Friday, October 11, 2013

Feature Friday – Eagle Hill Equine Rescue – Annie Delp

Howdy Folks,
Since 2003 Eagle Hill Equine Rescue has found wonderful, loving homes for over 1,000 horses. Their mission is to, "To provide a safe, loving environment for any horse, but especially rescued newborn, weanling and yearling horses that would otherwise fall into the wrong hands." 
Foals and young horses they rescue find "everlasting" homes where they can live their lives as happy partners and family members, are the byproducts of a sub-industry in the Thoroughbred Racing world known as "Nurse Mare Foals."
Nurse Mare Foals arriving at Eagle Hill from Kentucky-Every sweet baby here was adopted into loving homes,
What is a Nurse Mare Foal? "These are foals that are orphaned, by design, and are in need of being rescued as young as 4 days old. Their natural mothers are leased out as 'wet nurses' or 'surrogate mothers' to support the newly born Thoroughbred foals, and at times foals that have lost their mothers, or are rejected foals. This practice allows the Thoroughbred mares to be immediately sent to breeding farms to be rebred to produce yet another foal for the racing industry." Explains Annie Delp, Executive Director of Eagle Hill Equine Rescue a non-profit organization. 
Jubilee was the "Nurse Mare Foal" in the picture above second from the front - here she is all grown up with her owner, Hanna
Other rescues are mares and foals from Pregnant Mare Urine (PMU) farms. In fact it was the suffering of PMU mares and foals that first caused Annie to hear the calling to open a rescue when she learned 12 PMU mares, due to deliver in a few weeks needed immediate rescue from slaughter in 2003. She and her husband, Steve, welcomed them to their 43 acre farm they'd purchased just months earlier to fulfill Steve's dream of building a golf course. Those PMU mares, their soon to be born babies, and their 5 personal horses, (3 they'd just recently adopted), gave birth to a new life's direction from golf to helping to save and change lives in both humans and horses.
The spirit at Eagle Hill is one of helping, healing and changing lives. Over the years more horses found refuge, shelter, healing and new beginnings under the watchful eyes and tender care of Annie, Steve, and the growing numbers of devoted volunteers, as new avenues of helping became obvious.

Support has grown, and with it more opportunities to help within their community. Horizons, a day program for mentally challenged adults visits weekly, and children with special needs are always welcome to visit with Eagle Hill's mascot minis Sampson and Delilah, who also visit pre-schools, local events, and nursing homes. Eagle Hill also supports scouting activities and 4H groups, and helps teach safety, the joy of volunteering, and the responsibility of pet owners to give love and proper care to their pets.
Eagle Hill Birthday Party with Sampson & Delilah
They also welcome quite a few Off The Track Thoroughbreds horses. "They are easily adoptable after a bit or re-training and many have gone on to show, while others are enjoying a life of leisure being loved and enjoying trail rides." Annie explained. This led to another new avenue of ways to help and change lives. Re-training the retired race horses has allowed many individuals to experience the fun of learning along with the horses.

"We are blessed to have a wonderful volunteer trainer here 4 days a week and Jeff has created a group of High School and College aged riders who are learning natural training methods. And once trained they are ridden around the farm by his students and adults who are once again entering in the equine world.  Hundreds of school age children are accumulating Community Service hours for school and college applications.  We currently have 6 former volunteers who are attending college to study to become Veterinarians and 3 others who are finishing their Medical Degrees." Said Annie.
Mouse loaded and ready to head out for his new "Everlasting Home."
Serving those who serve our country has always been a priority to Annie. Her father and husband both retired from the Army. Annie serves at Arlington National Cemetery attending Army funerals once a month, and both she and Steve volunteer for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. Introducing Wounded Warriors to horses, or encouraging former riders to realize that disabilities can be overcome and their lives with horses has not been limited by their disability, is paramount in their overall recovery.  Not all injuries are obvious and the healing that horses provide is priceless.

Eagle Hill continues to grow in knowledge and remains one of the larger equine rescues on the east coast. "Many of our happy adopted horses leave Virginia for their new homes throughout the East Coast." Annie said. "We currently have about 50 horses up for adoption, ranging from Drafts, Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses to pony size horses that make ideal first horses for children."

Please visit their website (HERE) and their Facebook page (HERE)

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Beautiful, Miserable, Wet, Cold Morning

Howdy Friends! 

Oh what a beautiful, miserable, wet, cold morning. I love it! It's been a while since we've enjoyed Coffee Clutch while rain danced on the tin roof. We've had a few rainy days recently, but somehow they've missed coffee with Kessy and the critters time. So I was excited when rain continued to fall this morning … until I stepped outside and the full force of soggy cold air promptly removed my hat. Saturday dismissed his usual tag wagging "happy to go to the barn dance" on the porch, and dashed between giant raindrops to the barn. Kessy nickered her standard "Good Morning" greeting as she gaited from the woods to her bedroom. She's not one to stay inside and was sure soaked, so instead of our morning hug, she had to settle for a gentle pat on her wet shoulder. Settled in my chair after hurried chores, I tapped my first steaming cup of Folgers, and thanked God for another beautiful day. Tigger, jumped on my lap, shook about a quart of water on me, then curled in a tight ball. – Have a swell day today everybody and stay dry!
Coffee Clutch Family-Kessy, Saturday, Tigger(on my lap) Miss Kitty & me
Gitty Up ~ Dutch

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Kessy And The Sort Of Dry Mud Puddle

Howdy Folks,
Just beyond Little Bear Bridge lays a very large mud puddle that never dries. About three horse lengths long, wide as the logging road and pretty darn deep, Kessy has never crossed through it. We've built a bypass around it over the past 3 years so it's not really an issue. If you've been a Coffee Clutcher for a while you know Kessy and puddles is a work in progress. In Kessy's defense other horses, who from time to time ride with us, don't trust this puddle either.
Coffee Clutch
This being a hot, dry summer monster puddle did dry in the middle leaving sizable puddles in the truck tracks on both sides, and a muddy but water free 2 foot path down the center. I should mention we pass this way both in and out every day we ride.

Kessy, Saturday and I had such a swell ride yesterday, great bird watching, searching for fall foliage and some really fun gaiting, and were in great spirits when we got back to monster puddle so, I figured we'd give the middle a try. Just for fun. Kessy marched right up to it, and stopped.

Now Kessy is a wonderful girl, enjoys new things, most of the time, and has really come a long way in our 3 years together – but when she says no, sometimes she means it. For real. I was really feeling great, wearing a big ol' smile, so I gave Kessy a pat on the neck, and asked her to "walk on." … She said, "Nope."

Kessy has different levels of "nope," sometimes she'll think about it and give it a go. Other times she'll stick to her nope and that's it. She's had some issues forced on her before we were a team, and she goes into shut-down mode, especially if she's scared.

I backed her away from monster puddle about 10 feet, let her study my request, the puddle and the world. After she gave a sigh, I asked her to walk on again, and she did. Right to the edge of the puddle, then she stopped, nice and soft, but not an inch closer. She dropped her head and stood waiting for my next ask, which she refused. Saturday was having a grand time in the mud and water and I thought perhaps she'd follow, but nope.

We backed away a few more times, soft and easy, waited for the sigh, and walked right up to the edge and each time Kessy stopped at nearly the same place.

Still feeling silly, still having a great morning, I remembered my Uncle Ed, an honest to goodness cowboy who grew up on the XIT ranch in Texas, telling me years ago, that sometimes you can help them understand by backing them trough. I'd used this already and found it to work nicely; of course it must be a safe place. And Kessy's a great backer, so we turned around.

Cautiously we backed, one step at a time, all the way to the center of the monster puddle-track. I gave her time to relax each step. She even played in the water with her nose! We paused in the middle until Kessy was comfortable, then I asked to walk back out again, which she did nice and smooth.

At the edge we turned around again and I asked to walk where she'd just backed. Nope, she was not moving.

Still in high spirits, even laughing, I turned her around again, and she backed clean trough to the other end! Just as smooth as can be, never missing a step. Kessy loves her treats, so I gave her a piece of carrot.

But I wasn't done, and Kessy, while worried, was still very engaged, so I asked her to walk through. Nope. Not doing it. So we turned around one more time, backed all the way through again, still soft and smooth. Turning her at the far end, I asked for her to walk forward down the track one more time. Nope. I fell forward, hugged her neck laughing out loud, and gave her a carrot. Then I asked her to walk around the puddle on our bypass. She was so happy she fell right into her running walk!

I would have gotten off and tried to lead her, but mounting and dismounting without our platform is tough for me right now, so we just played the best we could. We had some fun clowning around, and one day, when she's ready, she'll march right through monster puddle.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry