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!
Laurie has a PhD in Psychology and has a love for horses. She has taken these two attributes to do equine facilitated therapy. Basically she uses horses to make people feel better mentally.