Frankie is an eight-year-old Shetland pony who is too big for her boots. Lisa Coffey, of Racing Hearts Therapy in Moorooduc, was first graced with this little bundle of fun when Frankie was admitted to her equine hospital to have her feet X-rayed. Frankie’s feet were lame, which led to her diagnosis of laminitis. The solution to assist this ailment was to reduce the sugar in her diet — and what girl wants to be told that? Frankie’s leaser at the time found it immensely difficult to keep her off fresh spring grass, her go-to sugar hit.
As luck may have it, Lisa had just received a referral for a new client, who was a small nine-year-old girl called Freya. At Racing Hearts Therapy, all of the horses are gentle ex-track horses and it’s Lisa task to suitably pair them up with clients, so Frankie came to mind.
“There wasn’t a chance I’d pair little Freya up with a track horse so I tried pairing Frankie with her,” Lisa said. “Frankie had been lovely to handle during the X-ray experience so I thought we’d try. They loved each other from the start. From their very first session in August they’ve been paired ever since.”
And, just like that, Frankie joined the team, although for a while there she thought she was the coach. Despite her size, Frankie had a habit of taking charge of her team by chasing the track horses and cornering them in the paddock. She would stand her ground and stare them down — until she met Ray, that is.
Ray is an eight-year-old thoroughbred stallion. Just like Frankie, Lisa found him to be a little aggressive towards the other horses. So she thought: “Hey, why not put the two aggressive horses together?” When they were first paired, Frankie stood her ground with Ray; she chased him, ran him into a corner, galloped around him in circles, squealed a lot, kicked and generally bullied him. Just like a calming ray of sunshine, Ray simply looked at her. He then proceeded to follow her around, which threw her off her game. After a tense initial stand-off, they are now the best of friends.
Now, separation anxiety hits hard. When Ray is away at a competition, upon returning Frankie somehow knows that it’s Ray in the float and not a different horse friend so she proceeds to call out to him, and then he responds to her. Bless! This couple are all about feed time. Nothing puts them off their food. Frankie is partial to Cheezels, bread, carrots, bananas and so much more. She doesn’t discriminate on food despite her need to avoid sugar. Ray on the other hand avoids snacking and sticks to his main meals. It’s ideal for Frankie because she gets two servings of treats. With their yards side by side, Ray’s feed bucket somehow always ends up in Frankie’s yard despite Lisa placing it far away. Funny about that!
Not only is it Frankie’s job to look after Lisa’s small clients, she also takes her role as the hospital assistant very seriously. When horses come in for surgery and are all bandaged up, Frankie stays in the stable next door to keep them company. Lisa finds that horses are settled if they have a friend for company — especially because they can see her — but this wee lass can’t see them too well. The instant they see her they become settled. Frankie is a little legend who is always on hand to help out, especially when clients hold a fear of horses. She woos them with her looks and caring attitude.
And Ray’s favourite quirk of Frankie’s? When she does her cute ‘excited’ dance. “She dances in the arena like a baby goat does,” said Lisa. “She’ll jump in the air and squeal.”