Hi my name is Carson Crider! I just turned 5 years old on April 08, 2015. My story started in 2010 when my parents Clint and Ashley started this journey with me. Little did they know I was going to be one special kid because I was born with Down Syndrome. Adjustments were needed throughout the family, but I knew from the very first day I was loved more than I could ever imagine. I was blessed with wonderful grandparents who try to help my parents in anyway that they can. I started school 2 days a week at Carroll County Learning Center on 01/15/2013 in Huntingdon, TN and have now worked up to 4 days a week! I have therapists, Mrs Karlene, Mrs Diane, Mrs Hope, Mrs Kathy, and Mrs Holly who work on my speech and physical difficulties at my school. I love all my teachers and classmates at school. I have a big part of my story to share and one word sums it up.....HORSES.
The story begins with my daddy Clint who was raised in a horse crazy family. Both of his parents,Charles and Elizabeth, have ridden horses their whole lives, and when his older brother Chad and him came along they decided the tradition would continue. My mom also grew up riding horses and that's how she met my daddy. As a teenager my dad and uncle Chad battled every year for high point and world championship trophies in the American Quarter Horse Association on their two great horses Little Berseem "Bucky" and Mr Bar Easy "Mr T". They were very successful and brought home the titles many years. My uncle Chad has continued to ride for a career and my papa Charles still competes as well. When I came along my daddy decided to put the horses on the side and spend all of his time with me. My mommy still rides and competes occasionally.
My mommy and daddy don't live together anymore, but I still get to see them both each week.....I spend Sundays through Thursdays with my daddy because I go to school where he lives, and then my mommy gets me and I spend Thursday through Sunday with her! I love them both very much and am so happy to spend everyday with them.
Two years ago for my third birthday my uncle Chad and his girlfriend Heidi discovered the Personal Ponies organization through a great friend of theirs, Jerri Ludlam and her daughter Mahala who also has downs. I have always been slightly scared of the BIG horses and they thought this would be a great way to help introduce me to the horse world. So for my birthday I got two ponies all of my own. My first two ponies were a little bit independent for me, and after about 6 months of me not bonding with them they called Personal Ponies. Heidi told them those two ponies were too much for me....so my quest for my first real pony began again....Mrs Cindy from PPL worked day and night until she finally found me one! He came to me with the name Sam, however that's our dogs name, so we renamed him to Snowball! My love for Snowball still began very slowly and it took me a long time to warm up to him. On all sunny days my daddy would bring me to the barn and I started slow with things like leading and petting him during the winter and summer of 2014. This winter I have a friend named Addy who began coming to the barn as well and she loves the horses and Snowball! She decided to ride Snowball on March 19, 2015 and with the help of my daddy, Uncle Chad, and papa Charles I decided to bravely sit on Snowball with Addy for the first time!!! It was such a thrill and I couldn't stop smiling! The following week my daddy and grandma got me a new pair of boots and wranglers. Daddy and Heidi got Snowball back out that day and I once again gathered up my courage and got saddled back up! That day I rode around the whole arena and turned my first barrel at a walk and with a little help from them....I was so excited and kept asking to get back on all afternoon! I have attached photos from those great days at the barn. My favorite part of Snowball is his hair!!! I love to pet his wild mane and giggle every time his white fluffy hair starts flying when he sheds!
My story is just starting with the horses. Although my family competes they are all so proud of me just for being me. Even if I only ever walk around on Snowball....after two years I finally joined in on my family's crazy love for horses! I got to follow in all their foot steps and ride a pony! I look forward to many sunny days at the barn with Snowball this spring...even all of his white shedding hair included!
Personal Ponies has been such a great thing for me, my family, and so many other kids out in this world. PPL was so patient with me and did everything in their power to help me find a safe and suitable pony match. Snowball has been such a delight to many children who come through our farm not just me....he is my gentle mini and I love him! Never give up and always reach for your dreams!
From Donnis in Idaho!!!!!
We had the great opportunity to be a part of a benefit for a 9 year old girl Hannah. This is her 2nd run with brain cancer. She had it in 2010 and now it is back again had surgery and starts treatment this week. She was a joy. Hannah and her friend Molly had a ball dressing Diana up. Hula Girl then a clown and then a Bride. This was on Sat and then on Sunday we set up a booth for a customer's day while some of the volunteers manned the booth, myself and Rachael went and placed 2 ponies in Oregon. Markus was so excited to get his ponies. Busy week end!
Spring 2014 newsletter (1)
"I dwell in possibility" is the heart and soul of our program and our ponies. Today is "Throw Back Thursday" in the world of social media and what better way to remember the past than to honor some of the history of our UK Shetlands.
Becky Valentine lives with the Twomey family in North Carolina and is loved beyond measure. She has turned 30 years young and still insists on going on trips to visit and being with all the Twomey kids who adore her! This is a tribute to dear Becky from Marianne Alexander, our founder and the person who found Becky and brought her into our program 27 years ago!
Community Director, Gina Switzer shares with us this year’s theme child for Personal Ponies. Gina wrote to us at the end of 2013 telling us about Hershey’s special friend who has been coming to visit for over a year. “Lauren has 2 chromosome disorders and she's the only known person in the world alive with both of them. Lauren is 28 but was not expected to live past 5. She's very small and Hershey is just her size. She's had lots of therapies and lots of successes but she struggled with anxiety and some other issues that seemed to be helped by pony visits. At first she was terrified of the ponies, but loved picking up poop (which she named "ahem" so as not to say a bad word :-) At some point in the summer I was able to get her to hold Hershey's lead all by herself. Now I'm trying to get certified with Special Olympics so she can show Hershey in hand at a Special Olympics equestrian event.”
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"Shadow" who was originally "Mardi Gras" came to us almost 12 years ago. My son was 3 when diagnosed with autism and hardly spoke. We learned about the program through a friend who had a daughter with CP and had her own Personal Pony. We applied and found a pony right away.
Kathy, Dan's wife, has called and is so pleased how Lilly has changed Christian's life. She said before Lilly, Christian didn't even care to go outside and with her, he's running and playing with her and visiting with others more. He got a camera for Christmas and takes many pictures of Lilly each week. I think Equi Star should make a point of involving Christian in our promotional and educational events. We also need to be involving more of our riders as we have done with Christian. I have seen through Christian how Equi Star and PPL can work together.
Because of the Personal Ponies organization, strangers came together this weekend as friends. Before Bailey and Sterling came to live here, I didn't know of anyone named Allison, Abigail, Georgia, Gramma or Grampa in Allison's family. It was only after those two little munchkin faces graced my email screen that we all became connected. Because of two dear little hearts and a wise quarter horse, five people had a lovely visit yesterday. We shared a home cooked meal, belated Christmas gifts, family stories and the light in a little girl's eyes when she was wheeled out to where "our ponies" live. She saw her Christmas card and letter to them taped to the outside of their shelter along side pictures that she drew and colored for them. It was that same light in that little girl's face that beamed over us all, when we took pictures of our ponies at her side. She hugged them, brushed them and laid her face next to their fuzzy coats as they stood perfectly still, drinking in her love. You'd never have thought she was wheel chair bound or wore braces on her legs. We all talked with Abilgail too, about the "vacation," the ponies are having at my house while she goes home with her mother, grandmother and grandfather to do other things that she needs to do to grow up healthy and strong.
In 2007, the very special Ludham family and their two year old daughter, Mahala, joined Personal Ponies Ltd. One of the first ponies from our program to visit the Ludham’s Hillside Ranch was Greystone White Raine, known as Raine. However, Raine’s first visit to the Ludham’s was only in passing. Jeri, Mahalas’s mom, had agreed to help transport three ponies from Atlanta to Louisiana for us and Raine was one of them. Raine spent three days with the Ludlam's and during that time, the whole family fell in love with her. Raine went on her way and two other ponies were sent to Hillside Ranch for Mahala, Lady Blue and her gelded sone Tippy. Three years later, Raine’s caretaker, Kay, called Jeri and asked if she would be interested in caring for Raine and her filly Abby. As Jeri said, “it had to be fate”.