Karen Griffiths’ newly acquired mini-horse, an amiable pinto mare named Gypsy, proves to be a wonderful companion and confidence builder to her great-nephew Isaac, 5. (Karen Griffiths/for Peninsula Daily News)

Karen Griffiths’ newly acquired mini-horse, an amiable pinto mare named Gypsy, proves to be a wonderful companion and confidence builder to her great-nephew Isaac, 5. (Karen Griffiths/for Peninsula Daily News)

HORSEPLAY: New miniature horse helps build child’s confidence

I’M HEARING THE sound of little hoof beats scurrying about the yard these days, and loving it.

It’s with great joy that I announce the arrival of Gypsy to my Happy Valley home.

While I haven’t been actively looking, and I knew I shouldn’t because money is very tight right now, I have thought many times of getting my great-nephew Isaac — an ever present bundle of energy — a new pony ever since I lost our beloved Shetland pony, Snowball Express, a couple of years ago.

In truth, after I became a full-time caregiver to my ailing mother almost two years ago I haven’t had the time or energy to even look for a pony or do much else.

For those who haven’t heard, I lost my mom to complications of Alzheimer’s disease May 7.

Through heartache springs hope, right?

While we, my siblings, nieces and nephews, grieve over her death, it came as no surprise.

She was almost 84 and the disease had long ago ravaged her mind, thus we didn’t have the added grief of suddenly losing a loved one to tragic circumstances.

Thus, a mere four days later I was clear headed enough to leave my home to check out a pony I was told my Isaac was already in love with.

Grief stricken or not I certainly wasn’t going to purchase any animal simply because Isaac liked her.

But after meeting her myself and checking her out I knew she was coming home with me.

Were my mother still alive I know she would have wanted me to bring the kindhearted and flashy black and white pinto called Gypsy home for Isaac.

So far Gypsy’s been a wonderful confidence builder for Isaac, which is exactly what I was hoping for.

She’s just the right height for him to jump on her back by himself.

She doesn’t try to run off or dump him. (Snow was known for quickly scooting out from underneath his young riders so fast they’d fall off his backside).

She tolerates him loving on her and playing with her.

What would make her perfect?

For starters, I wish she was a bit taller, stouter pony, but she’s not.

She’s actually a delicate miniature horse that Isaac will outgrow within a couple of years, and she has no idea how to respond to a neck or side rein; how to whoa or go forward.

That part’s OK. I can teach her the basics.

First I need a mini horse snaffle. Does anyone have one, plus driving reins I can borrow?

My Shetland pony bits are too wide for her dainty little mouth.

While a Shetland pony might be as short as Gypsy, he could also be up to 11 inches taller.

Shetlands are bred to be stockier than the mini and most have backs strong enough to carry an average sized, but not overweight, adult.

I’m no expert, but I’ve heard a mini can’t, or shouldn’t, carry a child who weighs more than 50 or so pounds, so I’m going to be mindful of that number.

They are strong enough to pull a cart with an adult inside.

She does look mighty tiny standing next to my 16-hands high (or 64 inches) horse Indy.

Actually, she’s smaller than tiny, she’s miniature and comes with a mini-sized appetite.

I figure my feed bill will remain the same if I cut back an itsy-bitsy on Indy’s hay.

If anyone recognizes Gypsy from her photo I’d love to learn more about her history.

I was told she’s about 8 years old.

Somewhere along the way she might have been a rescue horse. Her previous name was Bella, which is Italian for beautiful — unless she was named after Bella in the Twilight movie.

The family I got her from changed her name to Gypsy.

It’s a cute enough name, and with her black and white pinto coloring it seems to fit her.

The problem is that name doesn’t come to mind when I call her, rather, the names Mystery, Misty or Missy are the ones that flutter forth through my lips.

Thankfully, she comes to all those names.

Isaac, who just turned 5, wanted to call her Isaac, too, but after convincing him it wasn’t a girl’s name, and it would be too confusing for me if both were named Isaac, he insisted we stick with Mystery — I mean Gypsy.

Isaac will soon be sharing her with his younger cousin and future rider Rory, too.

Events

• Freedom Farm’s Feet First class — Today from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 164 Spring Farm Road in Agnew

Learn how to trim your own horse’s hooves.

RSVP at freedom@olypen.com.

• Patterned Speed Horse game show — 9 a.m., June 9-10 at the Crosby arena, 122 Fransom Road, Agnew.

Contact Pam Crosby at 360-670-3906 or pkc823@olypen.com.

For more information, go to www.patternedspeed horse.com/Calendar.

• Back Country Horsemen Peninsula Chapter’s Dan Kelley Ride — 10 a.m. rideout June 16.

Park at the trailhead off Dan Kelly Road. Take U.S. Highway 101 to state Highway 112. Turn left on Dan Kelley Road.

Contact Linda Morin at 360-681-5030.

• Patterned Speed Horse show — 9:30 a.m. June 23-24 and July 7-8 at Quarter Moon Ranch, 383 W. Runnion Road, Carlsborg.

Contact Waynora Martin 360-683-6902 .

• Olympic Peninsula Equine Network’s Fun-raiser Dinner Dance & Auction — 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. June 30 at Fox Bell Farm, 37 N. Barr Road in Agnew.

Tickets cost $55 per person and includes food and dancing to the music of the Buck Ellard Band. Beer and wine will be available.

For more information, call Mike Vallancourt at 714-222-0755 or email goldenmiked@gmail.com.

________

Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears the second and fourth Sunday of each month.

If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at kbg@olympus.net at least two weeks in advance. You can also call her at 360-460-6299.

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