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Posted 08-06-2008 at 05:43 AM by Zilfstar
Updated 08-06-2008 at 05:47 AM by Zilfstar
December 30th 2001. It is a sunny day on this Sunday. The little bit of snow that has fallen the last few days is melting. The sky is blue, the sun is shining very low at noon and the little guinea pig of 6 weeks beside me in the car is dying. My belly is round and full of life. My first child. Due March 1st. A lucky date to my opinion since I am a fan of a surten actor for years who happens to be born on the same date. Not calculated as we have been “working” to get pregnant for one and a half year before we finally succeeded. I guess this soul just waited for the right time, as I have changed the last year reading the confessions of this same actor. Changed in the good way I might add.

December 30th 2001. A mare in the South regions of the Netherlands has her belly round and full as well. She is a small Shetlander. Her belly is full of life, kicking towards the outside world, waiting to be born and take over the world. Because that is what Shetlander-ponies are all about in their opinion. Be cute, funny and naughty in their own enchanting way. But he has to wait a few months until he is ready to conquer the world.

December 30th 2001. The sun is shining in my eyes and the road is glistening. I can not see a thing for just a few seconds. A few seconds of blinding light, then the intense colour of the red light signing the closing of the railroad crossing. I knew it was there. I just did not realise it was so damn close. The yellow colour of the train coming from the right is the next thing I see. This is going wrong! I hit the breaks, steer the steering wheel of my car to the left, hoping I will get my car to stop in an A-team kind of way alongside the speeding train. My car breaks through the barriers. I realise my movie stunt is not working in real life. Metal to metal. Glass breaking. I think I am dying. God, let it be quick and painless. God, get me out of here. Let this be a nightmare…?

The world has stopped spinning. At least to my perspective as my car has come to a sudden stop with its nose against a pole next to the railroad tracks. Nose and rear are gone. What is left is the safety cage carrying a very pregnant woman on the backseat. Glass and metal are all around me. I am alive! Relieve flows through my body and quickly makes room for Fear. Fear of pain, wounds, bleeding, and for my baby. I check my hands and feet. I can move them. My spine is all right. Panic or Calmness? Staying calm has more change of getting my baby out. I start calling for help. People are coming, a man holds my hand. He does not even know whether I am dying or not, but right now he is holding my hand. My angel. One of many present this day as I later will discover that I am all right. I have had the company of many guardian angels. The firemen cut me out of the wreckage. The ambulance rushes me to the hospital. My husband has been called and with me immediately as he was able to drive behind the ambulance (it all happened very close to home and my father in law was driving). The scans, echo’s and x-rays show no damage, no where. My baby is Okay and sleeping. I am released the next morning and able to attend New year at home.

Februari 14th. Valentines Day. A perfect day for a perfect delivery. A day of love for my lovely baby. My son is born. 2 weeks early as he was too small for the term of my pregnancy. One of the lucky aspects of the car crash. At the time of the crash my son was 6 weeks too small. We had no idea prior to the accident. Because of the echo’s made to find out whether my baby had survived the accident all right we found out he stayed too small. And so his birth was, a bit to my despair, provoked 2 weeks early. I am still convinced he should have been born on March 1st. They began to provoke the birth on Februari 12th and he did not come out until 14th. He was not ready, I was not ready. But it was for his own good. He did fine, weight 2150 grams and measured about 40 cm. But he was strong, lifting his head to follow his fathers voice already 15 minutes after being born and laid down on my chest.

Spring 2002. A mare huffs and puffs through her solitary labour. Mares don’t like being watched when the give birth. Many stories are out there of mares just stopping their contractions the second somebody walks into the stable. They want to do it alone. No coaching of the stallion, no supporting hands from owner or veterinarian. Just her own mind, body and her baby, doing the works together as a team of two. A little but strong brown foal is born. When he grows older his brown soft hair will make place for a beautiful pitch-black coat with white hairs sprinkled all over it. He has a white dot on his forehead and one on his left buttocks. Like a mole. A birthmark that makes him unique. One of a kind. His name will be Sandokan. A big name for such a small foal. The little stallion struggles to get on his feet. Takes small baby steps and is already running the next day.

When he gets about two years old, he is sold to a children’s farm. He learns to accept the saddle, walking small circles with little kids on his back. He learns to tow a car, making rides with those same small kids. He sees many children come and go. He has fun and he stays cute and loveable. With his black coat and long hair and confident look in his eyes he is worth his name.

When he is five the children’s farm has to close because of lack of money. Sandokan has been given away to a woman in the village. She has a few horses and Sandokan tries to be friends with them. But they are big and the fences are high. Sandokan, as any Shetlander will do, breaks out number of times. By just bowing his head and sliding his back underneath the wire. The woman gets frustrated and Sandokan ends up in her backyard behind a wooden fence. Incapable of breaking out Sandokan makes friends with the goat that is being brought to him as his companion. He sleeps in a big doghouse just big enough for him to stand in. He gets a bit of hay and a lot of oatmeal. After a few months the entire backyard has changed from grass-green to mudd-brown. Sandokan is still lovely and cute but alone. The children of the women call him Spooky and are very kind to him. But somewhere he knows this is not the life he was used to. There are no backrides with little kids, no carriage-trips, nothing. Sandokan gets fat and the glimmer in his eyes is fading away. Because of the small amound of hay every day his molars grows too big and the hooks are pointing in his tongue. Sandokan is fading away.

When my son is five years old we notice he is not moving as a five year old boy should. He gets diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and Hypermobility. I see my son is lacking self-esteem. Especially when it comes to movements, power, controlling his own body. It is not easy growing up, and it is even more difficult when you can not count for 100% on your body, its strength and its movements. Being a horse-fanatic myself I see a chance in equitherapy. But my son may be a bit disabled, it is not severe enough to get a personal budget or care from the government. Something which is quite normal in the Netherlands, but you have to be disabbled severe enough. And Equitheapy is expensive. So after talking it over with my husband I decide to find a pony or horse to look after. Not to buy, but to hire for weekly sessions. In October of 2007 we find a woman with a big young horse. It is fun, but the horse is too big and too young for my son to handle by himself.. As I am explaining this to the owner, she states she is looking for a little pony for her baby-daughter. Until she is big enough Stefan, my boy, will be able to groom and ride it.

We check out the internet pages and find a suitable pony. Brown with one blue eye. We make the deal by telephone. We get on our way on a Saturday in January 2008. The owner of the big horse is not able to make it with us, so we ride with the four of us: me, my husband, Stefan and Kirsten my daughter of 3. First stop will be a colleague of my husband who will lend us a trailer. On our way there we get a call from the girl selling the brown blue-eyed pony. He has already being sold to someone else. My boy breaks out in tears. My heart weeps with him. I calm my son down. Tell him this pony was just not meant for us. We continue to the friend with the trailer and he lends us his laptop to search for another pony.

Sandokans owner notices the change in his attitude. He is fading away. Not a good sign. He is okay and everything, but she can not get it out of her mind he is not really happy. Not to mention the fact her entire backyard has turned into a muddy landscape. She decides to put him up for sale on the internet. So on a Friday she sits down behind her computer and makes an add on the most popular Dutch buy and sell site.

So we check out the internet, phone a few sellers but those ponies are already sold, too expensive (we do have a budget from someone else remember) or not suitable for children. Then we find an add for a 6 year old gelding, black, 85 cm on the back. We call the owner and hear the story of Sandokan. We call up the woman from the bog horse and she is okay with it. And so we continue are journey towards the South of the Netherlands with a two-horse trailer. We end up in a tiny village where a black pony with long hair stares at us from behind the wooden fence. I am in love with him. So is the rest of my family. He is sweet, immediately puts his nose in the arms of my son who is just crazy with joy. We stay for coffee and cookies, we pay the woman and load up the little pony into the huge trailer. We ride towards the stable where we are expected. A new episode begins for both my boy and the pony.

We are 8 months further now. Sando, as we call him, is so happy. He has new horse and pony friends. Stefan rides him ones or twice a week, I work with him on the long rope. He is funny, cute, stubborn and when you don’t watch him he will, like any Shetlander, break out or trough the rope fence. His eyes are glistening with joy and naughtiness. His black coat is shining. His teeth are trimmed so he has no more pain in his mouth. And we have a small carriage for him to tow with he loves to do. My son has a rapport from school indicating an increase in self-esteem, his movements are better, his balance has improved. And he has fun.

On any Sunday, any sunny day, you will be able to see a young boy walking towards the pasture calling his friend: Sando! And a little black pony will break free from the herd and will run towards the fence, putting his nose in the hands of the small boy. And you will see them both sparkle with joy, happiness and comradeship.
Total Comments 5


  • Old Comment
    Posted 08-06-2008 at 06:57 AM by ostarella ostarella is offline
  • Old Comment
    What a great story - I can just imagine Sando! We used to go by a field with horses and donkeys on the way to and from school, and they soon got used to us stopping by for a chat etc! So when you said about Sando trotting up to the fence to say hello, that reminded me of such good times.

    I'm really impressed that your boy's school makes school reports on 'self-esteem' - it is so important for a person's outlook on the rest of his life. My primary school was run by bullies , so no chance of them bothering to notice any child's self-esteem!

    Still - makes one stronger I suppose?
    Posted 08-06-2008 at 11:13 AM by deebeelicious deebeelicious is offline
  • Old Comment

    To Deebeelicious

    Hi Deebeelicious. Funny how my story got you to remember the good times! My son attends a Montessori school. "Teach me how to do it myself". Self-esteem, Trust, Friendship. All very important on this school. Ofcourse there are bullying issues. That is to say, there always will be children who do not get along or do not like each other. But hey, that is part of life, even for adults. So here in school the teachers try to show them you can be nice to people you do not like. I am vcery glad we choose this school. They really are open to all kind of kids and are ready and willing to help. My son for example gets his Physiotherapy during schooltime in school. He even learned how to ride his bike (without supporting-wheels) on the school's playground, while riding is forbidden there. They made an exception for my son and all the other kids (100 in total) accepted it and cheered to his progress.

    Changed my avatar to Sando and Stefan...
    Posted 08-07-2008 at 01:33 AM by Zilfstar Zilfstar is offline
    Updated 08-07-2008 at 04:59 AM by Zilfstar
  • Old Comment
    What a beautiful and touching story.
    Posted 08-08-2008 at 10:24 AM by bibbi bibbi is offline
  • Old Comment
    Sando & Stefan look great together. Animals can be very healing. There is a charity in the UK called Riding for the Disabled I think. They say that the contact and confidence the disabled children get from riding really helps their daily lives!

    My school wan't all bad - I remember a girl in a much younger year than me had a quite pronounced limp (I don't know what her disability was), but cycling was easy for her. So the school gave her special permission to be the only child who was allowed to ride her bike inside the school grounds. I can still recall her big smile as she raced passed the other children on her way home after school!

    Good luck to you, Stefan, rest of your family, and of course Sando!
    Posted 08-11-2008 at 05:25 AM by deebeelicious deebeelicious is offline
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