The fun thing about a blog is that you can post pictures and write about subjects that you might not always share on Facebook. I look at this blog as being a sort of documentary on the ministry. Since the beginning of the ministry in 2007 until now, January of 2016, and writing about the journey, it's so amazing to be able to go back to previous blog posts and reflect on all the years past.
So reflecting on the past, I have had most of the same horses throughout the years. This is very special because we have been able to grow older with our horses. I got the mustangs when they were not quite two and they are turning 11 this year. We have three mares, Breehia, Cocoa and Allie that were all born in 2003 that will be turning 13 this year (2016). We got them when they were 8. Currently we have 4 horses in their 20s. The rest are in their teens with the exception of 2, Mina and Harley. Harley is about 8 and Mina will be 2 in May.
I lost one horse this year, Tigger, who had been in my care for about 7 years. He was 20. He died of a seizure. As I recalled later, I believe he had been having seizures for awhile possibly due to a brain tumor. We had thought he was either dehydrated or having digestive issues because of being a cribber. I was reassured by my vet that there would not have been anything I could have done about it had I known. So, I'm glad I didn't know, since we were really able to use him on and off, depending on how he was feeling, for the last year since we began noticing something was not quite right. Now I know why he didn't like us doing anything with him at the top of his head like clipping. He was such a great horse for us while we had him. We could always put beginners on him and be confident that he would do really well for them. We will miss him.
Another opportunity of reflecting back on the years, is acknowledging how faithful my group of volunteers have been. I have had the same 7 volunteers for many years!!! Not just a few years, but many years!!! My longest working volunteer is Crystal. She started with me in 2008 as a participant along with her daughter Genevieve. Because of her love for the ministry, she is now able to work with me as a part-time employee, 12 hours a week. The Lord has set her up with another part-time job in her field, where she can go in after horses on the 3 days she works at the ministry!! My volunteer Amanda, started coming out when she was 16. She is now 22!!! Mary Lynn and Dawn started around the same time. They were introduced to the ministry by a woman named Sunny who was only with the ministry for about 2 months!! Her purpose with the ministry for a very short season was to introduce Mary Lynn and Dawn to me who have now been with the ministry for about 6 years. Wow!!! This is so amazing to think about. Alan came from a Calvary Chapel Mentor program where I did a talk introducing the ministry. I do not go to events like these often, because I am never sure we could actually handle a sudden growth in the ministry. The amazing thing is that I've enjoyed Alan now as a volunteer for almost 5 years. In addition, one of the boys that he has been bringing out, Nicholas, is now 16 and his niece, who just turned 9, is also coming out. Can you imagine her waiting since she was 4??? She is doing really great too, by the way. This reminds me of a family that has been with the ministry for over 4 years, the Traders. The youngest sister, McKenzie is now a part of the ministry since she has turned the minimum age requirement of 9. She has waited a long time too. I know of other siblings that are excited to turn 9 to be able to ride with their sisters. And then there's Kelly and Mickey who started with their 3 children and have now become such a huge part of the ministry. Kelly is now the head volunteer for Tuesdays and does all the confirmations and lists of riders and horses and Mickey has taken over the entire Saturday group, which is our biggest, most popular day!!! I have other families, for example the Rodostas and the Millers, that have been with the ministry for many years. The ministry would not be what and where it is today if it wasn't for these amazing friends. I am so blessed!!!
In 2015, we only have a few events where we actually took pictures. Our first event was at the Southwest Regional Car Show where we had a booth. The car show split the fundraising earnings with us. That was such a blessing.
Then we had our annual fundraising event, which is our car wash and bake sale. This event always makes us about $1500 or so. We brought Allie and Dillon who make such great signs for the corners of Scottsdale and Redfield and Hayden and Redfield. We made the mistake of bringing Sophia for pictures this year. She spent most of her time pawing at the horse trailer making a ton of noise. Silly girl. I knew she pawed; I just didn't think about her doing that on the trailer. Always a learning process.
In the middle of 2015, we were blessed with the opportunity to use two of the horses that were being boarded at the ranch, Red Dog and Ranger. A coboarder and friend, Tina, asked if we could give lessons to her friends two boys on her two horses Red Dog and Ranger. I told her that we needed to ride them first to see what they were like before doing that and that it would be better for us to use our horses first to start her friends boys on. This is exactly what we did. And we have been able to use her horses with our horses now for the past 9 months. And her friend and two boys are still with the ministry. We even got to bring them to camp with us. Plus, she let us use her 2 horse trailer.
This year was our 6th annual horse camp. We had a total of 16 horses at camp. My son accompanied me to camp for the first time this year as well. He was such a blessing and great help to me. Always a big support. Here are some pictures of our amazing camp:
Also during this year we have made nice progress with training Mina. She is growing slowly but solidly and surely. She has her mom's beautiful head and eyes and her dad's body. We've ponied her a couple of times on the trail. She did really well. She's very relaxed and when she does spook which is rare, she just plants her feet. Those are the best kinds of spooks. We've clipped her, sacked her out, saddled her...she is learning voice commands and body signals. She is really smart and loves to learn. She still has a short attention span though, so it's important to not overdue her class time. Here are a few pictures of her in August of 2015.
On November 6th, we participated in the Fred Rathbun's Special Olympics at Western Saddle Club. Every one did great. We had a lot of help from our volunteers and participants. What a blessing it is to bless others.
The end of the year is always a great time to take pictures. This year we had them taken by our participant Anita who is a professional photographer. They all turned out great. It's hard choosing which ones to pick for the blog. Personally, I think Cocoa is the most photogenic.
And then I saved the best for last....a wonderful picture of our dear Tigger. You will be remembered for ever. You were a pillar in the ministry!!