By Rachel Leland
Old age and an injury caused The Baylor Riding Association to retire the 25-year-old horse Sweetie months before her scheduled retiring date at the end of this semester.
Sweetie, along with all the other horses the association uses, was kept at the C-Bar Stables in Valley Mills, which is about 30 miles northwest of Baylor.
Most of the horses are donated from club members’ families, club alumni or people who hear about the association by word of mouth.
“We are very lucky to have such a generous community who is willing to contribute to our organization,” said head horse wrangler Jackie Dawson.
While some members enjoyed riding Sweetie occasionally in the arena, she, like most of the other horses, was mainly ridden on Texas Hill Country trails.
“I loved running Sweetie around the barrel pattern. She was a natural,” Dawson said. “She was a little high-strung at times, just purely out of excitement to be running the pattern, but she was a lot of fun to run barrels with.”
Last semester, Sweetie pulled a muscle in her hind leg. Because that injury requires months of rest to heal properly, the association thought it best to retire her to someone who could give her the time, love, and care that she needs.
“We would have retired her at the end of this semester anyways, but with her injury we thought it best for her sake to retire her then and let her rest after years of dedication to our riders,” Dawson said. “She loved to perform for us and took very good care of our riders, so she definitely earned a long and happy retirement.”
To find someone who would receive Sweetie, the association contacted her original owner, Annie Stokes, who works on a ranch near Waco.
“We always give first owners kind of a first right of refusal just to be sure they don’t want their babies back,” Dawson said.
Stokes, who donated Sweetie to the club in 2011, was unable to take Sweetie back.
“I have three personal horses and I knew that I wasn’t able to take her at this time. My mare is bred so I will soon be up to four horses and I couldn’t take care of five,” Stokes said.
Though Stokes could not accept Sweetie back shesaid she would consider donating another horse in the future.
Stokes connected the Baylor Riding Association to a friend in her church, Miranda Tidwell, who was interested in adopting Sweetie and adding her to the two other horses Tidwell owns.
Tidwell who works at a veterinary clinic has a heart for rescuing and adopting injured animals.
“I plan on riding her some and I have four nephews and a niece that want to ride her,” Tidwell said.