Bed and breakfast owners Rob Phillips and Beverly Ray said their hearts were just too big not to adopt two ponies from a recent animal-neglect case.
Rob Phillips and Beverly Ray have two new guests at their bed and breakfast north of Lawrence and are trying to be gracious hosts despite the newcomers' unruly behavior.
Mindy and Miles, two hackney ponies, are becoming acquainted with their new home -- one of 14 stalls in the barn behind the Victorian Veranda Country Inn, 1431 N. 1900 Rd. Phillips, who sponsors the annual Old Fashion Christmas Parade downtown, adopted the ponies last week.
Miami County officials seized 5-year-old Mindy and more than 200 other ponies suffering from neglect last fall from Neuman Stern's farm in that county. Nine of the horses had to be destroyed; an organization called Horse Aid is heading the effort to match the remaining horses with potential owners.
Mindy was pregnant with Miles, who was born two weeks ago today.
Phillips said a Kansas City radio station featured Horse Aid's efforts to find homes for the ponies, and he decided to help. The ponies join 22 other horses at the bed and breakfast.
"I thought, heck, we've got enough horses here already, but we have room for two more," Phillips said Saturday, reaching down to pet the colt. "He's a cutey."
Guests at the Victorian Veranda Country Inn can ride horses and take carriage rides, but the two adoptees won't be in circulation anytime soon. The mare doesn't bear any physical signs of abuse, but Phillips said it'll be at least a month before Mindy becomes used to the touch of humans.
"We're going to have to spend a lot of extra time getting her gentled down, because she's had five years of not being handled by humans," Phillips said. "Of course, with the baby, that just makes her all that more protective."
As Phillips led the ponies from the barn, Miles stayed close to his mother, despite her tendency to push into people. Phillips narrowly averted several bites, and Mindy brought a hoof down on Phillips' boot several times.
"Now young lady, we'll have to have a talk about that," Phillips said as the pony nipped at his shirt.
As part of the adoption program, Phillips agreed not to breed the ponies. He can't sell them either.
Stern was sentenced to three years in jail in November for animal cruelty, but he was released after serving 27 days.
Horse Aid still has about 30 horses acquired from the Miami County case. For more information on the pony adoption process, contact Becky Burns, Louisburg, at (913) 837-4665.
-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.