…The First Horsey House Call

One theme that often presents itself is that good things can come out of bad things.  Just as Camp Casey somewhat created its own path, so did Horsey House Calls.

For a few years after its inaugural summer, Camp Casey was set up as a series of one-day horseback riding outings.  Families got to ride, groom, eat, and craft but it was a one-day experience that happened at several farms once a month.  We called them “retreats.”

Well, the first-ever Horsey House Call (and what would eventually take our program to where it is today) happened at one of those “retreats.”

I’ll never forget that day because it was the time I realized the severity of our campers’ health.  We were holding our final retreat of the summer and a family had driven a long distance to participate.  The family had two adorable girls- 8-year old, Lindsay and 4-year old, Kelly.

Kelly had been diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a fast-growing, highly malignant tumor which accounts for over half of the soft tissue sarcomas in children.

Within about an hour of the family’s arrival, Kelly had a nosebleed that caused our volunteer-nurse to panic.


According to Kelly’s medical form, we learned that her white blood cell counts were too low for her blood to clot and that a nosebleed could kill her if not stopped immediately. They rushed out and spent hours at the hospital while Kelly endured a blood transfusion.

We felt terrible.

We were relieved when heard later that day that Kelly was okay but were saddened that the girls got shortchanged when it came to the fun day they were expecting.

But, it was August and we didn’t have any other programs scheduled.  So, we decided to plan one on the fly and bring Camp Casey to them.  My good friends, Ashley and Madison, offered to loan out a horse, truck and trailer and we hit the road.


We showed up with a horse named Senora who turned into an instant therapy horse.  Kelly and Lindsay screamed when they answered the door.  We told them to grab their boots and meet us by the swing-set.

It was October and a time of year when Michigan weather can be unpredictable.  Even though the forecast predicted rain, the day couldn’t have been sunnier.  We stayed for about three hours grooming, riding, making crafts in their living room and eating pizza.

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