A 12 months in the past this month, Faith San Severino and Adam Smith obtained the thought to launch Instagram and TikTok pages to advertise their Bonsall enterprise, Faithful Friends Mini Horses, which trains and sells miniature horses as remedy animals.

Four months after launching their “@faithfulminis” pages, their videos of small horses playing, undergoing training and making therapy visits to local senior care homes were drawing about 600 viewers a day. Then on May 13, San Severino posted her first video of Peabody, a 3-day-old miniature horse with dwarfism that she and Smith rescued from euthanasia at a Texas horse ranch. The fragile colt was weak and underweight, deaf, couldn’t walk on his deformed hooves and was about the size of a housecat.

Suddenly, Faithful Minis video views exploded and the number of page followers eventually ballooned to 1.2 million. People from around the world tuned in daily to follow Peabody as he grew, gained weight, learned to walk on specially designed horseshoes and joyfully clip-clopped around the couple’s home, where he lived full time in the den as their “house horse.” But last fall, Peabody’s liver began to fail and he died on Sept. 14 at just over four months of age.

Yet while Peabody is gone, his legacy lives on. On Jan. 15, San Severino posted an old video of Peabody trotting down the hall and it generated 105 million views. That was on top of the more than 500 million combined views of Peabody’s earlier videos. And within the next month, San Severino said she expects to close a deal with a major publisher on a children’s book about Peabody and his animal friends. But in this version of the story, Peabody won’t die in the end.

San Severino said many of the comments posted on the Peabody videos are from people around the world who say his can-do spirit lifted their spirits while they were dealing with depression and disease. Two followers, including Mexico-based artist Nancy Hache, were so inspired by Peabody that they made paintings of the horse that now hang in the couple’s home.

A painting by artist Nancy Hache of Peabody, a miniature horse with dwarfism, whose videos generated more than 600 million views on social media for Faithful Friends Mini Horses in Bonsall. Peabody died last fall at four months of age.

(Charlie Neuman/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Although there are hundreds of videos on the @faithfulminis social media pages, Smith said he believes the reason that Peabody’s story resonates the most with followers is that Peabody fought the odds and he had a sweet, innocent and energetic personality.

“He was just as cute on the inside as he was on the outside and he had a very innocent nature,” Smith said. “From the moment Faith picked him up, he was coddled and spoiled and bottle-fed. He owned this house. Even though he didn’t have a long life, he had a good life to the end.”

Peabody isn’t the only miniature horse with dwarfism that Faithful Friends has taken in over the past decade. San Severino said she doesn’t run a rescue and she does not breed horses, but some professional miniature horse breeders have reached out to offer foals when one of their mares has produced a baby with dwarfism, a condition that usually leads to multiple health problems and a shorter life.

The ranch’s “new Peabody” is a 1-year-old male with dwarfism named Buffalo, who is 19 inches tall and weighs about 50 pounds. So named for his thick, shaggy bison-like coat, Buffalo is believed to be one of the smallest living horses in the world, San Severino said.

Faith San Severino and Adam Smith stroll with a few of their many miniature horses

Faith San Severino and Adam Smith stroll with a few of their many miniature horses at their Faithful Friends Mini Horses ranch in Bonsall on Friday.

(Charlie Neuman/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

San Severino used to work as a tv author and editor in her native Vancouver, Canada, earlier than she retired and moved to San Diego in 2012. Not positive what to do subsequent, she determined she needed to work with horses and she or he needed to volunteer as a pet therapist at senior facilities for veterans and Alzheimer’s sufferers. Eventually she hit on the thought of shopping for and coaching miniature horses as remedy animals. Now she’s a nationally licensed coach and she or he works with patrons from all around the nation.

According to the U.S. Service Animals official registry, miniature horses make up a small however rising variety of service animals in America. They dwell longer than service canine (as much as 35 years), are non-allergenic, are often extra calm in public areas and due to their bigger measurement they are often helpful as a information animal for blind individuals who have to lean on their service animal for help.

San Severino mentioned not each miniature horse is suited to being a remedy animal. They have to be docile, unflappable, simply trainable and all in favour of interacting with individuals. The coaching course of often begins at six months of age and might final for 3 months to a 12 months, relying on the talents that the proprietor requests. She mentioned most of her patrons, who pay $5,000 and up for the educated minis, are skilled girls who’ve labored within the well being care and training fields and need to use their horse to assist others.

Chocolate Sundae a miniature horses in training as a therapy animal for seniors at Faithful Friends  in Bonsall.

Chocolate Sundae, one of many miniature horses in coaching as a remedy animal for seniors at Faithful Friends Mini Horses in Bonsall.

(Charlie Neuman/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Because miniature horses are more and more well-liked as remedy animals, San Severino mentioned she has seen many abuses within the breeding business. She hopes to make use of her social media platform to lift consciousness about unscrupulous practices. She warns that miniature horses ought to by no means be offered earlier than they’re a 12 months previous. Some breeders are promoting foals at three to 5 months of age when they don’t seem to be absolutely weaned or mature sufficient to go away their moms they usually haven’t obtained any coaching.

San Severino and Smith mentioned they nonetheless miss Peabody however they’re grateful for the time that they had with him and the a whole bunch of 1000’s of followers he generated to assist promote their message concerning the worth of miniature remedy horses.

“All I wanted to do was find a therapy horse for elderly people in the neighborhood. I had no idea I’d find a therapy horse for the world,” she mentioned.

Baby Sky a miniature therapy horse at Faithful Friends Mini Horses in Bonsall, eats alfalfa.

Baby Sky, the very first miniature remedy horse at Faithful Friends Mini Horses in Bonsall, enjoys a meal of alfalfa on Friday.

(Charlie Neuman/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

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