My story about strength involves one of my miniature horses, named Captain. He is more of a Thelwell pony type, built round and sturdy. He reminds me of a miniature Percheron, which is a breed of large, old world draft horse. Captain is a gorgeous, dark chestnut color with soulful eyes and a flaxen mane and tail. He is the sort of horse who is always happy, super confident, very inquisitive, and incredibly brave. When he first came to me, he had very little training and no exposure to large horses or people. I came to find out that this little guy had an innate work ethic. He quickly learned how to pull a cart, mingle around with his big horse neighbors, and thoroughly enjoy the company and affection of people.

The amazing characteristic he possesses is, what I call, the strength of moral character. He seems to understand the correct, honorable, and right way to act. Let me give you an example. A friend of mine brought some out-of-town visitors to our farm to see the horses and enjoy a day in the country. The family consisted of a mother, a father, and two young boys. One of the boys was terribly disabled. He was suffering from a debilitating disease which left him with weakened and undeveloped limbs. He could not sit or stand by himself, and he could not talk. We brought Captain over to meet the little boy and hoped that the two of them would enjoy being with each other. With the help of his mother, the boy reached out and touched Captain. He smiled his first smile of the day. While his mother steadied him, the little boy then leaned all his tiny weight on Captain’s back. Captain stood rock steady and completely still. It was as if Captain knew and understood that a miracle was happening right there before our eyes. I was keeping a close eye on Captain, knowing that he had never experienced anything like this before. He was not trained for this, and he had no experience with this kind of interaction with people.

I was standing by his head, almost holding my breath, trying my best to keep both of us calm and focused. Captain brought his head around toward me and looked straight into my eyes. I very clearly heard him say to me, “don’t worry, I’ve got this”. It was then that I knew everything was going to be okay, and I relaxed slightly and began to breathe. After a few moments, the little boy, who was still leaning on Captain, very slowly pushed himself to an upright position. He had never, in his entire young life, ever stood on his own. The boy was able to stand tall and straight for the first time in his life using Captain to help balance himself. Both Captain and the young boy stood together in what seemed to me, spiritual bliss. Captain closed his eyes, relaxed his body, and took a deep breath. Tears were running down the boy’s face. He stood there for a minute, tilting his head slightly back and had a sweet soft smile on his face. We watched in silence, not wanting to interrupt or disturb the moment. We were all crying tears of unmeasurable joy, knowing that we had just watched something incredibly powerful and life changing.

That day, Captain showed us the depth and strength of his moral character. He was never trained for this kind of work, and he definitely chose to interact with the boy. He rose to the occasion, did the right thing, and brought enormous joy to all the humans around him. The boy and his mother went home with huge smiles, full hearts, and a plan to find a therapy program that included horses. I will never forget that wondrous day and I am so grateful to Captain and his ability to demonstrate his amazing loving heart and his incredible moral strength. Thank you, Captain, for changing people’s lives and letting me be a part of it. These are the wondrous moments that keep us coming back to this work time and time again.