The real story begins, in a small rural corner of the
world. There were four horses, Sapphire, Spirit, Lokie
and Summer. Recently, the cost was approaching the limit
of extra expenses for a country family who loved their
horses, so much so that they considered them ‘family.’
When a woman stopped to visit the horses down her county
road, she brought along her daughter who was challenged
with speech difficulties and her sister also, who had
never spoken a word.
Amy, the horses’ savior and owner, noticed from a
distance that the girls were pointing and making loud
shrieks. She approached through the muddy terrain,
leading Summer, the oldest horse in her stable. She was
making her way to the fence by the side of the road.
When the mother introduced herself and her daughters,
she also shared her frustration with Amy. Amy is such
a kind and wondrous soul, it is so easy to lean on her
and let all the tough times get vented. She does this
for almost anyone she meets.
The two girls’ mother said that she was considering
buying a horse since both girls had been diagnosed
to have autism.
The therapists at school recommended lessons at the
Flying Horses stable. This was sometimes the place
for field trips for the classes which had budgets for
This business is located in Morrow County and is
reasonably priced and known for their special
services. Many local merchants and sponsors help to
pay for lessons for children with disabilities or
The woman was consoled by Amy, so thankful that she
was willing to listen. Amy offered to put each of
them on Summer, her oldest, most tame and trained horse,
and give them rides.
(An aside comment: I had not included Summer in my story
about filming nor the one where I mentioned a possibility
of houses and land purchases. Amy’s son in law was not
sure when the whole adventure will transpire but Summer
is Amy’s daughter’s horse. Summer is stabled with the
other three horses. Often Amy’s daughter rides on longer
hikes on the wonderful horse paths, at nearby Mount
Gilead State Park. Both horse and daughter had missed
the time when the film crew’s van travelled to their farm.
There are great horse paths at the Mount Gilead State Park,
where her daughter likes to take Summer.
Amy’s family’s budget has had to tighten with the higher
cost of heating the barns this winter. They can not ‘count
on’ the money from her daughter’s husband, until it is
given. The horses will continue to stay together until the
property is found and purchased.)
End of aside comments…
Once the oldest girl visitor sat on the tame and gentle
Summer’s back, she exclaimed and bounced. Amy led Summer,
holding onto the child’s leg on one side of the horse.
She had suggested that the mother hold her leg on the
other side of the fence, along with placing the younger
one on her hip away from the horse.
When it came time for the oldest sister to be taken
off, she did not shriek nor cry. She was pensive and
calm, as if the horse had ‘tamed her.’
The youngest sister had never having spoken a word,
despite Speech and Language Therapy (through the Early
Intervention program), since she was one year’s old.
It was now her turn.
The mother stood on one side of the horse, while Amy
placed the child on the horse, then she held on tightly
to the little one’s upper thigh. Meanwhile, the oldest
visiting daughter was placed on a tree stump to watch
from a short distance. Amy had never seen such a change
in demeanor in a child, as what she had witnessed with
Amy knew the ‘littlest angel’ would respond to the
horse, since there was a light in her eyes. There was
a different and new kind of serious look on her face.
The child’s eyes were large and blue with eyelashes
long and beautiful. There was a determined set to her
mouth and a furrow between her eyes.
The little one started to giggle, she wriggled her
legs and started to gently kick them. She seemed to
know that she was on a great big horse. This recognition
spread to show a new affinity to the horse. Her motions
seemed to be saying, ‘Go!’
The mother’s face had tears streaming down her face. She
saw the magic going on and could not believe her eyes and
Then the little one said, “Ma!”
This one syllable sound emitted from the child, made Amy’s
eyes well up with tears.
Sharing Summer with the girls and allowing them to have
their short little rides, had opened up both the girls.
If you could put a label on the experience and the sense
of wonder felt in those moments, you may express it as
their showing the emotion of “Love.”
In studies of children with autism, many unusual elements
can create this feeling of well being. It is something
that is not easily examined or explained.
The simple element of water running over their fingers,
petting a dog or cat or listening to a certain musical
piece are among a few ‘triggers’ that bring calming
effects upon people whose wiring in their brains is
not still fully understood.
Amy did not take a dime for Summer’s becoming part of
the family down the road’s. Summer will come back to
visit, the woman promised. When her husband got off
work, they all walked down the county road, the horse
named Summer, the family with two parents and two girls
and Amy. They had an empty barn, clean and filled with
the hay they had purchased. The family had been on many
locations on their computer, having searched for over a
month. Their stop to look at Amy’s horses had been to
allow the girls to know this is what they were planning.
“Never in a million years,” the mother exclaimed, had
she expected this gift of Summer!
Her upkeep was going to be the responsibility of the
new family who appreciated such a generous gift. Amy
hugged her daughter’s horse, imparting a secret message,
“I love you, Summer. You will be so useful and helpful
to this family that I know you will live a longer life.”
The continuing tale is about the remaining horse family
which includes now, two sisters and a brother.
The three younger horses have been raised together.
They came from three different lineages and parents.
They were on their own, separated from their families.
They became part of a set that was purchased by my
good friend and coworker, Amy.
Their lives were very different before they came to
live in Morrow County, as a part of Amy’s loved ones.
They had ribs that showed, coats that needed to be
washed and brushed to become shiny again, along with
looks of belligerence and defiance that showed mistrust
of human beings that had been entrusted with their
Amy was their ‘savior’ in their lives. Their lives
allowed for freedom to run and also, gentle children
to pet them, sharing treats with them of sugar cubes
and apples. Their barn was clean, their daily routine
more structured in that they were outside more than
inside. They were lucky to be alive and getting more
healthy every day.
One brittle cold day, the three horses were stuck in
the barn all day. Lokie, a paint horse, with her spots
having changed more than once in colors and tones, was
anxious for winter’s end.
Sapphire, her beauty and loveliness shining like her
name, had acquired more patience and more confidence
since she had become part of Amy’s clan. She knew that
there would be better times, she also knew there wasn’t
much you could do in the freezing cold.
Spirit, who had many times injured himself, not caring
if he had an infection or possible gangrene from the
metal barb wire he had got tangled in when he had first
arrived, was able to breathe in and then, snort, the
huge noise shaking the cats that were trying to sleep
in the straw in the hayloft. There was moist wisps
of his breath upon the air. He leaned against the
wall in his stable, starting to relax and breathe in
an even way, that set the tone for his ‘sisters of a
Spirit’s early battles of horse versus metal, with
his anger and frustration of having moved more than
the others had had to endure, had made him restless.
His stampedes against fences, shrugging off his saddle
in battles with Amy and finally submission had taken
time and energy.
Though Amy claims she has no patience, there was
evidence in the way Spirit was able to go through his
‘tricks’ and his jumps for the cameras that rolled on
that fateful day, awhile back.
Their dreams were usually the same, with few exceptions.
The three horses had an affinity to their roots, their
long ancestral trees that included where their parents
and grandparents had come from. Those roots made them
visualize very different places to relax and run wild
in their dreams.
Lokie’s desire to ride in her dreams, bareback and
trotting over the wild prairies with a sense of
vastness and freedom was a natural result of her
heritage. She was after all, a ‘paint,’ which usually
during the early American unsettled days, Native
Americans chose for their beauty and colors. Although
Lokie is not anything like her big ‘brother,’ Spirit,
she does have her own brand of spirit!
Sapphire’s pedigree and her lofty nature has changed
and improved over her time with Amy. She used to refuse
to associate with the other two. Her nose resembled
that of a ‘snob,’ held high up in the air. That lofty
nature was not dampened by her mean spirited old owners,
she kept it as her way to keep sane and enjoy her life,
despite its desperate direction it had veered off in,
a few years back. Sapphire loved her turquoise blue
satin ribbons that were woven into her mane and tail.
She adored her azure blue blanket that was put on her
back before the saddle was placed on top of it.
“Ah!” sighed Sapphire, at the vision of such lovely
finery and herself being so adorned.
She liked the idea of stars and a moon outside in the
cold air, to look up and see, guiding her to a better
life with Amy.
Amy was her ‘servant’ and she would help her go through
her paces. She would lead and gently nudge her with the
habit and get her to prance, gallop and trot. She would
also stand perfectly still, when a little one was placed
on her back.
Parades were in Sapphire’s dreams, as Amy had planted
the seeds of them early on. Amy had whispered that if
she grew more strong and beautiful that she would get to
be in the Delaware All Horse Parade. This would take
endurance and she would have to be a good horse to go
there. But the idea of having others’ watch her, admire
her and possibly clap, (like the little ones sometimes
did on her back) filled her dreams with happiness.
Spirit sometimes snorted in disdain at her sister’s
unrealistic dreams of being a princess herself. He was
still able to dream of being on an island, far away
from the cold weather. Amy had mentioned her favorite
book about “Misty of Chincoteague,” by and he had
listened to her tales of running wild and free, across
soft grass that was not mowed, where there would also
be warm sand to run in. Underneath his slight disgust
at the pretty dreams that Sapphire had, was his own
soft and gentle heart, he was fond of her… maybe even
would miss her, if his dream would come true.
Living in close quarters in the barn, with the chickens,
rooster, one cow and cats who were due to have kittens,
made all three horses happy. The bodies warmed their
place enough to not shiver and shake from the cold
Spirit thought about this, when he was waking from his
island dream again. Lokie shook her mane and stamped
her foot, irritated that it had gone asleep again.
While she had been dreaming of running through wild
grasses, stopping at a crystal blue stream to sip
on water that trickled over rocks, she has spied in
her dream a little child with dark straight hair
and almond colored skin. His eyes had been so shiny
dark brown, serious in his demeanor. Lokie yearned
for this child to be his owner, if he were not able
to ‘take Amy into his dream.’
Spirit saw Lokie’s calm countenance and her special
dreamy look upon her face, glad that she had an escape
in these cold days. It would have been boring to the
girl, had she not her Western dreams of romance and
Sapphire may someday make her life more famous. Since
she was the one who had primped and paraded so well
for the French filmmakers and crew. This memory had
only reinforced her dreams of ‘fame and fortune.’
Rugged Lokie, although a mare, would have only liked
to have children or possibly Annie Oakley ride her.
Taming Lokie has not been as challenging for Amy,
as Spirit had been. Lokie had her sweet tooth, which
made her work for the treats more. She could do her
many tricks for a passing guest or a group now, too.
Spirit leaned again towards the gray weathered wall,
“It is about another hour or two, until our caretaker,
Amy comes by after her work, to give us a new pitch
fork full of hay. Maybe I can remember the path that
led me to the cave on the island. I would like to
explore the passages…”
Before he drifted off to sleep, Spirit whinnied to
let the others know the message that a mouse had
given to him, that the squirrels had heard from the
little birds’ chirpings’ that Spring was on its way.
When horses snore, it is hard to resist and it can