LORETTO - A Loretto senior was 36 years old and had seven children before she started her love affair with raising miniature horses.
Genny Biter, who has lived in Loretto for some 40 years with her husband Dan on their six-acre farm, fondly looked at the enlargement of the photograph of her first horse, Teddy, on the wall of her kitchen.
"We had Teddy for 28 years," she said.
Photo for the Mirror by Laura Dunham
Genny Biter of Loretto cares for her miniature horse Ashley Acres Princess (Cee-Cee) that she has owned since 1999.
At one time, Biter said she had 10 miniature horses that she showed all over Pennsylvania and as far away as Virginia.
"In 1999, we purchased a mini, Ashley Acres Princess [Cee-Cee], at a Greencastle auction," Biter said. "She was only 31 inches tall when she was born in 1986."
The mini was 13 years old when Biter purchased her, and now she is 27.
"Over the years," Biter said, "we have owned 15 to 20 horses. We got our first Class B mini, Bitsey, for the grandchildren. She was just 36 inches tall. Then we got the mini, White Cloud, in 1997 who was just 6 years old."
Biter showed the horses at local shows and used them to perform community service.
"We did fundraising pony rides for different organizations and showed the minis at many local 4-H events," she said.
Rae-Ann Effinger of Cresson was one of the organizers of the Make-a-Wish Foundation fundraising event held in September at the Cresson Sportsmen's Club.
"One of my jobs was to try to get someone who would come to the grounds and give pony rides free to the many children attending," Effinger said.
Effinger said Biter volunteered "without hesitation" to bring two of her ponies, giving rides for more than five hours.
"I remember one little boy coming by and sadly saying, 'I wish I had the money. ... I would just love to ride one of the ponies,''' Effinger said.
According to Effinger, Biter told the boy, "There's no charge, just hop on."
"What a priceless look came over his face," Effinger said. "We so appreciated Genny Biter, her husband, Dan, my husband, Paul [who has horses] and Biter's granddaughter, Candace, for all they did that weekend to bring joy to the children attending."
Many of Biter's grandchildren were involved in the 4-H program.
"The miniature horses are easy for the little children to learn to handle and to care for," Biter said.
The minis live as long as regular horses and require some veterinarian care. The Biters have scaled down the number of horses on their farm now, owning two miniatures, two quarter horses, one driving pony and one buck-skin large pony colt.
Miniature horses are ideal for children and adults who love horses but are intimidated by the size of the larger animals, Biter said.
Biter has worked part-time at the Penn State Extension office as a 4-H program assistant for Cambria County for the past seven years. Although her husband recently retired after working as a contractor for the past 40 years, she has no plans to retire.
"I have the best of both worlds - taking care of my husband, working part time at a job I love and really just being semi-retired," Biter said.