Barnum & Bailey were given to The Carriage Barn Equine Assisted Therapy Program in May 2005. Wendy Llewellyn wanted them to have a good home. They were imported from Belgium as circus ponies. After the original owner lost interest in them, they were left in a large field with Clydesdales; Wendy saved them from the pastures of Connecticut. She bought harness and drove them, a perfectly matched black pair of Shetlands. She wanted to compete with a large horse in carriage driving shows.
Barnum and Bailey were named by the kids in our 2005 Kids Driving Camp. The kids loved to learn how to drive a pair and who could resist a photo opportunity with these adorable ponies, 10 hands, all dressed up with their green feather plumbs. Barnum and Bailey were never separated during their teaching time with us. We know they were clever and knew circus tricks. We did not know whether they spoke Flemish, French, or German, but they definitely drove with no verbal cues. One day we decided to use them for a riding lesson. Two little kids got on and were being led around the ring. Suddenly, both ponies simply laid down. We never figured out the cue, maybe the clowns taught them the trick as part of the circus act. From that moment, they were drive only.
Over the years, hundreds of people met our great circus boys; in parades, at camps, and in lessons. Last Summer, they helped a young woman with Spina Bifida who was afraid of heights, speed, and leaving her wheelchair. They were her first driving experience. The indoor arena was filled with aides, sidewalkers, and breathless onlookers. The ponies pulled and we all began to enjoy the moment.
Sadly, that moment, that Summer, must live with us forever. The great Barnum died in his pasture, with Bailey and his other pasture mates by his side, on New Year’s Day. We think he was very close to forty years old. For the last four years, Barnum & Bailey have lived with their veterinarian, Dr. Janet Wojciechowski and her husband, Mr. Don Haley. Dr. Wojciechowski had diligently cared for the boys’ allergies. Over the years, the grasses and other pollens along with fly bites had compromised their quality of life. Their monthly shots and tremendous care allowed them to productively function until now.
We will ring in the New Year with hearts filled with Joy and Peace. Goodness and Mercy abound around us. To all of you, we are most grateful. To Barnum, we will always remember. To Bailey, we will shower you with love and protect you from loss.