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.
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.