The Coeur d'Alene Press via Associated Press

TWIN LAKES, Idaho (AP) -- Aaron Rittenour has a decision to make.

Good Samaritans have offered to help the young horse owner by paying his vet bills, giving him money, even to replacing his horse.

"It's kind of hard," Aaron said Tuesday, the day an article on his sick horse Scamper ran in The Coeur d'Alene Press. "It's all overwhelming. I'm not sure what we'll do."

Aaron's story described how the 15-year-old built a pole barn on his family property in Twin Lakes to house the horse of his dreams, Scamper, an animal he bought with his hard-earned money doing odd jobs.

Shortly after purchasing Scamper for $850, Aaron learned the horse had hyperkalemic periodic paralysis, a muscle disease caused by a genetic defect.

Instead of riding him, Aaron was left watching his animal suffer through painful spasms and seizures nearly every day.

As soon as the story ran, the Rittenours' phone started ringing. People who wanted to help Aaron had found him. Those who couldn't find him, called or e-mailed The Press.

"I guess it's shocking people are responding in such a way," said Andrea, Aaron's mother. "It's kind of overwhelming, but I haven't even had time to think. I don't know what else to say."

The offers include money to help pay Aaron back for purchasing a horse the previous owner wouldn't take back after Scamper first had its seizures, regardless of if he plans to buy a new one or not. They also include a replacement horse, from a pair of owners who would donate one of their own, to a Coeur d'Alene couple who would buy Aaron one.

"We thought it would great knowing (the horse) would be loved," said Dana Arnold, an Athol woman willing to donate her own stock. "It seemed like he really loved the horse, and it broke our hearts."

"We'd love to see this have a happy ending," said Pat Templeman of Coeur d'Alene, who with her husband, Bart, would be willing to purchase Aaron a new horse. "You can tell his heart is just breaking."

Some people are contacting Aaron to offer different cures for the disease and want to put Aaron in contact with different vets, including Liz Hickling, a horse breeder in Edmonton, Alberta, who read the story online.

"It's a manageable disease," she said. "It requires open space. This horse needs turnout, exercise is the very best thing for HYPP horses."

Aaron said he's unsure what he'll do.

Should the disease prove unmanageable, he doesn't know if he'll go through caring for a horse again, only to be disappointed.

"If he decides on the horse, he's more than welcome to have him," Dana Arnold said.

By Tuesday afternoon, three people had offered a horse, while a few more offered different cures for the condition.

"I'm very thankful and grateful that people are willing to do this," Aaron said. "I didn't expect that to happen."

Aaron and the family plans to make a decision on all the advice and offers sometime down the line.

"I thought it would be a little story," Aaron said. "I didn't think it would amount to what it did."


Information from: Coeur d'Alene Press,

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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