How Horses Can Help Retirees Regain Purpose and a Positive Outlook
In Farmersville, TX, there is a special rescue called Throwaway Ponies founded by Karen Bander. She explained how the rescue got started. "In about 2005 I started by fostering for Lone Star Equine Rescue and realized no one wanted the old and the lame horses. We started as a sanctuary, but soon realized there was a need for taking in all ages and types of horses. We got the name because a trainer we knew was often given horses and he called them “Throwaway Ponies”. We became a 501(c)(3) in 2008."
Throwaway Ponies takes in horses of all types: PMU mares, blind horses, ponies, mules and donkeys. Most are undernourished. Many are strays and come from the Rockwall County Sheriff’s Department. Some are taken in because their owners cannot care for them due to their own health issues.
New horses are always given a vet check, coggins vaccine, and dental work first. Then, depending on what the vet says, they start on hay and wet alfalfa. Gradually, the horses are introduced to feed.
Karen shared, "We have volunteers who spend time teaching the horses to trust people. We sometimes have to send the horses to professional trainers. We have just been selected to participate in the Forever Foundation training program." Although they have volunteers of all ages, Karen explained that many of their volunteers are over the age of 50.
One especially touching story of a volunteer is about 79 year old Ira. Karen wrote, "He got horses from another rescue after he retired. When his horses passed, he didn’t think he could take on another one, so he started volunteering. “Rose” came to us from the kill buyer. She was terrified of people. We thought she was a 2 yr old because she was so stunted, but her teeth showed she was 4."
"Ira started by sitting in her pen for 3-4 hours a day," Karen continued. "He just sat in his chair and waited for her to trust him. It took several weeks, but eventually he could groom her, halter and lead her and pick up her feet. She is now with a professional trainer and we hope she gets adopted soon. Learning to train a horse and helping Rose has helped Ira gain a sense of success and purpose in his retirement years."
This demonstrates what Karen feels is the most special aspect of Throwaway Pones. She shared, "We use the horses as a way to help people recover from personal hurts, to learn to be a leader (they have to be the leader or the horse will be). Many of our volunteers have been people over the age of 50 who always wanted a horse. At least a dozen of our volunteers have ended up adopting their own horse from us. Many of our older volunteers say working with the horses have helped them regain purpose and a positive outlook after retirement."
To learn more about Throwaway Ponies, check out their contact information below:
Location: Farmersville, TX
Donate: PO Box 149, Farmersville, TX 75442
Trailer: NOT NEEDED