by Marty Metzger
You know that old saying about the best-laid plans? So it was for Kimberlie Hovey, who, at a 2016 reunion in Tennessee, made an innocent, offhand comment to her aunt.
Hovey had organized the family gathering at a rented, rustic cabin. She then lived in Timnath, Colorado, but most relatives resided in Georgia and Florida, where she’d been raised for several years. When she showed her aunt Jennice Boykin some cute online photos of miniature horses and ponies, Boykin eagerly contributed to the equine conversation.
Boykin had recently become aware of a neglected, pint-sized stud in her town, St. George, Georgia. The malnourished mini was confined to a small pen with his dam and sister, both of whom he was breeding! As much as she wanted to rescue him, Boykin’s stalls and paddocks were filled with her own horses.
More frustrating was that a quick inquiry determined the tiny stallion’s inept owners were eager and willing to sell the 2-year-old mini. Hovey became distraught. “I just had to get him out!” she recalled.
That abrupt declaration about an unseen animal 1200+ miles away caused a domino effect of texts, phone calls and online queries after Hovey returned home. First, she researched boarding facilities near her northern Colorado home. Meanwhile, Boykin did the auntly thing by insisting she purchase the mini for Hovey, which she did.
The agreement was to have him gelded (castrated), then squeeze him in and maintain him at Boykin’s farm for just three months, including feed, vaccinations, farrier expenses, etc. Hovey had to move “Clyde,” a.k.a. “Little Man,” immediately thereafter.
Hovey, a Colorado native, already owned and raised pet pigs. Her family had owned an exotic game farm in Atwood, where her father kept, among other creatures, a female African lioness. Hovey remembers the Game & Fish Department bringing them an endless string of orphans—raccoons, skunks and foxes—to rehabilitate. Childhood chores included bottle feeding the feral babies.
Then her parents divorced. With her brother and mother, Hovey (née Lauer) moved in with Aunt Jennice, who at the time trained Arabian horses in St. George.
Her “exotic” childhood gnawed at adult Hovey’s heart, eventually compelling her to purchase mini pigs, one of the few exotics legally allowed. In August, 2013, “Daisy” the pig joined the family and went everywhere with Hovey, including PetSmart and her kids’ football games.
So many people fell in love with the little sow that Hovey purchased a breeding pair in 2014. Under the name ”Divine Swine,” she began filling orders for very carefully selected pig parents. She screens all potential adopters to assure each animal will fit in with each family’s specific lifestyle and have a forever home.
But when it came to the mini horse her aunt had found, Hovey’s property wasn’t large enough to accommodate another critter, and boarding costs seemed astronomical. So she devised a plan to pay those fees: Acquire a second mini to rent out for children’s parties. She was certain that revenue would more than cover board and associated bills.
The stay-at-home mom found her perfect party boy in Georgia—“Romeo,” a 14-year-old, 11 hands high, snow-white gelding, who was already trained as a lead-line pony. Divine! She was also given a free little mini mare (now dubbed “Georgia”). Hovey next located an affordable boarding stable in Fort Collins. Even more divine! But when it came time to retrieve her mini trio from down south, the (pony) party seemed over.
She flew out to Georgia, bought a trailer, and rented a truck to pull it. But within hours came shocking news that the City of Fort Collins was going to develop the boarding stable’s land! Hovey, who’d already paid a month’s rent in advance, would have to move her newly acquired minis within 90 days.
Excitement degenerated from whimsical into worry as allotted time at the boarding stable was running out. There was only one thing for a confirmed animal lover to do: She and husband James told their realtor to put their house up for sale and begin a search for acreage.
Rip those pages off the 2017 calendar! In March, the Hoveys’ Timnath house went on the market. In July, it sold. But closing on the 10-acre Severance property they’d bought wasn’t until August. They desperately hunted for an immediate, interim place large enough for the huge family: Kimberlie and James; sons Cody and Caden, 16 and 13; 7-year-old daughter Addison; nine little piggies; three miniature horses; three dogs; and a cat.
Whew! Found it, the one and only adequate address—a double-wide trailer parked at the end of the Loveland/Fort Collins Airport’s runway!
Divine Pony Parties is now delighting little girls and boys with costume-themed celebrations. Romeo often dons a stylish unicorn horn and child-safe spray paint/glitter when giving rides to beaming children. Little Man/Clyde simply looks cute while accepting treats from fans. Georgia, a solid black mare with a prominent star on her forehead, is currently in training.
What began on a whim is now progressing, well, divinely. Besides birthday parties, Hovey and her little friends have also entertained at senior living centers and a real estate company’s grand opening. Hovey’s mother, who hated her urban Fort Collins home, has moved into a charming mother-in-law suite on the farm (she’s a divine house sitter/substitute animal caretaker).
Hovey had been concerned that abruptly uprooting her children from friends, schools and the adjacent Timnath park might traumatize them. However…“They absolutely love it!” she happily proclaimed. “They all instantly took to their new lifestyle. Addison even volunteers to help me feed every night.”
To see adorable photos of delighted children with divine ponies, visit Divine Pony Parties’ Facebook page at https://facebook.com/divineponyparties/; for prices, contact Kimberlie Hovey by FB msg via that page, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.