Double HP Sanctuary & Learning Center

January 12, 2017

 


And here is a photo of HotShot taken Dec. 16, 2016, going for a romp in the snow before heading back to the barn for supper and shelter from the below-zero temps. that we are experiencing here in South Dakota.
We want to share with you some stories and photos about some of the rescued horses who live at our DoubleHP Sanctuary & Learning Center (501c3 Horse Help Providers, Inc.) in South Dakota.  We are possibly the oldest horse rescue in South Dakota. We organized in 2001 and received our 501c3 more than 10 years ago. We have rescued and helped to re-home hundreds of horses over the years, and we are available to assist Law Enforcement in cases involving horses.  

Through our Volunteer and Horsemanship programs, we help people learn about horse care, horse costs, horse behavior, safety, and riding. But what we spend most of our time and money on is caring for the 14 rescued horses who live here. These are horses who were not adopted or were adopted but returned.  Slightly more than half  of our rescued horses are emotionally, mentally & physically sound; and they help people learn in our horsemanship program. We have both riding and non-riding activities. All of the horses here  are very much loved and have been promised a forever home here.

HotShot, OTTB

HotShot will be 27 in 2017! (We were a year off on his age, but this year we took a look at his Jockey Club papers so now we have his official age.)  His big story this year is that the day before the Kentucky Derby, one of our local TV stations called to see if they could come out and do a horse story for Derby Day.  When I told them about HotShot, they were very interested.  So they came out and ended up staying for four hours!  When we took a look at HotShot's official papers, we learned that one of his great grandpas was Bold Ruler.  This made an excellent Derby Day story for KDLT.


Here is a photo of KDLT Reporter Jack Eble. HotShot knew it was his day, and he loved the cameras and attention.

Jewel,  APHA

We rescued Jewel as an untouched 2-year-old.  She has always been pretty right-brained and requires a very confident rider.  This year, we HAD a confident rider in our barn for a few months.  Olivia, a traveling nurse, was in our area for a few months and hung out with us on her days off.  She and Jewel hit it off famously, and Jewel even got to go on her first trail ride and acted like she had been on a hundred trail rides.


This photo is Olivia and Jewel at Newton Hills State Park near Canton, SD in August 2016.

Lily, APHA

Lily was rescued from severe starvation as an untrained 3-yr-old. Her owner left Lily and friend out in an open field in a South Dakota winter, with no food, no water, no shelter. Lily's friend died, but Lily somehow survived. Nobody adopted Lily when we offered her. Her future was too unpredictable.  She had had no hoof care and was not sound. We gave Lily a home here with us and have watched her bloom over the years.  This year she and her human partner officially graduated from Parelli Level 3.  They scored a 3++ on their Liberty audition in September 2016 and are now advancing through their Level 4. 

Lily and Darci in 2016. 


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The Gelding Village

January 05, 2017


Crash, owned by Nikki Rebel, was the 100th stallion gelded

Photo Credit: Cathy Threadgill
January 2017

I was recently reminded why I did not pursue medical or veterinary school.  Let’s just say that I don’t do well with needles, knives, and blood. So, when I decided to attend an Operation Gelding clinic last month, it didn’t take long to realize I could only view the most graphic tasks from behind the lens of my camera.  Thankfully, Dr. Freeny didn’t have to treat me from collapsing after a vasovagal response.  But, I digress.

After nine months at the office, it was definitely time to visit a clinic and see the process first-hand. There was no better opportunity than to be in Flower Mound, Texas, to celebrate 100 castrations for long-time Operation Gelding participants Lacey Edge and Kaye Garrison.  

Lacey hosted her first clinic in 2010.  She had learned about the UHC and the Operation Gelding program through the AQHA while doing research for a school project. At the tender age of 13, Lacey decided that she needed to help fill a need in her area by hosting a no-cost clinic. After gelding 20 horses (the UHC’s limit for funding) that first year, she couldn’t be stopped. Now in college, Lacey returned home for last month’s clinic and has plans to offer one nearer her school in the spring.  

Although Lacey was the driving force behind the clinics, it takes a village to make them successful. Her mom, Kaye Garrison, has the registration tasks down to a science. She says that advertising is easy at this point – they almost always have a waiting list – and the rest of the process includes good communication and follow up with participants. 

Many organizers say that finding a vet is often the challenging part, but Lacey and Kaye have been lucky to find two amazing vets over the years!  For their first four clinics, 4-H Veterinary Science Club parent and local vet, Dr. Shepard volunteered his time. After the girls completed 4-H, Kaye was again on the search for a vet and was referred to Dr. Freeny, a local vet who had participated in an Operation Gelding clinic during her junior year at Texas A&M University. Once Dr. Freeny was on board, she found another vet willing to donate clinic space and convinced her medical supply company to provide syringes, gauze, and other necessary supplies. This is her third year as lead vet with Operation Gelding, and she is truly committed to the cause, not only donating her services, but creating a dynamic learning experience for students who volunteer.

The weather couldn’t have been better the day of the clinic… sunny with a high of 72 degrees, not normal for mid-December.  Kaye picked me up at the hotel and we drove to the site.  Dr. Freeny outlined how the day would proceed and we were ready for the first patient.  I watched and photographed the procedure (taking upwards of 300 photos), but as fascinating as it was, it was just as interesting to talk with the owners and hear stories about their horses.  

The 100th stallion, Crash, was aptly named after busting through several fences to be with the herd even though he was just a few weeks old.  The nurse mare foal, now two, also survived a bout of strangles, but has experienced a full recovery. Because of his calm demeanor and standing only 12.3hh, he will grow up to be the grandkids’ pony.  

We also met a mini whose owners chuckled when they claimed he was there for “brain surgery.” True to form, he was a little spitfire both before and after the procedure. The little guy had been through a lot, being rescued only a few months ago after being attacked viciously by a pack of dogs.  
  
Both owners realized the importance of gelding and were grateful to participate in the program. 

Ten volunteers participated on the day of the event: Lacey, Kaye, Dr. Freeney, her husband, three veterinary students, a college sophomore, the supply company rep, and a professional photographer.  Total volunteer time, including pre- and post-event tasks… 116 hours.  
 
I’ve always felt a sense of fulfillment when fundraising and writing grants so that the UHC can support no- and low-cost clinics. It feels good to do good.  But even more so, I feel an extreme sense of gratitude for the amazing people who make these clinics happen…the organizers, the veterinarians, the facility owners, the husbands, the horse owners, the students, and everyone else who donates their time and expertise.  

These volunteers are the village that makes a gelding!  


P.S.  We’re also excited to announce that Hope in the Valley Equine Rescue will hit 100 stallions gelded at their clinic this month!


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December 2016 A Home for Every Horse News

December 21, 2016

Hey All!

I rarely get to come to the A Home for Every Horse faithful followers in first person, but I am so excited to do my first personal blog post right before the holidays! For many of you, we have met in person or via a phone conversation; but for those of you that haven’t met me, my name is Mariah Hammerschmidt. I have been the program coordinator of A Home for Every Horse for four years. This program is one of the most rewarding programs I have the opportunity to work on. I am so honored to be able share the tough times that turn into the most gratifying moments with over equine 600 rescues each year.

A Home for Every Horse allows us come together as a community to help rescues through many programs, like the Equine Comeback Challenge. But there are also those once-in-a-lifetime programs that leave me feeling inspired and astounded at the sheer generosity of spirit that AHFEH generates. I am speaking, of course, about the Clydesdale Surprise that myself and my team got participate in in early November of this year.

In the spring, Purina, A Home for Every Horse’s title sponsor, contacted us about the opportunity of a lifetime. We had the opportunity to present a very special equine rescue with a very special surprise. After months of planning, many secretive phone calls and visits, the big day had finally arrived.

On what was the first very cold day of the winter season, the A Home for Every Horse team (myself included), the Purina team, a video crew, and a very special group of eight celebrity horses, made their way up to Fairplay, Colorado to visit the Far View Horse Rescue. We were met by a group of over 30 rescue volunteers who were more than willing to show us around their rescue and give us a view of “a day at the Far View Horse Rescue”. As the snow fell the volunteers worked tirelessly doing daily chores and working with the rescue horses.

As the day was nearing an end, Purina had one more surprise (other than their visit) for the volunteers at Far View Horse Rescue. After gathering all the volunteers together, thanking them for their hard work and dedication over many hours throughout each year, a full Budweiser Clydesdale hitch arrived, pulling two tons of donated Purina horse feed.

It was an inspiring sight: The Budweiser Clydesdales moving down the hill as the snow began to fall. The gentle giants stood quietly at the gate as the Purina feed was unloaded. The Far View Horse Rescue volunteers were incredibly surprised and amazed at the generous donation, as well as its stunning delivery.

To say that it was an honor to be involved with such an amazing surprise, really does the amazing day no justice. If you missed the video, please make sure to go and watch. Not only do you get to learn about the work Far View Horse Rescue does for their horses, and the Budweiser Clydesdale horses are as majestic as ever. We are so excited to have been a part of this, and thank Purina for their endless dedication to rescue horses. 


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Roman and Bud

December 20, 2016

We adopted Roman, a 12 yr old OTTB who won over a quarter of a million dollars for his owners before he was cast away, Roman is a gorgeous black 16.3 gelding. Winning races all over the country. When I had inquired on Roman with Diana, the lady who runs Voice for Horses, I decided I definitely wanted Roman to be mine forever, but also asked her if she had any 'husband' horses...and she said that one of his pasture mates was a 15yr old Belgian Gelding, Bud, Amish bred with one blind eye, who did a couple years as a Mounted Police horse, until his rider got injured - I said SOLD! (I did withhold the eye tidbit from the hubby until he was home...hehe) She waited for me to be ready - which took about 6 weeks - to ensure the stalls were done, the paddock safe and secure (from dogs entering). She put me with a great shipper who literally brought them to our driveway. It was a piece of cake, an expensive one, but I wouldn’t change a thing!


I have been heavily involved in animal rescue, mostly dogs and cats, and the occasional critter, for over 20 years. When I was 26 I adopted my first OTTB from VfH, and had her until she passed; in the meantime I also adopted another OTTB, Sttich, from VfH as my 'riding horse' who I boarded at my friends Hunter/Jumper farm. He has also since passed. There was no doubt that once I moved to the country and had acreage, pasture and a barn, I would be adopting more and finally having them at home. I was just thoroughly blessed that VfH had two more for me! Diana saves a lot of horses and it was a joy to be able to now adopt four horses from the same great lady!!!


We rescue - we foster - we adopt – it’s what we do. I am unfortunately very aware at how many animals are cast aside every year so there is no way I would ever go to a breeder for any animal. Nor would we ever breed our own, although fostering babies is a blast and I hope to foster baby horses someday too!


I am always aware that issues may arise, health concerns, behavior problems and the like - but - when you rescue an animal those things come next...you know going into it - but you don’t care, because going to a rescue is first and foremost, deal with the rest later. Being able to literally save an animal who didn’t have a certain future is the most heartwarming thing I ever do. I love fostering dogs - especially expectant mothers, and knowing that not only did we save a life - we saved many! With horses, we know that they have horrible futures ahead if they go to auction or a meat buyer - or any buyer could just be a liar and lead to an unsafe future. A future with an ugly end. For so many this is the case.


Roman, my love, my baby boy, has his own set of issues, none that we won’t eventually work out. I adopted him in April of 2016, and his last race (a win!) was in July of 2015. He’s wound pretty tight, but as to be expected from a horse whose only job was RUN FAST. My first time on, I lasted about 6 seconds in the saddle. Thank Goodness for helmets! I haven’t fallen off again, but he has tried. He needs to learn how to just relax - and now - so do I! In time we'll get there. We don’t strive to show or compete, we just strive to be partners for the next 15+ years. For now, we play, we graze and we get snacks and take walks down our dirt roads (yes, I lead him). All of the kinks will work out in time. Neither of us are in a rush. We love life! 


Bud, of course is the complete opposite. He is a big ole happy lazy horse, and he’s perfect for the hubby. His bad eye doesn't bother him and it adds character. Neither of our horses have flaws - they have things that make them special and unique. He’s beautiful and sweet and a total pig in his stall. He’s perfect, OK, except he wants to eat fingers after all of the treats are gone. Slobber Monster.


I’ve worked and been around horses for many years, but having them at home – it’s just amazing!!! There really isn’t much better than looking out my windows and seeing them graze, there’s nothing better than taking a few steps out of the house to give my boys love and treats. They're my pets just as much as my other animals...they just cost a lot more. But - they smell much better too!


~Jamie and the Misfit Farm.


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The Christmas Pony

November 27, 2016

December 2016 

For how many years have children been putting “a pony” on their Christmas lists?  Thankfully, I didn’t get my wish until just over a year ago, but many kids do. Don’t get me wrong. Horses and ponies do wonderful things for kids; kids learn responsibility, build confidence, learn trust and patience, as well as the importance of preparation, goal-setting, and follow-through.  Plus, they are outside and away from phone screens, TV screens, and computer screens getting fresh air and exercise. There is indisputable evidence that horses can be good for kids.

But, owning a pony is a big responsibility, literally and figuratively. Consider these questions: What happens to the pony if the child loses interest?  What happens to the pony when your child goes to college?  What happens if the pony gets injured and is no longer rideable? Even if we could have afforded a pony, my parents would have never kept it after I left for school.  

If you believe that your child is ready for a Christmas Pony, please pledge to be responsible owners. 

First, do your homework and ask for professional help to find the right pony for your child’s experience. Purchasing a pony that isn’t a good match for your child’s goals and experience usually ends up with an unwanted pony. They don’t come with gift receipts and 180-day return policies (although many reputable sellers will agree to take a horse back after a short trial period).

Second, understand the costs of ownership. To help you consider all costs, including some you may not have thought of, the UHC has created a Cost of Ownership resource sheet, which is available on the website. 

Third, plan to work with a trainer or experienced horse person if this is your first horse. It is worth the investment.  Finally, have plans in place to deal with specific circumstances such as the questions posed above. Expect the unexpected to guarantee the welfare of your new equine partner. 

In an ideal world, owners would keep (or at least provide for) their horses until they cross the rainbow bridge, but it may not be realistic to keep a pony for 30 years. Let’s face it, things happen. Responsible owners, however, know what options exist for their horses before they become unwanted.

So, are you absolutely, positively sure you are ready to jump in so your young one can jump on?  

You might consider having your child unwrap some other options first to ensure his/her interest is long-term. Great gifts include riding lessons or monthly trail rides.  Partial and full leases are also excellent options to learn the responsibility of ownership without the long term commitment. Volunteering at a local stable or rescue is another option, which can be a gift to both your child and the rescue. 

Thinking back on my childhood, volunteering at a rental stable was the best thing I could have done. I had fun, I was out of my parents’ hair, it didn’t cost us anything except some good laundry detergent, and I learned all those things that I mentioned above.  Plus, it kept me out of trouble!  

It might have taken 25 years, but I was finally ready for my Christmas pony. 

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Road to Recovery: Beau the Belgian draft horse

November 18, 2016

Shoreview, Minn. [July 15, 2016] – The lights had gone out.

Randy Hanshaw was in the darkest trenches of the horse world, a kill buyer’s lot. Hanshaw, a long-time horse enthusiast, and operator of Pasture Time Equine Sanctuary in Fredericksburg, TX, a participating shelter in Equine.com’s A Home for Every Horse program, was on a mission to save a horse and give that horse a home.

He wanted to buy them all, but he could afford to save only one draft horse that day. Hanshaw had already identified the horse to add to his rescue: A Belgian draft mare to be named Corinna. Corinna was standing next to an emaciated Belgian gelding. When Hanshaw looked into the horse’s eyes, he saw nothing but a vacant expression – the lights seemed to have gone out. Hanshaw mulled the decision that so many horse lovers have to make; he didn’t know how, where, or even if he could afford to save both horses, but he knew he must also save the nameless horse. He bought both the Belgian gelding and Corinna, making room in his trailer, his barn and his heart for two more horses.

Like so many horses sold at auctions, the Belgian gelding’s history was lost in the shuffle. The only detail that remained was that the horse wound up in Louisiana, headed for slaughter. Without a past name for the horse, Hanshaw names his new friend Beau. Beau’s first matter of business was to get checked out by Hanshaw’s veterinarian. The veterinarian had bad news: Beau looked very old, perhaps 25. Though he stood 17.2 hands, he was 500 pounds underweight and had a severe upper respiratory infection.


Beau-Before
“He doesn’t have long to go,” Hanshaw’s veterinarian said.

Despite the grim prognosis, Hanshaw decided to try and save Beau. He looked at what it took to protect his health, introduced him to the other horses, and found a diet that could put some weight back on the horse. Hanshaw had hoped that good old fashioned country living could help Beau recover and, if not then, at least he’d be comfortable in his final days.

Corinna had similar dire health problems. Much like Beau, she was severely underweight and getting worse. Corinna had severe diarrhea and was refusing all food including hay. Trips to the veterinarian produced only temporary results, and everyone was preparing for the worst. Nevertheless, Hanshaw was confident he could help his horses recover.

Shortly after having his teeth floated, Beau was able to start eating hay again. The changes helped the horse return to a normal fed consumption level. The color also started to return to Beau’s coat, going from muddy brown to a brilliant roan color.


Beau-After
The transformation took just six months. Today, Beau is at 100% of his proper weight. Hanshaw says the lights are back on in his eyes, and he has a new romance in his life. An older Belgian mare originally from Pennsylvania has taken a shine to him.

Hanshaw attributes both Beau’s and Corinna’s reversal of fortunes to a loving home, pasture mates, veterinary care, and Equine Senior® horse feed.

Randy’s story is provided as an individual’s experience with Purina® horse products and is not a representation of actual results that can be guaranteed. Because of factors outside of Purina Animal Nutrition LLC’s control, individual results to be obtained, including but not limited to: financial performance, animal condition, healther or performance cannot be predicted or guaranteed by Purina Animal Nutrition LLC.

 

For more information, visit www.purinamills.com/horse-feed.

Purina Animal Nutrition LLC (www.purinamills.com) is a national organization serving producers, animal owners and their families through more than 4,700 local cooperatives, independent dealers and other large retailers throughout the United States. Driven to unlock the greatest potential in every animal, the company is an industry-leading innovator offering a valued portfolio of complete feeds, supplements, premixes, ingredients and specialty technologies for the livestock and lifestyle animal markets. Purina Animal Nutrition LLC is headquartered in Shoreview, Minn. And a wholly owned subsidiary of Land O’Lakes, Inc.


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G-G

November 04, 2016

I started volunteering with Pasture Pals Equine Rescue in May of 2015. I came here looking to get back into horses. I had leased a horse for a while, even tried my hand at barrel racing until life happened (aka 3 kids). It had been quite a while since I'd been around horses, when I contacted Alex for a meet and greet. During my next couple of trips to the barn, I noticed a horse who appeared to be used to not being noticed. He didn't seem to have high expectations of people that he did not know. I've got a reputation among the horses for always having cookies, but this one horse didn't have any teeth so cookies weren't something he could enjoy. I went to the store and bought apple sauce cups to keep in my car just for him.

I wish I had recorded the first time I gave Mr. G one because he was so excited, so happy, so surprised that somebody (other than that amazing woman who saved his life) thought of him. It also appeared all the horses in his field felt the same way because no one bothered us while he ate his treat. This was the moment he became my "G-G". Over the next couple of months, I found I adored all the horses and donkeys, but I always looked forward to the end of feeding rounds, when we'd get to the "west olive" barn and I’d get to see my man.

I called him my baby, even though at 32 he was older than me! He didn't care because he was spoiled rotten. I brought him and his buddy Doc a baby pool to play in since they shared a love for water. I drove Alex insane some days with my constant worrying over G-G. G was always happy to see me when I'd get there. Sometimes I'd go down at night after it reached a certain temperature in the winter to put his blankie on and he was as always grateful for the extra attention.

When I had my second back surgery and had to stay away for a while to recover, the time apart was hard on both of us. The day I finally returned, G-G was just as happy to see me as I was to see him. He literally pushed past everyone else out there to get to me. He pressed his head into my chest and there we stood, me sobbing and him just breathing a sigh of relief that we were together again. We spent the next months just enjoying each other's company.

When the weather finally got warm enough this year, I spent an early afternoon giving G-G and his buddy Doc a bath since they loved the water so much. Being that he was an older horse and never seemed in a hurry for much, it was rare to see G move at anything other than a quick walk unless it was snowing (he loved the snow). After their baths, I let them out in the big pasture and never have I enjoyed watching a horse run and jump and roll in the dirt as much as I did that day. It was like G's final gift to me because less than a month later my baby got sick.

He got so sick so quickly. I don't think any of us were truly prepared to lose him. I know I wasn't. But I could tell from watching him and looking in his eyes that he knew it was time. Never have I spent so much time and put so much of my heart into a horse that I never had any intention of riding. Even if he had gained all his weight and was finally to that point, I never wanted to ride him. I only wanted to love him, to make up for all the years he wasn't treated like the king I knew he was. Even the heavens were sad the day he crossed the rainbow bridge; it rained all day that day.

I miss him every day. Every time I drive by the barn I still look for him. But I know there's so many more out there who need their faith in humans restored, who need someone to spend a little extra time with them. I thank G for everything he taught me and all the love we shared for each other. He showed me that even though an animal is older and maybe a little needy, doesn't make their life any less meaningful, any less important than anyone else's. He would've died if he hadn't come to Pasture Pals, if Alex hadn't taken a chance on him, if she hadn't done everything possible to bring him back from the brink of starving to death when he got here, I never would've had the opportunity to spend an amazing year and a half with him.

It's taken me awhile to get over losing G-G, but there's still so many horses at the rescue who need love and attention and to be shown that people aren't scary, that I couldn't just walk away after he died and I'm very glad I didn't. I hadn't realized so many others trusted me until another of my favorites, Cinnamon, gave birth to her first baby, who we named Spice. I went to see her a few hours after she gave birth and it was as if she breathed a sigh of relief that someone she'd known and was good to her for the last few months of her life, the first human she had let touch her was there. She showed me her brand new baby and then proceeded to lay down and take a nap. Cinnamon trusted me the way G-G did and it wasn't until this moment that I realized it. I was honored and touched that she wanted me to watch her new baby so that she could sleep. (I've had 3 kids.. I know what a tired momma she must've been!) There will never be another G-G for me... But without being at the rescue, being around these magnificent creatures, I'm lost. I need them as much as they need me. 

At the end of the day the only ones I have to thank for showing me another side of an animal I had loved my entire life are G-G, Alex, and Keith. I cannot wait to see what adventures the future has in store for me at Pasture Pals ER! 


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The Season of Giving

November 01, 2016

November 2016

November is a time to give thanks for what we have and to give help to those who don’t.  It feels good to give back, and there are so many ways to do it.  

Every non-profit organization ramps up their fundraising activities this time of year, and programs such as #GivingTuesday, which conveniently follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday, have made it easy for people to get into the end-of-year giving spirit. Maybe the UHC version of #GivingTuesday should be #GeldingTuesday!  I’ll have to work on that.

Yes, the season of giving is on my mind, and I didn’t want to just talk the talk, so last weekend I decided to walk the walk.  

My family hosts an annual Halloween party. Rather than just revel with ghouls and goblins, and the hornet’s nest I happened to discover along the haunted trail, we asked guests to purchase eyeballs for $5 each and donate them to one of three causes. We had a personal connection to each cause and, obviously, found a creepy or graphic photo to represent each one. The first was the high school theatre program represented with images of zombies from last year’s production of Zombieland. The next image was of a pancreatic surgery for the great work being done at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.  Can you guess what the third image was for the final cause?  Well, the extraction of testicles, of course!

Thanks to the generosity of our guests, we were able to turn a regular party into a giving party (fundraising really does have the word “fun” in it), and raise a couple hundred dollars for the three causes. I was happy to write a check to support the Operation Gelding program and hope to do so again next year.  

I invite you to get out there and have some fun while raising funds for a cause important to you.  For the equine enthusiast, there is no shortage of organizations to which you can donate cash, items, or time.  And no gift is too small.   

Although we work year-round to find solutions to reduce the number of unwanted horses, this time of year just seems to be the time we work hardest.  Not only are organizations focusing on fundraising, but as most of you know, the actual need for these funds increases as winter arrives. One can never go wrong with a gift of feed and hay.

So, what am I thankful for?  So many things.  A good job, a great family, an old horse that thinks he’s all that… too much to list here.  I’m also thankful for the many organizations that better the lives of humans and horses, and I’m grateful for each and every person who supports causes important to them.

This Thanksgiving, thank you for giving! 


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Success Comes in all Shapes and Sizes: Josie’s Story

October 14, 2016

Many years ago, I opened my riding school and needed a few horses with the correct temperament for teaching children to ride.  This was more difficult than I expected it to be.  One of my searches took me to a “dealer barn” where there were hundreds of horses to choose from.  But I again thought I would be leaving without finding a prospective school horse.  Then, a little blue roan Mustang caught my eye and I asked to see this horse.  The owner stated that he was a nice horse, somewhat green, but possessing of the temperament I was looking for.  The horse had no name, only a freeze brand.  I put a deposit on the horse and needed to wait for the veterinary exam in a few days.  During this time I decided to call the horse “Joe”, after a horse my family owned during my childhood.  It turned out that “Joe” was a “Josie”- I had not questioned the statements of the owner but was equally as delighted to take the little mare home.  This part of her story is mentioned only because it affirms that in addition to having no name and no home, no one really knew her at all.  

Josie was aloof and seemed lost, with no apparent interest in getting to know any of the horses or humans on my farm.  The dealer had purchased her at auction, and I wondered how many auctions she had been to, how many “homes” she had been tossed in and out of.  She appeared to be depressed, and I hoped that time and some TLC would change her outlook on life.  
Josie was relatively easy to train and after a few years, one of our students wanted to buy her and take her home to her farm.  I agreed, believing that Josie would love all of the one-on-one attention.  However, the buyers would need to agree that in the event things did not work out, I would buy Josie back.  And, as it turned out, they could not keep her for the long term, so I did bring her back home.

By this time, we had new instructors at the farm, and they had very impressive credentials, particularly in regards to the horse show world.  When I brought Josie off of the trailer, they reacted by demanding that I take her right back to the barn she just came from, or take her to the next auction.  They pointed out her short neck, compact body and unrefined head, stating she was an embarrassment and they would never consider using her in the program.  They had previously made it clear that they wanted thoroughbreds or warmbloods for the school and taking this horse to a show was unthinkable. I kept Josie, and worked with her until the inevitable point in time when these instructors moved on to further pursue their personal goals and dreams.
The instructor who took their place also liked thoroughbreds, but she was open to teaching on this little mare.  Shortly thereafter, a little girl in our program went to her first horse show, with Josie as her mount. They won the reserve championship of the show.  At Josie’s second show, she and her rider won the reserve championship, and at her third show, Josie and her rider won the championship. Suddenly I was getting offers from other barns wanting to buy Josie.  But this time, she was not going anywhere.
Josie became our most popular school horse.  Whenever a show was in the planning, there would be a line-up of people wanting to show Josie.  Her smooth sitting trot, her sweet, kind demeanor and adorable presentation- she was always winning the blue ribbons.  By now, Josie had a large fan club.

Well, she has now been with us for 22 years, and, with a special group of young men in our program, we finally shaved her freezebrand to learn more about her past.  She is 29 and from Nevada.  Josie’s stall is adjacent to the front door of our barn, and through her Dutch door window, she greets visitors every day.  She is now a valuable partner in our equine assisted therapy program, where children and adults find healing through exercises with our horses.  Children in the foster care system are especially drawn to Josie.  She captures their interest, engages with them, and when they eventually hear her story, she provides them with hope, such an important feeling for those who need to heal.
I don’t know how long we will be blessed to have Josie with us, but I am exceptionally happy to have found her so many years ago.  This beautiful mare has helped to change the lives of so many people, and I cannot imagine our school without her.



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Surrendered to a New Life: A “Chance” Encounter

October 10, 2016


Chance with Judith and Robert
In July of 2015, I received a call from a girl asking if I would rent one of my horse trailers so that she could move her two horses. She agreed to return the trailer the evening of the same day that she picked it up and arrangements were made.

She showed up early on the prearranged day, signed a rental contract and drove off with my trailer. She was picking up her two horses from her old house and taking them on a two-hour drive to her new place. She figured she could have my trailer back by 7 that evening.

When 7pm came and went with no call from her, I got a bit worried and contacted her. She said she was having problems with the new location, but would have the trailer back by 9pm. Well, 9pm came and went. I called her again and she still hadn’t left to bring my trailer back. I told her to keep the trailer overnight and have it back in the morning. 

5am the next morning, I get a call. The girl is in my driveway with my trailer and a “problem” we could discuss once I came outside.

In the pre-dawn light, I could see her “problem.” There were two horses in my trailer....

The two sorrel paint “geldings” were underweight and uncomfortable. Leading me to believe they had had a much harder life then being left in the trailer all night. When I asked her why her two horses were still in my trailer, she said the owner of the place she had arranged to keep them had kicked her out. She did not know why, but she felt the lady had “whacked out on her.” Having two horses in my trailer wasn’t the whole problem. Now she had no place to put them. Could she surrender one and board the other?

I agreed to accept the thinner of the two and Hannah (a volunteer) and I headed to the pastures to move horses around while the girl did the paperwork and the boarding agreement and her friend unloaded the horses. 

As Hannah and I kept the mares back (the “geldings” had to be walked through the mares’ pasture), the girl and her friend led the horses into the corral we had made available. The space was large enough for the two of them and, although the shed was small, it would accommodate the two friends as long as we left the door open. We made sure they were settled and then headed back to the house to unhook the trailer. With the craziness of the situation, I never thought to thoroughly inspect the “geldings.”

After I unhooked the trailer from their truck, the girl and her friend quickly left. I picked up the paperwork she had left on the back of my truck and suddenly realized the horse she had surrendered to us was a STALLION. I immediately called her and told her “you need to come back. We have a problem.” When I said I had no place to keep a stallion, she said “oh, I thought I told you.” She then let me know that she couldn’t come back and get him as she had nowhere to take him. 

We were stuck with a very thin and unhappy 6-year-old stud.


Chance: left image is shortly after surrender, right is 6 months later
Hannah and I immediately went and locked the paint stallion in the stall and I started making phone calls. With the help of the Equine Protection Fund of NM and our vet at Raton Animal Hospital, “Chance” as we had come to call him, was gelded within four days of arriving at our facility. Since that day, Chance gained weight and became a beautiful, calm, and happy gelding. He received lots of love and attention, learned his proper ground manners and was adopted out to a wonderful and loving, forever home in February of 2016.

He has been progressing in his training ever since.


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