Warrior Kid meets Warrior Horse
The goal of Warrior Horses for Warrior Kids is to match 500 warrior kids to noble warrior horses to fight alongside them in their battle with pediatric cancer.
The program, which began in California, is spreading to the east and recently the first warrior on the east coast met his Warrior Horse at Rocking Horse Stables, Pleasant Corner.
Warrior Horse Urban Legend, known as Bandit, met his warrior, Sam Mackaravitz, of Emmaus, at the stable.
Bandit was dressed for the occasion in the red, white and blue of Captain America, Sam’s favorite superhero.
Sam developed leukemia at age four. He is now 10 and has been in remission for two years.
The Warrior Horses for Warrior Kids began with another young man who had cancer.
Ryan Melendez, who had very high risk acute lymphoblastic cancer, survived and wanted to help others.
Most of the horses are Arabians or half-Arabians but other breeds are acceptable.
Ryan had been a national champion equestrian and the people at his stable helped him during his illness.
Ryan’s mother, Crystal, reaches out to local chapters of the Leukemia Lymphoma Society.
A person has to collect $1,000 for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society before their horse will be given a Warrior Kid.
Amy Kerr said it took only a week for them to raise the $1,000 with the help of her husband Michael and his father Terre Kerr, of California.
“We had a lot of support,” Amy said. She said she started riding at age six and had the mare who was carrying Bandit three months before he was born. As Bandit aged and was trained, she rode him to multiple national championships under saddle and in carriage driving.
“It’s unlike anything I can think of and I hope Sam will get that feeling,” Amy Kerr said.
Lindsey Ilgenfritz is now showing him in 4H carriage driving classes.
“There he comes,” said someone who recognized the car. Sam and Melissa, Jeffrey, Donna and Bill Mackaravitz, parents and grandparents, came to the barn. Some of them were wearing F.O.S. (Friends of Sam) shirts.
When Sam saw his idol, Captain America, a look of surprise spread over his face. He had a bag of carrots and Bandit was aware of them even before the bag was opened. Amy Kerr showed Sam how to hold a carrot so Bandit could accept it safely.
Amy Kerr told him there were two rules: no running and to not walk close behind the horse.
Sam was shown how to curry Bandit going in circles to bring the dirt to the top and then how to brush him going with the lay of the hair.
Amy Kerr and Sam worked together to put on the various pieces of harness, then Sam held Bandit while Amy Kerr put on his bridle.
The carriage was waiting in the indoor ring. Amy Kerr got in and Sam followed, not too sure of himself, but he quickly got the feel for it as Bandit went around the ring. Amy Kerr and Sam changed sides and Sam took the reins. After several rounds of the ring, he was ready to drive the horse between and over obstacles.
When they cleared an obstacle, watchers cheered them on.
A special Warrior Ribbon will be awarded to Warrior Horses at national events and will be sent to their Warrior Kid with a photo. Perhaps even a shoe worn and/or a lock of hair from their Warrior Horse will be sent as well.