By: A Proud Mom
My son Cole is 8 years old now.
Though still a beginner at riding, his goal is to win the local Cowboy Classic class this year on his current horse, Spirit… they have a lot of work ahead of them to pull that off, as Spirit is still quite green under saddle. Perhaps when spring arrives we can get the two of them to train together more consistently.
However, this story begins with Cole and his first horse, Cowboy. Cowboy was handicapped with only one eye, but Cowboy and Cole learned a lot about each other, and of life, together.
Since Cowboy passed away I’ve posted the many life lessons this pony taught my young son, lessons that will stay with Cole as they’ve become a part of him. However, what I did not expect, anticipate or even give a thought to is that Cowboy would continue to teach Cole from his afterlife.
The only show Cole participated in with Cowboy was the most patriotic event at the Marion 4th of July Horse-show. The picture of him kneeling (he dismounted after being lined up) with his wrong hand over his heart and the reins coming over Cowboys ears is from that show. After the show organizers reached out with sympathy, I presented an idea to them. Could a new show class be dedicated to Cowboy? Maybe for kids under 18? From this request, a new show class, Cowboy Classic was born and another broken piece of Coles heart glued itself back together. This class has been included every year with no plans of stopping. Another amazing thing that has happened since the passing of Cowboy.
Shortly after Cowboy passed away and while my social media post traveled the universe, Paisley Magazine contacted me. Would we be agreeable to have Cowboy selected as Pony of the Month? “Yes!!”
Our hearts were broken and we didn’t need another pony, but many people reached out to us with stories about their missing eyed horses and ponies. Then we received details of a paint pony with an injured eye at a feedlot in Louisiana. Would helping a disabled pony like Cowboy help the healing process? The feedlot folks were contacted and asked if they would donate this pony to Cole. Not only did they agree to donate the pony to Cole, but they also agreed to cover the cost of delivery!
We named this second pony to enter the life of Cole, Spirit. Traveling through ice storms, he arrived wet, half frozen and shivering almost out of his skin. The trailer had open slats and a very slippery floor. Spirit arrived in the dark of night and I couldn’t get him off the trailer and blanketed quick enough. I bumped into his injured eye as we helped him to a warm, dry place. I thought he was going to drop. We had seen the injury earlier at the feedlot, but when he arrived, it looked like he had a mound of coal in the socket. It was infected. There was an abscess. There was also much pain. Clearly, he had not been properly cared for.
But here was a boy, a little boy who had been taught by a special pony to do compresses and ointments and take care of eye booboos. And he did just that.
Cole was convinced Cowboy had sent Spirit to him. That the spirit of Cowboy had galloped the universe to find just the right pony and touched just the right people to get Spirit to him, and you know what? I agree with him. Spirit is a most appropriate name for this pony.
Through social media and the newscasts we learned of Max, a little mini in Acushnet Massachusetts that had been shot. Funds were being raised to cover the very intensive and costly care Max needed. Even a Saving Max Go Fund Me was established. I told the kids, “Maybe we could contribute next paycheck”. Let’s face it, feeding the two legged, four legged, some one legged and some no footed critters here on the farm leaves very little leftover…
Over time, Cole saw things he liked, action figures, games, etc… We are not ones to have many toys because of the animals, so he gets excited about everything he sees. I tell him, “You can use your change jar money”…but nope, he refused to touch it. He was saving for something very special, something he has wanted since the day his dad bought him an inexpensive 4 Wheeler. Sadly, it only worked for a short time then broke. But he had loved it and was determined to someday buy his very own 4 Wheeler.
I could tell the situation facing Max was hitting hard with my Cole. His wounds of losing Cowboy were still so fresh. He did not want another pony to go to Heaven and he did not want the person who loved Max to feel the indescribable hurt he has not yet been able to fully shake. He disappeared and returned hugging his change jar money very close… “I have money to help Max”, he said.” I said, “Cole, No way!!!” Really?? Now, I want my kids to be givers, to give and give, and when you think you have nothing left, to dig deeper. To always remember to hang on tightly to what is important to you and if that is going to help someone, or something in need, or save a life, then you let it go. BUT I never imagined he would part with his treasured savings. A year of looking under couch cushions, car seats, under the washer and dryer, the nightstand, tooth fairy money… one of the few left in this world that valued that copper penny, he never ever passed one up.
So now here Cole stood, his 4 Wheeler fund in hand, ready to add it to the Max Go Fund Me. Tears poured down my face… “What about your 4 Wheeler buddy?” I asked. “This is more important to me”, he replied.
Together, Cole and I poured his change into a bag, added some carrots, apples and sugar free peppermints. Because this collective donation was not quite in Go Fund Me format, we wrote a quick explanatory note and dropped it off at the radio station. Because I felt a little silly, I merely hung it on the door early in the morning, keeping my fingers crossed that it would find its way to Max… later in the day I found out it had!
From that act of generosity, I received a number of messages, all beautiful, all brought me to tears… all stating in different ways how generous and kind Cole is and that I should be so proud of him. To be honest, although I have told him he did a very nice thing, a very kind and amazing thing, I have yet to tell him how proud I am of him. I can’t help but question and teeter on the fact that had he not lost his Cowboy, would he so willingly have offered up his savings for Max?
But then I read an article on station WFHN in Fairhaven MA and my heart burst with pride. This is our son they’re writing about! When he gets home from school I will hug him and squeeze him and tell him how proud I am of him.
Then I’ll say a prayer to Cowboy, thanking him for teaching my son to give and to understand that it’s what you hold in your heart, NOT in your hand, that trumps all…even a 4 Wheeler!
My overall goal? To someday turn all this into a book. My dream? To have one eyed Cowboy stuffed animal ponies and coloring books to inspire our youth to rescue ponies. My unattainable, unreachable, impossible want? To have Breyer Animal Creations create a facsimile of Cowboy. They said no when I asked a few years back. Cowboy is not famous, he didn’t win races, nor has he been in a movie. He’s not a high point winner or a character in a book.
I thought what a great opportunity to again, encourage youth to rescue, to show it’s ok to have imperfections, what a kind heart can do and how it can teach others. Cowboy didn’t have enough of anything to be a Breyer, but it’s ok…because he has been someone’s everything and there is nothing better than that.