It takes a special horse to become a valued therapeutic riding horse. Pennfield had what it took and then some. He was a doer, a teacher and a friend. Whatever was needed, everyone knew that they could ask it of Pennfield, and he would be there with his rock-steady demeanor. He was trusted as much as he trusted and was loved as much as he loved. He was a champion and a friend to all who knew him.
Pennfield worked as teacher and Equine Assisted psychotherapist
for children and adults with special needs at SMILES Therapeutic Riding
in Wisconsin for over a decade. In his ten years of loyal service, his character never wavered. He was patient, forgiving, trusting and above all else, devoted to his precious riders.
Pennfield was awarded the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship
(PATH) Equine of the Year award in 1995 because he was so much more than just another horse. He accepted every situation with grace and charm in true gentlemanly fashion.. His sturdy 14-hand stature combined with his versatility, diversity and dependability made him the choice of therapists and instructors alike. He was gentle enough for the younger, inexperienced riders, yet was capable of encouraging the more advanced students. His demeanor also earned him the SMILES Horse of the Year award on numerous occasions, as voted on by students and volunteers alike.
It's tough to count the number of people who Pennfield taught to stand, to walk for the first time, to talk, to put on a saddle, to lead, to win, to be patient, to ride, to enjoy life and to love. All of this from the back of a little, backyard Pinto
pony. With each and every rider and handler, Pennfield instilled confidence and pride. His abilities stretched far beyond just the lesson ring, making him the perfect ambassador for therapeutic riding. Besides being the shining star in the teaching arena, he was used in drill teams, on trail rides and in off-premises demonstrations. He calmly accepted being dressed in outlandish costumes, and he proudly carried many a rider to blue ribbons in various costume classes. He never wavered from his job of providing successful and enjoyable moments from each and every one of his riders. Whatever, whenever and however he was needed, he was the horse of choice.
Pennfield passed away from colic in 1997 at 27-years-old, beloved by many. "I was there with him when he passed and I have had a hole in my heart that has never been filled," said SMILES Instructor Jean Firn. "But, I also feel pure joy. Pennfield brought a "smile" to the faces of everyone who came in contact with this very special pony."
There are horses that have carried their riders to international acclaim. Pennfield carried his riders far and beyond to achieve some of their most precious hopes and dreams.