Every Tuesday afternoon I drive the highway to heaven–the country road that takes me to the horse rescue 20 miles into the hills. And I come home three hours later tired, dusty, but in love more than ever with the beautiful horses there.
You see, I’m a feeder! (Well, also a mucker–what goes in must come out LOL.)
This beautiful little corner of the world is all donation, all volunteer. Even the acres of our little ranchette were a gift. All of our horses have a story; some have experienced abuse, neglect and abandonment. Others have no place else to go when owners can’t care for them anymore. Two came as newborn foals, rescued with their mothers from a slaughterhouse. (One of the mamas has been lovingly adopted. The other mare didn’t make it, having given her all to nurse her baby.)
But here, now, they experience hope, love, compassion and care until they find a forever home or cross the Rainbow Bridge. All have a covered stall, and there’s also plenty of grass pasture for romping and exercise! There’s also two fine training arenas.
Back to feeding. Before I knew anything, I assumed one just dumped a load of “hay” in a feed trough. Not so. Each horse has a specified diet. Some have allergies; some need to gain weight, others lose it. Some need specific vitamins or medications. Each horse has his/her “menu” posted on a white board that you check first thing.
Three kinds of hay–oat, grass and alfalfa. And many different tubs of pellets, varying from alfalfa pellets (like big rabbit food) to mixtures for senior horses, healthy living, or rice bran for weight gain. My first few weeks as a feeder, I attached little post-it notes with a horse’s name onto the various buckets so I didn’t get mixed up. Now, I’ve gotten so comfy I don’t need to. Our Cheyenne gets a pellet mix that actually smells like you’re doing your Christmas baking.
And here is Chey, above, our gorgeous paint Saddlebred. When he first got here, he was so terrified of humans (especially men) that he’d run to the farthest corner of his stall when anybody approached. A few trainers deemed him “incorrigible.” But he’s gotten a lot of specialized TLC here. A few weeks ago, when a bunch of high schoolers came for a service project, he rested his head on a boy’s shoulder. I still get teary-eyed! He’s come so far.
I love Bridge’s elf ears and how about those bangs! This handsome Arabian spent his first nine years isolated in the confines of a breeding stall! Now this beautiful boy (gelded) has assimilated to his herdmates and gets to play outside!
Jay-Jay is a real sweetheart. This glorious chestnut Thoroughbred is a former (neglected) racehorse. Well, he’s not neglected anymore!
Heart, an Egyptian Arabian, sparkles in the sun. He came to the rescue with his owner just couldn’t keep him. He’s a real social guy with a sense of humor and a terrific intelligence. He’s our Houdini and Einstein mix.
In addition to my new feeder status LOL, I also teach the once-a-month orientation class for new volunteers. And for the recent annual fundraiser picnic, I made a herd of these little guys. They went for a $10 donation each!
Well, I hope you enjoyed visiting this piece of Paradise with me today. I can’t wait for Tuesday!
How about you? Anybody have horse stories? Volunteer experiences?