Twin Pond Camotion

(1985 – 2016)
Owned by Debi Demick
Inducted: 2017

Photos

An impressive lineage doesn't always ensure an easy life--as was the case of Twin Pond Camotion, a registered Bay Morgan, sired by the multi-year, non-pro reining champion Twin Pond Disco Kid. At an early age, Max, as he became known, was abused resulting in a mistrust of humans. Shuttled from one owner to another, Max was a pasture pet, never trained to carry a rider.

But, as fortune would have it, in 2000, at the age of 15, he was purchased by his forever owner, Debi Demick, who was looking for a companion horse for her two Morgan mares. For the first several months in his new home, a peaceful, private barn with a large stall, private paddock, and lush fields, Max lived in his halter. Demick could not get him to stand long enough to get it off or back on due to his extreme anxiety. With lots of patience and time, Max learned to trust and love Demick but remained fearful of visitors.

Then in the fall of 2010, the Horses Helping Heroes Project (HHHP), co-founded by Demick, moved into the barn, and Max and his mares became therapy horses. HHHP provides free equine- assisted activities and therapy to veterans facing mental, physical and emotional challenges. Suddenly, Max's quiet world was altered on Thursdays when as many as 20 participants and volunteers descended on the barn.

"I must confess I had my doubts about how Max would perform in this new role," said Lisa Jett, a HHHP Volunteer. "Oh, how he proved me wrong!" Max remained shy in his stall, but when put to work, he did not just rise to the occasion, he catapulted over it. It was clear that Max identified with these wounded warriors. He battled his issues while they battled theirs and together they made great progress.

United States Marine Corps veteran Leo recalled the day when he took Max out for a walk and grooming. His head was down, at ease, but his ears were at attention, displaying intellect but also caution. "As I gently brushed him, he nuzzled my cheek. I choked up and felt as if a weight had been lifted off me. It seemed like Max needed me, and I was able to help him as he helped heal me."

United States Navy veteran Tom shared a similar transforming experience. "Standing in the presence of such a majestic animal and never having been that close to one was nerve-wracking, but I could see that he was just as nervous about me as I was of him," said Tom. "Learning about the herd mentality - that Max, being eldest, was the leader and had to take care of the rest of the herd - hit home with me. When I was Active Duty, I was in charge. The bond between Max and I is strong. I don’t see Max as a horse, I see Max as a comrade, as a friend."

Max was laid to rest on January 26, 2016, but he lives on in the memories of the veterans and volunteers of HHHP who loved him.