January 2018 Team Member Highlight: Lucia and Steve

The Couple that Trots the Talk

Few events in life have such an impact as to change your path completely and forever. This power couple has rocked our world at the Ranch and has upended their own lives, all for the better of our horses.

Lucia Blades found out about Red Bucket from a story in ONE magazine about a year ago. She had recently retired and lived a comfortable life in Glendora with her husband, Steve. “I wanted to contribute to a cause that had to do with animals,” explains Lucia. “I’ve always had a soft spot for all animals and I wanted to help a cause during my retirement. The magazine came at the perfect time in my life. I asked that my Mother’s Day gift be a tour of Red Bucket, so Steve and I went and the rest is history. We fell in love with the Ranch and the equines, and we were very impressed with the work that Red Bucket has done and continues to do to help rescue horses.”

According to Steve, he didn’t require much coaxing to follow his wife’s lead. “After we took the tour we were hooked! I now go to Red Bucket on Sundays for about 4-6
hours. I primarily muck stalls and arenas and clean waterers. I also help with filling slow feeders and occasional maintenance issues.”

But the story doesn’t stop there. Hanging around the Ranch can become addictive, and the Blades were soon so smitten with our residents that they decided to make a life change. “Red Bucket has had a tremendous impact on our lives,” Steve tells me. “We lived in Glendora and had a cabin in Big Bear that we frequented every weekend. When we started volunteering at Red Bucket we soon realized that we could not continue to do both, and our time at Red Bucket made us realize that we wanted to do more than just help the horses find forever homes—we wanted to BE a forever home!”

For Steve, he knew immediately the right horse for him. “I saw a new resident named Brodie. He was a beautiful Paint with the kindest eyes. For me it was love at first sight. I knew I wanted this horse. We talked to Susan and decided on a course of action. Susan picked out a horse for Lucia, another beautiful Paint named Mozart. This was particularly fitting since Lucia plays the piano and music has been a large part of her life. We soon expressed an interest in also adopting a ‘companion horse.’ Susan again found us the best of both worlds with Maverick T! He is a half draft with a great disposition. Lucia learned to ride with Maverick because he is such an easy horse to ride and has a calm demeanor.”

In order to prepare the Blades for success with their new horses, Susan assigned intern Kelsie Chisholm to support them with their journey. Kelsie, a former Jr. Red and intern with Red Bucket, spent many hours teaching them proper horse care, handling and riding.

Lucia recalls the learning curve AND the stumbling blocks along the way: “Once we went through the Red Bucket training, I dove right in with everything I could do. I mucked, fed breakfast and meds to the horses on special diets, cleaned and groomed the horses, gave fresh water and lots of love to each beautiful equine I came in contact with. And then, I broke my shoulder tripping over a road divider causing my volunteer

work to continue on a different scale. As my husband mentioned, we realized this was our calling and therefore sold our Big Bear cabin and our home in Glendora to buy horse property in Yorba Linda with the hope we were going to adopt horses. Susan saw our commitment and desire to have our dream of being the guardian of Red Bucket horses come true. What a wonderful day it was for us when the boys came home!”

Accolades for the Blades pour in from all sides. Our own Linda Rose can’t speak more highly of this dynamic duo: “Steve and Lucia Blades are the most committed, hard- working couple I have ever had the privilege of working with. They hit the ground running; signing up for the Feed Crew, Ranch Care and Visitor’s Center. It didn’t take long before it was obvious that this power couple meant business! They were knee- deep into every aspect of Red Bucket. They became a regular fixture around the Ranch, always bustling about, working on a project or asking how they could help. Nowadays they can be seen all over the Ranch; Lucia working in the Visitor’s Center, driving the feed cart, or grooming horses; Steve repairing the misters, mucking stalls or working on a project that needs attention. Steve and Lucia are a shining example of what it means to be ‘Red Bucket Red’. So many horses fall victim to neglect and abandonment because their owners were not prepared for the responsibilities of horse ownership. Not so for Steve and Lucia! They are fully prepared…and fully committed…to the ‘happily ever after’ they are now living with their three precious boys; Brody, Mozart and Maverick T!”

Susan Peirce couldn’t agree more. “Steve and Lucia take greatness to a new level!” she shares with me. “They are both super humble, pure, and show up together on Sundays even when it’s 110 degrees out! They work the entire day, diligently and quietly completing their jobs and always asking for more. They have embraced learning and serving, and have gone so far as to sell their homes to purchase equestrian property nearby so they could adopt three of our horses!”

“They are the perfect example of dedicated horse enthusiasts who walk the talk,” Susan continues. “They learned everything necessary to provide a nurturing and loving environment for three of our boys. The Blades are a meticulous and meaningful couple that has truly shaped and changed their lives for the love of our horses. They keep coming back every Sunday for hard labor around the Ranch-they are truly the salt of the earth, so humble with no job too tough. They always ask ‘how can I serve’. I consider them among the top 1% of humanity and genuinely remarkable servant leaders.”

According to Steve, their lives have changed since their first visit to Red Bucket. “We’ve learned many lessons, and our lives have changed dramatically and we are happier than ever.”

In speaking to Jenon Mathes, Director of Equine Care, Team Training and Safety, it became clear to me why Steve and Lucia are such a treasured couple: “They are unsung heroes. They were both quiet and reserved, yet seemed to see and know exactly what needed to be done. They worked together as a team, both mucking and cleaning waterers side by side as they worked down an aisle. They do so much and so quietly but you just know they are there. Sundays are wonderful because of them!”

Not only are the Blades’ exceptional with our horses, Steve has a special relationship with one of our extraordinary team member, Cody Walker. “Steve is very patient and polite,” Cody tells me. “He taught me a lot about cleaning the waterers and the slow feeders. He’s very laid back and easy going, we always have a great exchange of information and work well together.”

Another fan of the Blades is Michelle Mendez, team leader, who has this to say: “They are extremely hard-working, dedicated, and have a tremendous amount of patience and care. Care for our wonderful residents and care for our amazing team members. I have witnessed Steve taking a tremendous amount of time cultivating and encouraging our team members on Sunday, whether it’s cleaning the stalls or working around the Ranch. They are a wonderful team and extremely valuable to Red Bucket.”

“Jenon Mathes has been a fabulous mentor to me,” Lucia shares. “She’s taught me so much on how to care for horses and donkeys. I love working with her! I also worked alongside Nadia before I broke my shoulder; she was such a big inspiration. Jenon and Nadia are so patient with me and I am grateful for their support. I recently started helping Michelle Walker in accounting. I am a retired Accounting Supervisor from Citrus College so I’m elated that I can use my experience and assist Michelle with whatever she needs me to do.”

Lucia sums up her Red Bucket experience: “The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is that I have a lot to learn. Having the boys home is like the arrival of a newborn baby. There is so much joy to our journey. Their soft brown and blue eyes are so, so trusting as they look at us for their care. Each of them is so loving, they love being scratched and kissed. If kisses were dollars, our horses would be rich! Nothing beats the welcome sound of a snort or the sound of hooves when the boys see us coming towards them. There is nothing more pleasant than the smell of their faces, the softness of their eyes, and the gentle nature of their demeanor that we see first thing in the morning and the last thing at night.”

Thank you Steve and Lucia for all you’ve done, and all you continue to do, to help save our horses.

Story by Roni Raczkowski