Sugar Plum

When I moved to this farm I took home 3 ponies from a rescue I worked at, Viking, Butterfly and Sugar Plum. Sugar Plum was an older, black mini, so tiny and precious. Despite being the tiniest little girl, she played a huge part in my life and our whole farm.

I met her first when a was a little pony-smitten girl, she was given to the rescue I volunteered at. My mother always told me I couldn't have a horse because it was illegal in our town, but even at my young age I looked it up and found out that I could have a pony if they were under 34” tall! When I got to the rescue and found Sugar Plum there I knew she would be mine. When I got home I cleaned out my grandfather's garage and filled it was bedding and a nice water bucket. A perfect home for this little pony. Of course this didn't change anything really, I still couldn't take her home. Heartbroken, she was adopted by another home. 12 years later she was returned to the rescue when her owner's health was failing. So was her own.

Due to poor breeding as many minis are, her teeth outgrew her head and all fell out. She lived on hay-soup and mooshy treats. She was Butterfly's best and only friend. She had also suffered repeated foundering (when the bone rotates inside the hoof) which is extremely painful, leaving her very lame for the rest of her life. We were able to relieve a good deal of her pain with the use of special orthopedic boots. While she had much pain she was still a sweet, happy little girl. Finally, as an adult, I got to take my tiny childhood dream pony home with me. And I loved her as much as my childhood self ever could have! It turned out Lyme disease was behind much of her health issues, treating this relieved a great deal of her pain – but not all of it. She spent the rest of her time here with us teaching the youngest and the smallest all about clicker training. Larkin was her special friend and she taught Larkin a great deal about what unconditional love really means. Sugar Plum had little but love to offer Larkin, she couldn't be ridden, or move very fast, she often preferred to sit alone – so Larkin learned how to love a horse for who they truly are, not just what they can do for you. Together they won an unmounted clicker training competition! They were truly a special pair.

While Sugar Plum was living with chronic issues, her passing came as a harsh shock to us all. One day, when she was feeling good, she came trotting in to slurp down her 3 bucket of soup of the day. Then she stopped and looked scared. She was choking. Choke is dangerous and scary for horses, but rarely becomes life-threatening. We called the vet immediately and started working on massaging her neck and keeping her head low. She sneezed out all the soup she'd drank but was still choking. We spent the next 9 hours tubing her, flushing with water, trying to push or pull the blockage, trying to dislodge it anyway we could or dissolve it. Anything. Hours and hours we struggled, but the blockage was something solid, something that wasn't dissolving or breaking down – then it hit us, she had swallowed a tooth. Having seen the size of the teeth she's spit out in the past, I knew this was a large blockage. We had hoped to dislodge it, but in the end she fell into seizures and we had to let her go. It was officially the worst night of our barn lives. We were crushed. Just crushed. It was so much work to tend to her needs, putting on her boots, making her 5 buckets of soup a day, but it was never a burden. Our precious little girl was such a huge part of our farm and family and will be forever missed. Larkin has built her a magnificent Fairy Garden where she's buried, and planted forget-me-nots and bleeding hearts for her sweet self.


The loss of Viking was among the most painful losses I've ever experienced. He was so unique, so beautiful and so very loved. Viking was born from a crazy accident where a shetland pony got loose and was bred by a Gypsy Vanner stallion. This happy accident was apparently unwelcome as they were both sold to auction. At 2 weeks old he found a new home – at 6 months old he found his third. At 8 months old he was so aggressive his owners couldn't contain him. He was sent to a rescue, where he grew up.
At 4 years old he finally came home with us. The first year was rough. He was hard to contain, hard to lead, hard to groom, hard to do anything with. We experimented with a number of ways of working with him and put a heavy focus on his positive reinforcement training. We worked hard with him regularly but he just struggled. It was like his brain and body were fighting with each other. Finally we cleared it up. He was neurological. His spine was compressed in a way that pinched his nerves. He literally couldn't control or feel parts of his body, his body just didn't do what it was told and he was SO frustrated with it.
Despite all this he was actually a happy little boy, playful and silly. He loved playing with toys and fighting with friends over the fence. He lived with his surrogate momma, Tank who tolerated him fairly well. Eventually he switched to Wispy who cared about him much more, she even allowed him to suckle on her feathers – what a silly boy. He loved playing clicker games and while sometimes he would get frustrated with his body, he would just storm off for a few furious laps until he settled back into playing.
In his last year our oldest student Emerson began working with him intensely. She spent many hours a day working on physical therapy exercises, helping him learn to control his body and become aware of his surroundings. All of course with positive reinforcement. They had a wonderful time together – he learned to love being groomed, getting his whole body itched and scratched (which he couldn't do for himself, as he couldn't roll). Together he had learned so much, but his disease progressed. His body struggled to keep up with him, his head aches and coordination worsened. So they were forced to work more specifically on his physical therapy, massage and chiropractor. Gradually he lost his ability to have his hooves trimmed, he was too painful.
After all the effort and love, we weren't able to stop the progression of his disease as his body continued to fail him. When his hind end could no longer support him we said a terrible fairwell. He had a short 6 years here on earth – but his last was the most wonderful any horse could ask for. He has known the love of a young girl. She will hold him in a unique place in her heart forever.
His ashes are buried in our memorial garden, and Emerson has planted him some forget-me-nots and Morning Glories (big and blue like his eyes) and placed special statues out for him. He was so unique, so sweet. He will be sorely missed and forever loved.