Friday, June 21, 2024

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People & Pets

Toby and Sophia


Photo by TP. Creations Photography

A beloved childhood horse is now in its golden years of life. 

When Laura Kersey got her horse, Toby, at age 10, she never imagined him getting as old as he is. Toby, a Palomino, turned 32 on April 12. 

“It’s a last hurrah for him,” Kersey says.

Although he is too old to ride (she hasn’t ridden him since he was 20 years old). She recently adopted a pony, Sophia, from the Animal Rescue League. She thought the horses would get along. 

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“Toby wasn’t needing an emotional support animal. He hates her,” she says. “He knows it’s his replacement.”

Kersey grew up on a crop farm with horses and cattle, as both her mom and grandparents were horse lovers. She competed in quarter horse and 4-H horse shows. 

When she went to college, Toby was still part of her life. When she returned home, she would ride Toby. 

“If I was under stress from college, I’d ride him, brush him and feel a lot better,” she recalls.

Kersey finished college to be a nurse practitioner, and she now keeps the horses, boarding them on a farm near Norwalk.

As Kersey arrives at the barn, she gets out of her vehicle, and the horses get the “winnies.”

“They know I’m here, and they know that they’ll get a treat from me,” she says. 

She visits both horses at least twice a week but longs to be with them on a full-time basis.

“I almost put in an offer for an acreage. That’s a dream for some day,” she reflects.

Yet, she knows Toby is happy where he’s at. Sophia and Toby are kept separately since they’re not the best of friends. Toby has a special friend at the stable. 

“He’s got a girlfriend named Chicken, so he’s set. She’s a chestnut mare, and he’s head over heels for her. He follows her everywhere,” Kersey says. 

Over the years, Toby has had three distinct coats. Today, as Toby ages, just like humans, he doesn’t produce as much hair as he used to. A blanket keeps him warm most days.

Kersey admits that horses are costly. 

“Older horses require more care. It’s gotten more expensive over time. It’s like my mini car payment,” she says.

In adopting Sophia from the ARL, Kersey hopes she’ll serve as an emotional support pet. 

“She’s too little to ride and weighs only 280 pounds. The goal is that she gets ridden by my nieces and nephews. It’s more for entertainment.”

Kersey reflects on her love of horses and acknowledges she was always the “horse-crazy” girl growing up. 

“They are so beautiful and majestic. Over the years, it’s been therapeutic. You learn about caretaking, responsibility and building relationships with an animal to compete. It’s prepared me for other parts of my life,” she says. “Every little girl should have a horse.”

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