Behind the Scenes with Peeps and her Rescue Crew

While I was in Kentucky for the Summer Series and Pony Finals, I finally got to go to the Kentucky home of the insta-famous miniature dwarf rescue, Peeps (@mylittlepeepers). Peeps’s barn is at Mad Season LLC, helmed by Alex Granato and Josh Dolan. Peeps made her debut to much fanfare at the Nations Cup event at WEF in the winter, with the Chronicle writing a great article about her backstory and Alex and Josh’s efforts to rescue miniature horses.

I got to see Alex and Josh in Tryon (see pictures of them being awesome below).

Alex Granato making it look easy.

Alex making the big jumps look easy.

Josh in the Hunter Derby.

...and Josh after the Hunter Derby.

…and Josh after the Hunter Derby.

But, alas, I didn’t get a chance to see Peeps and her mini friends, who made the trip as well. Cut to Kentucky Summer, when I walked in to a large commotion on vendor row on the way to my car: it was everyone crowding around Josh and Peeps. I lived in L.A. for 3 years and I never saw a celebrity get as much attention as Peeps was getting. It was impossible to walk past without stopping to interact with the tiny-hooved starlet. And she was just as sassy as I had hoped.

“No, I will not date you.”

The next week, I was able to stop by Mad Season’s barn in Kentucky and catch Peeps and the crew at home… of course, I took some pictures.

This was the scene when I arrived: happy minis of all colors chowing down in front of a field straight out of the Kentucky version of the Sound of Music.

The Mad Season Crew has rescued 42 minis (and counting) since their initial encounter with the farm where they found a large number of them neglected last year. Josh Dolan, who is the unofficial CEO of the mini operation, is working on establishing a non-profit organization that will focus on bringing in the minis, evaluating and rehabbing them, then finding them forever homes when they are ready. I’ll mention it at the end, but should you ever want to adopt a mini for your barn, home, or just apartment (I wish), Josh is always looking for new homes for them. If you’re interested, email him at hintall (at) aol.com.

Back to the tour: they have eight permanent minis at the barn right now: Peeps, Apple Pie, Moon Pie, Apple and Moon Pie’s new baby foal, American Pie, Magnolia, Roanie, Swirl and Teeny. While I was there, they were rehabbing the two new additions, Swirl and Teeny.

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This is Apple Pie and her new baby, American Pie. To say that American Pie was cute would be like calling George Morris a “good” rider.

American Pie is also super friendly, probably as a result of spending lots of time around the barn dogs. At one point, he came over and licked my knee as I was taking pictures.

This is American Pie’s dad, Moon Pie. I don’t know who did his hair like that.

All of the minis have their names on their little mini halters. Lots of tiny, adorable gear for these guys.

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This is Alex Granato, with his retired horse whom the barn is named after, Mad Season. His little buddy is Roanie.

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Roanie and Mad Season are best buds. This pair is a great example of how a mini can give the gift of friendship to a retired horse.

Peeps, I believe you have met before.

The fabulous Peeps with Apple Pie in the background.

Abbey Bibbings, a student of Alex's at Mad Season, where she specializes in jumpers and mini wrangling.

Abbey Bibbings is a student of Alex’s at Mad Season, where she specializes in jumpers and mini wrangling.

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This is one of the new rescue minis, Teeny. Josh and Alex care for minis with dwarfism, which makes them smaller and can sometimes cause them to have difficulty walking. Teeny’s legs were turned in while she walked, but she was able to get around.

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This is Swirl, the other newly acquired rescue Mini. Swirl was adorable but heartbreakingly couldn’t stand well on his own due to his dwarfism. Josh has already ordered a custom wheelchair (similar to one for dogs) to help Swirl get up and moving again.

Josh holding Swirl. I couldn’t help but feel for Swirl and Teeny after all they had been through, but seeing all the other minis thriving under Mad Season’s care made me glad that they were finally getting the love they deserve.

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When not rescuing minis, Alex and Josh can be found winning Grand Prix and Hunter Derby events on the big guys.

Suffice it to say that all of their horses are beautiful and I would most certainly steal one if given the opportunity.

This is Honeycomb, a jumper who is actually a bit of a rescue himself. They found him very malnourished and after many months of difficult training and help from a famous horseperson, he’s getting close to ready for the big events.

Josh Dolan: Mini Wrangler.

Josh Dolan: Mini Whisperer.

We got everyone together for a group photo:

We got everyone together for a group photo: (l to r) Moon Pie, manager Sophie Rizzo, Teeny, Roanie, Alex Granato & Mad Season, Apple Pie, Abbey Bibbings, Peeps, Swirl, Josh Dolan, Magnolia, American Pie and Triton (the German Shepherd)

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Alex giving Roanie some love during the group photo.

In Kentucky, the minis can only stay out of their stalls for a couple hours because the grass is so hearty, but in Wellington they can roam around the barn, where they take most of their cues on how to behave from the dogs.

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In some ways, I identify with Josh and his journey. A year ago, I had no idea I would be traveling to horse shows full-time and visiting a group of rescue minis in Kentucky, but I can’t imagine being any happier getting to do it now. Similarly, just over a year ago, Josh and Alex were Grand Prix riders running a successful show barn. Then, by chance they began rescuing minis and it has taken on a life of its own, with Josh spending his free time fielding rescue requests, finding homes and taking care of a field full of minis. He probably never guessed a year ago his free time would include designing a trailer for miniature horses, but now it’s hard to find a professional rider more passionate about a cause.

I asked him if he had to choose between Grand Prix or minis, which it would be. He didn’t full-on answer but said that when he gets to the barn, the first thing he does is check on his minis. It may be because he knows the big guys are going to be okay, but it may be because finding a home for a neglected mini is probably just as rewarding for him as a blue ribbon.

Interacting with all the minis at the barn, especially with the new rescues, I can’t help but think about all the other neglected minis out there. It’s very sad to think that these special little animals can be abused, but I am unbelievably thankful for Josh and Mad Season’s efforts to find them and give them better lives. I wish I had a barn so I could adopt a mini–I can’t think of any better addition to a stable as a friend, mascot or just calming influence. An adorable rescue mini will be around to remind you a rail down or missed lead change isn’t that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. Josh is constantly finding new minis that need homes–if you want to give one the love that it deserves please email him at hintall (at) aol.com, and stay tuned for updates on his upcoming foundation to help them.

Peeps, reminding you who runs the show around here before you leave.

Peeps, reminding you who runs the show around here before you leave.

She may have some competition for the title of most cute with American Pie, though.

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