I’ve been a huge animal lover all my life. When I was a kid my parents wouldn’t let me have a dog or a cat so I collected frogs and snails. When I was seven I found a snail who had a very pretty black and yellow shell. I named him “Stripey” and kept him in a wood box which I decorated with rocks and plants. Everyday I fed him fresh lettuce, and everyday Stripey came with me to school. I think the other kids and my teacher probably found it a little strange, but as an only child with a need of an animal friend, I was adamant to carry my “snail box” with me everywhere.
Later on ponies completely stole my heart. Living on a small island in Stockholm, Sweden, the trek to the stables took an hour and a half. I walked to the train which took me across the bridge to the city. Then I took the sub way, switched to another subway, then the bus for 20 minutes out to “Djurgården” which once upon a time was the King of Sweden’s hunting grounds. Then walk through the woods for 15 minutes to arrive at the stable. I was 13 years old at the time. And all of this just to have a chance at grooming a pony for an hour before I would head home again.
Nowadays, I’m spoiled with animals. Since my company books them on a regular basis, I get to be around all kinds of animals all the time. I’m so lucky! I have wrapped pythons around my neck, chased geese, had a tarantula sit on my head, cuddled baby bunnies and baby kangaroos. I even kept eight baby chicks under heat lamps at my house that I bought for a celebrity Easter party. We later found farm homes for all the babies. My good friend Andrew owns the farm housing all of our barnyard animals and miniature ponies. I go and stay there all the time. All the animals live together in a giant corral. They have their own internal hierarchy and it’s not hard to know who is the alpha when it’s food time! Sometimes when we take the big horses out for a ride, we let the whole herd come with us. The alpacas, sheep, goats and mini horses run behind. There is no need to herd them because flocks always stay together. I love watching the miniature ponies roll on the ground and swim in the rivers we ride through. It’s a blast! The alpacas are the “guardians” of the flock and if they don’t like something they will spit!
I believe in the equation: kids plus animals equal happiness. There is something special about kids and animals together. I think kids learn a lot about nature, nurturing and caring when they get to be around animals. And there simply is nothing cuter than a baby petting a bunny or a tiny kid riding a tiny horse…