From the pink bows and ribbons in her mane to the pink polish on her hooves, Glory, a deaf horse owned by breast cancer survivor Dawn Galia, was ready for her trail ride in Dover.
Galia, the executive director of the Center Place Fine Arts & Civic Association in Brandon, said the "Pink Your Pony" event, small in numbers but big in heart, was a chance to celebrate those who survive breast cancer and to support those who continue to fight for a cure.
Gailia helped organize the event with Rose Folaron, also a breast cancer survivor.
"We pinked our ponies and went out on the trail," Galia said. "It wasn't a whole lot, just 11 of us, but the money we raised [$150 a person] we incorporated into the Plaza Bella [breast cancer awareness] event."
Galia and her daughter helped Glory get into full pink color for the Oct. 20 Pink Your Pony event. That included hours of washing and brushing Glory's white coat, painting her hooves pink, braiding her hair and incorporating into it pink ribbons and bows.
"It took us two hours to bathe her the night before," Galia said. Her horse is a registered Paint horse, which means, according to the American Paint Horse Association, that she had to "exhibit a minimum amount of white hair over unpigmented (pink) skin."
The paint horse is marked by some percentage (great or small) of white hair over un-pigmented skin, according to Your Guide to Paint Horses, at PaintHorse.com. The rest of the horse is covered in another color, which could be brown, tan, black or gray or any combination of the above.
Galia said her horse is all white, however, the reasons for which might account for why Glory also is deaf, she added.
"We got her when she was 4-years-old, we just fell in love with her and brought her home," Galia said.
Training followed, and Galia said she read a lot of books and watched a lot of videos to help her and her family learn how to ride a deaf horse.
"When you're riding her you have to use specific cues because she doesn't respond to voice, because she's deaf," Galia said. "You need cues for everything you ask her to do."
For example, "you squeeze with your feet while you loosen the reins to get her to go forward," Galia said. There are cues, too, for such things as when she "backs up, side passes, trots, cantors, lopes and gallops," she added.
While Glory has overcome her hardships, so, too, has Galia, who said she was first diagnosed with breast cancer at age 39. The diagnosis came as a shock, after careful testing, she said, because there was no family history with the disease.
"They told me it was environmental, it didn't run in the family at all," Galia said. "So it's frustrating. Was it something I ate? Was it something I drank? They can't really tell you, but mine was not genetic. Sometimes, yes, it just happens."
Galia stressed the importance of self-examination.
She found a lump but a subsequent mammogram found that it was not cancer. Her doctor ordered a needle biopsy, which also came back negative. "My doctor wasn't happy with the results so she ordered an open biopsy," Galia added. "I had a good doctor."
Now, cancer-free for six years, Galia said she is heartened to see the efforts undertaken each year in October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
"Anytime you have to face your mortality it changes the way you look at things," Galia said. "You just have to be a positive person and know you're here for a reason and think about what's the next thing you can do to help somebody else."