If you have found yourself questioning your faith in humanity lately, this story might just refresh you. As may of you know, we got Forrest (our donkey) and Dusty (our mini horse) on the August long weekend which was exactly six weeks ago. Since that time, Olivia (our eldest) and Forrest have bonded. I am not sure if you have ever heard a donkey bray before but its like a very loud, prolonged, out-of-tune fog horn kind of noise. Now this crazy donkey of ours brays to call her outside in the mornings and he brays when she comes home from school and he brays any time he sees her and she is not paying attention to him. She spends hours at the gate grooming him and talking to him and just hanging out in general. She even shows him YouTube videos about horse training which makes me smile. They are pretty good friends and she has asked to work with him to try and train him and break him to ride. Every. Single. Day. Sometimes 8 times a day she asks. We have been hesitant because we don't have a riding ring here on our farm and the pasture they are in also contains the crazy steer so its too dangerous to be in there. In addition to those obstacles, we have been working on his feet which were severely overgrown. They are a world better now but still not really great for any serious riding yet AND we didn't have tack to fit him (saddle and bridle).
Last week was the first week of school and Olivia was having a really tough go of it. She was in tears every evening and she repeatedly said all she wanted to do was be with her animals and learn to ride Forrest. Thursday was particularly bad so Friday morning I set about trying to make that happen for her to try and cheer her up.
I had asked around in some of my social media groups to see if anyone might have any tack gathering dust in their barns that might fit a donkey. They are much more compact and narrow than a horse so fitting them is tricky. I had a wonderful lady (equestrian coach) not only offer to outfit him with some surplus tack she had on hand from running a riding school for nearly 30 years but to also bring him and Olivia over to her riding stable to make sure they were both fitted correctly. So Saturday morning she brought her livestock trailer and loaded up both Forrest and Dusty (because they needed each other for moral support) and Daddy and the birthday girl and off they went while Charlie and I followed in the Jeep.
We arrived to find a team of her students waiting to help and they got him fitted up in no time flat! Charlie (the little sister) was put on a horse and put into a lesson with a helper to keep her busy while Olivia got on Forrest and the helpers worked with her to get him settled into riding. He was amazingly tolerant and they both did so well for their first go! Now I know he is not a 'proper mount' and she will need a trained horse to meet her goals of being able to do show jumping down the road but this means everything to her right now.
To say she was thrilled was an understatement!! This gem of a lady came through for us in spades and made Olivia the happiest girl in the world. We are so very grateful and consider ourselves very lucky to have met her and we look forward to contributing to her life with the same spirit of generosity. What an amazing gift and I am so glad that the girls got to experience a truly meaningful act of kindness.