special equestrians, therapy horses

Special Equestrians – Guinness The Rescue Pony

Guinness The Rescue Pony

Special Equestrians has written and published their very own special book about two of the dedicated therapy/program horses, Guinness and Lacey.  This book was written by Julia Haring and beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Kauffman.  One of Florida Gulf Coast University’s  senior classes was instrumental in helping write this heart warming story. The book was graciously published with a grant from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida. This book will be used as part of the outreach visits for Special Equestrians’ Special Partners Literacy Program.

What’s Inside

The story is about Guinness who is a miniature horse that feels lonely and different. A wonderful family who owns Lacey, a beautiful Haflinger horse, adopted Guinness. Lacey is a pasture mate of Guinness’, who gives lessons to children. Equally important, she is also a role model for Guinness, and she quickly teaches him all she knows.

Unfortunately, one day while out trail riding, a tree fell right in front of them and blocked the path.  Guinness was small enough to crawl under the tree and run for help.  The children and Lacey were saved!  Guinness learned a valuable lesson, it’s ok to be different.

special equestrians

Beautiful illustrations throughout the book.


About Special Equestrians

Special Equestrians is a nonprofit organization located in Fort Myers, Florida.  They are a United Way Partner Agency serving children and adults with special needs in Southwest Florida since 1987.  Special Equestrians enhances physical, emotional, social, cognitive, behavioral and educational skills through equine-assisted activities and therapies.  They strive to live by their motto of “Making Miracles Happen.”

Lacey is a beautiful Haflinger horse who I donated to Special Equestrians in 2011.  She had been a wonderful addition in my life, but her amazing skills and talents were going to waste as a pasture ornament. Thus, I decided to donate her as a therapy horse to the Special Equestrian program.  She has been a wonderful addition to the program, teaching children balance and giving them confidence.

Recently, Lacey has become a certified cart horse, teaching children and adults how to drive a horse.  People tell me all the time that she has touched so many lives, nothing could make me happier than to hear this.  Conveniently, Special Equestrian’s beautiful facility is only 1.5 miles down the road from my farm, so I can go and visit her anytime I want!

Lacey, the gorgeous Haflinger girl!


How have horses touched your life? I’d love to hear your stories, please share!


In the meantime, Love your horse!

Natasha & Xapado



laminitis in minis
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Summer Sore Treatment

Recipe For Disaster

What do you get when you combine lush summer grass in Florida, a pudgy mini horse, and steroids?…laminitis.

My miniature horse Guinness had a scary bout of laminitis recently after being on the steroid Dexamethasone for a week to treat a summer sore. Guinness has always been healthy and never caused any problems. He had a large summer sore on his sheath and after taking him to get it checked out by my vet, they prescribed Dex to help him also heal internally.

Course of Therapy

About a week into his treatment, I noticed he was tender on his front feet when he got up from laying down. My heart instantly sank, thinking the worst. I led him around to make sure I wasn’t seeing things and overreacting, but my fears were right. He was very tender when turning left or right, as if he was walking on egg shells.  This is a classic symptom of laminitis. I immediately called my farrier who came and checked him. He told me Guinness was positive with the hoof tester. After speaking with my vet, they both agreed we needed to be very proactive and get the inflammation down quickly.

I took Guinness to the vet where they gave him Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) through a nasal tube. As many horse people know, the DMSO makes your horse have stinky garlicy breath for a couple days, but I’ll take it if it helped him. My farrier also told me to ice his legs. Guinness was so patient and wore tall socks with ice packs against his legs and pasterns for at least 20 minutes, twice a day. The goal was to help cool the blood as it went down into the hoof where the inflammation had started.

Summer Sore Complication

Applying ice packs to relieve inflammation


After two days, Guinness was tubed again with another round of DMSO. The vet and farrier could see marked improvements in his walking and the digital pulse that had been strong in his legs was starting to relax, indicating that the inflammation had been reduced.

We all know that mini horses are extremely easy keepers, but Guinness was always on the heavy side. It baffled me what caused this acute case of laminitis. I’ve always known that the use of Dex could cause laminitis, but I thought that was in high doses, or for extended periods of time and Guinness had neither. The vet and farrier could not confirm it was the Dex, but said that was the likely suspect.

In researching this subject, I did come across a good explanation of what I imagine happened. The use of Dex in insulin-resistant horses (aka easy keepers) can cause a spike in their blood sugar. This causes the pancreas to flood the body with insulin. Excess insulin is one cause of laminitis. I took this as an opportunity to not add insult to injury while Guinness’ body was in turmoil, and took him off  his regular grain. He was only getting a small handful of Seminole Equalizer, but I switched him to Seminole Wellness Equi-Safe which is a low starch forage-based feed.

Duchess Healing Cream

Meanwhile, topically I was applying a compounded medication I received from the vet.  Unfortunately, this prescribed medication melts off and flies are still able to land on the open summer sore.  This is where Duchess Healing Cream was able to help in the recovery of this terrible wound, located on a very delicate area. First, I would apply the prescribed medicine. Next, on top of that, I would apply Duchess Healing Cream.  This insured that the ointment from the vet would not melt off and flies were not able to land on his sore.

My strong little mini has recovered well and I’m very thankful that we were able to catch it in time. Lesson learned, be very vigilant in the medication that is given to your horse. Furthermore, closely watch for any subtle signs of changes to their bodies!

Amy and Guinness

A Miniature Horse at the Bar?

With hooves polished, a fresh bath, tail and coat brushed, and gold glitter sprinkled in his mane for some added sparkle, my miniature horse, Guinness, was ready for his night out on the town at the 2017  Taste of Love fundraiser for Special Equestrians, Inc.  This annual fundraiser is a food and wine pairing, with silent and live auction items all to raise money for the riders and horses at Special Equestrians. As a therapy horse, Guinness is comfortable with different environments, but putting his head up on the bar and “requesting a drink” was a new one. The venue let us bring Guinness inside and he could walk around and visit all the guests. He handled it all like a champ. Many people petted him and he stood patiently for many pictures. I’m pretty sure he now has a standing date for the event each year!