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Two small members of the horse family—donkeys and ponies—are not often ridden but sometimes perform nearmiracles with troubled children. Donkeys, compact and cute, share the universal equine trait of wary alertness. Children find that they must earn the trust of the donkeys before being permitted to approach and pet them. One boy, Gil, learned from this experience how to soften his approach to people as well, so as not to scare them off with his formerly aggressive attitude. Personal Ponies is a national organization that provides small Shetland ponies to families of disabled children. Families unable to keep a pony at home are often given one o visit and care for, while the pony is boarded with a nearby trained volunteer. When a child outgrows a pony (or, in some sad cases, succumbs to his or her illness), the animal is returned to the program and placed with a new family; since the typical life span of the ponies is about 30 years, each pony may serve many children.

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