He knows he’s clever. His stable buddy, a thoroughbred named Magic, will race across the arena to show off his ability with speed. Yet, the stocky pinto pony knows the trick to beating Magic: before the lengthy thoroughbred can reach the other end, the quick- witted pony runs across the middle of the arena to cut him off like a Volkswagen Bug dodging in front of a Lamborghini. Magic falls for it every single time. Not only is the pony clever, he’s also ridiculously adorable and perfectly matches his name, Cupid XO. Before Cupid reached his current home, he was owned by a wonderful, petite woman who purchased him not only for show but to also ride for pleasure. However, she became extremely ill and could no longer care for her sweet and loyal pony. She wanted the absolute best for Cupid; she did not want to be his last chance at having a fulfilled and valued life.
Red Bucket Equine Rescue was the answer to her heart’s desire. Not only does Red Bucket work to restore and rehabilitate the equines rescued and surrendered to the Ranch, but it is also committed to the precious promise of finding every single one of them forever homes. Unfortunately, it is far too common for these beautiful animals to go through many different owners, facing high risk of abuse or neglect. The Red Bucket promise is an aspiration to break that cycle. When Cupid was surrendered and arrived to the Ranch in his fluffy winter coat, his personality was quick to show. Jenon Mathes, Director of Equine Care, Team Training and Safety Officer, recalls, “He put us all on notice that ‘He’ was interviewing for a new prospective family.” And it didn’t take him long to pick. Thankfully, someone had already read his mind. Jenon recounts that Red Bucket is always careful to find adopters who will make the right match for a forever home.
Judi Reiprecht had been a team member at the Ranch for almost two years when she first saw the newcomer and new instantly that this was a match. When asked what her first impression of Cupid was, she immediately exclaimed, “Oh, it was love at first sight!” As the days went by, Judi was always there to groom him, care for him, and give him the love every pony craves. Jenon remembered seeing the relationship blossom: “She would stay longer than normal to offer a little extra TLC, groom and take him for walks. Judi didn’t want anything other than to love him and I think we all knew it would be forever.” Besides his adorableness and great manners, Judi was attracted to Cupid’s personality. “He is such a crack up!” said a laughing Judi. “I remember thinking, ‘I have to have him in my life.’ He just had to be a part of the family.”
Judi wasn’t the only one attracted to his personality. Susanna Woeste, Red Bucket team member, commented, “My memories of him are just what a little cutie pie he was and what a nice disposition he had.” Cupid is very confident, and that confidence mixed with cute and a dash of wit seems to attract everyone who sees him. “He embodies cute,” remarked Susan. “He’s so cute that people are absolutely ridiculous around him! However, he doesn’t act like a typical pony. He carries the persona of a horse.” Perhaps, this sweetheart caused people to live in the present while enjoying his charismatic magnetism. It was obvious at the Ranch, Cupid thrived from the attention of others and whoever adopted him needed to provide a space where he would be surrounded by others who could in return give him lots of love. Red Bucket believed such a dream was possible in the perfectly matched forever home.
For the last four years, Judi has been providing Cupid XO’s forever home. At the boarding facility that Cupid resides with Magic, people are coming in and out for lessons and bringing their children who absolutely adore him. The little girls come to the stables and go straight to Cupid to groom him and braid his mane and tail…He remembers his showing days so he paws at the ground to get carrots and cookies from them. He’s so loving and everyone knows him! He is the stable favorite. Cupid loves the attention because it allows him to be interactive, so for this special little pony these last four years have been bliss because of Judi’s investment and Red Bucket holding true to its promise.
Jenon explains in her own words adoption in its purest form: “I think when adoption occurs…it’s a mutual bond between equine and adopter. These precious animals that are in our care cannot be looked at as what they can do for us…but what we can do for them. Judi had that in her sights as she moved forward…no unrealistic expectations, just the desire to care for a pony needing a loving, forever home.” Thankfully, Cupid did not suffer like many Red Bucket residents have faced, rather his former owner took the right steps to putting him in a situation where he could find another wonderful family. “What is so important about Cupid’s story,” said a passionate Susan, “is that his previous owner, in her crisis, did the right thing: she believed in the Red Bucket promise.” Because of her belief and the belief of so many others who have invested in Red Bucket, Cupid XO embodies the hope that any equine longing for love and care can also attain their own forever home if we are willing to provide them this opportunity.
Story by Christiana Betts