Hi my name is Carson Crider! I just turned 5 years old on April 08, 2015. My story started in 2010 when my parents Clint and Ashley started this journey with me. Little did they know I was going to be one special kid because I was born with Down Syndrome. Adjustments were needed throughout the family, but I knew from the very first day I was loved more than I could ever imagine. I was blessed with wonderful grandparents who try to help my parents in anyway that they can. I started school 2 days a week at Carroll County Learning Center on 01/15/2013 in Huntingdon, TN and have now worked up to 4 days a week! I have therapists, Mrs Karlene, Mrs Diane, Mrs Hope, Mrs Kathy, and Mrs Holly who work on my speech and physical difficulties at my school. I love all my teachers and classmates at school. I have a big part of my story to share and one word sums it up.....HORSES.
The story begins with my daddy Clint who was raised in a horse crazy family. Both of his parents,Charles and Elizabeth, have ridden horses their whole lives, and when his older brother Chad and him came along they decided the tradition would continue. My mom also grew up riding horses and that's how she met my daddy. As a teenager my dad and uncle Chad battled every year for high point and world championship trophies in the American Quarter Horse Association on their two great horses Little Berseem "Bucky" and Mr Bar Easy "Mr T". They were very successful and brought home the titles many years. My uncle Chad has continued to ride for a career and my papa Charles still competes as well. When I came along my daddy decided to put the horses on the side and spend all of his time with me. My mommy still rides and competes occasionally.
My mommy and daddy don't live together anymore, but I still get to see them both each week.....I spend Sundays through Thursdays with my daddy because I go to school where he lives, and then my mommy gets me and I spend Thursday through Sunday with her! I love them both very much and am so happy to spend everyday with them.
Two years ago for my third birthday my uncle Chad and his girlfriend Heidi discovered the Personal Ponies organization through a great friend of theirs, Jerri Ludlam and her daughter Mahala who also has downs. I have always been slightly scared of the BIG horses and they thought this would be a great way to help introduce me to the horse world. So for my birthday I got two ponies all of my own. My first two ponies were a little bit independent for me, and after about 6 months of me not bonding with them they called Personal Ponies. Heidi told them those two ponies were too much for me....so my quest for my first real pony began again....Mrs Cindy from PPL worked day and night until she finally found me one! He came to me with the name Sam, however that's our dogs name, so we renamed him to Snowball! My love for Snowball still began very slowly and it took me a long time to warm up to him. On all sunny days my daddy would bring me to the barn and I started slow with things like leading and petting him during the winter and summer of 2014. This winter I have a friend named Addy who began coming to the barn as well and she loves the horses and Snowball! She decided to ride Snowball on March 19, 2015 and with the help of my daddy, Uncle Chad, and papa Charles I decided to bravely sit on Snowball with Addy for the first time!!! It was such a thrill and I couldn't stop smiling! The following week my daddy and grandma got me a new pair of boots and wranglers. Daddy and Heidi got Snowball back out that day and I once again gathered up my courage and got saddled back up! That day I rode around the whole arena and turned my first barrel at a walk and with a little help from them....I was so excited and kept asking to get back on all afternoon! I have attached photos from those great days at the barn. My favorite part of Snowball is his hair!!! I love to pet his wild mane and giggle every time his white fluffy hair starts flying when he sheds!
My story is just starting with the horses. Although my family competes they are all so proud of me just for being me. Even if I only ever walk around on Snowball....after two years I finally joined in on my family's crazy love for horses! I got to follow in all their foot steps and ride a pony! I look forward to many sunny days at the barn with Snowball this spring...even all of his white shedding hair included!
Personal Ponies has been such a great thing for me, my family, and so many other kids out in this world. PPL was so patient with me and did everything in their power to help me find a safe and suitable pony match. Snowball has been such a delight to many children who come through our farm not just me....he is my gentle mini and I love him! Never give up and always reach for your dreams!
Spring 2014 newsletter (1)
"I dwell in possibility" is the heart and soul of our program and our ponies. Today is "Throw Back Thursday" in the world of social media and what better way to remember the past than to honor some of the history of our UK Shetlands.
Becky Valentine lives with the Twomey family in North Carolina and is loved beyond measure. She has turned 30 years young and still insists on going on trips to visit and being with all the Twomey kids who adore her! This is a tribute to dear Becky from Marianne Alexander, our founder and the person who found Becky and brought her into our program 27 years ago!
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"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.
A BIG THANK YOU TO NANCY UHRON IN PA FOR HER CARING HEART!
Tommy Tucker is out of Cupcake by Greystone Robert the Bruce who is Becky Valentine’s best foal. Tommy really should have never been gelded because we lost that bloodline when he as gelded which goes back to Cupcake’s dam through Tommy’s Grandsire. Tommy was living with our founder, Marianne Alexander, when a young child in wheelchair fell in love with him and she gelded him and sent him off to live with the young girl.
There is a little bit of "kid" in all of us, no matter our age!
This is Mike, a good friend of Personal Ponies. At first glance of these photos, you will probably assume that Mike is a volunteer and an animal lover. Actually, Mike is on a long journey with Alheimer's Disease and this is one of his first weekly one-on-one visits with Personal Ponies. Knowing how much our program means to Mike, and how much he adores children, Sandra Seiden, State Director of Personal Ponies Florida, invited him and his wife to come along with our ponies to a pediatric hosptial visit. Mike made a positive difference in every child he touched........In fact, Sandra said, "Mike made a positive difference in her too!". Sandra said that Mike reminded her most of all how important it is that we all feel useful and never give up on joy! Thank you Mike and Lynn, for sharing your precious husband with us.
A special moment from Personal Ponies volunteer in Rhode Island.
From Donnis, State Director of Idaho
“Classy is the pony I placed with Dusty. They are doing so well. Classy is a people pony and likes to hang out with humans more than with ponies. I usually do not place one pony but this is different. Classy has become a service animal for Dusty. Dusty lives about four blocks from Wal-Mart and they have opened their doors for her to come in with Classy. They said she was welcome anytime to bring her in. Classy is very well behaved. The lady that takes pictures in Wal-Mart took Dusty and Classy into the Studio and took pictures of her with Classy. A man came up to Dusty in a rush with his cart making lots of noise. Classy stepped in from of Dusty and put her head in her lap as to protect her from the man and his cart. Once he left, Classy went back in her place by the side of her chair. Classy had been in several placement homes before but this seems to be her job now and she knows it! Classy and Dusty are doing a great job promoting Personal Ponies in our area. I just had to share. In a short three weeks one of our ponies has already changed someone’s life. Dusty now has reason to live. This is what keeps me doing what I do with Personal Ponies.”
Caitlin's Cadillac Man is a 36 inch paint gelding that is part of our Personal Ponies program for the past 20 years. "Caddy" is currently in Massachusetts with the Shea Family where he has been a constant companion for the past ten years for their daughter Brielle. In Mr. Shea's own words,
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