It was our very first session and Tiffani bounded into the barn several steps ahead of her slightly more timid friends. Her smile was wider than her little body was tall. She was the type of child who could do more in one hour than most of us could do in a day.
Before any of us could catch up with her, she had picked a job, picked a horse, picked her mentor, and looked around at all of us wondering what in the world was taking everybody so long. Her horse of choice? A light palomino mare named Precious.
Precious was nervous but sweet and although we were told that she was trained to ride, we knew as soon as we tried to put her saddle on, that we were in for an adventure.
Precious was a neglected mare abandoned by her owners at the boarding facility we were running our program out of. Fortunately for her was fed and never with out water, but she lacked attention, grooming, handling, hoof care and regular vetting. It was perhaps the neglect that caused her to be so insecure. Her head was always held high and she was afraid of ALL things, moving or not moving, loud or quiet, human or canine. Naomi, a very talented and competent rider, worked with Precious for hours each week and after three months we still weren't sure if she'd be ready to meet kids.
As it turns out, Precious is very different when a child is at her side. She loves the attention and to our surprise she was true to her name. Throughout the summer she was one of the most popular horses and seemed to know not only what was expected of her, but also what her child needed most.
On the last day of our sessions, our happy, busy Tiffani was quiet and serious. She knew it would be a long time before she would see her new friend again. She made us promise to feed her and paint her hoofs (that was Tiffani's favorite thing to do with Precious). It was time to go and Tiffani could not delay any longer, but before she left, she walked her beloved friend over to her grooming spot to say one last good bye. The barn fell silent as Tiffani began to sing a sweet goodbye song, one she had written herself.
Tiffani loved Precious and Precious loved Tiffany right back. Precious, a once abandoned horse was now loved so deeply by a child who was all too familiar with those same pains. They stood nose to nose, caring for each other from the inside out. Two hearts forever touched by the other.