, first rides, birthday visits, photo shoots, and now he is the star of his first Children’s book. Toby has been my best friend for over 20 years and I cannot wait for him to become your kids best friend too! Toby is silly, sweet, kindhearted, and hard not to instantly fall in love with. Peppermints are his life and he will do anything for attention or peppermint treats. He is the first horse to run to me from the pasture, knicker when you walk in the barn, and nudge you with his nose to make sure you are paying attention to him. In fact, I’m not sure that he knows he is actually a horse. There aren’t quite words to express how special this spotted horse has been in my life, but I’m so thankful to have raised my kids with him in our pasture…there is no better soul to teach kids to love horses than Toby. A Spotted Pony Parade Day was born as a story I used to tell my children as a bedtime story, and I am so happy to be sharing it with children around the world! I hope they love Toby as much as we do in real life!
Can a single spotted horse change your life? The answer in an unequivocal, absolutely YES in my book! Read on and find out everything that Toby “The Spotted Pony” and I have been through together!