"Shadow" who was originally "Mardi Gras" came to us almost 12 years ago. My son was 3 when diagnosed with autism and hardly spoke. We learned about the program through a friend who had a daughter with CP and had her own Personal Pony. We applied and found a pony right away.
My brother in law at the time drove his huge horse trailer built for Warmbloods about 100 miles to load up this little, black pony. My son went along for the ride and when they led the pony out he spoke his first sentence:
"That's my pony!" We had been talking about it and preparing him for a few weeks and we had no idea how much he understood because he never said much. When he spoke, I cried and when we saw how excited Roan was to get his pony we knew this was an amazing program.
The whole trip back we would stop and check on the pony to make sure she was fine and we would open the little tack door on the side and still have to look down to find her, but at each stop, Roan would say "Hi Pony!"
Once we were back on the farm and she was settling in getting to know the dogs and cats and goats and sheep, Roan would just follow er all over the yard. If he walked away from her, she would start to follow him. My mother began saying, "There goes Roan's shadow," and so he began calling her "Shadow."
He loved brushing her and feeding her and he learned how to lead her and really groom her. We got a rideable pony for her companion and so that Roan could ride. He even showed some and now takes lessons with a Therapeutic Riding Center. Since Shadow arrived, Roan knew he was going to be a farmer and joined FFA in High School. He helps take care of the now four equines on the farm, gardens, and raises berries. He even has a part time job caring for pets when friends go away. I know that Roan has a future life on the farm that has also turned into a career for him after high school.
Who would have thought so much of his life would be determined by one little pony!
Our last vision of her before we went away for the weekend was her climbing up to our sliding door and nosing the glass until Roan went out to give her a peppermint and sit with her in the shade. It is a happy vision and Roan accepts her death by telling me, "Shadow is in Shadow Heaven." Apparently everyone has their own heaven!
Shadow brought us lots of laughs and joy and even though she was Roan's pony, the rest of the family loved her very much and even his friends and classmates got to know her and love her.
We will bury her under the mock apple blossom bushes where she used to love to cool off on hot days. yet her 'shadow' will probably follow us for many years as we remember all of the joy she gave us all over the farm.
Thank you for allowing us to be part of this great program...without it, Roan may never have started speaking.
I have lots of photos somewhere, my son is having a hard time going through puberty and tears up all pictures of himself as a "baby!" So I have the stuffed away, but I will find them. What I would like to do is write a picture book, "Me and My Shadow," and sell it for donations to the program; so I want to find some of the old pictures. I will keep in touch about that.
Check out my Facebook page "Booberry Farms" it shows a bit about what I am doing for Roan's future, all thanks to Shadow. Because not only did Roan benefit, but so did all of my other students with developmental disabilities.
One student of mine walked with an extreme side to side gait and fell over frequently. When she led Shadow though, she was so concerned abaout taking care of her that her walking improved! She was so enamored of the pony that I was going to request a personal pony for her. As it happened, a friend needed to get rid of her shetlands so I adopted both of them. Then the other's came!
Shadow is now peacefully buried in the elmgrove by the current barn. I will be building a new barn in the near future and didn't want her disturbed, so I couldn't bury her by the mock apple blossoms. I do want to replant the bush near her when we start building.
I will let you know how the book is going as I work on it.