Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I really AM a Cowgirl

For years and years I have put myself in the path of equine (not literally of course) hoping that some day I would enjoy it as much as my friends. But I never did.

My first exposure came when I would often tag along with my college roommate and best friend to her equestrian lessons and events. I would wait for hours until she finally let me ride her beautiful Thoroughbred Ben. He was safe by this time as she had worn him out to the point where he would barely move for me. But I was always nervous and didn't push him to go beyond a lazy stroll. I remember the long drives and the long waits and sitting in the stands while she completed her hunter/jumper events. I cheered (not knowing really what for other than, "Yeah, you didn't fall off!") because I found it amazing that she never did (at least when I was around). I remember the two of us in the hallway of our dorm, her laying on the floor while I tugged her riding boots off observing the latest bruise the size of, well the size of a hoof to be honest. And I thought, 'I understand why she does this. But why am I doing this? I'm not a horse person.'

Later on I was with a wonderful young man whose family had horses that we would often ride after Sunday diner. I was always excited to do so. But again, nervous as anything. I could never tack up the horse myself and by the end of the ride my legs were so soar I could barely stand. Looking back, I never really enjoyed it. I rode because I kept thinking I would enjoy it but I never did. It was nerve racking. My horse was lazy and would walk right in the middle of the road scaring me half to death. I was so relieved when it was over. But I kept riding and in the back of my head there was the same question,'Why am I doing this?'

At the same time another friend wanted to use me as her guinea pig to start giving lessons. She wanted me to ride without my feet in the stirrups and put my arms to the side as the horse walked around the field. All this time I had never really reached a point in which I could comfortably trot or canter a horse. It freaked me out every time they started to speed up! Again, 'Why am I doing this?'.

Several years and relocations later, I decided to give the equine thing one more shot by working out at Last Chance. The theory; by being around different types of horses on the ground, I will gain the much needed confidence I have been lacking all this time that will lead to me being the best rider I can be. To be honest, I was not gung ho for saddling up. I was perfectly content walking around the paddock and confessing all of my deep dark secrets to the long, sympathetic faces that were really just after the hay in my wheel barrel. Lets face it, if I'm nervous about horses that are sound, all with known histories, how in the world am I going to ride a horse that has been rescued from God knows what?

One afternoon, the idea came from Victoria. "Leah, I think you should get a lesson today. I've got the perfect horse for you.," she stated out of the blue.

Isaac was his name. He had originally been rescued from the slaughter auction in Sugarcreek and returned to us recently after he suddenly 'retired' from being a lesson horse. Basically he was tired of going in circles and began staging 'stand-ins' during lessons.

Stretch (aka Rachael) helped me saddle him up and I wore a helmet - for the first time ever - and off into the paddock we went. Some things I had learned were coming back. But over all the ride was a little boring. So I, on Isaac and Stretch riding bareback on George, headed off across the road to do a little trail ride. While I remained a little timid, Isaac was in his element and we lead the way through brush and water and over banks. He was fun. And I was excited! I thought this would be a great horse for me to start from scratch on. Little did I know this would be the start of a blessing for Last Chance but a curse for Leah - he was sold that week.

Later on I rode Stubs. Sold that week.

Then Tracker and I had the ride of my life as you read in Lauren's entry about our trail ride. Sold that day! To the same family that bought Stubs!

So this weekend I rode one of the oldest, most down-trodden horses on the farm. With arthritic knees but still hot as a pistol, we decided that I was ready for an upgrade, a horse with some training. Mack is not the prettiest boy in the barn (a past kick has left him with an asymmetrical face. But I love it anyway), but he and I were buddies long before I threw a saddle on his back.

This weekend we bonded. He had me at first. He knew I couldn't trot and steer at the same time. So we trotted from one end to the other. Back and forth, back and forth. Lauren and Tracy provided good pointers and encouragement along the way. But I didn't want to push anything.

The next ride out was AMAZING! Mack and I picked up right where we left off. Lauren on Teddy and I on Mack went across the road and MAN what a difference! After Victoria suggested I try neck reigning, Mack was like riding a scooter! He moved with every little signal I gave him and was in tune to the gear I wanted to stay in (even though he really wanted to go for it).

So the moral to this extremely long blog entry is - I really AM a cowgirl!

I always thought I could never be since my interest started well into adulthood whereas all true horse people I've known were in a saddle the day after they started walking. And while I was not doing any formal ground work with these horses, the fact that I was out there frequently wrangling them around, moving them from stall to paddock, entering their stalls during feeding time, etc., it is clear to me that a relationship on the ground is vital to the relationship in the saddle. Mack and I were not strangers. We were simply taking our relationship to the next level.

I've also learned some things about tack such as I WANT AN EQUITATION SADDLE! Simply put, it places you in the correct position. Oh, and chaps are good too. Especially when they have fringe and silver medallions :).

But seriously, it took me a while - about 12 years - but I finally got here. I am comfortable, confident and truly enjoying these wonderful animals for the first time. Thank you Victoria, Lauren, Stretch, Tracy, Isaac, Stubs, Tracker and Mack.

the newbie

Friday, October 24, 2008

Notes from the newbie

Hi all,

This is Leah and thank you Lauren for starting this blog! There is never a dull moment on the farm. Trying to convey what happens on a day to day basis is quite the task. And I'm only here on the weekends! This blog will give all of you an intimate look at what we do at Last Chance.

It has been an absolute privilege to tend to these animals. And trust me folks, the therapy that goes on here travels both ways. Since the start of my volunteer work this past spring, I have grown in confidence and skill which is directly related to my overall better mood (much cheaper than Prozac). I always leave for home with a smile stretched from ear to ear.

I can go on and on about Last Chance Corral and write pages and pages right now. But I will instead try to keep up with this blog as Lauren as already done. From me you will get the newbie perspective of things. While most of you reading this may have years of riding experience with walls dripping of ribbons from your many successful showing events, I am still breaking in my boots. So after every weekend, my growth in knowledge and experience will be logged here for all of you to track.

See you in the paddock,


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sorry for the lack of posts..

We got a little overwhelmed around here the last day or two!

We are currently hosting a clinic with Greg Kersten of the OK Corral. It is a clinic about equine assisted psychotherapy, or EAP. It has been very enlightening to be a part of this, and it has been a very neat experience for our horses as well, many of whom get to participate! Even Brutus, the big warmblood with the bad bow, got to enjoy some fun on the 'obstacle course' today.

Unfortunately, that meant we had to get the foal barn clean for the participants to enjoy lectures in. It was a LONG two days we've had! If you've visited the farm in the last month or two, you know what the foal barn looked like - it was a MESS! No longer. The milk room has been cleaned and organized, the foal barn has been cleaned and organized. We even washed the windows and walls, and repainted the doors! Whew! It was worth it though, it looks beautiful.

The big downside is that all the work we've done lately put Victoria in bed. She is on bed rest for two days - she has been experiencing extreme back spasms.

I rode our new black horse, Smokey, today. He is a very nice, well trained boy. He should be fine for anyone. He is a little foot sore in front from being barefoot - Chuck comes Monday. He would be suitable for just about anyone, I think, but I haven't tried a beginner on him yet. He has a lovely little jog and lope. I guess we are still assuming he is an Appendix QH. Does anyone know how to check appendix tattoos? His tattoo does not match the USTA or the Jockey Club, so that rules those two out. Anyway, he is very sweet and quiet and shouldn't be a problem at all. He and Teddy have been buddied up. ; )

Leah came out today and wanted to take the next step in her riding by trying out a tougher horse. So she rode Mack today. They both did very well, and by the end of the ride/lesson, they had each other figured out. Leah could trot all the way around the ring without stopping! That was a feat, she and Mack argued about steering for a bit at first. Hopefully this horse doesn't get the Leah jinx as well... I guess I can't say that, how can you hope a horse doesn't get adopted? That would just be silly.

I know I still have not gotten any Yuri stories up yet! I was hoping Victoria would want to write something up about him. Anyway, he is doing very well. He has a pot belly like you wouldn't believe! I need to teach him to longe so he has something to do, all the little horse does is hang out and eat. He is about eight months now. He is very quiet and well behaved - that is the advantage to growing up here. The disadvantage is that he is kind of spacey when you're working with him/leading him. He hasn't had a lot of 'respect' work, and needs to be worked with more consistenly. (I'll try to get on that...) He is a nice boy and would make a really nice horse for someone, but he really needs to get the heck out of here! It is hard on a horse to grow up at the LCC... they never get any attention to themselves. Mack is like his grandpa, he protects Yuri wherever Yuri goes. Too cute.

A big, huge, gigantic thank you to all the very kind folks who have sponsered Triumph and King through their starvations. We need all the help we can get financially right now - it is early in the season to be getting starvation victims, and Victoria is afraid more will be arriving soon. (She can never turn down a starvation case!)

I will do my best to get some updated pics of those boys this weekend. I can't believe how much weight they have gained in two weeks!!! Especially because neither of them are big hay eaters, even alfalfa. ; / They both finish all their grain though...

Tomorrow is another busy day. I apologize if the posts are sparse this weekend! I will try to stay on top of things. I go back to Columbus again Monday for the night and to move out of my house, so I will get my beater camera so I can actually have some pictures to show you!

Monday, October 20, 2008

All is never what it seems.

Our 16.2 hand, 23 year old Appendix QH is no Appendix QH. As we pulled in the driveway, Victoria looked and the paddock at the two horses standing there, and stated, "There is a QH and a TB, but no Appendix there!" A quick check under the lip proved this big, black boy is indeed a TB. We are unsure of his exact age - it appears to be an "S," but his teeth definitely age out at mid-20's, at least. I'll have to take a pic and do a little manipulation to see what we can find out. He looks very healthy, and very sound - no sign he's aged except for a little grey around his throatlatch.

He seems totally quiet. He had these two very kind women wrapped around his little finger! They were worried he would be bad to load, as they told us last time he was loaded it was very disastrous. He saw the lunge whip and hopped right on. Coincidentally, we stopped to pick up hay and had to unload and reload him quickly, and I didn't even have to get the whip, I lifted my hand and he hopped right on. ; ) The woman who donated him said that his old owner rode him bareback in a hackamore all the time. He was very underweight when this woman got him, and she has done a beautiful job getting him back to health. We'll ride him in the next day or two and see how it goes from there. He definitely knows something!

I'll try to get ya'll a picture tonight!

On the road again...

Victoria and I are in the truck on our way to Newark to pick up a horse. He is a 23 year old Appendix QH, 16.2 hands, supposedly completely bombproof and has done everything under the sun. He just won't do anything for his new owner. So, here we go. Thanks to the wonders of technology, I have time to update our blog on the way! Hooray for Blackberrys and laptops.

Yesterday, after much waiting, we went on our ride at Stroud's Run. It was National Rescue Ride day, and all across the country, rescues had benefit trail rides for their organizations. Despite our advertising, we had a small turnout. Victoria, Leah and I came on LCC horses, Karen brought her horse Cowboy, Karen's friends Jen and John rode LCC horses, and Karen's friend Michelle brought her show horse, Bandit. No matter the number, we were determined to have a great ride, and we couldn't have asked for a better day! Jen and John warned us they hadn't ridden in several years, but we soon realized we had no reason to worry, they did wonderfully and had a blast. Victoria took her Burly, who of course, was good as gold. I took Charmer and he was fantastic. Leah took Tracker, and she had her best ride to date!! Tracker is a really good boy, the two of them definitely were understanding each other and communicating wonderfully by the end of the ride. The hills could not have been more beautiful! Jackie had lunch waiting for us when we all returned. We are hopeful that next year's National Rescue Ride will be a big fundraiser for our organization, and we'll have a whole parking lot full of riders.
Leah is getting her "cowgirl groove" on. Either that or she's decided to become a cowgirl super model, we aren't sure....
(left) John and Mack, (right) Victoria and Burly (Burly was a little embarrassed about his English saddle...)

Karen and Cowboy get ready
Jen and Sunni are ready for the ride!
Victoria and John check out Dow Lake
Leah and I attempt a self portrait....Karen galloped up a hill, and her saddle pads escaped from beneath her saddle!
Charmer and I
Leah and Tracker
Michelle and Bandit
Group Pic!!

Every horse that was out on the trail ride yesterday was phenomenal. We have a really spectacular group of horses here for adoption right now!

Leah was so encouraged after her ride with Tracker, but she said, "Of course, he will probably get adopted now, since he and I are really getting along!" Well, she jinxed herself!! As soon as we got home, the phone rang. Tracker now has a new home with the Audet's, who recently adopted Stubbs. The Audet's are the kind of adopters we just adore. Their 10 year old daughter is the horse person in the family. Stubbs and Tracker have 60 acres of pasture to explore, buddies to play with, and a little girl who loves on them every night. What horse could ask for more?

Leah and Tracker, enjoying the trails.

While I was gone on Friday, Teddy was returned to us. He was fostered out in the spring as a buddy for another horse, and now the other horse was ready to be on his own. I will repost him on the available horses page. Teddy is an almost-17 hand grey TB, 18 years old, sound and sane. Teddy knows a LOT, he knows basic dressage and also was a hunter/jumper lesson horse. With Victoria, Stacy, and I, Teddy is a dream to ride, but it appears that he can be particular about his owner, and when you don't "click" with him, he's a little disagreeable. He could easily have a future career as a low level dressage or event horse, or in the hunter/jumper world. What Teddy really wants more than anything is an owner of his OWN. He is tired of being ridden by someone different every day. He has impeccable ground manners, is affectionate and very sweet. Stacy took Teddy camping with me at Beavercreek in June, and we had him tied on a picket line and ridden out on the trails all weekend. He is very sure-footed and dependable on the trail.

Teddy at Beavercreek in June, being the consummate professional!

I finally had time to take Schatzee out on the trail last night as well. She is really fun! She was calm and level headed, but she definitely wanted very badly to go for a run up the hill. She didn't mind being away from the farm on her own - no calling, spooking, or jigging. She is finally not in heat anymore, and is much nicer to work around now that she isn't leaning into me whenever I touch her sides... ha, ha. At only 7 years old, Schatzee could do anything. She has a very obedient and solid walk, trot, and canter, but needs more education on bending and flexing. She will pop over fences without a problem. Best of all, look at how darn cute she is! She would make a wonderful horse for someone.

I took some time to groom Triumph and King last night, too. They are both still pretty sore from their castrations. We have been worried about Triumph, as he was battling a bit of infection, so he finished courses of penicillin and SMZs today. Triumph, King, and Tango have been hanging out in the 'need to gain weight' paddock all week, and last night, Sunni was added there as well. They are getting all the hay they will eat, and grain 3 times a day, to help get their weight up. I hope to start King back under saddle as soon as his genitals (or lack thereof) are feeling a little better. ; ) The other night when I was grooming Triumph in the barn, we played a little with a saddle pad and a surcingle, and he did great! He is a really smart boy.

Sunni was also in foster care for a little bit, and he is back at the LCC now. His foster mom was having trouble getting him to gain weight. He should put it back on in no time now. Sunni is an older Arabian who used to be a 4-H horse and did a little of everything. He went on our trail ride and did fantastic. He wouldn't be for a total beginner, as he has a little get up and go, but a confident advanced beginner/intermediate probably would do great with him.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Mack is one heck of a horse.

This morning was about as crazy as it gets around here - twenty college students working to fulfill their scholarship requirements. (BTW, what kind of scholarship only requires 8 hours of community service? The other girls who are here every weekend have to have 100 hours...) So they painted fence. We have a lot of fence here to divide this 2.75 acres into as many separate spaces as possible! They didn't make a ton of progress in four hours, but oh well. Apparently we will have another twenty on November 7th, maybe they can finish then.

In the midst of that, someone came to see Charmer. Always the best timing around here... haha. Charmer did very well with the girl. I can see how he would get pissy about hard hands. Hers weren't really hard, but she rode with a lot of contact, and he wasn't crazy about that at the canter. He is so sweet though. They also wanted to see Tracker. He is such a cool little horse. I rode him in the ring and they said they thought he was TOO quiet... so I said, "Just let me take him across the street and see what you think." I think they thought I was just messing with them, trying to get him out of here. They saw the difference though, he is a different horse on the trail. He was so happy. ; ) Tracker does supposedly have a touch of navicular - he wears egg bar shoes - but he is very, very sound, I would not be surprised if some proper hoof care and trimming could even get him out of those shoes. I mean, he has been ridden pretty often this week, and he is out of shape. Up and down a LOT of hills, trotting on gravel, riding on asphalt, all that good stuff and he hasn't taken a lame step.

Leah was here this afternoon and wanted to take another practice ride on Tracker, so Victoria tacked up Burly and I took Mack out. Mack is the QH in his early 20's with the gnarly knees. Talk about surprisingly sound. Victoria kept telling me he was sound, and I will admit I thought the same thing you all probably did - no way can those knees hold up to real riding. Well, was I wrong. Victoria has been telling me all week, "Oh he is so cool! He is such a neat horse! You have to ride him! He is so great!" The first five minutes were funny - he was just kind of whiney, he would pin his ears if I put leg on him at all. (He probably was pissed he had a stinkin' english saddle on his back.) Then all of a sudden he kind of took a deep breath, and you could feel him think, "Oh, ok. I suppose you are WORTHY of being on MY back." ; ) What a proud boy!! We took him up on the loop of the new trails, hills and all, he is sound as can be. We lit them up a bit in the meadow, and he just loped around a little by himself on the top of the hill. On the way back through the woods, Victoria ran Burly up a hill, and Mack really wanted to go too, so V came back down to stay with Leah and Tracker and I let Mack go. Let me be the first to tell you, he is in no way hindered by those knees!!! He can light it UP when he wants to. As soon as I said "whoa" he pulled himself right back up, too. He was very amenable to me being obnoxious and making him walk very close to Tracker. (Leah hasn't been on the trail much and I get worried.) He was so happy being ridden; this is a very, very nice horse who deserves a spectacular home where he will be used. He isn't to be ridden excessively hard or shown any more - he has paid those dues for years. He would be great as a trail/pleasure horse for someone who likes something fun but doesn't want to get killed. He is not for a beginner. He won't do anything nasty but he is well trained and has one heck of an engine. I rode him on a loose rein almost the whole way without a problem. He will be a reliable and safe partner for many years to come. Let me know if anyone has any questions about him.

Someone has requested some Yuri stories, so I may have them tomorrow, Victoria wanted to write a couple... reminder, tomorrow is our National Rescue Ride at Stroud's Run. Everyone's invited! The farm will be CLOSED!! So please don't come visit us here tomorrow - come to Stroud's Run instead!! ; )

Hope everyone had a nice Saturday. What beautiful weather. It did get a little nippy tonight, we lit up the wood burning stove. I promise I will have more pics soon - I keep forgetting my beater camera at home, and I'm not about to take my DSLR out on the trail!!!

Have a great rest-of-the-weekend!

Riding pics of Schatzee and Charmer

Aren't they both just darling? Today someone came to look at Charmer, but I'm not certain he'd work for them. The girl rode him beautifully though. He is so cute!

(Check out that crazy head tilt I have going on in every pic.. haha... need to work on that one.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

King comes home.

King has returned from the vet's today. I put him out with Triumph in the small flat paddock so they can recover together. King snuffled calmly at Triumph, and seemed quite content. They seem to be getting along just fine. Having them in one paddock together allows them (both being starvation boys) to be fed several times a day without problems.

Tango is out in the back paddock with Schatzee and Asti, but she seems quite depressed. I can't get her to eat more than a few bites of grain, even when I bring her in to eat. Victoria and I think she misses her boyfriend from the hill. Hopefully she turns a corner soon. She is starting to lose some weight.

All the boys are in the middle paddock, but Cool had to come in. He is such a herdy boy, he likes to chase everyone. Not very kind of him!! With Cool in the barn, everyone else has settled down as well. It is a herd of sorrel QHs... doesn't anyone need sorrel QHs anymore?? ; )

The few posts below are from Victoria. She writes stories for me to post to our blog, and I type them up for her. We are really enjoying this!!

I will be going home for the day tomorrow, so there will be no post until Friday. Don't worry, we're all still alive. ; )

Woodwork - by Victoria

My carpentry skills are put to the test. I'm sure that you realize by now that we can't afford to hire any skilled labor for repairs and construction here at the farm. Hence, my brief but action packed education in the art of wood butchery has commenced. We needed a set of stairs to Lauren's room above the foal barn. Stairs can be befuddling even to a seasoned "skill saw" worker. I've never been one to run from a new experience, so I dove in. Long story short, I did it - even including a midflight platform on a 90 dregree turn!! I was so proud I called up my father to boast. He, above all, taught me to never stop learning new skills. This week I put a paneled ceiling in the milk/medicene room and I'm still working on the trim. Given that nothing - and I mean NOTHING - in this place is square or even flat, compounded by my lack of skill - it's been a challenge from one board to the next.

I will have this place in ship shape by foal season... Come Hell or high water!!

The foal room ceiling - how beautiful!! It doesn't even look like the same room!

A post from Victoria -

This week the LCC has somehow pleased the Gods and they smiled upon us. Their smile came in the form of Lauren. Lauren has been with the LCC since her internship at 18 years old. In the past year she has only been able to come on brief visits to help when things were at their worst with the foals. This was because she had a job and a home way up north in Marysville (two plus hours away). Personal circumstances found Lauren seeking a change of scenery - her reasons are her own. Though she didn't exactly relish the idea of leaving the job she loves... she was pulled to help the animals here. I am simply overwhelmed and she knew it. Now, I know I can't offer her the scale of wages that she is used to, and that she is worth... But I can back up my paltry pay with room and board!! As an extra bonus she can earn that warm-all-over feeling of helping the helpless. Her knowledge and enthusiasm towards this work knows no bounds. I am really blessed to have her in my life.

Lauren not only brings her skills to the table but her two rescue dogs! Now our two room cabin houses two German Shepherds, two wolf crosses, one Great Dane and one redbone cross. Not to mention an assortment of cats! What a cacophony! If you call us on the phone and all you hear is a loud concerto in dog major... you now know why.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Victoria even got to ride today!

Karen-Boots was here this morning to help with chores. Tracy was sick with some kind of flu - hope we all don't get it. We have so many Karen's around here, they all need a second name, so we have Karen-Boots, Karibou Karen, Xena Karen... it gets confusing.

Chores were all finished relatively early, so Victoria and I got to go for a quick trail ride. Victoria took Burly, the extremely nice QH fundraiser we have available, and I took Tracker. Tracker's such a good boy! I really like that horse. A great little trail horse. We did have a moment when I almost died, thanks to an AEP truck that tried to run us down, but, all in a day's ride, right?? ; ) Victoria showed me the new trails they found, so now I know where to go with Stacy next time she's down.

I unpacked some stuff into the tack store, and fed dinner. Leah wanted to come out and have a quick lesson on Tracker, as she is hoping to ride him at our National Rescue Ride on Sunday. She did VERY well with him, even though he spooked for a moment in the woods! I rode Burly, just so she wasn't by herself. Just a ten minute walk through the woods. I tell you what, that Burly is one HECK of a horse. I am not nearly a good enough rider to be riding a horse that well trained. Reining, cutting, roping... whatever western discipline you're into, if a 16 hand red roan QH would look good there, this is your horse. Incredible. He is a FUNDRAISER to help raise money for the starvation horses.

King went to Pete's to get his testicals removed today. He comes home tomorrow. I shuffled all the horses around so Triumph and King can have a paddock to themselves to eat and recover their pride. *G* All the geldings are in the middle paddock - Burly, Tracker, Mack, Yuri, Charmer, and sometimes Cool - and the mares - Schatzee, Tango, and Asti - are in the back paddock. HOPEFULLY that will help the little hussy Schatzee get over her being-in-heat issue... my goodness! I like keeping mares and geldings separate, anyway - less fighting and running. Of course, on 2.75 acres, it isn't easy... ha, ha.

Victoria and I are both stiff from the work we've been doing around here lately... a good night's sleep is in order. Applebee's for dinner - no cooking for us tonight.

Sorry for the short post! The washing machine FINALLY gets fixed tomorrow. And tomorrow is Stacy's birthday! Happy birthday Stacy!

Monday, October 13, 2008

A new arrival.

(in the trailer, on the way to the LCC)

Yesterday afternoon Victoria received a call from a wonderful woman, who we will call 'T.' T had a starving Percheron stallion that she had rescued who she could no longer afford to feed. Victoria wrote the story from here:

"What were the odds that we would end up with TWO starving Percheron stallions at the same time? And in both cases, that we would be the second tier rescue? Well, I'm not sure what the odds were, but the fact is that it has happened.
King was an Amish-bred Percheron who was purchased as a two year old by a man who used him as a herd stud. The stallion wandered lush fields breeding mares, not a care in the world...
Until one day, when he was sold to a less than caring man who put the beautiful black stallion out in a tiny dirt pen. There were too many horses on the farm and not enough food. The lovely horse's light began to fade as famine took the helm. His slow decent into hell was accelerated when he fell through a rotten floor in an old dog kennel that served as his shelter. Not so much "fell through" this floor as became ensnared by it. His right front hoof was through the floor boards and stuck. He lay on the planks until his owner told the employees to wrap him in electric fence and turn it on. "He'll get himself out of there." He figured the pain would shock him into fighting himself free. It did not. He simply lay there in a quivering heap. Only at this point did it occur to them to chainsaw out the offending boards, freeing the previously electrocuted prisoner.
At this point I couldn't believe my ears! They did what to this horse??? You couldn't make this kind of stuff up!
King's front hoof was a mess, his hide stretched tight over his bony frame, his face covered in fungus. He was continuing to lose weight. T finally convinced the owner that King must have cancer. The owner agreed to allow T to take him to the vet, and bury him if he did have cancer. Well, lucky for King, all he had was a lack-of-grocery-itis. T took him home to her farm on July 8th. She has patiently been helping him regain his strength and well-being since. When he arrived at her farm, he was so weak, he traveled the entire 1 1/2 hours laying down in her trailer. Without T's patience, love, kindness, and financial support, King would NOT have pulled through! What a guardian angel!
King has gained about 200 pounds since he arrived at T's farm. He still needs to gain at least 200-300 more to be a healthy horse. He is sound and has a heart of gold. Tomorrow he'll become a gelding and start his retraining to be a contributing member of the equine society."

How lucky is that!! Another starving Percheron. We can never turn away a starvation case.... here are photos of King from when he was sold to WV, exactly a year ago yesterday:

King in July:

King tonight... with his new stall buddy Brutus, skinny pre-grooming picture, and post-grooming pic. (What a difference a brush makes!)

Triumph was SUCH A GOOD BOY today... what a SMART boy he is. I put him in the crossties for the first time EVER - no big deal for him. He got a thorough grooming, and then he learned to pick up his feet. I say 'learned'.... it took him all of two tries to 'get it.' Let me hold and pick out all four feet. He is a really gentle, smart horse. I also figured out that treats are a great motivator for him to keep his attention on me. The leading is coming along so nicely. He leads absolutely perfectly and is super responsive, except for when he decides it is time to go somewhere else, and he just drags me there. SO, the treats worked fantastic, he could look and neigh a little, but he only got a treat when he 'whoa'd politely and backed two steps. Yay! Tomorrow I'll try it without any chain at all. I still had the chain on in case he started dragging me, but I didn't have to use it at all today.

I also took Tracker out for a little ride. Tracker is a really cute little QH who is just as sweet and easy going as can be. He rides in a side pull. He really doesn't like ring work. I took him in the arena first, and I had to use a crop to get him to canter. He wasn't bad, he just was laaaaazy. We went out on the trails across the road for a minute after, and he was like a different horse. Really fun to ride. He would make such a nice trail horse for someone. He's the right height for a trail horse too - easy to get on and off of! His eyes look silly in this pic because the neighbors behind us were revving 4-wheelers....

Schatzee and I tried out the creek across the road too, and she didn't mind leaving the barnyard by herself or the traffic. It was dusk, and I was worried about a black horse and a rider in a black t-shirt being in the woods, so we made it quick, but I'll try again for a bit tomorrow. I wanted to take Charmer out across the road too, but ran out of time. Bummer!

Have a good Tuesday... I am finally getting to bed!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Finally, some ride time!

Sundays are always eventful at the farm. We have an open house every Sunday from 12-4, where people are welcome to show up whenever and visit. This means people are constantly coming and going. Today was no exception; a film crew was filming for a documentary, volunteers arrived from the OU equestrian team, an adopter came for a visit, someone stopped to drop off donations, a previous donor stopped in to see how our progress was coming on the farm projects... it was an endless stream!

Students from OU regularly come to the farm for photography and film projects. A group of boys were here today to film their documentary project. It is always fun to see how it turns out - can't wait. They were here from 9 AM until after 5 PM!! And of course they wanted to catch everything on video, so I had to wait and wait and wait to feed and clean.... I'm not a very photogenic person, I wish someone else had been here for them to harass... ha, ha.

An adopter from a year or so ago - I forget her blogger ID, she'll have to post it! - stopped by with some wonderful goodies for us today. We can always use donated tack items. We have finally opened our 'Last Chance Corral Outfitters Outpost' in the old shop, and now anyone can come and peruse our collections if they are looking for a new piece of horse equipment. The adopter - "S" - quickly got roped into being my ground person while I tried out the two new TBs. The two new TBs, Charmer and Schatzee, were donated by a college student who had accumulated too many horses in her college career. Supposedly, they were both used on the OU equestrian team in the past.

S and I worked with Schatzee first, and she is a lovely little girl. She is a very black TB with a little star. Her donor said she is a witch... she seems fine to S and I. She had an odd habit of sort of pinning me in the crossties when I brushed her back and sides, but S and I both think it may be because she is in RAGING heat. She was not being malicious in any way - her ears were up and she was perfectly content - but it took a heck of a lot of banging and hollering to get her off me. She seems to have ONLY been handled with a chain - if you don't have a chain over her nose, she is a big oaf on the ground. Anyone know a way to correct this, other than just using a chain all the time? She lunged nicely and was easy to ride. I definitely think she's one of those TBs that will run if you get grabby with your hands, but I know her teeth also need done badly, so that may have been the resistance I was feeling. S said her tattoo looks like an 'A', so that makes her a 97 model. She is a really a sweet girl - smooth trot, easy to ride in all three gaits.

I was a little worried about dealing with Charmer, he has been a bit studdy around Schatzee, with her being in heat and all. I needn't have worried. He stood in the cross ties right next to her (with her, of course, nuzzling his bum) and he never even blinked an eye. He is sooo adorable, bay with four socks and a star. He must have had some kind of head trauma in the past, his skull is a little misshapen, but it ends up giving him a very refined look about his head... haha. He has a big leg from a copperhead bite last year, but he is sound on it. The vet said it will heal better with time. He had impeccable ground manners, lunged like a champ, and sooo nice to ride!! You just think about what you want to do next and he does it. His trot's quite bouncy, but worth it for his nice manners. Victoria did tell me that he doesn't like riders with rough hands, so I guess when he was with OU he perfected the shoulder-duck-and-buck method of dealing with aggressive hands. S and I both rode him and he was an absolute gentleman. I really like this horse. He would be such a wonderful partner with the right person.

S's husband took pics - she said she will send them later tonight!

Triumph had an interesting little refresher course in leading today while the film crew was here. They wanted me to stand with him and talk a little bit about his story. It took twenty minutes of repositioning for them to have us where they wanted us!! The poor little colt who can't lead led like a champ! Three feet this way, two feet back, wait can you try the other side of the paddock? I thought I was going to kill them, haha. But Triumph tolerated it all without a fuss. Even when they popped open their big silver light catcher thingy RIGHT in front of his good eye - he blinked a few times, and sighed. He is a good little boy. I can't wait for him to continue learning. I would really like to find someone who would like to spend some time with Triumph on a regular basis, just messing with him, teaching him ground manners, and helping him learn to like people. If you know anyone local who might be interested, let me know.

Speaking of Triumph, I found his story on Happy Trails website! Check it out, there are pics from where they found him: Happy Trails Farm Sanctuary (Fixed the link!!)

Just a note, LCC will be CLOSED next Sunday, the 19th. It is the National Rescue Ride day. Check it out at http://nationalrescueride.org. You can register for our ride at Stroud's Run if you want. It is a ride or walk event, so if you don't have a horse, who cares!!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A busy day.

Another busy day at the LCC. This morning, Tango gets turned out for the first time since she came back from the farm "on the hill." There is a farm in Athens - about ten minutes from this farm - that we lease from a very generous donor. It has acres of grass pastures, which is the one thing we lack here. Tango has been living there with Cyrus, an old crippled recovered starvation victim. Cyrus came down with some intestinal issues, and a trip to the vet revealed his internal systems were calling it quits. This left Tango without a buddy on the hill, so, she is home for a few weeks.

Tango was Donny's main ride for the past several years, until she was officially retired 3 years ago. She is 38 years old, a New Zealand bred TB. She played polo until she was in her mid-twenties. She is a mean, grumpy, sassy old mare. But, Victoria promised her ten years ago she'd paid her dues and would get to die here. (OK, she didn't plan on it taking this long, but...) Tango still has enough spunk that it took two heavy doses of sedative AND a twitch to float her old teeth on Friday. I will have to get you a picture of her teeth - they are so angled outwards, they protrude from between her lips, so she is constantly snarling. Anyway, she got to go out with Cool, who is a meanie in the field, and two other TBs. I tell you, Tango doesn't even have to chase anyone to be in charge. She just looks at them, and they know. 38 years young; she is a little on the thin side, but still looking good:

I had a great pair of volunteers today, and we decided to bathe poor little Triumph, the 2 year old Percheron starvation victim brought to us by Happy Trails Farm Sanctuary, who rescued him. Well, the problem with Triumph is, he doesn't know how to lead. AT ALL. We mastered moving forward very quickly - good boy! - the dilemma was that he just does not understand that I am at the end of the lead rope and he can't go wherever he darn well pleases. This resulted in a really scary few moments as I first was dragged headlong down the driveway, then was nearly dragged off the 'dock' at the back of the Hope barn. There isn't a mean bone in this poor boy's body, he just has no understand at all of the situation. His left eye was removed last week, so he can't see you when you're leading him. He is also the most unfazeable animal I've ever seen, so all the jumping up and down and waving your arms and being scary doesn't bother him one bit. We switched to his right side, so he could see me, which helped a ton. When he is with you, he is very attentive; barely a wiggle on the lead and he will back up, and gentle little tug and he will walk with you. He just doesn't understand the he can't wander away whenever he wants. I did finally have to put a chain on him, because it was scary, and I was concerned about someone who didn't know better trying to lead him somewhere. He "got it" very quickly, really... he is quite a smart boy! He pays attention very nicely at the end of the rope, and is learning to stand quietly as he is being groomed. We just have to learn that we can't wander off whenever we want. ; ) He is very intelligent though, I was so proud of him, and he was soooo happy to be loved on! I bet he will mature into a beautiful, loving horse for someone. He is so malnourished he looks like a weanling in his proportions - but he is 15.2, at least! You can see how skinny he is.... his ears didn't suffer from the starvation, though.... hehehe. Liz White has graciously procured for us a 'prothesis' for his eye socket - it will be a silicone implant that will keep the skin from the empty eye socket from sinking in as everything heals. He won't have a creepy hole, in other words. ; ) Thanks Liz!!

Our volunteers, Leila and Rachel, also helped with little Yuri for a few minutes today. Yuri is a LOVELY little almost-yearling who was a nurse mare foal last spring. He has been looking for his new home for some time now, but no one is interested in a commitment his age. He is a little TB x Percheron cross and will grey out in the next few years. His ground manners have improved considerably in the last few weeks, and it would make a nice addition to your barn!

Victoria worked on the milk room ceiling - it is wood panelling, and will be beautiful! Leila and Rachel stained many more floorboards for the living room. Last year, the living room floor basically collapsed. Victoria dug all of it out, put a fantastic slate area around the wood burning stove, and put in sub flooring... but we never got around to putting in the hardwood floors. Before this foal season, it will be complete! It has seemed like for the last year the house has been falling in around us - the milk room floor and the bathroom floor both rotted out a few months ago. Now they are lovely tile, and we won't have that problem again, as they were fixed RIGHT this time. Yeah!!

Have a relaxing Sunday!

The first post on the LCC blog.

So, we're trying something new here at the Last Chance Corral. A blog. Somewhat akin to Joe's morning journal, my intent is to shed some light on the day-to-day life here at the Last Chance. It's usually chaotic and often quite disorganized around here, but I'd like to share it with you as it is.

A quick overview: The Last Chance Corral, or LCC as it shall hereafter be referred to, is a non-profit 501(c)(3) horse rescue located in Athens, Ohio. Victoria Goss started the LCC in Rhode Island over twenty years ago, and we were granted non-profit status with the government in 1990. At that time, there were only one or two other horse rescue organizations in the US. Last year, we adopted out 148 nursemare foals and about 100 horses. We are a small facility with ten stalls on 2.75 acres, so we do not have a sanctuary program. All horses on are farm are adoptable, with the exception of one 38 year old New Zealand TB, Tango.

Victoria is the brains and brawn behind the whole operation. She is indestructible and undaunted in the face of any catastrophe. By herself, she runs every aspect of the farm. From finances to phone calls to stalls, she is in charge. She does most of the work on our very old log cabin by herself - currently, she is putting a new ceiling in our milk room and new wood floors in the living room. She is boundless!!

Tracy works full time during the week making sure all the horses are fed and the stalls and paddocks are clean, as well as keeping volunteers in line. Leah does the same on the weekends. Stacy is my best friend and the most fearless and capable rider I have ever known. She lives in Columbus and attends school at OSU, travelling down when she can. There are many other contributors to our existence, and I will introduce them as we go.

I am a peon in the big picture here. I have been a volunteer and intern for almost five years, but always lived in Columbus and therefore had limited time here. Recently, some big life changes have culminated in my two dogs, two cats, horse, and I all showing up on Victoria's doorstep hoping for a place to sleep. Thus, I live above the foal barn, work as many hours as I can, and hope I am contributing enough!! A daily journal for the LCC has always been a goal of mine - I want you all (donors, adopters, interested folks, anyone who might have time to say a little prayer for a sick horse) to be involved in our existence as much as possible. Victoria does NOT do computers, so she is not the one typing these posts. At times, she will write something for me to post. For the most part, it will be me. I'll try to keep things factual, ; ) but any opinions expressed are MINE, not Victoria's or the LCC's, unless indicated otherwise.

If you would like more information on anything discussed here, or would like to see specific photos of anything, let me know! My email for LCC is lastchancecorral@gmail.com. I will respond ASAP to the best of my ability. Our federal tax ID is available for anyone who needs it. Our address is 5350 Pomeroy Rd, Athens, OH, 45701.

Here we go!