Monday, December 28, 2009

The Latest Neglect Case

A horse-friend of mine on Facebook sent me an urgent message this morning. Two horses a few towns away were in a dire situation and needed to be rehomed immediately.

I made a few phone calls and learned a bit more about their situation. The gentleman who owned them died on Christmas Eve and his family couldn't take care of the horses. There were two geldings at the farm and they were both "skinny and in bad shape". A kind local lady saw their condition and dropped off a round bale for the two of them yesterday.

On my lunch break, I jumped in the truck and headed over to see them. I was greeted by a teary-eyed lady who used to own one of the geldings. She trained and showed him in his younger days and sold him to this man 13 years ago. He is now the ripe old age of twenty. Unfortunately, she wasn't in a situation where she could take him back and wanted to find a loving home that would rehabilitate him.

We stepped out back and my heart sank, again... Standing behind a round bale was a skinny, sad looking grey Thoroughbred. His spine was jutting out of his back, his ribs were all visible, his hip bones poking out.

Absolutely nothing I write here can describe the feeling I get in my chest when I see an animal in this condition. It's a feeling of heartbreak, infuriation, sympathy, sadness... the list goes on.

I took a deep breath, choked back the emotions and got to work. I started evaluating "Jaggar" and learned that besides his weight loss, he appeared overall healthy. He is approximately 250 pounds underweight and has a body score of 2/9. Not nearly as bad as Faith was when she first arrived, but not a whole lot better, either. He needs dental work and farrier care, but my first priority was to get a visit from our veterinarian to evaluate him and update his vaccinations.

His conformation was pretty decent for a man of his age. He was sweet as I worked with him and seemed to be an overall pleasant horse to be around. (Although so did Faith when I first got her, and we all know how that little princess's attitude just blossomed!)

As I talked to his previous owner, I learned more about his history and that he is a registered Thoroughbred and a son of the great racehorse "Affirmed". "Affirmed" was the last horse to win the Triple Crown, so his bloodlines are nothing but amazing. Jaggar, however, wasn't all that wonderful on the track as he was on paper, so they retired him as a 4-year-old and he was introduced to the Hunter/Jumper and Dressage world but his new owner.

After an early retirement from his show career, she sold him to this older gentleman who owned him for the past 13 years. He was a trustworthy, quiet trail horse and had always been well taken care of. However the gentleman's illness interfered with his ability to care for his animals, and his family didn't know what to do with them.

Besides him, there is also a 21-year-old Appendix Quarter Horse gelding that needs to be placed. He is also thin, but not nearly as thin as "Jaggar" is. There is a possibility that he has a home waiting for him, but we are not 100% certain on that yet. Jaggar, pictured below, does not. Keep in mind as you look at the pictures, that he has an incredibly long, thick winter coat that covers up quite a bit of his condition.

So after another one of my (all-too-frequent) financial conversations with Dan, (what a great guy he is, kiss kiss!), we have decided that Jaggar can come to live with us on a temporary basis for rehabilitation until we can find him a "forever" home. Finances are tight and we have decided to do a fundraising campaign to help with the cost of his care.

All money raised will go directly towards his rehabilitation expenses. If we are so lucky as to find him a new home before his fund runs out, the balance will be sent along to his new owner! You can click here to help us out: Thanks for reading and please pass this link along to everyone you know!


New Jersey Rescue Mission #2

My second trip to New Jersey was, (unfortunately,) nearly as exciting as the first one! We had a terrible snow storm here on December 20th - we were pummeled with about a foot of snow. I knew driving was going to be atrocious, so I decided to be safe and get a hotel room overnight in New Jersey. My friend Courtney tagged along, and as soon as the roads were salted enough to see pavement, we were off.

On the way down, we stopped in Connecticut at the Cheesecake Factory for dinner. That is my all-time favorite restaurant ever, and if anyone has the recipe for the "Chocolate Tower Truffle Cake", I will gladly buy it off of you. Moving on...

We made it through New York and passed the New Jersey border around 10pm. Everything was going well... until my truck started shaking violently. After about 15 seconds the shaking subsided, followed by a loud pop. Even though we had already passed through the Bronx, I still looked at Courtney to make sure we hadn't been shot at. I glanced in my mirrors and didn't see any issues with the trailer. My brakes worked, my steering was fine as well. Thankfully we were getting off at the next exit, which was only 10 miles down the highway, and I could get a better look at it.

As I pulled off, I glanced at my mirrors and saw what I had dreaded - there was rubber flopping from underneath the wheel well of my trailer. It didn't just pop - it was shredded. Ugh...

We pulled into the nearest hotel and I called AAA. I explained that one of my tires had blown and I needed help. I was then overwhelmed with happiness when she told me that my membership only covered the vehicle I was driving, not trailers. Wonderful. (If anyone who reads this hauls horses frequently and has AAA, call them and upgrade before you get stuck like me!)

I forgot to mention that the tow truck driver didn't show up until 1:00am and it took him the better part of a half hour to change it. And it was 5 degrees outside. And we needed to leave by 5:00am.

My hot shower was wonderful, but 5am came way too quickly. We checked out of the hotel and headed over the auction house. We were picking up two horses, a chestnut mare and a bay mare. The chestnut loaded up beautifully, but the bay wasn't nearly as willing. Of course, the guy who works there and was "helping" us by cracking her repeatedly on the butt with a whip wasn't making her trust us any more. Eventually she made the smart decision to jump on with us rather than stay with him, so we loaded up and headed out.

The ride back was definitely better as far as driving conditions went, but there was quite a bit more traffic. We opted to take the scenic route through New York City. Courtney was having fun with my camera and took some fantastic shots of the New York skyline!

And below is the George Washington Bridge. Note the crazy traffic, snow on the vehicles and the immense amount of salt on my windshield.

The horses made it back safe and sound. They rode fairly quietly and seemed pretty content to munch on their hay nets. We arrived home around 1pm and unloaded them. You can see the green kill pen tags on their hips. I don't know if they realize how close they were to getting on the wrong trailer, but the look on the bay mare's face says it all.

They will live to see another day and hopefully will provide years of enjoyment to their new families!

Also, I'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone who donated towards our cause! We received a few donations towards our travel expenses and they were well needed and extremely appreciated. It's so wonderful to have such wonderful followers!


Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Quick Update on the Slaughter Bound Horses...

All 35 horses this week were placed in homes! It was a close call, but we spread the word like wildfire and none needed to be loaded onto the "bad" trailer.

Tomorrow evening, weather pending, I will be leaving to transport a few more horses north. Their pictures are below.

Unfortunately this auction is weekly so there will be a new group of horses looking for homes beginning Thursday morning. If anyone wants to be put on my email list, just let me know and you'll get a complete list of available horses, ponies and donkeys.

Also, I'd like to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who donated towards our cause! We raised over $200 towards shipping fees!

It is 10:00pm now. I have to head downstairs and make sure all of the horses are snuggled in for the evening. Their buckets are topped off with warm water, their hay racks packed full. It's going to be a long, snowy evening.

Before I shut the aisle lights off each night, I check on Faith last. I like to spend a few extra moments with her, sometimes just watching her munch on her hay. I pull a treat out of my pocket, give her a kiss on the nose and tell her, (jokingly and lovingly of course,) that she started all of this crap for me. And I wouldn't have it any other way...


Friday, December 18, 2009

Our Latest Rescue Mission

I am sorry I haven't posted in a few days. I have been working around the clock trying to find homes for the next group of horses who are currently in a kill pen in New Jersey, awaiting shipment to the slaughter house in Ontario. They will ship Sunday night at 9pm, so time is of the utmost importance!

Again, I will be shipping as many horses out of there as we can raise the funds for. We are currently working with other farms and rescue organizations to raise money for the horses' bail and shipping costs.

If anyone is interested in donating towards our cause, donations can be made via PayPal to:

Thank you for your continued support!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Our Rescue Journey

The trip on Sunday was successful, despite absolutely horrendous driving conditions. We were hauling five horses from the kill pen in New Jersey to safety northbound. Two horses were being delivered to a farm in Connecticut, two horses were spending a layover at my farm before heading north even further, and then there was our special pony that was coming to live with us.

The ride down was fine - we made it to the auction house by 11am. The place was eerily quiet. I parked my trailer in the lot just outside the barn doors, right next to the auction house rig. That trailer was one that would be leaving at 9pm with the slaughter bound horses...

I walked into the barn and quickly scanned the horses who's hip numbers matched those that I had jotted down on a piece of paper. Four of them appeared to be in OK shape, but one Saddlebred did not look well at all. (Pictured at the top of this post.)

The horses were led out individually and eagerly climbed aboard my trailer. It was almost as they knew that this trailer was their ticket to safety. At the head of their individual stalls, a fresh hay net hung in front of them. Fresh, fluffy wood shavings under their hooves gave them a comfortable place to stand.

I made the decision to load the sickly-looking saddlebred last. His legs were atrocious, he was underweight, and from what I could tell in my 90-second evaluation of him before he was loaded, he was extremely foot sore. I've never seen a horse quite like him, he just looked like he was in pain all over. I gave him some banamine orally and pulled over to check on him a half hour later. He seemed more comfortable but still not right.

On our way back North we ran into quite a few problems... First, we were stranded on Route 684 for over three hours. It was 34 degrees out and raining; the rain was freezing to the road surface creating an absolute nightmare for travelers. We had to wait as tow trucks and emergency crews pulled cars back onto the road. Some people ran out of gas; I was lucky to have filled up just before we got on that stretch of highway. However, I wasted a 1/2 tank of gas sitting there, but couldn't shut my truck off because it would have shut the power to the trailer down. We kept a close eye on the horses; oblivious to our worries and frustrations, they happily munched away on their hay nets. They may not have known what their fate may have been, but they knew they were safe.

Once moving again, our top speed was about 15 mph. At one point, going about 5 mph, my entire rig started sliding sideways into the brakedown lane. I straightened it out and got it back under control quickly, but it was enough to still send my heart racing. We finally got to the farm in Connecticut and unloaded the sickly Saddlebred and a Standardbred. They unloaded well and settled right into their stalls.

Then it was back to the interstate, topping out at about 40 mph the entire way back to New Hampshire. Our journey began at 5:30am and we spent 18 hours in my truck, not including the collective hour to load, unload and eat dinner! Ughh....

But the horses are safe and sound, and that's all that matters!

Pictured below is our little pony mare, who is still nameless! I have a few that I'm considering, but I honestly just have not had time to think about which one is most suitable for her. Our hope is to evaluate and train her and then find a safe, loving home to adopt her.

She is very sweet and personable. The one "odd" thing about her is that when she walks up to greet you, she walks past you a bit and stops with her shoulder right next to your body. Then she leans into you as if she wants a hug. I've tried scratching her on her back, neck and shoulders but that's not what she wants. She just wants you to wrap your arms around her neck... How a sweet, young horse like her ended up heading with a one way ticket to a slaughter house is beyond me.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Slaughterbound Horses

This post is going to be a short one because I need to finish preparing my horse trailer for a big day tomorrow.

Accompanied by my good friend Liz, I will be hitting the road around 5:30am to go to a well-known livestock auction in New Jersey. There, we will be picking up five horses who have all found homes in just the nick of time. What's the rush? They were all scheduled to be sent to a slaughterhouse in Canada at 9pm tomorrow evening. I'll pause while we listen to those collective hearts break...

Of the five we're hauling, two are being delivered to a farm in Connecticut. They consist an aged Saddlebred gelding with leg problems and a 24+ year old Standardbred ex-racehorse who won over $300k on the track. Nice retirement, huh?

Two more are scheduled for a layover at our farm until they are both picked up by their new owners. The first is a Saddlebred going to a farm in Vermont, and the other is a Standardbred is heading to a foster home just south of Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire.

The last one? She's the one pictured at the top. She's a 13.3 hand pony mare, just 4 years old. She'll be coming to our place...

The new pony mare we're getting will need a name. I like naming my horses after songs - any suggestions?!

I will be on the road for about 10 hours tomorrow and probably won't post again until Monday morning. Keep your fingers crossed for us that everything goes smoothly tomorrow!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Courtney's "Squishy" Pony

Courtney has a love for hunter ponies, not to mention quite an extensive history competing them when she was younger. For the past few years she has been hounding me to get a project for her to work with. When Courtney first saw "Grace", she said, "That's my new pony. She's adorable and so squishy, I just want to squeeze her!"

Everyone asked to see her, so here she is! This is the little mare we went to see, and the only one who was supposed to come home with us, ahem...

Who couldn't love a face like that?!

She's a registered Welsh pony mare, about 13 hands tall. Between her flaxen mane and tail, her high white stockings and that adorable face, she is just perfect!

Good luck Courtney with your new project pony! You two look adorable together! :-)


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

10 Second Decision

My friend Courtney was going to a horse sale to look for a new training project. I made the mistake of going with her.

I was certainly not in the market for another rescue. But, as you all know, I am a sucker for the underdogs. Not to mention that we currently have two open stalls in the barn, so I should have known it was only a matter of time.

Halfway through the sale, the auctioneer called for the next horse to enter. Before us was a homely looking gelding, the size of a large pony, covered in mud and manure, with a defeated look on his face. He didn't appear to be anything we were interested in, so I glanced back down to my booklet, waiting for Courtney's prospect to come through.

The bid started out extremely low and remained there. The arena was quiet, with no calls for bids ringing out. The silence caught our attention. As they walked him around the arena, we both looked up and saw why no bids were being placed. His ribs were visible beneath a ratty winter coat, his shoulder blade and withers all jutted from his little body. He looked terrible.

His conformation, however, was decent. But it was his calm demeanor that really caught my eye. I was even more impressed with him when the auctioneer said that he was only 4 years old.

When the bidding stopped within range of a kill buyer's price, Courtney and I exchanged worried glances. Granted, kill buyers normally do not attend this auction, but you can never be certain. Regardless, I had about 10 seconds to weigh my options, 10 seconds to make a decision. And that decision could change the pony's life.

My number went up. My bid was in. The auctioneer glanced around the room, but no one else raised their hand. With a drop of the gavel, the pony gelding was safe. But I wasn't...

Courtney looked at me and calmly said with a smirk on her face, "Dan is going to kill you...". No, probably not. But I'm more than likely never going to be allowed out of the house unsupervised with Courtney again.

I went through the paperwork that came with him and learned that he is a 4-year-old, 13.3 hand Paint gelding. He is registered with the American Paint Horse Association and even has decent bloodlines. On paper, he seemed like a great prospect to rehome. His condition was what worried me.

We went to his stall to get him. I opened his door and he eagerly walked over to me. He followed Courtney and I out to the parking lot, jumped onto the trailer like he had done it a million times before, and we headed back home.

He didn't come with a barn name, so on the ride back we decided that he looked like a "Stewie". And yes, he is just as sweet looking and adorable in person!

I am pleased to say that there is really nothing bad about this little guy. He is an absolute gentleman to work with and has wonderful ground manners. It's clear that he doesn't know a lot, but he is patient and willing to learn. We were told that he has been ridden a few times, but we won't be doing anything with him under saddle until he puts more weight on.

His weight is the biggest, and really the only, concern to me. His ribs and hips are visible in the picture above, although he is certainly not in as bad of shape as Faith was when she arrived. Overall, he appears healthy, but we'll know for sure when our veterinarian comes to check him out. That won't be for at least a few more days due to a horrible snow storm we are getting right now. (Have I ever mentioned before how much I hate snow?!)

Our plan is to have Dr. George evaluate him, update his vaccinations and float his teeth. Once he has put enough weight on, we'll start training him and see where that brings us. I can totally see him being an adorable kid's show horse by next summer. Keep your fingers crossed that nothing gets in our way!


Monday, December 7, 2009

Another Day, Another Rescue...

We have recently acquired a new rescue. More information and pictures to come tomorrow!

In the meantime, we welcome all of our friends to join us on facebook! Go to and search for "Julie Hersey" in Derry, NH! :-)


Jack Be Nimble, Jack Be Quick...

Jack may be cute, but he's as dumb as a brick? No, that's not right...

Amanda gave me an update on how Jack is doing. I present to you, "The Mirror Story":

"Sunday night I brought all my tack and I was planning on riding him if he had settled down enough. I tacked him all up and brought him into the indoor. It was later at night, and I was the only person in the indoor (besides my friend that came with me). I started to lunge him and quickly realized he had a bunch of energy, so I decided I'd try free lunging him.

After finally getting him to move away from the door, he started running around the indoor snorting at everything. He passed the mirrors on the long side of the indoor and came to a sliding halt. He was SO interested in the "other horse", which was really just his reflection in the mirror. I tried getting him to run around some more, but he was way too fascinated by the other horse! After a couple minutes of standing next to him while he was watching himself in the mirrors, I decided to just sit at the end of the arena and let him do his thing for a while...only he didn't move! He ended up staying right next to the mirror sniffing, neighing, snorting, and eventually play rearing, for over an hour! He was so confused as to who the "other horse" was!

Now the sad part:
After sitting around for so long I decided it was time to put him away. I walked up to him without the lead rope, and tried to see if he would follow me to the other side of the indoor. He followed until he reached the end of the mirrors, and all of a sudden came to a dead halt and glared at me. His eyes got real big and he was pacing back and forth between looking at the mirrors and looking at me, looking at the mirrors and looking at me. I had to walk to the other side of the indoor to get the lead rope, because at that point I realized he wasn't going to be able to just leave the "other horse".

He's doing much better now though. When I go there right after school to clean his stall he comes to the gate in his paddock when I call out to him as I'm walking up. He's learned who I am and I'm SO happy for that! I'm so excited to see how far i can get with him!

Thank you for everything again, I appreciate it all soooo much!
Talk to you soon,

Amanda - Thank YOU so much for putting work into him! Please keep us updated on how he's doing!


Saturday, December 5, 2009

My Bucket List

Here are my answers!

1. Gallop along the beach - Done it and LOVE it! Now that I think of it, I need to go again soon...
2. Win a blue ribbon, even if it’s for the egg and spoon race - Done it, although I was never very good at egg and spoon!
3. Enjoy an evening of equestrian theater, from major touring productions such as Cavalia to local performance troupes. - Done it! Watched the Lippizaner Stallions and numerous productions of the Pfizer Fantasia.
4. Try your hand at cattle work. Find out what it means when they say a horse is “cowy.” - Did this last year at a farm in Arizona and LOVED it! I wish there were more experiences like that closer to home!
5. Jump! From crossrails to cross-country obstacles, experience the thrill of soaring over fences. - I have jumped in the arena, but have always wanted to do cross country, even if the thought frightens me a bit!
6. Fall off and get right back on again. Conquering fear is empowering. - I have fallen 7 times in my career and have gotten back on each time except for one. It was a pretty bad fall, but knock on wood, no broken bones!
7. See the majestic white Lipizzan stallions of the Spanish Riding School. - I haven't seen them in Vienna, but would love to! I have seen the local performances by the US troops.
8. Come to a sliding stop on a well-trained reining horse. - This is the one thing that I have ALWAYS wanted to do but have never been able to. Maybe some year for Christmas I'll get a reining lesson as a present!
9. Take a lesson with your equestrian idol. - I have LOTS of idols, not sure where to start!
10. Nurse a horse through a crisis and back to full health. - Check! That's kind of the point of this whole website!
11. Experience the smooth ride of a gaited horse. - I have been on Rocky Mountain Horses, Standardbreds and Trotting Ponies before, but have always wanted to try a Tennessee Walker.
12. Watch the horses come through the Head of the Lake on cross-country day at the Rolex Three-Day Event. - Not done.
13. Have the courage to do the right thing for your horse, even when it’s not easy. - Yes, we had to put one of our school horses to sleep a few years ago. She came to us as a rescue and was just an amazing horse. I'll have to write a post about her someday...
14. Attend the Kentucky Derby dressed to the nines—including hat! - Not done, but always wanted to! Minus the hat... :-)
15. Tackle a trail accessible only by horseback and enjoy the view. - Done! Picture above!
16. Take your dream vacation on horseback. - We went to a dude ranch last year and got to work cattle, learned how to team pen, rope, etc. It was a blast! I've always wanted to go to Ireland, too.
17. Master the sitting trot. - Mastered? Probably not. But I don't think I'm all that bad at it either!
18. Ride a fine-tuned horse in your discipline of choice, be it dressage schoolmaster or barrel champ. - I have also always wanted to have a lesson on an upper level dressage horse. Looks like fun!
19. Watch polo. Even better, try your hand at it! - Not done.
20. Feed, muck, groom, ride. Repeat daily. - ALWAYS done, just not the riding part!
21. Wake up to a whinny every morning. - Either whinnies or our donkey Dominic braying right outside our bedroom window.
22. Fly down the track on a Thoroughbred. - I have always wanted to do this, but think I might be too much of a chicken to attempt it! I am not sure if we get less courageous or more intelligent as we get older. When I was younger I would have done it, no doubt about it.
23. Meet one of your favorite famous horses in person. - I met the horse from Lord of the Rings, which was pretty interesting.
24. Ride bareback, bridleless ... or both! - Yes, of course!
25. Share a bond with your horse that’s deeper than words. - I think the bonds I have had with some horses have been stronger than the bonds I've had with humans!

Have a wonderful weekend! :-)


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Your Bucket List

I cannot take credit for the following piece, but I found it on one of my favorite blogs and thought it would be interesting to hear back from our readers.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The movie "The Bucket List" follows two terminally ill men (played by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman) who embark on a journey with a wish list of things to do before they “kick the bucket.” Here’s our equestrian version of a bucket list—25 ultimate things to experience in a lifetime as a horse lover.

What's on your equestrian bucket list?

1. Gallop along the beach.
2. Win a blue ribbon, even if it’s for the egg and spoon race!
3. Enjoy an evening of equestrian theater, from major touring productions such as Cavalia to local performance troupes.
4. Try your hand at cattle work. Find out what it means when they say a horse is “cowy.”
5. Jump! From crossrails to cross-country obstacles, experience the thrill of soaring over fences.
6. Fall off and get right back on again. Conquering fear is empowering.
7. See the majestic white Lipizzan stallions of the Spanish Riding School.
8. Come to a sliding stop on a well-trained reining horse.
9. Take a lesson with your equestrian idol, _________ (you fill in the blank.)
10. Nurse a horse through a crisis and back to full health.
11. Experience the smooth ride of a gaited horse.
12. Watch the horses come through the Head of the Lake on cross-country day at the Rolex Three-Day Event.
13. Have the courage to do the right thing for your horse, even when it’s not easy.
14. Attend the Kentucky Derby dressed to the nines—including hat!
15. Tackle a trail accessible only by horseback and enjoy the view.
16. Take your dream vacation on horseback.
17. Master the sitting trot.
18. Ride a fine-tuned horse in your discipline of choice, be it dressage schoolmaster or barrel champ.
19. Watch polo. Even better, try your hand at it!
20. Feed, muck, groom, ride. Repeat daily.
21. Wake up to a whinny every morning.
22. Fly down the track on a Thoroughbred.
23. Meet one of your favorite famous horses in person.
24. Ride bareback, bridleless ... or both!
25. Share a bond with your horse that’s deeper than words.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Which ones have you already done? Which ones would you love to do? And what's on your personal bucket list that isn't listed above?

I'll post my answers tomorrow! :-)


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

300 Days and Counting!

Can you believe it? I certainly can't. Three hundred days have passed since Faith began her journey to start over her life again. Since she began the journey of touching so many lives and helping so many others.

Looking back at the events of the past ten months, I truly cannot believe the changes Faith has made. I never thought it would be possible for her to recover as well as she did. Hell, I honestly doubted that she would make it through those first few nights. She has transformed in front of all of our eyes, coming to us as a walking skeleton and slowly blossoming into a beautiful swan.

And now, she has transformed back. This time, into a wooly, hairy beast. Old man winter is on his way and Faith is going to make sure that she's prepared for him. Boy, that old lady can surely grow a winter coat on her!

Faith has made a full circle - first an ugly duckling, then a gorgeous swan, and now... a moose. (She really looks like one, I swear!) At least now her coat is shiny and thick, unlike the poor, dull winter "coat" she had when she arrived.

I haven't had time to take many pictures of her lately, but I will try to get some new ones posted soon so everyone can see how snuggly she looks!

Other Updates...

Pet - This little mare is probably the sweetest horse I have ever owned! She is quiet, well mannered and patient. And it's so cute to hear her nicker to me each morning when she hears me coming!

Victoria - Our lovely little piglet has found a wonderful home in Woodstock, NH! She now lives at a farm with chickens, cattle, a pony and a few other barnyard critters. They have sent me updates on how she's doing and they love her dearly. I'm so glad we found such a perfect home for her!

Jack - Yes, we finally decided on a name for the big guy! The choice was an easy one - he was a little naughty the first few days here when he was still unwinding, so "Jack" was his first name and, well, you can figure out what his middle name was!

Once he settled in and adjusted, we started working him under saddle. I am honestly impressed beyond words - he was nothing short of amazing! He was quiet, well behaved for the most part and... slow. He actually didn't want to move! (This is probably why he has been retired from racing!) He needed to be pushed into the trot, and once he finally decided to comply, his trot was slow and steady. I can see a career as a dressage horse in his future; his movement is incredibly fluid and balanced.

A wonderful young lady named Amanda has taken him on as a project over the winter. She is experienced with eventing and just loves working with off-track Thoroughbred race horses, so the two of them are a perfect match! She is boarding him near her house and will be working with him every day. Hopefully in the spring and summer they will be going to a few events together! I will keep everyone updated on his progress!

As a side note, one thing that "Jack" likes to do after he is ridden is stick his tongue out of his mouth and bite it. Sometimes it comes out the side of his mouth, other times it is sticking straight out. He lets you play with it and grab it, and if you don't, he flips his head up and down making it flap around. He's bizarre, but such a cutie!

Jack & Amanda, November 2009

65 more days until Faith's one-year anniversary! Can you believe it?!

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Time for Giving Thanks

Looking back at the events of the past year, I have so much to be thankful for. It's hard to comprehend all that has been accomplished in such a short time. Three horses, all knocking at death's door, were saved. It was because of an amazing group of people - some of which we have never met - who supported us, encouraged us, and helped us push on through the tough times. I cannot even begin to describe how thankful I am for everyone who has helped our cause.

To start, Dan has been utmost supportive with everything that has happened here at the farm. His drive to do what's best for the animals is unrivaled; I do not know of a more compassionate person. With his constant, unwavering support, he has stood by my side at each step along the journey. I couldn't have done any of it without him.

My family, who has always believed in me. Thanks Mom and Dad for always being there and encouraging me every step of the way.

My faithful friends, thanks for listening to me when I needed it most and always having that shoulder available to cry on, although I have probably borrowed those shoulders more than my fair share. I couldn't have gotten through it without you!

My wonderful farm "staff", the veterinarians and farriers who have helped out our animals and literally saved their lives. Without your compassion and expertise, they wouldn't be here today.

My amazing students, who have put in more than their fair share of help around here, between assisting with the rescues, bottlefeeding orphaned piglets, and taking over feedings for me when I had the flu, you girls rock!

To everyone who has supported Faith, Linus and Pet, I really cannot express my gratitude towards your contributions. We couldn't have done any of this without you.

And finally, to my lovely Faith... I knew from the first moment I saw you that you were something special, and it didn't take long for you to prove it. You are truly a miracle and you have touched so many lives. I have laughed, cried and enjoyed every step along the way in your journey. Your recovery has been emotional and educational, and I have learned so much from you in just nine short months. Even though you'll never know it, you're my hero.

Faith & Julie ~ The First Night ~ February 2, 2009

We hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
~Julie, Dan, Faith and Friends!

Friday, November 13, 2009

What is YOUR contingency plan?

I just wanted to give everyone a quick update...

All of the horses, piglets, and other critters are doing wonderful. I, however, am not. I have the flu, and have been battling a fever of 102.5 for the past two days. It is finally starting to drop and I no longer think I am going to die. So much for my appointment to get the flu shot next week, huh?!

Which brings up a good question, or rather, a series of them. This can be answered by all animal owners, not just our horse friends that read this blog...

What is going to happen to your animals when you are no longer able to care for them? What is your contingency plan in the event you are no longer around? Where will they go? Who will be responsible for them? Would you consider euthanasia?

I'm curious what your thoughts on this delicate yet grossly important subject are. Comment below!


Monday, November 9, 2009

The Journey to New Hampshire

Yesterday, Pet made made the journey in New Hampshire!

We arrived in Vermont shortly before 3pm and were greeted by Pet's family. They rode her for us, showed us her cues, and told us all about her history. It was amazing to see how much this family cared for her.

After all of the goodbyes were said, we loaded her into the trailer and headed East. We pulled into Derry by 6pm and and she quietly stepped off of the trailer. She sniffed the air and whinnied to a few horses, and then cautiously followed me up the driveway towards her paddock. I walked her around, showing her where the four corners were and where her food and water was located. She called for the other horses a few times, touched a few noses over the fence, and settled right in.

This morning, Pet met her new best friend. I brought Faith out to her paddock just a short while ago and turned her loose. Pet listened to her footsteps and nickered for her. When Faith nickered back, Pet followed her sound and cautiously walked towards her. The sniffed noses and let out a few mare squeals. A few minutes later, there were instant buddies...

Pet listening to Faith drink from the water tank...

And a cute picture for everyone to enjoy: Rosalie and Victoria snuggling together in the warm sunshine...

Have a great day!


Saturday, November 7, 2009

On the Road Again...

I have been exceptionally busy around here, hence the lack of new posts. Here's a very quick update:

Victoria is doing wonderful. We're still looking for a home for her - anyone looking for a friendly pet? She's adorable, but we can't keep her and don't want her to end up in someone's freezer. Email me at if you know someone who may be interested!

Faith is doing well but is stocking up a bit in her hind legs, so we're back to wrapping her every night again. She is growing a winter coat and is getting really fuzzy.

The Thoroughbred gelding (who still does not have a barn name!) is doing extremely well! He is a sweetheart and his personality is really opening up. I found a wonderful young lady who will be taking him over the winter to put mileage on for us. She likes project horses and loves off-track Thoroughbreds, so it's a win-win situation for all of us!

And finally, a few students of mine are travelling with me to Vermont tomorrow to pick up "Pet", the blind Appaloosa mare. I will have pictures and details for everyone on Monday!


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New "Caption This" Photo!

As many of you know, "Victoria", the little runt of Sophie's litter had big setbacks during her first few weeks of life. Much to Dan's original dislike of having a pig in our house, she moved in with us. I carried her weak body through the door, and his perspective changed.

He set up a dog crate for her, complete with fluffy pillows and warm blankets, propping her up underneath a heat lamp with a bowl of milk in easy reach. (Just for your information, he doesn't treat me like this when I'm not feeling well... Although if he set up a dog crate for me, he and I would have words.) Victoria has since made wonderful progress, and as seen in the post below, is now back outside running around with her mom and siblings.

During her stay with us, a pretty nasty cold snap hit. It was too cold for one of our chickens (who happened to only be about 9 weeks old at the time,) to be in the barn. Granted, we had a heat lamp set up for her, but even that wasn't keeping her warm enough. So what options were I left with? She came inside too, walked into the crate and made herself comfortable in the warmest spot she could find.

I now present to you, one of the cutest pictures I have ever taken...

Let's hear your caption suggestions!


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

This Little Piggy Is Not Going to the Market...

Victoria is doing so well that she is now back outside with her family! She has pulled through will amazing determination and Dan and I still cannot believe that she recovered.

Here are some pictures of the pig crew!

Victoria and her mom "Sophie"... (who is looking for another pumpkin from me. That pig just loves pumpkins!)

Rosalie, Emmett and Victoria... Notice how small Victoria is compared to her brother and sister. And yes, they are named after Twilight characters. And no, it was not my idea. Remember...the vast majority of my students are pre-teens and teens!

Sophie keeping a close watch of her babies...

Rosalie's face... How adorable is she?! She is a great piglet too - very personable, easy going and cute as a button. She is quite content to fall asleep in your arms.

Most of the "pig crew"... Charlotte's babies Gracie and Charlie are on the far left, Victoria is in my arms, and Sophie is... Well, it's pretty obvious where she is, isn't it?!

We are looking for someone to adopt Victoria to keep as a pet and/or for breeding when the time comes. We just do not want her to end up in someone's freezer! If you know of anyone, please let us know!


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hitting the Trails

Many have been asking about Faith and how she is enjoying her "official" retirement! Well, she is doing great!

Her daily routine consists of getting her breakfast around 6am, being groomed once she is done eating, and then she heads out to the paddock behind the barn. On the cooler days we blanket her, but lately the weather has been favorable. She stays in her paddock until dinnertime, which is normally around 6 or 7pm. Her stall is prepared for her before she arrives, cleaned out with extra shavings, two fresh buckets of water, a full hay rack and her bucket of grain and supplements.

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As many of our readers know, things around the farm have been quite busy lately! Between working at the shop, lessons, the new Thoroughbred that arrived, and managing all the farm animals, I barely have time to think!

So I decided to do one of my favorite things that I have just been too busy to fit in - I went on a trail ride! A group of students wanted to go as well, and it was a good change of pace for the school horses, so it was a mutually beneficial decision.

Everyone started choosing horses and before I knew it, all of our best trail horses had been taken. This left me with few options: a Morgan who likes to go down the trails sideways at a trot, a Half-Arab who firmly believes that monsters live in trees, or a Saddlebred who chooses to listen to the voices in his head over that of his rider. No thank you.

I thought about it for a few minutes, then I headed out back, put a halter on Faith and brought her into the barn. It wasn't until she was fully tacked up that my students actually believed I was going to take her. Her legs were wrapped, her bridle was adjusted and we were ready to head out.

Due to her leg and muscle problems, we have been careful to only put small riders on her. For that reason, I had never ridden her. She has been doing well lately, has built up a substantial amount of muscle, so I figured it was about time. I grabbed the mounting block, stretched up to the stirrup iron, and up I went!

We headed down the driveway, took a right on the street and rode towards the trailhead. Faith was a little hesitant to lead, so we changed our order and Dreamer and Nicole went in front of us. Faith eagerly followed and seemed a little more comfortable in that order.

The fall foliage was beautiful - the leaves were the brightest yellow I have ever seen before! Faith appeared quite content with herself, seemingly enjoying her time. We changed order again, Faith resuming the lead. She calmly looked at everything in sight as she walked along, never spooking or misbehaving. I was quite surprised, actually - I figured that she would at least have been a little goofy! This lovely old girl never ceases to amaze me...

Since many of you are far away and will never get the opportunity to meet or ride her, here's a little taste of what it's like to ride Faith!

As we were heading down the road to the trailhead:

In the woods underneath the bright yellow maple trees!

I hope everyone has a great weekend!


Friday, October 23, 2009

He's Never Had Cookies Before?!

I spent some time working on the ground with the big guy today. First, I turned him loose in the arena to stretch out his legs and get some energy out. He enjoyed himself, bolting away a few times and letting out a few little bucks, but was more interested in sniffing the hay and shavings we have stored in the corners of the arena.

Then, Tiny and I both took the first steps of the beginning of his education. We worked on personal space, staying at my shoulder, and walking on HIS feet, not mine. He is a quick learner and caught on fairly well. He is still a bit pushy on the ground, but not nearly as bad as I thought he was going to be.

After his lesson, we headed back into the barn. A few of my students who had been tagging along watching our session went for the customary "after work" horse cookie. They offered it to him, placing it their open hand. He sniffed it, pushed it with his lip, licked it and knocked it to the floor. They tried again and he wasn't the least bit interested in it. He didn't know what it was.

I told my students that "Gus" (which is what everyone here has been calling him,) probably had never received horse cookies before, and it was obvious that he didn't know what to do with it. They all looked mortified...

"He's never had cookies before?!" It was at that point which I realized just how much we spoil our horses here, not to mention the incredibly skewed perspective my students have of how they believe "all" horses are treated...

Here are some photos of the big guy from today! Comments on his conformation would be greatly appreciated!

Trotting while sniffing the ground... I see the movement of a dressage horse here!
And stretching his legs out!


Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Last Training Project

Exciting news! "Tiny" arrived today and settled in just wonderfully! He was a little hot when he first arrived and was pacing back and forth in his stall. But he eventually realized that this was a pretty cool place to live, relaxed a bit and munched on some hay.

He is easy to handle, but a little fidgety. I plan on bringing him into the arena tomorrow and working on some groundwork with him. We need to work on some "personal space" issues he has, as well as giving to pressure and not pulling on the lead. He's too big to be stepping on me and pushing me out of the way with his shoulder. Just because I walk on the bottoms of my feet, doesn't mean he is allowed to walk on the tops!

"Tiny" came with the barn name of "Gus", and we are debating whether we're going to keep it or not. His registered name is "Junaguska" and you can see his pedigree by clicking here: He made 66 starts, had 5 wins and earned $83,077 on the track.

I did get a chance to measure him, and the best I could see is that he is 17 hands and 1/2 inch. Still a big boy, nonetheless! I will keep everyone updated with his progress.

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The last big training project I had was with a Friesian/Morgan cross gelding named "Oliver". "Oliver" was a 16 hand, 4-year-old when he came to live with us. He was sweet and sensible, but had very little training. My goal was to turn him into a fancy hunter pleasure horse, and as you can see below, the plan was quite successful.

Here is Oliver just beginning his training under saddle:

And here he is just a few short months later!

We found Oliver an amazing home with a lady in Massachusetts. He is now a competitor in the dressage arena - a perfect job for this pretty boy!

A special thanks to my student Lianna for working with him and modeling for his photos! She will also be helping us with the new guy! Hopefully "Tiny" turns out just as nicely as Oliver did!

Let the Fun Begin...

The plans have been finalized. The big Thoroughbred gelding pictured in the post below will be moving to our farm shortly.

Let the fun begin...

I have Dr. George coming out to do a full evaluation of him next Tuesday. Besides the standard tests, I am going to have him shoot a few radiographs of his left hock. (The one that was pinfired.)

We are taking him in as a fundraiser for our farm's rescues. This poses a difficult task for me - my students have a tenacity to fall in love with the horses here. And then when the time comes to see them go to their new homes, the tears begin to flow. It doesn't matter how often I tell them, "Don't fall in love, he or she is only here to be rehabbed." Tissues are always needed. Linus was a prime example.

To those of you who are familiar with off-track Thoroughbreds, I have a few questions... Do you suggest that we radiograph any other joints, besides the pinfired one and any other that may raise questions during his exam? Do any other joints pose more of a problem than others? And is there anything else in particular that Dr. George and I should focus on?

I look forward to working with him, but as many of you know, my time is fairly limited. Is there anyone in my area that would be interested in coming to work with him a few days per week? If so, send me an email at Any help we can get for him would be greatly appreciated!

Also, he needs a name! I was thinking "Timothy" so we can call him "Tiny Tim"... Any ideas?!

Thanks for all of the suggestions and advice so far!

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This is the Morgan gelding we are currently offering for sale. He is 6 years old, 15 hands, registered and 100% sound. He is, by far, the BEST trail horse you will find - absolutely nothing bothers this guy! His personality is adorable - he is sweet, friendly and loves attention. We are asking $6,000 for him.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A "Big" Fundraiser?

A few days ago a friend of the family called Dan and I, asking if we would be interested in finding a home for his horse. We went down to look at him and take pictures, hoping we could spread the word about him and find him a loving family.

While I was informing the horse's owner that I would call a few friends and see if they were interested, he gave me an interesting idea. He knows about the rescues we have done in the past and suggested that I take this horse to my farm, retrain him, and sell him to help fund our rescues.


Here is the background on the horse in question...

--> He is a 7-year-old Thoroughbred gelding.
--> He was a racehorse and earned over $84,000 on the track.
--> His owner says that he is 17.2 hands tall. I haven't measured him yet, but he is an honest 17, there is no doubt in my mind. If he really is as tall as his owner says, that means that the highest point of his back just about his shoulder is 5'10" - he's a giant! For those of you who think Faith is big, this guy is 3 inches taller!
--> He has been officially retired from racing since... Thursday. Ugh...
--> He supposedly raced sound and never had any lameness problems. However, he did have a minor injury when he was younger and his left rear hock has been pinfired. That is not a big concern of mine.
--> He has decent conformation for a Thoroughbred. He has a nice shoulder and hip to him, as well as clean legs. I think he would make a nice hunter/jumper or field hunter. (I will post better body pictures of him tomorrow and everyone can help me analyze him conformationally!)

Here is my background...

--> I have worked with four or five off-track Thoroughbreds before, the last being at least 5 years ago.
--> My barn is currently full and I am in the process of trying to sell one of my show horses. (Anyone interested in a beautiful buckskin Morgan gelding!?)
--> I am afraid of heights. :-)

I really don't know what to do now. So I'm asking our loyal readers, what do you think I should do?!