April 2018 Culture Message

It was 10:10 am. The sun was gently warming the east side of the ranch; the fragrance of spring was lightly laced with the clean aroma of fresh shavings. With the precision of a Swiss watch, Legacy was taking his morning nap…flat out recumbent, not just snoozing…but snoring; grumbles, groans, and grunts comically disrupting an otherwise tranquil scene. Keeping with his routine, he had been out with “Olaf’s Herd” all night which included a bit of playing, lots of socializing and grazing, but most importantly keeping vigilant watch over Olaf, especially during Olaf’s periods of slumber. Obviously pooped from his self-appointed responsibility of nanny, best friend, and security detail, his belly full of breakfast, and the invitation of “clean sheets”, Legacy was out for the count. Olaf, now reciprocating, stood with hooded eyes gazing at the snoring spectacle of his buddy, slowly chewing mouthfuls of hay while enjoying his daily grooming, today with Carol…and perhaps just a wee bit of quiet time.

Elsewhere on the ranch, a less routine and highly anticipated event was occurring. Blizzard was meticulously polo wrapped by Jenon, and with video rolling was led out of his stall into the catch pen. After more than 75 days of stall rest and then long-awaited supervised sun paddock time, Baby Blizzard stepped foot…or four healthy feet…into a real turnout with a friend just a stone’s throw over the paddock fence. Horses need four feet, and poor Blizzard, born with a severe deformity that had been neglected and unaddressed in his prior life, had become so contracted that he not only was unable to walk, but chronic pain robbed him of any quality of life. Because it is our culture to do as much as we can…and then a little more, we invested in a salvage surgery that paid real dividends…Blizzard’s Life! Blizzard lifted his little white chin, the warm sun shining on his dapples, and whinnied to his friend, and with his tail high… and more rehab required, Blizzard reclaimed his life!

Later that evening, still glowing from the impact of our lifesaving work, Michelle and I were embroiled in the necessary but more daunting administrative duties in the office. A call from Alexandra, one of our valued feed crew team members, interrupted the stillness of our “heads down” time. Mira. Just the mention of her name launched us halfway out of our seats. Mira, a victim of decades of neglect, starvation and unspeakable torment…as fragile as she was strong, as beautiful as she was gnarled. Mira, our miracle survivor, had penetrated nearly every waking thought and a great many sleepless nights. Our relationship with her…and our rescue of her, had begun with our refusal to allow her to die desperate and utterly forgotten, abandoned in a prison of suffering. She had been so severely starved that she would scavenge anything off of the ground in a desperate attempt to fill her aching hunger. We carefully lined her paddock and stall with rubber mats, as any sort of bedding was initially out of the question. Over time, with small feedings every two hours satiating her, we slowly progressed to non-fibrous rice hulls, and later shavings.

Mira has slowly and tentatively transitioned from dying, vacant, and depressed to living and openly embracing small luxuries like deep bedding, 22 pounds of Purina Senior daily, and her alfalfa, which Michelle painstakingly separates off the leaves, allowing Mira to eat more effortlessly thus avoiding the stems which are difficult for her to chew.

Alexandra’s call as it turns out was not the frequent call of concern about our treasured Mira, but rather to report that Mira was refusing to eat her evening bucket containing medication. Michelle popped out of the office and sprinted to the barn…because she knew how to make it yummier for our precious girl. Mira, who would only a few months ago eat sticks and debris in an effort to feed herself, now demands a few extra tablespoons of apple sauce! The transformation of the treasured horses that we are very privileged to serve is so much more than the physical manifestation…but their freedom and willingness to have and express opinions, and the joy of discovering life, friendships, and those of us who also vow to protect.

This Culture message is dedicated you our valued team…thank you on behalf of the horses and thank you for being their voices!