Ponies for a Cause - Two Young Girls Making a Big Difference
By Emily Penn
Twelve-year-old Diquita Cardinal is a dedicated horse lover on a mission. Two years ago, her cousin Tianna Skyrpan, now 13, was diagnosed with cancer, and she has been undergoing chemotherapy ever since. “Tianna and I have been best friends since we were very little, and we always loved horses,” writes Diquita, whose parents Devanee and Buddy Cardinal own and operate Cardinal Ranch, just north of Valemount, BC. Inspired by the support that Tianna and her family, who live in Lac La Biche, Alberta, have received during their struggle, Diquita wanted to find a way to help other families going through similar experiences.
Opportunity presented itself in pony form.
“My Uncle Doyle ended up with a herd of ponies,” says Diquita, describing how her uncle gave eight ponies to herself and Tianna to share. “We thought it would be a good idea to sell the ponies and donate the money to cancer research.”
Photo courtesy of Devanee Cardinal
After two years of chemotherapy to fight her cancer, Tianna Skyrpan's treatments will come to an end this Christmas.
“Lots of people gave Tianna’s family money to help during her cancer,” Diquita explains. “We thought giving money to charities would help other people that might be in the same situation.”
And thus, Ponies for a Cause was born.
But before the ponies can be sold, they have to be trained, a process which the girls are undergoing together. “Before selling each pony, I would like him or her to be safe around children and all the basics like hoof trimming, trailer loading, and grooming,” says Diquita, who is an accomplished Level 4 Parelli student. Tianna, a Level 1 Parelli student, helps out wherever and whenever her health allows. “We will help the ponies gain trust in people and find them good homes while having fun and spending time together,” says Diquita.
Since implementing the project, nicknamed P4C, the girls have already sold one pony, a mare named Treasure. Seven ponies remain – four mares, two foals (both colts), and a stallion.
The girls plan to keep the stallion and one of the mares for breeding, to ensure the continuation of P4C. The two foals, both colts, will be sold in the future when they are a bit older. “The three mares are our main focus right now because they are old enough to be sold,” says Diquita. “We just need to work on them a little longer.”
The training process is somewhat problematic logistically speaking for Diquita since the ponies live on her uncle’s property in Alberta. “I don’t have as much time with them as I would like,” she says. “When I visit, I work with the ponies for a long time every day. Tianna and I are both homeschooled so we can always fit in time for horse stuff. When I am in Alberta, the usual routine is to do a few hours of school work, then off to the ponies!”
“Ponies for a Cause is an opportunity for the girls to be together and enjoy the ponies…a way for Tianna to stay involved even as she became weaker,” says Devanee Cardinal, Diquita’s mother, who is understandably proud of her daughter and niece. “They are unselfish in their actions to give away any profits from their labour.”
All the profits from P4C will be donated. “We will keep accurate records of expenses and income. We will be responsible to reimburse ourselves, or Uncle Doyle, for expenses, and donate the remaining amount,” says Diquita, who admits that, “keeping track of the money stuff is hard…we are learning as we go.”
The girls’ goal for P4C is to donate $1000 per year to cancer research. “It feels good to raise money for people that need it,” says Diquita. But, she concludes, “My favourite part about Ponies for a Cause is spending time with my Uncle Doyle and Tianna and my family out in Alberta.”
For more information about Ponies for a Cause, please visit www.cardinalranch.com/#/ponies-for-a-cause/4562916801 or contact Diquita directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.