Pogo - Winning Ribbons to Winning Hearts


Hidden Star, named after the now-graying star that lies beneath his forelock, waits patiently as a child pours her troubles onto him. Being a therapy pony, it’s his job to be a calm place to come to, but this was not always his speed.

Now at 25 this year, it’s more than fate that led him from one career to the next, as Pogo sprung into the hearts of all who met him.

At the beginning, the Brandt family was searching for a new partner for their daughter, Hannah, to learn eventing with. When their trainer, Claire Tyner, found the perfect candidate, it was a no-brainer to bring Pogo back home to Franklin, Tennessee.. Standing at just 12.3 hands, he was the whole package: sweet, safe, and just a little bit spunky. Together, Pogo and Hannah became unstoppable in their eventing competitions.

In the spring of 2016, tragedy struck when Pogo kicked at another horse through a boarded fence, and tore his hock down to the joint capsule. Determined to give Pogo the best chance at recovery, the Brandt family began his intense rehab. After keeping a regimen of changing compression bandages, taking care of his wound, and giving him time to heal, Pogo was eventually cleared to walk under saddle. As he was walking, it soon became obvious that Pogo wanted some sort of job again, and that’s when the Brandts and Claire had an idea.

Carissa Ramsdell ran an equine therapy program, Freedom Reigns Ranch, that was in its very infant stages. At the time she had just been using her own personal horse; however, this job was proving a lot for just one horse. That’s when Carissa got a call from Claire, saying that they had a pony who, while he is not sound for trot and canter, was great with kids at the walk. A safe, steady, quiet kid’s pony was exactly what the program needed, and the agreement for Carissa to care-lease Pogo until his wound had fully healed was made.

This little, bay pony jumped right into session life like he was born for it. He did so phenomenally with everything that was thrown at him, that he soon became a staple at the growing program. Later in the fall, the vet re-evaluated him, and Pogo had rehabbed 100% sound. Clarissa said that this was a testament to the amazing care that the Brandts had provided. While thrilled for his recovery, Carissa was also sad to realize that this meant that the Brandts would be taking Pogo back to continue competition. However, on the nonprofit fundraising day called “Giving Tuesday,” Carissa received a call that The Brandts were donating Pogo to the program. They acknowledged that he had excelled in the therapy work, and that was where he belonged.

What made Pogo so great at showing someone the ropes of eventing was that he was just so steady, calm, and quiet. This is  exactly the same reason why he shines at his job as a therapy pony. Even though he can be silly in the field with the other horses, the moment a child is leading him, he knows it’s his job. This is what gained Pogo a fan club of little girls that love and dote all over him, and in return he gives the children at the farm that first experience of what it means to love a horse. He’s usually the first pony they get to ride, providing an approachable and kind demeanor that the participants might not be used to. He becomes a steady rock that can help children realize that they can have courage to outrun whatever they’re facing. Pogo is a source of fun and joy, which is what he’s always been.

Although Pogo made a full recovery, he still has the scar from his injury running along his leg. This has become a pivotal part of how he touches the lives of those in therapy with him, as it is used as a reminder to show that everyone has scars, but can work through them and go on to do awesome things.

Carissa’s plan for Pogo is for him to continue enjoying his life as a therapy pony. He’s miraculously sound without any maintenance, and as long as he’s happy he’ll keep loving little kids, and being the steady friend that they need during tough times.

Freedom Reigns Ranch, based in Columbia, Tennessee, is a free-of-charge, faith-based mentorship program that uses horses to help children and young adults who are going through trauma. If you are interested in more information, or would like to volunteer, please visit their website at https://www.freedomreignsranch.com/. They are hosting an upcoming fundraising show this month, happening April 20th-21st, at Walnut Trace Farm.


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