Saving Sammy: From overcoming adversity, to helping others heal from their own traumas
HALIFAX, N.S. -- Jayson Baxter, producer and co-host of CTV News at 5, shares part five of the personal story of Saving Sammy, his family's beloved racehorse.
It’s funny how life can take the most surprising turns when you lest expect it.
When we found out that Samspace was still alive, on Dec. 3, 2019, my family and I were shocked and thrilled. When we managed to get Dad’s much-loved and long-lost racehorse safely out of a kill pen three days later, we were flooded with relief.
I knew his rescue and return home would be so good, not only for Sammy, but for my 77-year-old father Denny Baxter, who’s never managed to get horses and harness racing out of his blood.
“I’m having the craziest dreams,” Dad told me about a week before his arrival. “Every night I’m racing him all over the place against the top horses.”
Sammy and Denny taking a winter stroll.
We also knew enough about Kristy Falconer and Serenity Acres to know he’d live out his days well cared for in a loving environment, surrounded by other horses.
What we didn’t expect, what never crossed our minds, is that our Sammy, who has been through so much trauma, would almost immediately begin to help people cope and heal from their own emotional scars.
Kristy is certified to instruct Equine Assisted Learning. It’s her passion. She knows how it’s helped with her own trauma and she offers it to anyone who wants to try it. At its essence, EAL is a gentle, team-based form of therapy, where the horse is the teacher.
Just six days after his arrival at Kristy’s Ardoise, N.S. ranch, Sammy was with her in the riding arena – teaching people to slow down, breathe, relax, and communicate with not only words, but also body language. Sammy shows empathy and he knows how to draw it out of people too. He has a gift and he’s willing to share it.
Jayson learning to ride Sammy bareback.
Over the past year and a half, Sammy has worked with military vets and first responders dealing with PTSD. He’s also brought moments of levity and healing to grieving parents, and taught at-risk youth how to be kind to each other and responsible for their actions.
I know I speak for my father and my family when I say, as proud as we still are of his racing career, we are even more excited about this next chapter of his new life. He has filled us with much joy and he continues to spread joy to others – good friends and strangers alike.
Thank you to the Standardbred Retirement Foundation for saving our old boy. Thank you to Kristy, Richard and “The Farmily” for making sure Sammy is living a full life, while impacting the lives of others. Every horse should have it so good. To learn more about equine assisted learning and Serenity Acres go to serenityacresranch.com.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and watch the series. Thank you to everyone who has reached out with kind words of encouragement through emails, texts, tweets, phone calls and posts.
My family is grateful.
Denny and Jayson Baxter with their beloved horse Sammy.