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A Pony For Christmas


Article & photos by Tommy & Nancy Brannon

Many little girls dream of getting a pony for Christmas. For 9-year-old Haley Wallace, her dream of a getting a pony for Christmas came true, thanks to the Dream Factory of Memphis, her aunt Tiffany Johnson, therapeutic riding instructor Jenna McNair, Trinity Farms, and a host of others. On December 21, 2014, many friends and family gathered at Trinity Farms in Lakeland, TN for afternoon of celebration, as they watched Haley ride her gift pony, Badger. She even gave a ride to her cousin Asia Johnson, age 3. Haley was all smiles as she reveled in the warm afternoon sunshine enjoying her new pony.

Badger is a 13-year-old red roan/Appaloosa pony, obtained by Poppy Doyle, owner of Trinity Farm, from veterinarian Dr. Chara Short at Equine Veterinary Associates. He was brought to Trinity Farm “on lease” for a while and Poppy said they really liked him. “He’s super good!” she said. “He’s a little packer; very gentle, super cute, and very safe. He can do short stirrup, can take a rank beginner around the ring, or ‘go and do’ with an experienced rider. We’ve been working on this [the gift pony] for six months. We brought Badger here in September. Haley had ridden Bon Bon, our 30-year-old pony and we wanted to see if Badger would work for her. He’s a ‘no worries’ pony!”

The Dream Factory of Memphis is a mostly volunteer organization that grants dreams to critically or chronically ill children. They don’t have to be terminally ill (as is the case with Make A Wish Foundation), but they do accept children that are terminally ill. One of their main fund-raising events is the Ski Freeze every January 1st in downtown Memphis on the Mississippi. Participants pay (really?) to water ski in the Mississippi River in January.

Haley’s parents couldn’t say enough good things about the therapeutic riding program at Trinity Farm and the difference it has made with Haley. “This year has changed her 100% - just ask her pediatrician!” said her dad Charles Wallace. “Put her on a horse and her personality changes.”

Therapeutic riding instructor Jenna McNair explained further,” When she first came here she couldn’t read. But at the barn, around the horses, she learned her letters and learned to read.”

Dr. Ragland, her pediatrician, confirmed the progress that the horses have made in Haley’s life. He is amazed by their influence on her progress.

Haley was adopted by Charles and Glenda Wallace when she was a newborn. Glenda explained all the disadvantages that Haley had as her life began. “She was born addicted to cocaine; also tested positive for benzodiazepine, crystal meth, and was diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome. As her birth mother, an illegal drug user, went into labor, she just kept taking drugs so she wouldn’t feel the pain. Haley never went home with her birth mother. And Haley didn’t ‘dry out’ until she was six months old.

“Haley has seizures; she has developmental delays, auditory processing disorder (hearing loss), and a swallowing disorder. When she has seizures, all the things she’s learned are ‘erased’ and she has to learn them all over again.”
Even with all these strikes against her, Haley has discovered a connection with horses that is almost inexplicable.

Speaking of Badger, Glenda added, “This horse is healing Haley. Riding is strengthening her legs and back. He is phenomenal for her!” Haley does her studying sitting by the horses at the barn. “What she learns this way, she retains. This had been a miracle for Haley. The last year and a half has really turned her around,” Glenda added.

It was obvious that Haley was in “seventh heaven” riding Badger and sharing her happy times with friends and family. Nancy Stephenson gave her a leather bracelet with Badger’s name inscribed on the nameplate. There was cake and punch and much celebrating on a warm, sunny December day. It couldn’t have been better!

Equine Veterinary Associates donated the vaccinations for Badger. Read more about the Dream Factory at For therapeutic riding lessons, contact PATH, Int’l. certified riding instructor Jenna McNair at Trinity Farm at: 901-867-8682. 

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