“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!
The 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.
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!
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!
Living in the country is full of excitement. Skunks that have made their home in my barn, and I was inadvertently sprayed because I reached down to pet what I thought was one of my cats. There was also the time that the bulls from across the street decided to stampede down my driveway and into my horse pasture. Lest I forget the time that the horses got out and decided to stand in the middle of the road, stopping traffic. This is my life on a glorious horse farm, named Raise Your Dreams Farm.
Unfortunately there are some people who also enjoy perusing the country-side searching for an easy target. My neighbor heard noises coming from his basement only to find a bad guy hanging out. So when our neighbor had her barn broken into, my husband and I began in earnest to find a dog that would be intimidating enough to scare any would-be robber into thinking twice about coming to our farm.
As luck would have it, we were watching the Animal Planet TV show and they were featuring the Great Pyrenees dogs. They were excellent guard dogs and would defend their “family” even to the death. Their size was intimidating enough, 150-180 pounds, standing about 3 feet in height. We had the land, and of course the livestock that needed their protection, so we concluded that these might be a good dog to invest in. We ordered two fluff ball puppies on the internet, brothers that we named Frosty and Snowball.
I could not imagine any puppy cuter than these rather large bundles of white downy fur. They slept all the time, played with one another, ate, and then slept again. Unlike my labs, these puppies enjoyed laying around more than being up and getting into mischief.
As they got older, we realized these were no ordinary dogs. A baby in a stroller was something for them to protect and they would even block the mother from attending to her infant, a toddler learning how to walk, they would walk next to them slowly allowing the child to balance themselves off of their broad backs. A loud truck driving by, now that was something to be chased unto its death. Occasionally the township worker would blow their horn to incite total havoc in my yard amongst my fierce dogs. We have an electric fence around our home and thankfully they respect it because I think a lot of joggers and bikers would be in serious trouble if they ever got a hold of them.
If you are visiting the farm for the first time, expect to be stopped immediately and then escorted down the driveway to the parking space where they want you to park. Get out of the car and expect to be sniffed and nudged until satisfied. They will never wag their tail, until they feel that you are an accepted part of their “family”. If they find you suspicious, they will bark until my husband and I are alerted.
Their favorite activity is to bark, dig, and chase anything that should not be riding down the road. This is their property and they will not have any shenanigans here. But their soft side is always shown to all that come here. They beg for pets, high-five the kids, and lay on you if you happen to lay down on the soft ground.
They are now eight years old, still extremely active, and somewhat celebrities in our town. If someone is not sure where we live, all we have to say is the farm with the big white dogs. “Ohhhh, I know exactly where you are.”
Wouldn’t you want to be loved by a Great Pyrenees?