New Beginnings, and so much more…

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New Beginnings, and so much more…

Article by Linda Aldrich, Executive Director, Pony Express

Published November 1, 2016

Kim Vail

There’s a photographer at our ranch today. Jamie, a brilliant and talented young horse woman has decided to have some pictures taken with her two greatest loves, Kendall and Lily; both horses of course. The shots of Kendall, one of 12 rescued horses in our program, show Jamie beaming by her side. Though no longer able to carry Jamie, they will always share a special bond. For Kendall is a life-saver, and it is Jamie’s life that she saved. And for this and so much more, I say thank you.

When Jamie first started in our program over six years ago she was silent, literally. She did not speak, not even when spoken to. At the time Jamie was heavily medicated and suffering from severe anxiety and depression. She rarely got out of bed and had no interest in stepping outside of herself, much less stepping outside. Unable to attend school, Jamie spent most of her days sinking deeper into a darkness that rarely saw the light. Until she met Kendall.

It was on that fate-filled day that Jamie’s mom, out of sheer desperation, stopped by our ranch with her despondent daughter reluctantly in tow. Though unable to make eye contact, Jamie’s pain was palatable. My intuition urged me to introduce Jamie to Kendall, and so began the beginning of a new beginning for both Jamie and Kendall.
In Kendall, Jamie found a faithful friend and a loyal listener. Someone that she could spill her heart out to, without judgment. Over the days, weeks, and months that followed Jamie discovered that in Kendall she could trust, often times sharing the pain, fears, and self-doubt that she had never had the courage to share out loud. And Kendall just listened, and best of all loved her none the less, and all the more. In time, Jamie grew stronger and more confident as she learned how to ride and guide her new best friend.

Kendall, too discovered a newfound passion and purpose in life as she gallantly carried her BFF over all of life’s hurdles, both in and out of the riding arena.  

Now almost 20 years old, Jamie has graduated from high school (with honors) and is attending SRJC part-time and working full time. She still has Kendall, who is over four decades old. Jamie is also the proud owner of a beautiful Thoroughbred mare named Lily, whom we rescued off of the race track. The two were recently awarded the 2016 Ariat Circuit Champion Modified Adult Jumpers title at Sonoma Horse Park.

Jamie and Lily, not unlike Jamie and Kendall, are a testament to the power of the horse and human connection. Sometimes we save their lives, and sometimes they save ours. Our horses have a way of leaving hoof prints on our hearts, and in doing so we are never, ever the same. As teachers and healers, they teach us how to believe in ourselves first. In doing so, we learn how to be better friends, better partners, and better people. And for this and so much more, I say thank you.

The Pony Express was founded in 1982 by Executive Director Linda Aldrich.  As a young woman, Linda struggled with anxiety, depression, and an eating disorder. Linda found that her passion for horses provided her with a safe place to heal from the trauma of her past, while at the same time gain the courage and confidence to create a similar equine experience for others. Following her passion, Linda found her profession in the healing power of horses. Linda has a lifetime of equine experience as a teacher and trainer including ten years as a riding instructor at SRJC. Linda has her MA in Education and is in the process of completing her MA in Counseling. Also, please mark your calendar and save the date for our 10th Annual Horse Show/Fundraiser that will be held on Nov. 13th, 2016. For more information or to make a donation please check out our website at or email Linda at

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