A 10-year-old rider and a 4-year-old pony with just 30 days under saddle doesn’t exactly sound like the perfect match. But sometimes it comes down to a mom who knows horses and a horse adoption organization known as a “pillar of the community.”
It was 2018 when Abbey Centeno, then 10 years old, noticed an ad for a pony at Days End Farm Horse Rescue (DEFHR), located in Woodbine, Md. DEFHR is a nationally recognized organization in the field of horse rescue, with over 30 years of experience; they have impressively achieved a 94 percent rehabilitation success rate.
The pony was a 4-year-old Quarter Horse/Chincoteague Pony mix that had been rescued from a neglect situation. His name was Pride, which Abbey later expanded to American Pride. He had only been working under saddle for about 30 days, so he was very green.
Shortly after seeing the ad, Abbey and her mom went out to the farm to meet Pride. It was his calm and quiet approach that won them over. But most of all, it was their belief in second chances and their trust in DEFHR. Abbey’s previous pony had also been adopted from DEFHR, and had been an amazing mount.
The first six months with Pride were challenging. He was prone to taking off out of the ring with Abbey in the saddle. It took about a year for things to start falling into place.
Not Just a One-Trick Pony
At that point, Abbey was ready to pursue her goal of pony racing with Pride. She went ahead and entered Pride into a few races. They were successful at Pimlico, Aiken, and Green Springs. At first Pride was a little strong for Abbey, but things quickly started to come together, and they were having fun.
And then came the pandemic. As with everyone and everything else, equestrian events came to a screeching halt. After a year of no races, Abbey started to try Pride in other disciplines.
He has become much more than a race pony—he has become a wonderful all-around pony, able to do almost anything. Abbey has taken him to hunter/jumper shows, eventing competitions and dressage shows, and has even started trail riding.
She recently was invited to ride out with the Carrolton Hounds, which both Pride and Abbey loved. She says it was fun to enjoy the countryside without the pressure of a competition.
Abbey and Pride have made huge strides in their four-year relationship.
“I am growing as a rider and have learned so much in the past few years,” Abbey says. “I will catch myself thinking about why the horse is not understanding me. So, I need to think slower and actually think things through.”
Now 14, she believes that each pony has a purpose, and it’s important to find out what that purpose is and to nurture it and learn from it.
One of the things that Abbey loves most about Pride is his big personality. He not only looks unique, but he is unique in his personality. He is smart and wants to be right in the middle of things.
Abbey and her mom have even taught him a few tricks: He knows how to kiss and how to bow—for a treat, of course! His best friend at the barn is a 1-year-old Great Dane named Percy. They love to play in the field and in the barn together.
“Pride is the type of pony that when you walk into the barn, he makes you happy,” says Abbey. “If I’m sad, then he’ll make me happy. And if I am having a bad day, he makes me smile. He makes my day better.”
Abbey is thankful for the day she saw Pride’s ad. A pony that was once overlooked has been given a second chance. Pride has taught Abbey that there is always another job, another focus.
“Pride taught me to keep on keeping on,” she says. “He’s had different problems and has taught me to deal with problems too. I understand that one ride is not going to fix the problem. I need to keep on working at it until I get it.”
And after all, isn’t that what second chances are all about?