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Pony Flies from California to Memphis to Become a Therapy Horse at Southern Reins

Updated: Oct 28

FedEx Flight 440 into Memphis International Airport had some precious cargo aboard when it landed yesterday afternoon. A jet-black pony named Ben flew from Oakland, California to his new home in Memphis where he will be joining the herd of therapy horses at Southern Reins Center for Equine Therapy. He was greeted on the tarmac by Southern Reins’ staff, volunteers, and his owners Kristen, Amelia, and Natalie Vann who were excited to welcome him to Memphis.

The Vann family relocated from California to Memphis and have generously loaned their beloved horse Ben to the nonprofit. “Oakley Ben” is a thirteen-year-old Dales pony measuring 14.2 hands tall who is dearly loved by the Vann family, participating in dressage, trail rides, and even the annual neighborhood Fourth of July parade.

Kristen Vann, Ben’s owner says, “I originally got the idea to donate our beloved Ben to an equine therapy center after a dear friend brought her five-year-old daughter over to our house for respite from cancer treatment. She loved animals, especially horses, and begged to ride Ben. We put her on his back and I led her around for more than an hour. That day I saw Ben in a whole new light. It was like he had found his calling.”

Southern Reins’ Executive Director, Jill Haag expresses gratitude saying, “We have been looking for a pony like Ben for a long time, and we can't wait to see all the achievements he will make possible for our participants at Southern Reins. It is so wonderful to roll out the red carpet here on the FedEx Express tarmac to give a warm Memphis welcome to the newest member of our team. We are incredibly grateful to the Vann family for reaching out to us and supporting our program in such an incredible way."

Since 2015, Southern Reins Center for Equine Therapy has provided equine-assisted services to individuals with disabilities and hardship throughout the Mid-South. Using the healing power of horses, Southern Reins’ programs celebrate ability and encourage participants to achieve, aspire, and amaze.

Ben had quite the welcome party waiting for his arrival in Memphis including the Vann family, Southern Reins staff, and members of the FedEx communications team

Ben taking his first steps in Memphis after his flight from California and being greeted by Southern Reins Program Director Sara Zurenko
Southern Reins Program Director Sara Zurenko welcoming Ben to Memphis

Natalie and Amelia welcoming Ben to Memphis and wishing him luck in his new job as a therapy horse at Southern Reins

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