JBR Princess Confetti's Special Assignment
Last Updated: 08/20/12
It all started July 3, 2002, when I was trying to decide which horses to keep in my breeding program since everything had changed in 2002 with the loss of my two mares. Wanting to keep my operation small, I knew I had to have a purpose for each and every mini housed here at JBR. Since Confetti is so small, I had decided not to breed her and basically decided to keep her to use for weaning my foals when the time came. She is also my absolute favorite mini, so I thought most of my reasons for keeping her were purely selfish. I did not want to offer her to the general public for sale because I wanted to ensure she would not be bred, but I really couldn't justify keeping her merely as a pet. I discussed this with John, and we both could not come up with any solutions.
The very next day, I received an email from a woman who is totally blind searching for a miniature no taller than 26" to be trained as a guide horse. She had contacted the Guide Horse Foundation previously, but they did not have any horses available, so she decided to look on her own and was working closely with the Florida Council of the Blind in Jacksonville to make it happen. She had already found a knowledgeable trainer--she just needed the horse.
I took my time answering her because I knew Confetti was a bit taller than 26", but mostly because I knew the only horse I had that would remotely fit this description was Confetti. I also knew that, with Confetti's disposition, she would be perfect for this role. The next day, I replied and told her I really didn't have anything because Confetti is too tall.
Well, I certainly underestimated this woman's persistence! I found out her name was Cheryl Spencer, and she really was interested in coming to see Confetti with her husband. Cheryl's guide dog, Delta, who at 11 years old, was nearing the end of her working life--so Cheryl needed a replacement soon. She explained that since horses lived longer, had much better vision (350 deg.) and were extremely intelligent, that a guide horse sounded like just what she needed. She had already been with two guide dogs, and she said it was hard starting over each time. Being a horse lover also helped!
We arranged for Cheryl and her husband, Chris, to come down the following Sunday, along with Delta, and Cheryl's trainer, Debbie King. When they arrived, we went immediately out to the barn and, as they say, it was love at first sight (or touch, in Cheryl's case!). Cheryl had told me previously that Debbie would be performing some field tests to see if Confetti was a good candidate. Honestly, I was hoping she would fail--that would mean I would be able to keep Confetti and not have to make this decision! Well, Confetti passed with flying colors, and she was just wonderful. She was fascinated with Delta, which was a good sign, and Cheryl just melted around Confetti. Of course, Cheryl wanted Confetti, but we still had to work out some details. I am sure Cheryl, Chris and Debbie were waiting for my call on the way back to Jacksonville that day. I had to discuss it with John, though, so I made them wait :)
After literally agonizing over the decision, I finally said to John on July 9th, "Let's do it. We have been so fortunate in our lives, and this is a chance for Confetti to do some good for someone else." Now all I could think of was that I only had a few days left to be with Confetti, as Cheryl, Chris and Debbie were coming to pick Confetti up Saturday, July 13th.
The day arrived, and Confetti was ready. Cheryl wasn't sure if she would make it down as she had just had surgery to repair a deviated septum and was bruised and swollen which made it hard for her to breathe. I had a feeling, though, that she would make it, whatever it took! They arrived about 2 p.m. in between all the thunderstorms, and Confetti was loaded into their van for her first vehicle ride! She was such a good girl--she went right in with a little boost from John and Chris since the back of the van was so high. Chris called on the way home to reassure me that Confetti was doing great and she was munching her hay, looking out the window and having a marvelous time! Debbie rode in the back with Confetti to keep her company. Confetti would be staying at Debbie's farm for training, and they arrived home safe and sound.
Confetti has gone through her basic training, and she is doing extremely well. She is a hit wherever she goes and everyone loves her--mostly Cheryl. The training process will be long, but it will be rewarding, to say the least. My part in all this was the easiest--Debbie, Cheryl and Confetti have their work cut out for them. Confetti made her first public appearance on July 27th in Jacksonville at the Adams Mark Hotel at an American with Disabilities Act function. She handled it all just fine--she is loving all the attention. Click here to see photos/write-up. Photo below on left is Cheryl getting to know Confetti. Photo on right is Confetti learning the "stand" command.
I have always said that a little bit of Divine Intervention was at work here, and I believe it now after all these little coincidences have come to light:
- It was just one day after I was trying to decide what to do with Confetti that I was contacted by Cheryl
- The president of the Jacksonville Council of the Blind is named Barbara Brown (my maiden name)
- Cheryl and Chris were visiting the Guide Horse Foundation at almost the exact time Confetti was born in 2001 (maybe she was born just for Cheryl?)
I will be posting pictures and updating the
site over time, so check back often.
It is with much sadness that we have to report the passing of Delta, Cheryl's guide dog of 12 years. She passed quietly at home on April 20, 2004. Confetti is now Cheryl's sole guide.
Click the links below to follow Confetti's life.
JBR Ranch, John and Barbara McDermott, Christmas, FL 32709