ARGYLE -- Lillian Narrow is missing two feet, but that hasn't stopped her from completing a 5K and taking dance classes. And now she's found a kindred soul who seems to understand what it's like to be a little different.
For the last eight months, Lillian, a 14-year-old freshman at Mansfield High School, has been bonding with Midnite, a miniature horse with a deformed leg who gallops again with the help of a one-of-a-kind, $14,000 prosthesis designed and donated by ProsthetiCare of Fort Worth.
"You don't expect to see a horse with prosthesis, but when you see it you can't help but admire him. It makes you want to try harder. I've been told my whole life I can't do things, but it's all about the attitude," said Lillian, whose feet were amputated when she was an infant.
"I've been told I inspire people, but to see that little horse is amazing."
Her father, Scott Narrow, arranged for Lillian to meet Midnite after reading in the Star-Telegram about the tiny horse's new lease on life at Ranch Hand Rescue, an animal rescue and sanctuary in Argyle, this year.
"My original thinking was Lily might be able to inspire them. But it inspired us. The best part was that this little horse knew Lily was different. When they met it was really unusual. It was like they knew each other," Scott Narrow said.
Bob Williams, director of Ranch Hand Rescue, says he's seen that before from the 4-year-old horse.
"He just knows when people are different and the kids just take to him," Williams said. "He gives them hope."
'She's proved us wrong'
That's what happened when two 9-year-old friends with their own differences met Midnite.
Emmy Raney of Denton, who was born with spina bifida and had a lower leg amputated in April, and Abby Gieske of Corinth, who was born without one hand, forged a similar connection after they were introduced by a pal, 8-year-old McKenna McNeal of Denton.
Emmy's mom, Donna Raney, brought her to meet Midnite before she had the amputation.
"We saw how when they turned him out he would just run, and as a mom, I was thinking, as soon as Emmy gets her prosthetic she would run, too. And she has," Donna Raney said this week as the three girls brushed Midnite's black coat.
"We found that her seeing a child and her seeing a horse was way better than her seeing an adult because she relates more," she said.
Emmy and Abby say Midnite helps motivate them.
"He inspired me because he went through a lot of things, and I thought I could do it, too," said Emmy, who is Donna and Keith Raney's fifth adopted child.
Julie Gieseke said Abby has a hand prosthetic but prefers to manage with just her arm. She plays basketball, ties her own shoes and even golfs.
"When she was born, my husband, Jody, and I worried about all the things she wouldn't be able to do. But she's proved us wrong about everything," she said.
Having friends who also face the world from another angle is reassuring for Abby, Julie Gieseke said.
"She told me it's nice to meet other kids and animals with differences. She knows she's not out there alone," she said. "She loves horses, and then you have one with a difference like she has -- you don't get any better than that."
The three girls have formed their own little support group.
Abby and Emmy both see doctors at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas, and when Emmy, who hates needles, needed some blood work done, Abby and McKenna backed her up.
'A state of mind'
Williams and Midnite made some hospital rounds themselves for a while, but the little horse is currently grounded.
"We've had more than 200 requests to visit hospitals and handicapped facilities, but it's just too dangerous to move him around. We can't risk it anymore," said Williams, who is trying to raise $17,000 to buy a custom trailer that could put Midnite back on the road.
Lane Farr, director of operations for ProsthetiCare, said Midnite's story has spurred worldwide interest from people wanting prosthetics for their animals.
"We've had calls from horse owners, dog owners and even people with pygmy goats," Farr said. "It might blossom into another business. We're going to look into it next year."
Farr said it has also been a blessing to meet people like Lillian, who now volunteers at Ranch Hand Rescue.
The spunky teenager says she doesn't let anything hold her back.
"I don't like people calling me handicapped. I think handicapped is a state of mind," she said. "The only obstacle you have is the one you put in front of yourself. You see that in Midnite when you see him walk and be a regular horse."
Steve Campbell, 817-390-7981