It didn't take long to discover the personality hidden under all the hair and fat. Within two weeks he had figured out which footsteps were mine and would start demanding food when I was still three hundred feet away. And if it wasn't forthcoming, he would bang his foot on his feeder to create a racket that rivaled Big Ben. At the end of three weeks, I wasn't sure who was training who. At the end of four weeks, I knew: he was training me!
We did adopt Stoney out to a nice couple who needed company for an only horse, but after two weeks, they realized he wasn't the one they needed. During the time they had him, though, the weather had warmed up and Stoney decided to shed in earnest. And the big surprise was that he had a big Lazy B brand on his left hip. As it turns out, it was an unregistered brand. So, back he came to MSHRR, and it was two more weeks before the gods smiled and Billy and Stoney found each other.
Billy was getting along really well in Texas doing therapeutic riding to keep his legs from crossing. But, after moving to Denver, Colorado, the riding stopped and Billy began getting worse. So, Britta Warren began shopping for a pony for Billy. It didn't take long for Britta to find that quiet gentle ponies were hard to find. Ms. Warren saw an ad of ours and called on a warm Sunday in May and asked if we had any ponies. I replied that we did, but the only one we had was handicapped. I could hear the excitement in her voice as she asked, "How is he handicapped?"
I gave her the bad news, "He's blind."
Britta nearly blew out my eardrums with her answer, "That's perfect, so's my son."
They arrived at the facility in under an hour to see Stoney. There was so much anticipation in the air that it felt like electricity. I was so nervous that Stoney wouldn't behave, that I was stunned when it was a love connection at first sight. Or, should I say, first touch. That's when I realized that Billy had Cerebral Palsy. And Stoney didn't even care, he only knew that he had found the boy he had been waiting for for a long time. Billy didn't want to leave without Stoney, and Stoney kept trying to get in the car. He didn't care if it was the front or back seat as long as he got to go with the boy he'd been waiting for.
Since Britta hadn't had a horse on the property that she now lived on, she would have to start from scratch. She was way ahead of me and had a newspaper ad with her so we could figure out what she would need to buy to keep the pony safely. We picked out horse-safe wire, posts, water tank, and a shed. Then Britta informed me that she would have everything ready for me to bring Stoney on Friday. She was one determined lady.
Unashamedly, I called Channel 9 in Denver and they jumped right on the story, sending out Dave Delozier and Christine Mendonsa to film Britta's house first. When they aired the story on Monday afternoon, the calls to help Britta poured in. I knew that she was going to get help out of this and she needed it. Heck, she was out there with a pick, to set steel posts, instead of a driver. But it was funny, and I knew that this was going to be perfect.
Then the news team came out to our facility to film the pony, get some background on him and find out about Mountain States Horse Rescue and Rehab.
The news item ran both Monday and Tuesday and made everyone sappy over the ending when the voice stated, "So, Billy, whose own two legs can't carry him, waits in the shade while Mom builds the pen that will hold the pony whose four legs will support Billy's body and lift up Billy's heart."
Britta slaved away throughout the week with her newfound friends and kept me informed of her progress. I have to admit that even with the help, I was stunned when she informed me that she was ready, on Thursday night, no less. Dave Delozier trekked up to the facility again and filmed me getting Stoney ready to go. I don't think he realized why the pony's tail was braided and I didn't tell him that at 6:30 a.m., I had given Stoney a bath and more or less got him ready. As soon as I bathed him, I had visions of the little dickens rolling, so I tied him also. For once, I was ahead of him.
I can't describe the smile on Billy's face when he heard Stoney's feet as he backed out of the trailer. It was a good thing that I had saddled Stoney before I loaded him, because there wouldn't have been any time for that. In a heartbeat, the two friends were off. Billy the kid and Stoney the pony. Billy laughing and smiling on top, and Stoney, the proud little pony, with the B on his hip, supporting Billy's body and lifting up Billy's heart.
Billy passed away in the summer of 1997. His death has been hard on both his mother, Britta, and Stoney. Britta intends to keep Stoney and let him retire in style. Stoney passed away in the summer of 1999. Billy and his pony are sadly missed by all the people that knew them at MSHR&R.