By Judy Van Put
LIVINGSTON MANOR There is an old saying that “every cloud has a silver lining,” meaning that every sad or unpleasant situation has a positive side to it.
But for most people who are experiencing those “clouds” in their lives, it’s difficult to imagine that there could ever be a silver lining.
However, recently an incident occurred that clearly proved this adage to be true when the kindness of friends and neighbors brought a ray of hope to a dark day, turning a sad story into one with a very happy ending.
A few weeks ago, a chance meeting with my friend Lisa Shaver Steingart, a fellow Livingston Manor horse owner, revealed a heartbreaking incident that had just happened to her young daughter and her horse.
Lisa had grown up on the Shaver family farm in Turnwood as the youngest of four children. While the focus was mainly fish farming at the family’s Beaverkill Trout Hatchery (which today is the largest private trout hatchery in New York State), Lisa and her two brothers and sister also were fortunate to have horses on the farm. Lisa rode and showed horses all through her growing-up years, and it was assumed that her daughter, Ashlynne, would enjoy the same happy experiences.
Just two years ago, Ashlynne received a paint horse named Snoopy for her 12th birthday. Snoopy was a dream come true not only for the young girl, but for her mother Lisa, who was then suffering from poor health. Snoopy was a very special horse, Lisa recalled, saying that during this time in her life, she had been experiencing such pain due to a medical condition that it was difficult for her to get up in the morning and function normally but it was the thought of seeing Snoopy that got her out of bed each day.
“Of all the horses I’ve been around all my life, he was the most special,” Lisa said.
On a recent Thursday evening, Ashlynne found Snoopy in the pasture hobbling around in circles and knew that something terrible had happened to her horse. A call was put out to the local veterinarians, but no one was available to come out until the next morning. Ashlynne and her mother garnered the help of a few friends and neighbors, including their 4-H leader Theresa Uciechowski, who lived some distance away. The group worked late into the night and was able to calm the horse and give him some sedation so that they could splint his front leg, which appeared to be giving him pain.
The next morning, the veterinarian came out and took x-rays, which revealed that Snoopy had not only broken his leg, but he had suffered a shattered knee. The veterinarian also gave the dreadful news that the horse, which had calmly gone through the night, would have to be put down.
Ashlynne was devastated, as she had been working diligently with Snoopy and looked forward to entering him in her 4-H club’s Open Horse Show the next weekend. And seeing how bravely he had endured his ordeal, had never expected the injury to be so severe.
To make matters worse, it was just one week away from Ashlynne’s 14th birthday.
It was at this point that the goodness and kindness of those closest to Ashlynne began to surface. Her 4-H leader, Theresa, had lost a horse when she was about the same age as Ashlynne. Remembering how painful the experience was, Theresa knew what she wanted to do to help and quietly contacted friends, neighbors and family members to take up a collection and try to find a suitable horse for the young girl in time for her birthday.
Lisa, in recounting the story, was brimming with emotion in describing how these kind and generous people swiftly came to the aid of her daughter. Word spread fast, and it wasn’t long before Theresa found what seemed to be a perfect horse with a story of his own.
She learned of a registered Quarter Horse gelding that was for sale and located at West Point. The woman who had the horse for sale was selling him because her husband, who owned the horse, was being sent to Pakistan to serve in the military operations there. The couple had two small children who grew up with this horse, a beautiful big 10-year-old bay, with a white blaze and a gentle personality.
Theresa was the fourth person to come and see the horse, but once the woman learned of Ashlynne’s story, she pulled the ad and said that it was more important to her that the family’s horse went to a good home, even if it was for less money than she hoped to sell him for.
The day of Ashlynne’s 14th birthday came, just six days later. Lisa had brought her to a friend’s house for a small birthday party and a fellow 4-H member and friend presented Ashlynne with a bouquet of flowers. Then he asked her to step outside, and there was the new horse bedecked with a big blue ribbon on his blue halter!
The new horse is named “Can’t Pass Up A Cowboy” and Ashlynne and Cowboy became fast friends. He is used to small children as well as adults, and has even let children slide off his back down his tail and adults stand on his back! He is comfortable riding on trails as well as in the show ring.
Ashlynne plans on entering him in the upcoming 4-H Fetlocks Open Horse Show and is clearly delighted with her new charge. And she uses a green lead rope that belonged to her horse Snoopy.
“So I’ll always have a part of him with Cowboy,” Ashlynne said.