Chicken Nugget’s Loss Echoes

“Jill, would you be interested in a super quiet Icelandic for your equine therapy program?” My vet asked me.

“Yes, of course!” I practically yelled. Quiet and docile these little troopers make excellent equine therapy mounts.

With 24 hours I had a fuzzy Carmel colored Icelandic named Negev which we quickly renamed Chicken Nugget.

He was a dream horse. Easy going yet energetic and enthusiastic during The lessons. In the field he enjoyed his friends, especially Brutus.  They would groom one another for hours and call to each other when separated.

One morning all the horses were laying down, which was highly unusual. When they heard me they all got up but Nuggie. During the night he had passed away.

Brutus refused to leave his side until one by one they said their final goodbye with a gallop around the field.

I’m comforted in knowing he is in an eternal kingdom but his loss is devastating.  Nuggie was not just an equine therapy horse- he was a friend and confidant to many here.  His loss echoes in the fields of RAISE YOUR DREAMS FARM!

 

Never Fear the Nuggets are Here!

IMG_0382The large rambling mansion held bedrooms that boasted of ample sitting areas and soaking-tubs in each bathroom.  It was a beautiful home and truly the talk of the town.  If I was describing where I lived, I would say I am right near the big yellow mansion and then my home could be identified.  Unfortunately its hefty price tag was too burdensome for most home owners.  My riding students and their families would frequently gaze at the mansion next door that stood vacant for over eight years and fantasize over living right next door to what they considered a dream.

To my utter surprise it was bought by a young family with six children ranging in age from two to nine.  Their mother is a tiny dynamo and she quickly shared why they chose to move from northern New Jersey to this little town in southern New Jersey, it was because it was next to horses.  Her girls had begun to ride horses in northern New Jersey and they all seemed to have been bitten by the “horse bug” and it could only be satisfied by close proximity of a horse farm.  It also helped that each of their back windows gazed out on my pastures where they could watch the horses daily.

The girls each enrolled in lessons and they would frequently ask if I needed help.  Of course I needed help, and this little next-door-army of helping hands were eager to organize the riding ring for the special needs children that came from a local school or muck stalls.

Each one had something different to offer.  The oldest, a determined young lady that soaked up everything that was taught.  I would mention something in passing and she had it memorized.  She was also eager to employ it, and I found myself giving her more responsibility each day.  She was a child I could trust because she knew that this was an earned spot at the farm.  The second to oldest child fell madly in love with our big Quarter Horse Paint.  She would ask me if she could meet her goal of riding him.  The day I allowed her on his back, she could not stop smiling or fawning over his massive body that glistened in the sun.  She would explain every little nuisance of each lesson.  She would critique how the horse did and how she handled it.  She was the one that would explain each goal she had and whether she thought she could achieve it.  The youngest one had an iron core.  She was tiny but undeterred and the day that Milkshake decided to do a drive-thru and grab a quick bite to eat of the luscious grass when she was leading him back to the field demonstrated her grit, because he had stepped on her little foot.  She squeaked and Milkshake quickly lifted his foot.  She hobbled over to the chair and we put ice on it, but her face was set, she would never let a horse do that to her again.

Everything has a nickname here.  After proving their unwavering devotion to the farm and our horses, we christened them THE NUGGETS.  We have grown quite fond of their generous spirit and desire to do their best.  It is quite refreshing to find children that love to please others.

They remind me of the verse in Galatians 5:13-

…..serve one another humbly in love.

They reflect what we all need to do for one another, seek to serve.

Do you know someone that has served you? Please share.

Hitting Kill Buyers In The Pocketbook

heatherclemenceau

Death came to this horse after agony and fear. How many other horses have been subjected to this new form of “euthanasia” – injected with amphetamines until they are allegedly flipped over backwards? After all his suffering, his bladder was then cut out of his body post-mortem, likely to avoid collection of illicit substances.

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Everyone knows that abuse, neglect, and disease are embedded in the trading of horses by unscrupulous buyers and flippers, beginning with the kill buyer and ending with the killing process.   But despite the number of sick or suffering feedlot and broker horses documented on Facebook, few purchasers contact authorities to report abuse, neglect, or contractual fraud.  Some people even choose to protect the kill buyer while praising him (or her) in being so kind as to offer to sell them the horse in the first place.  Quite understandably, many people may reasonably…

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Zelda Speaks Love Without a Sound

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Zelda has never spoken or written a single word in her life, but she writes everyday letters of love and hope on the hearts of those she has touched.  I’m blessed enough to say that I have witnessed it firsthand.

Zelda was born with cerebral palsy that crippled the left side of her body and in response her hands and feet have turned inward, making that part of her body useless.

No one is certain why she can’t speak or why she can’t hear.  But last night she heard the silent cry of a young woman in anguish and she answered it with all the love she has inside of her colossal heart.

Chrissy is twenty years old but looks more like she is forty.  Her life has left her heart broken.  She cannot speak and signs only two words Mommy and Hungry.  Her mom was unable to care for her once she reached adulthood, and she made the difficult decision to allow her to be with adults similar to her.  She found it in a wonderful group home for adults where she is cared for tirelessly by the most wonderful people who truly care about her.

On this particular Thursday she came to equine therapy with a sad face.  She was uncomfortable and frequently picked at her pants.  She was not going to ride because she seemed upset and she would whimper periodically no matter how much we wanted to see her buddy, Buttons, the fat pony.  She would shake her head vehemently and sit resolutely in our comfy Adirondack chairs.

That’s when Zelda came to the rescue.  With her numb leg she drug herself across the yard, which is the equivalent of crossing the Mohave Desert.  She sat in the chair next to Chrissy and tried to speak.  Her lips curled and her tongue puckered as dribble washed down her face.  She didn’t care; she wanted Chrissy to know she cared.  It did not matter that only grunts came out, her eyes and genuine smile said it all.

Zelda looked at me and signed love and then she pointed at Chrissy.  In her poignant and loving way, Zelda spoke the language everyone wants to hear- someone cares!

Zelda, you amaze me everyday!  I am the one who is richer for knowing a champion that conquerors everyday battles that all of us take for granted.  You do it all with a smile or giggle.

Keep loving all the people that you meet because I am the woman you have most changed!

He Moved the Cones for Me!

IMG_3463“Sorry I’m late!” My poor frazzled farrier was Always pompt and though he was more than thirty minutes late, I assumed it was because he got held up by his last farm.

He got out of his car and shook his head. “The cops told me your road was closed. Drove darn near ten miles out of my way to get here!”  He pointed at the top of the street.

In New Jersey it is not uncommon for public workers to congest our streets or for farm equipment to clog roads. But for the past six months they’ve been replacing electric lines.  Because the lines are down, every cop patrols the roads with an iron fist

My newest riding instructor, Angelina, overheard our conversation.

“I had no problem getting here. The cop even got out of his car and moved the cones so I could pass,” Angelina gave a soft giggle.

I guess when you are young and beautiful you can go where no others are able.

Awww, to be young again!

 

Little Did I Know….

IMG_1457Like an Arab, he is smart, discerning, and careful about showing his emotions to one he trusts. Like a Morgan he is handy, fancy, and determined. Little did I know that this little horse would pay me back in a way I never dreamed.

It was a brutally cold day in December when I discovered Chessy standing at the gate. Like all horse women and men, you can read a horse’s body language as a conversationalist does with an audience. I intuitively knew that there was something wrong.

I opened the gate and walked towards him and that’s when he turned his face towards me. His eye was literally in pieces.

I grabbed a leadline, fearful to put a halter on his face. In my other hand, I held my phone and shakely called my vet. She happened to be in the area and made a hasty drive to my farm. Upon inspection she did not give me good news. He would have to be transported to the University of Pennsylvania or she could remove his eye. Either way, this was a traumatic injury.

To give Chessy the benefit of saving his eye, I decided to send him. We made the harrowing trip to New Bolton Center and they met me at the bay. They had called in an equine optometrist and she encouraged me to see if they could save the eye by cleaning it and putting it back together.

After two days, Chessy had a roaring fever and an infection that was threatening his life. She decided to do a corneal transplant. He was under anesthesia and not doing well. She called to tell me that he was not doing well. I did what I always do, I prayed.

That night, I crept into the still barn at 9:00. He had tubes protruding from his head, they had drilled holes through his skull to flush continual antibiotics into the eye so that he would not reject it. For days, he was in a precarious position. He would gently lay his chin on my shoulder. I would scratch his funny spot, but he would not react. He was hurting and so was I.

Then I got a call from the vet stating that she felt that he could go home with the knowledge that I would have to give him medicine into his eye every two hours. I quickly gathered volunteers that would be willing to take night and day watches. I cleaned the stalls with bleach and fluffed his stall with soft straw.

It was not to happen. The day of transport I was told that he had double pneumonia and he could not go home as planned. He was moved to the ICU and was in critical care. Again he was administered meds that kept him quiet and comfortable. I went to see him and cried. Now tubes were surgically placed in his neck.

Again, I did what I do best, I prayed.

Within two weeks he had recovered and we planned to bring him home. But then came the crushing blow of them all. He had gone into colic and the impaction was in the small intestine. This was fatal without surgery. They had drugged him with heavy sedatives and were waiting for my reply.

My bill thus far was over $12,000 and I could not go further financially. He had been through too much and I made the painful decision to forgo the surgery. I left work early and went into his stall. His head hung to the ground, tubes hung from every main vein, he stirred when he heard my voice.

He tried to turn and face me, but the sedation made him stumble. I prayed over him. Placing my hands on his stomach I asked God to miraculously heal him. That’s when I heard the leading vet clear her throat to signify her presence.

“Jill, I am sorry. We will keep him comfortable until we cannot control the pain. We will let you know when we put him down,” she placed her hand on my shoulder. Finality was in her voice.

I was not ashamed of my tears, for they flowed like the beautiful Brandywine River that Chessy had crossed when he was healthy.

“I am believing that God will miraculously heal him, I hope I get a call with good news and not bad,” my sobbing took over and I could no longer speak.

“Jill, this colic is a death sentence. I am sorry,” she smiled faintly.

I slept fitfully that night, waiting for a phone call, but it did not come. At seven o’clock in the morning, my cell phone rang. I grabbed it and heard the vet on the end speak with disbelief. My little Chessy had pulled out of the colic.
I got off the phone and sunk to my knees, God had showed up in a circumstance that everyone else said was impossible.

Today Chessy is the favorite mount in my lesson program. He is gentle and kind. Always the gentleman, he is aware of every rider and their needs.

Little did I know that he would pay me back with kindness. Six months later I had accidentally left the main gate open. The horses had discovered my mistake and were peacefully eating in my backyard. Upon opening the garage door, my ever diligent guard dogs went after each horse with a vengeance. The herd took off.

Down the driveway they galloped and onto a major road and ripping towards a very busy highway only feet away. I was devastated. I grabbed grain, buckets, halters, lead ropes, and ran for my truck.

That’s when I heard their hoof beats coming closer.

Leading the herd was Chessy. He took them back down the driveway and into the open pasture gates. He had controlled the herd, comforted me by bringing them back, and showed me that he had never forgotten my kindness of saving his life.

‘Horrific incident’: Family Speaks Out after Pet Dog Killed by ‘Cyanide Bomb’

Straight from the Horse's Heart

By Shelbie Harris as published on The Idaho State Journal

“While at first glance this sad story might not appear to have much to do with wild horses and burros but it most certainly applies, with spades.  Some time ago, myself and fellow investigators from Wild Horse Freedom Federation were documenting BLM Contract long term holding facilities when we came across one contractor’s property, used to house former wild horses, with prominent signs indicating that like poison devices were in use on the very same property that captive wild horses were grazing.  To date, this finding haunts us as we continue to seek ways and means to stop the barbaric removal of protected wild horses and burros from their congressionaly approved, rightful range.” ~ R.T.


Signage on BLM contractor’s property housing former wild horses. (Click to Enlarge) ~ photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

POCATELLO — As…

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Barbie and Her Best Friend

palominoBang!…Bang!…..BANG!….BANG!

The dogs go into a furious rage of barking, Dan and I leap out of bed.

“What is that?” he asks.

BANG!…..BANG!

“Dan, someone is banging on our door!” As a horse owner this can only mean one thing- OUR HORSES ARE OUT!

Dan I racing downstairs to be greeted by the State Police with a flood light fixed on our fields.

“We got a call, loose horses on this street, we are asking all horse farms to check and see if their horses are secure,” a boyish-looking-fresh-out-of-college officer stated in his best officer voice.

Dan ran out in the fields, our horses and ponies were all accounted for, phew!

Then my attention turned to we-have-to-get-these-loose-horses.

What got me was the officer’s description-

“One is real big and looks like a Barbie and the other horse is orange with a blue jacket.”

I tried not to laugh- he was describing the big palomino across the street and her best friend, a chestnut with a blue blanket on.

After wrestling the loose horses back into the barn, I said a silent prayer of thankfulness.

We climbed back into bed, thankful that our horses were safe, always had been.

Why?

Because we believe in the power of prayer, and the God of heaven and earth has my farm under his careful watch! THANK YOU FATHER!

 

Be Still and Know that I AM GOD!

In the rush of life, sometimes it is just good to be still, pray, and allow God to work in my life.  My students start every lesson off with prayer.  They have come to recognize the importance of asking God to be with them as they ride and work around 1500 pound animals that could spook because a simple plastic bag is flying across a field.  It is here that we begin with the most important aspect of RAISE YOUR DREAMS FARM!

Do you need peace?  Be still, pray, and allow God to work it all out!

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