A Helping Hoof participants are getting ready to participate in the last Extreme Horseman's Challenge at Pegasus Event Center on October 8. In this set people are just checking out their mounts, working on gates, and practicing picking up things from a barrel. Chance adapted quickly and well to having a rider who can't use her legs. He is such a good boy. Check back for updates.
At the beginning of July, we got two temporary additions to our program. Chance (a 12-year old unbranded Mustang gelding) and Sandy (an 8-year old Quarter Horse mare) will both be staying with us for about three years while their "mom" finishes school. We are thankful to have these two loaners with us for awhile - we started them pretty quick into the program and they seem to fit right in. The pictures below show each of them with various clients throughout the past few weeks.
The top two pictures show Mary and Sandy working on basic lungeing. The pair then moved on to yielding over from sideways pressure.
These three pictures exhibit Chance following Shane across a bridge.
Here, Rachael and Chance were working on saddling and then explored the neighborhood.
In these pictures, Ronnie and Sandy were introduced and then did some work in the square pen.
Here, Chance is interacting with Talli while she soaks in his calm energy.
Dr. Laurie introduced Chance to Wesley, who led him over several poles in the round pen and helped him work on backing up. Afterwards, Wesley groomed Chance and focused on his calm and quiet temperament.
In this series of pictures, Ronnie introduced Sandy to some of the obstacles and the indoor arena at Pegasus Event Center.
From the pictures above, it's clear that these horses have already interacted with many different clients. We have been pleased with both of them, and look forward to continuing to work with them over the next few years.
In May, we rescued Zeus, a black 12-year old Mustang gelding. When we got him his coat was dull, he didn't have much energy, and he was about a 2 on the 1-9 body score chart that is used to measure horses' body conditions. The pictures below show how he looked when we first got him.
Over the past two months, Zeus' condition has greatly improved. Since he has gained weight, several clients have been working with him on desensitization, lungeing, and exercises to build up muscle.
In the above picture (taken at the beginning of June), Amy spent some time grooming Zeus in the round pen. On the same day she also worked on desensitization with a flag and getting him used to things touching his mouth.
In these two pictures, Mary held Zeus so the farrier could trim his hooves.
After a few weeks, Zeus had gained weight and we gradually started doing more work with him to help get him into shape. This series of pictures (from the middle of June) shows Zeus and Rachael working on a hill to help him start developing some muscle.
In this first picture, Zeus is working on standing tied to the trailer. Then, Amy worked with him with a saddle pad and, eventually, the saddle. It took Zeus some time to let the pad be placed on his back, but once he did, Amy put it on several times before moving on to the saddle.
Zeus was more worried about the saddle than he was the pad, so we moved him away from the trailer to give him more space. Amy pulled up some grass and placed it on the saddle to encourage Zeus to touch it. Eventually, he let her approach him with the saddle from both sides and she was able to place it on his back. They also took a walk around the yard with the saddle on before calling it a day. While he's not ready to be ridden, it's good for Zeus to start getting used to a saddle again.
These pictures show Zeus once again standing at the trailer, this time while Ramona picked his hooves.
This last set of pictures shows Zeus learning to ground drive with two of our Marines. First we started with just putting the surcingle (the strap around his belly) on and then having Jon walk him around the yard. Then we attached long lines to his halter and ran them through the sides of the surcingle to introduce him to ground driving. Zeus was unsure about what was expected of him at first, but after a few minutes, Keith and Jon drove him around the yard in each direction. This is a good introduction for Zeus to moving with something around his belly, as well as to responding to side pressure on his head; this is one step closer in preparing him to be ridden. This was also a good exercise for Jon and Keith as they had to work on team work, communication, and redefining success.
We are pleased with how well Zeus has progressed over the past few months. He's looking much better than he did in May (you can see his coat is glossy and he has filled out some), and his personality is starting to come out now that he is feeling better and has more energy. We look forward to continuing our work with him, watching him come further out of his shell, and seeing how he lives up to his name.
Last fall, we picked up Max from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as part of the Trainer Incentive Program (TIP). TIP allows approved trainers to take a horse from the BLM and work with him/her in order to make the horse more adoptable. The minimum requirements for Mustangs in TIP before they can be advertised as adoptable are that they can be haltered, loaded on a trailer, and they allow all four hooves to be picked up.
We have had several TIP horses in the past, and Max is one of our current projects. This little three year old has come a long way since we brought him home, and over the past few weeks, several of our veterans have been working with him to continue preparing him for adoption.
In the above pictures, Dr. Laurie and Ramona work together to give Max his first bath. While he wasn't too sure about it at first, he quickly adapted to the spray of water and the noises made by the hose attachment and he was soon back to munching on the lawn.
Shane, another one of our veterans, helped Max work on trailering this past week. After some strategic hay placement and treat encouragement, Max got in several times!
These photos show Max in both an English and Western saddle. Rachel (one of our interns) worked with him in the round pen to help him adjust to the feel of moving under saddle, and Dr. Laurie worked on some basic lungeing. In the first picture, he's also demonstrating how he can stand tied to a trailer, and he has a bridle on in the last picture!
This last set of pictures shows Brent and Ronnie working together to help Max learn to ground drive. Ground driving involves two long lines attached to the sides of the halter that are then run through rings on the sides of the surcingle (the strap around Max's belly). The ground driving allows Max to grow accustomed to pressure and direction on the side of his face, which will eventually translate to being directed with a bit and bridle.
This was also a good exercise for the two veterans because they had to work on communication, patience, team work, and accepting that success does not necessarily have to be defined as perfection.
So far, we are incredibly pleased with how well Max has been doing. He's a sweet-tempered, curious little horse and he learns quickly - we are excited to see how he continues to progress!
This past weekend, we participated in the 18th annual Utah Wild Horse and Burro show. We spent the week preparing for the competition by making props for our freestyle and bathing the four Mustangs we took to the show - Cherokee, Kingsley, Akai, and Cayuga.
The above pictures show Mary bathing Kingsley and working to detangle his mane, as well as Akai drying after his bath.
Above: Ronnie helps prepare Kingsley for the show by brushing up on the mustang's groundwork and responsiveness. The pair then finished the afternoon with some desensitization so Kingsley was familiar with the cardboard props that were used in the freestyle.
These pictures show some of the props we created for our freestyle routine that depicted the issue of veteran homelessness. We utilized cardboard boxes to make four homeless-type shelters. On one side of each shelter there was a word that describes an issue that veterans may face when they return home and that can cause them to be at-risk for homelessness (isolation, PTSD, drugs/alcohol, and grief). On the other side of each shelter was a word that represents what veterans need when they return home (support, security, hope, and acceptance). During the routine, Rosemary, Mary, Ramona, and Rachaelynne acted as homeless veterans and each had one of the shelters with the negative word visible to the audience. Then, at various times throughout the freestyle, an individual approached each of these women with a horse, helped them out of their shelter, flipped the cardboard so the positive word was visible, and then escorted them to the Helping Hoof "safe zone."
Above: Ronnie, Steve, fellow competitor Jackie, and Cayuga approach Rachaelynne and escort her back to the Helping Hoof safe zone.
Our hope is that this routine educated audience members on the issue of veteran homelessness, as well as on other issues that face our service members today (such as suicide rates and the prevalence of PTSD).
We would like to thank Jackie for assisting us during the routine and for the support and encouragement that she has offered our program for the past several years. We are also proud of the veterans that came to the show, and are very thankful for their participation in our freestyle.
On Saturday, we participated in the Extreme Horseman's Challenge held by Pegasus Event Center. These Challenges involve obstacles spread out across Pegasus' 80 acres and test the trust and communication between horse and rider. Cloudy skies brought relief from the heat, and even though it started drizzling in the afternoon, competitors still enjoyed the event.
Two of our veterans competed in the Challenge - Rosemary rode Lucky (our Percheron/Quarter Horse mare) and Ramona rode Star (a mare that Pegasus graciously lets us borrow). This course included several obstacles that were unfamiliar to our riders, such as the cone pattern and the hanging.
Rosemary and Lucky heading out to start their course, accompanied by one of our interns (Katie) and one of our mustangs, Akai.
Rosemary picking up a basket (that she then had to carry and drop off at another barrel), and negotiating the bridge.
Ramona and Star beginning their course through the deadfall, and then completing Obstacle 4 - the uneven ground.
Ramona and Star passing through a set of cones in the cone pattern. The goal of this obstacle was to negotiate the cones in order, without knocking off any tennis balls.
Ramona directing Star over the log, and then encouraging her through the hanging pool noodles to finish off her course.
Both of these women handled their mounts and the course well, and were pleased with their horses and themselves at the end of their rides. We are very proud of both of them for the way they worked with their horses to complete the obstacles.
This is the third Challenge that Pegasus has hosted this year, and we are pleased to say that we have had at least one veteran ride in each one. We enjoy participating in these events because it gives the veterans something to work towards, as well as lets them see how their trust in their horse has grown.
Stay tuned later this week as we prepare for the Utah Wild Horse and Burro Show!
Saturday, June 4th marked our first Scavenger Hunt Fundraiser, hosted at Pegasus Event Center. The morning began as volunteers gathered to help mark the course and set up obstacles. Then, in the afternoon, riders set out to decipher various written clues and pictures to determine which obstacles they had to complete in order to gain points. Obstacles were spread out across the 80-acre course at Pegasus and included the pits, the toothpicks, the swamp, the mine, and a tent. After finishing the scavenger hunt, riders then participated in a Gambler's Choice event where they had a limited amount of time to negotiate obstacles with different point values; riders chose which obstacles they wished to complete in order to gather the most points within their time allowed.
The afternoon concluded with barbecued pulled chicken sandwiches, chocolate-cherry cobbler, and the presentation of prizes.
We are very appreciative of the riders that came out to support our program, and also of our many volunteers that spent their day with us. Thank you all for your invaluable support!
Stay tuned later this week as we prepare to participate in Pegasus' upcoming Extreme Horseman's Challenge!
We have decided to put on our annual trail ride on September 12, 2015. We are so excited, because the state has allowed us to host the ride on the beach of the Great Salt Lake. This is such a unique and rare opportunity to be able to ride here. We are still working on the preparations but they are coming along steadily. We have a good first response but hopefully more people will sign up. We would love to see as many people as possible on this ride; we would hate to have to cancel if we have less than 15 riders. We are also desperate for volunteers; we need people to judge the obstacles, be a runner or be a safety rider. If anyone is interested please let us know. The ride is only a month away but I know the time will just fly by!
The Permit has arrived! We are set. Several people are at least thinking about coming, so it looks to be fun. We are planning to have a driving course as well. While we really need rain, I hope it comes soon so that the trail will be dry by the 12th.
On August 1, 2015 we will be participating in the Extreme Horseman's Challenge. This event is held is at the Pegasus Barn in Grantsville Utah. This one is special because once a year, they hold the challenge at night to avoid the summer heat. It's a lot of fun to watch the extreme riders go flying around the course in the middle of the night. We will be riding right before sunset, so it's not quite as extreme, but it's enough for us. One of our vets will be hopefully be joining us, as well as our volunteer. We are so excited and are doing all we can to prepare ourselves for this event.