Chincoteague pony with cross-shaped markings makes lasting mark on 17-year-old Anna Beer

CLARKSTON — An Everest Collegiate High School student’s love of a horse has drawn her closer to God. Now she’s written a book about that love in an effort to draw other people to God, too.

Anna Beer, 17, of Clarkston, wrote and published “The True Story of a Dreamer’s Faith,” about her encounter with the Chincoteague pony. While Dreamer’s Faith lived only briefly, she touched many lives.

Chincoteague and Assateague ponies are wild horses named for the islands on which they are found in Maryland and Virginia. The short (13.2 hands — or 54 inches, 137 cm) horses are rounded up each year and auctioned off, often on a “buy-back” basis as a fundraiser for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company that takes care of the herds. Buy-back horses are released back onto the island to resume the life they have known for hundreds of years. There are approximately 150 feral ponies in the area.

The horses became famous in 1947 with the publication of “Misty of Chincoteague” by Marguerite Henry. Anna’s grandmother still has a first edition of the classic children’s book and shared her love for the breed and the book with her granddaughters. Anna and her sister, Amanda, had traveled to the Chincoteague area annually for many years, dreaming of sponsoring a “buy-back horse.”

When Anna and Amanda saw Dreamer’s Faith — a filly with a white cross-shaped marking on her shoulder — Anna knew she had found her horse.

“I took the white cross as my symbol. She changed my life,” Anne told Detroit Catholic.

Anna’s grandparents sponsored the four-month-old horse in the name of their grandchildren in July 2015. The joy of the transaction was short lived, however. Dreamer’s Faith disappeared in September.

While many feared the horse had been stolen, on Oct. 15, 2015, she was found dead in some woods. The horse’s disappearance and later demise was covered in local and equestrian-related media with speculation about foul play. In reality, she had died from a fallen limb landing on her neck, breaking it, according to local media reports from the time. Anna said Dreamer’s Faith also had health issues that had not been discovered in time.

“People were talking about the bad side of her story, so no one got to hear the good side of her story,” Anna said. “So I said, ‘I’ve got to do something.’”

In addition to telling the true story about Dreamer’s Faith, Anna had another motive for writing the book.

“I had been discerning whether I was being called to the consecrated life, but I had discerned it wasn’t for me,” she said. Instead, “I wanted to find God in my own way.”

Anna wrote Dreamer’s Faith’s story as a way to show that God uses a variety of means in order to reach his children — including wild horses. “God uses different things for each of us,” Anna said.

Anna Beer, right, and her sister, Amanda, sell copies of Anna's book, "The True Story of A Dreamer's Faith," at The Eclectic Beachcomber in Chincoteague, Virginia, where the feral ponies are auctioned each year.

Writing the book took three years, with another several months for editing and publishing. Anna met her goal of having the book before this year’s main Chincoteague pony swim in July, when the ponies are rounded up and cross the Assateague Channel to be auctioned.

“We had originally ordered 100 printed copies,” Anna said. “By the time we gave some to family and friends, we realized we were going to need more. So we ordered another 100 copies and those sold out, so we bought 250 more.”

Comments about the book have been positive, said Anna said, who has long been writing stories, including science fiction and historical stories. Along with that experience, Anna credits her love of horses and other animals as inspiration for “The True Story of a Dreamer’s Faith.”

“I’m obsessed with animals,” said Anna, whose family has three other horses and a variety of other animals. “There’s a certain harmony about how they interact. They don’t stay mad about things that happen. It’s possible to make friends and be at peace with those who are different from them.”

Anna plans to go to college to study zoology and animal behavior upon her graduation from Everest next June. Even though a consecrated vocation no longer seems like Anna’s calling, she said she nevertheless has grown closer to God through her relationship with Dreamer’s Faith.

“I’ve learned from this whole experience that we all belong to God,” Anna said. “I don’t have to belong to a convent to belong to Him. I’m going to do it His way, not mine.”

"The True Story of a Dreamer's Faith"

“The True Story of a Dreamer’s Faith,” by Clarkston Everest Collegiate student Anna Beer, is available for $9.95 at: