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That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet – Emily Dickenson

 

If you’ve been following Toni’s Ponies this year, you will notice that we’ve lost quite a few of our equine friends in 2022 and 2023. These are always very sad days at the farm. We’ve been astounded at the loss we’ve had this last year but when we take a step back a little it makes so much sense.

 

We rescue horses. Sometimes that horse is in their prime and we are able to find it a forever home but more often than not we step in towards the end of life. Horses that come from feed lots, or their owners can’t care for them anymore, or ones that have been abandoned. When a horse gets older and outlives their usefulness, as awful as it sounds, that’s when others step away and we step in. The end of life is an incredibly important part of life itself.

Anyone who has been a caregiver to an elderly family member can tell you how important that last chapter in a person’s life is. There’s a balance between providing care – which is often time arduous – and love. There’s giving them dignity even though so many of the things they used to be able to do for themselves are no longer possible. Just because someone is older, does not mean you stop treating them like a person. Same with our horses.

Yesterday we lost our sweet boy Gary. Gary was in his 30’s. He came to us with very little meat on his bones. He would stand in the yard with his head down and not move very much. Within a couple weeks though he was breaking into the grain room at every turn and his ears and head would perk up when you called his name. He had near constant diareah or loose stool that we tried endlessly to alleviate. That meant he got a lot of butt baths. He was the perfect little ambassador. He loved to be loved on and we fell hard for him. At his first vet appointment our vet said that we had Gary on borrowed time. We don’t know much about his life before he came to us but in the time we had him he was cared for, loved on, and appreciated. He crossed the rainbow bridge with a group of people around him who absolutely adored him. We told him it was ok to go. We pet him and held his hooves. We loved him until the very end and will continue to love him.

 

Every one of the horses that comes here changes our hearts a little. It’s not just we do for them. They make us better people. They teach us how to love and let go. They teach us how to care for one another. They bring us together in joy and in mourning. They show us that what we do is important and that it matters weather we get to spend years, months, or weeks with them.

 

So here’s to all the horses that have crossed the rainbow bridge but forever live in our heart. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to love you and to know you. You have changed us.

 

2022-2023

Scooter

Hellno

Buddy

Wendy

Gigi

Gary

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It’s with a heavy heart and a lot of anxiety that we make the following announcement. Toni’s Ponies Thrift will be closing in a few weeks. We are no longer able to accept donations at this time. We were given an amazing opportunity to open a small thrift shop in the heart of Kingston. We went in knowing that it might be a temporary location but had no idea it would be this short lived. Many many hours have been dedicated to gathering donations, sorting, cleaning, and putting together a very homey environment that is welcoming to all. We have had so much community support and it is heartbreaking to start thinking about closing up shop and packing it all away. This shop has been a long-time dream, and while it has been successful, we no longer have access to our retail space. While here, we have met so many amazing people and feel so blessed to be able to serve our community.

For those of you who don’t know about the thrift shop, I would like to tell you a little bit about it. Each year we have our annual fundraising yard sale. This is where we collect starting in January and put together a HUGE sale in June or July where everything is sold by donations. We don’t price anything. With this money, our goal is to be able to put hay in our barn for the year. We have been doing it for the past five years and it has become our biggest fundraiser to date. This year we were privileged enough to use the Mercantile building in downtown Kingston across from Henry Hardware. It was then graciously offered to us to have a pop up thrift shop to continue raising funds to support the care of the horses at our rescue. Just like the yard sale, we only ask for donations. We don’t price all of our inventory. This synergetic approach to fundraising had us so excited. The shop was a place that people could thrift for great treasures and give what they could and folks could donate locally to help build a shop in their community, all the while raising money for Toni’s Ponies horse rescue. We’ve been blown away by the interactions and relationships we’ve made in just a short time. We’ve also been humbled by the generosity we’ve seen. This thrift shop is needed here in Kingston. We have home goods, artwork, records, furniture, and amazing children’s section, kitchen ware – you name it we’ve got it. If you haven’t popped in yet, you might want to do so soon. As of now we have to find a new space by the middle of September.



We are on the lookout for any available retail space in Kingston that we can afford. If you have any contacts at all or any ideas of where we can set up shop more permanently please contact Toni. Please spread the word and as always, thank you for your support.

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Tomorrow we get ready to open the gates to the public. We’re open for volunteering twice a week pretty much every week but this is a little different. Mostly in that we aren’t asking anyone to scoop poop tomorrow between the hours of 10am and 2pm. If you show up early – you’ll be handed a scoop! But seriously, we are so excited to see some new and familiar faces.


With the addition of the Thrift Shop in Kingston we are meeting new people every day! If you haven’t popped in to check it out, I cannot recommend it enough. I (Alex) don’t personally volunteer at the shop but I’m in almost every week shopping and there’s new stuff all the time. We're open Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 10am-5pm. We are so grateful for the support and the excitement that everyone has been sharing with us. All proceeds support the ponies. What we would like tomorrow to be is an opportunity for folks to put a face and story to the horses they have been supporting. Volunteers will be there to give tours, answer questions, and let you love on the ponies in a safe way. We’ll have stories posted around the farm about each horse – if you would rather read.


Tonight, we were working on some last-minute things and were going over some print outs of the horses and their stories and Toni said “hmm how come there aren’t any pictures of me on here?”


She was totally joking but that was a really good question and I have been thinking about it since I got home. And here’s what I’ve come up with. She doesn’t stand still long enough to get in the pictures… or she’s behind the lens. Toni Houck really doesn’t stop. She runs the rescue, makes sure her volunteers are taken care of, works at the thrift shop, does all the shopping for the rescue, feeds mornings and evenings and has her hand, if not both hands in every event we put on. And at the end of the day, she’s still on call in case something goes awry in the night. But when you do find her in pictures – she has the biggest smile of anyone I know. I just wanted to take a minute to point that out. She loves her horses and she loves her volunteers and she works hard to make sure they all feel it.


So, when you come tomorrow and put a face to the name of each horse, take a minute and put a face to the name of Toni as well. We are super excited to host you. We’re curious about your stories too. What made you come by? How did you hear about Toni’s Ponies? Is your favorite color pink too? And now I’m going to search for some of those illusive Toni Ponies photos! See you at the farm! (July 29 · 10am - 2pm 23473 Seatter Rd. NE Kingston, WA 98346)




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