If I were to ask you, “Would you like to hug a chigger?” you’d most likely reply, “Of course not! Who would?” A chigger is a nasty little bug…
But, I’ll bet you this little bug will change your mind.
Meet “Chigger”—Whispering Ponies Ranch’s smallest miniature therapy horse and the cutest bug you ever will meet!
She came to WPR from a neighboring farm at about five months of age, currently no larger than a Cocker Spaniel dog measuring eighteen and a half inches at the withers, (shoulders) and weighing in at forty pounds. She is a solid red sorrel with a tiny star on her forehead with soft, doe-like eyes and a fluffy red mane & tail—very tiny. (When she came to us, she already had physical issues that needed immediate attention. She is different than the other horses here at WPR, because she is actually a dwarf miniature horse [a dwarf of a dwarf], also known as a “dwarfie.”)
Although she is very small in stature and somewhat physically “incorrect” by horse-breeding industry standards, Chigger brings a huge smile to every face no matter where she goes. As one of our main therapy horses and an instant favorite to those who meet her, she has the same effect on people no matter how big or small. (They all love her). What she may lack in physical perfection, she makes up for in spirit, and as a result, she stands as an inspiration for all—a fearless, proud little lady who holds her head up high and waves her tail in the wind as she struts her stuff with the best of them!
As adorable as all that sounds, though, when it comes to mingling with children, her gentleness cannot be compared, and in addition to her amazing therapy work, Chigger is our on-site spokes-pony for bringing awareness to the public about dwarfism.
“Dwarfism” is a genetic disorder that causes abnormally smaller stature in an individual of a species. In horses, it is very common for dwarf miniatures or “dwarfies” (because of their small skeletal frames) to endure one or more of the following physical challenges: the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other vital organs can experience organ failure due to restrictive function (which is terminal); a fatally compacted digestive system results in early death; crooked or malformed legs (and other bone issues) restrict movement; and severe arthritis causes constant pain. (These are only some of the reasons why we at WPR do not encourage purposeful breeding of dwarf miniature horses for the purposes of the “awe, how cute” factor.)
In Chigger’s case, this dwarfism has caused her to have a slight under-bite, crooked legs, a bulbous forehead, and a short nasal cavity. But her heart and lungs are in great shape, she has a hearty appetite, and her digestive system is healthy. Chigger is our special-needs horse. In addition to all the hay she can eat, we supplement her diet with a pelleted horse-feed, designed especially for senior horses for easy digestion, which aids in keeping things moving through her digestive system.
So far, Chigger has beat the odds. Many dwarfies “cross over the rainbow bridge” (a common term among horse folk when their beloved equine family members pass on from this world) by their second birthday. Chigger, however, was foaled (born) on March 3, 2012, so we are pleased to announce we will be celebrating her fifth birthday in a few days. She is in excellent health for a dwarfie, and we are optimistic that we will share many more years with this fluffy little red-fuzz-ball-of-joy! Nothing has stopped Chigger from having the most wonderful and positive effect on people.
This is due in part because she does not know she is different than the rest of the horses here…but then, that’s what makes her so amazing!
Chigger is just Chigger. She is not a show-horse, and she never will be. Nor is she a broodmare, and with all her physical constraints, she can never be a “momma” horse. She has always been, and will always be, simply the little fluff-ball horse named after one of the smallest, but spunkiest, of all bugs.
A lesson is present for those who have eyes to see: Chigger is not perfect, and yet somehow, in God’s work, she is. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (KJV). Besides inspiring kids to believe in themselves despite physical limitations, Chigger causes us adults to consider: Do we disqualify ourselves because of our own imperfections whether they be physical, character-issues, educational, or even health related? Do we compare ourselves to others we think may be prettier or handsomer, smarter or more academically intellectual, theologically astute or learned, or even those more financially inclined?
How often do we wrestle with our own self-worth between what God thinks of us—or what we think God thinks of us—versus how we observe others’ opinions of our own value? How does that affect our hopes and dreams? How often do we feel unqualified for the tasks we are given?
It boils down to this: In the same way that God can and does use this adorable little horse we know as Chigger—in all of her imperfections and physical ailments and in spite of her special needs—God can and will also use us. He wants you to be you. Not someone else…but you. Just how you are, and just how you were born to be. Exactly how He created you to be.
When you commit your walk with Him, He will become your perfection. These are just some of the reasons we love little Chigger!
So I’ll ask you again: Wouldn’t you like to hug a Chigger?
NOTE: Chigger has her own Facebook page, and we are developing more information for people to read and share. We love her just the way she is! For more information and updates on this darling, visit https://www.facebook.com/Chigger-the-Miniature-Therapy-Horse-624804060975149/
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