Category Archives: Flying Horses program

A True Story and a Flight of Fancy


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

such events.

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

special needs.

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

the girl.

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

different mother.’

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

become contagious…


An Early April Fool’s Day Surprise!


I have a good friend at work, Amy. who has three horses that she has ‘stabled’

or taken care of during most of the week, when she has long hours. Amy’s horses

include an all black one with some white details, like a beautiful star on his

forehead and white “boots” on his hooves.

The black horse is from “champion breeding” and is named Spirit.

Amy’s little horse that she has her grandchildren ride on is named Lokie.

She says that horse people call him a “paint.” Not that he is painted! But he

has brown and white patches that are more like a wild horse or one that Native

Americans may have raised. Lokie is friendly and tame. He allowed her to put

bunny ears on him. Each of her grandchildren rode him and got an Easter picture

the day after an exciting escapade occurred.

The third horse is a beautiful golden one that is named Sapphire. She is a mixed

breed with a Palomino father. She has been in parades with a pretty turquoise

blanket or cape on with a side saddle which allows Amy to ride her. She is very

well trained and has no problems with listening to directions, feeling the reins pull

one way or another or the rider’s heels nudging a non verbal message or direction

to her.

Amy came into work very excited today, April 1st. I thought she was going to tell me

an April Fool’s Day joke. Amy has a great sense of humor so I did expect a trick. She

had a big smile on her face and waved to me to come over to hear her news. She told

me that a real French director had been up in Morrow County and wanted to film

country raised horses.

Amy was asked to fill out a release statement for the filming. She was very proud to

have her horses have a chance to be famous, if only in France! This occurred on this

past Saturday, March 30th and she reassured me, it was not a joke!

I told her I was excited, too, could she bring in the French director’s calling card so I

could see, or write it down and I could look it up? She said, “Of course, I should have

thought of that and brought it in!”

The French film crew were driving around the county roads and just happened to see

her horses along with the others that stable with them out in the field.

I mentioned to her the same Saturday was a beautiful, sunny day up in Cleveland.

My family had taken 2 of my grandsons to the Cleveland Art Museum and the

Westlake City Park.

At the same time, I had taken my mother to the grocery store and out to lunch. It

was such a lovely Spring day for being out and about.

Amy told me that Spirit was very curious about the cameras and went right up to the

group of people involved with filming the horses. Once Amy mounted him, though,

he became his usual, ornery self. He even tried to buck her!  (Yes, this was caught

on film also!) She put him through his paces. The director asked, “Can Spirit jump?”

Amy answered, “He is not well trained and is ‘oppositional in his behavior.'”

She thought Spirit may be interested in the audience so she tried to get him to do

some of his lesser tricks. He did not cooperate with jumping, though, and

went right up to the hurdle (she may have called them a different name…) and

stopped short of jumping. The crew filmed him with and without her, since he is

very attractively marked for over 30 minutes.

They were excited to see what Lokie could do because he is so gentle and appears

so unusual. I have seen pictures and I think a little boy with a cowboy hat or a

Native American feathered headdress would look so natural while riding him.

He is good at prancing and he can jump little hurdles. They spent 20 minutes or

more watching and filming him.

Then, her “pride and joy” due to her very charismatic behavior is, of course,

Sapphire. Amy explained that she does not have her gear and costumes for the

horses kept at the barn. She brings them over for pictures and for special events

and that the horse is parade trained and does well with noise around her.

I asked her if she ever had to ride Sapphire near a marching band? And she


“At the Delaware All Horse Parade.” (It is a misnomer because they do have

bands and wagons in it.)

Sapphire soared over tall hurdles and did all her stunts, even getting down

on her “knees” to show how she can really follow directions and ‘show off.’

They filmed her for over 40 minutes. At this point in the story, I had to ask,

“Were you getting tired, Amy?” She said she often on Saturdays goes over by

herself and ‘plays’ with her horses for hours. So, in other words, “No!”

When they were finished filming her on Sapphire, she dismounted and went

over to tell them that although they wanted to see country raised horses there

is a very wonderful program especially designed for children with disabilities

and special needs, called the Flying Horses. This program is one I had known

about as a preschool special education teacher and had 2 or 3 students with

Asperger’s Syndrome and one student who was diagnosed with Autism, take

advantage of this remarkable program. Sometimes, with state funding or local

donations, the cost is minimal or free.

I appreciated that Amy offered the French filmmaker and his crew that option

to include the program in their film. They were polite and actually said they

would like to check it out, if they had time.

When the filming of all the horses running around, eating their hay and just

plain standing around was a “wrap” Amy told me almost 3 hours had elapsed!

She had offered to brush out the horses or to demonstrate other everyday activities

like mucking out the barn, but they were satisfied with their choices and declined.

I am hoping to find out the director’s name, just so I will be able to recognize it and

keep my eyes open for next year’s Academy Award’s Foreign Film category or the

Academy Award’s Short Film category.

It would be wonderful for Amy’s family and their horses, Spirit, Sapphire and Lokie

to become internationally famous!