Every Friday, HN teams up with Ovation Riding to spotlight an individual or organization doing good work in the horse world. Today, we salute a remarkable little horse with a big heart.
This week’s honoree: Amos the Wonder Horse
Nominated by: Rachel Broman
My name is Rachel Broman and I wanted to nominate a mini doing great work out there. His name is Amos the Wonder Horse and he currently lives in Florida. Amos and his owner Shelly work tirelessly to bring smiles to sick children and elderly individuals every week. While Amos gets time to be a horse, he also works with local police and partners with an officer to teach stranger danger and bullying prevention. Their program has reached thousands of children in the Florida area!
I am not Amos’s owner. In fact, I live in Michigan. I just follow the pony on Facebook and am AMAZED at the generosity of spirit and time. Amos really loves his job and really seems to understand he is doing something important.
Rachel’s nomination, sent from thousands of miles away, is testament to the power of one small pony to effect positive change, not only in his outreach to the immediate community but all around the world as well. Amos the Wonder Horse has an impressive resume of talents that are showcased in his work as a therapy animal for children and the elderly as well as a volunteer equine officer for the St. Petersburg Police Department in its anti-bullying campaign. Amos’ owner and handler, Shelly Mizrahi, kindly took time out of her busy schedule to tell us more.
Amos and Shelly’s story begins on Craigslist: formerly the director of a small local zoo as well as a national-level equestrian with Morgans and Saddlebreds, Shelly was seeking a way to get back into the horse world and was looking for the perfect miniature horse to start a pony-party business. When she found Amos for sale, out of a job when his pasturemate companion was sold, she fell in love.
“He is exceptionally smart,” Shelly notes. The Florida coordinator for Personal Ponies, a national animal-assisted therapy organization, noticed Amos’ potential as a therapeutic horse and helped Shelly get started with training and certification. But along the way, Amos learned a few new tricks as well. “I taught him to play basketball,” Shelly laughs. “I don’t know why, it’s not the easiest thing … but he learned in just three 15-minute sessions.”
Soon, Amos and Shelly were busier than ever, visiting nursing homes and assisted living facilities as well as children’s hospitals (Amos became the first equine allowed to visit All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida.) When a child mentioned to Shelly her experiences being bullied in school, another idea was sparked: now in Amos’ “spare” time, he serves as a volunteer in the St. Petersburg Police Department, visiting schools to educate students about stranger danger and bullying (the program is called “Just Say Whoa to Bullying.”)
As if this weren’t enough of a full plate, Amos was contacted by none other than the Harlem Globetrotters, who noticed the pony’s rare talents on the basketball court. Amos now serves as an honorary ambassador, helping to teach the team’s program “ABC’s of Bullying Prevention.”
Shelly estimates that since January of 2014, Amos has met over 10,000 children at school visits. He’s also appeared on the Today Show. However, the numbers aren’t as important to Shelly as the individual experience. We asked her to name her favorite part of her job: “There are so many favorite things about this job. Working with a wonderful horse each day is a blessing. Watching him do his job in different scenarios is amazing. But when people say ‘you’ve made my whole day – thank you!’ that is really the best feeling.”
Amos’ various visits to schools, hospitals and assisted living facilities make up a full-time job for Shelly, though she estimates that 60 to 70% of her time is actually volunteered. But she’d never trade the experience of touching so many lives with one remarkable pony named Amos.
Many thanks thanks to Ovation Riding for their support of both Horse Nation and individuals and organizations that are doing good work in the horse world. If you know someone who deserves a Standing Ovation, we would love to recognize them in a future post. Email the name of the person or organization along with a message about the good work they do to [email protected]. Photos/videos are always welcome, and include a link to their website if applicable.