It’s already so hot and it looks like this year is predicted to be hotter than normal! But the arena is doing its job! It is easily 10 degrees cooler in the arena than outside of the arena! Just a reminder to our volunteers and riders that the summer schedule starts on June 1st. Lessons will start at 8am and go until 12:45pm and then after our siesta (hahaha), we will continue lessons starting at 5:30pm until 8:15pm. Thank you everyone for your flexibility in making this change. If you haven’t scheduled your session time, please contact me or your instructor!
It’s a puzzle of intricate and ever changing pieces. As we near summer months, we contemplate schedule changes. We start with the edge pieces as we schedule 6 instructors and 75 participants. It is no easy feat as we try to make everyone happy. There are so many close fits!
Then, Cari has the task of finding the pieces of the puzzle that are all the same color and fitting them all into the right spots. In one week we need at least 125 volunteers committing to 2 hours. Some of our volunteers give more than 2 hours of their time and talent. They get sitters for their children, leave their pets at home, rush to the ranch after putting in 8 or more hours at their paying job, drive sometimes up to 45 minutes and spend countless dollars for gas to come out to mentor our participants. Sometimes they get sick or have to work late unexpectedly and Cari scrambles to fit pieces in that she thought she already had in place, emailing and calling countless volunteers!
Davina has the fun job of pulling all of the puzzle pieces with all of the words or lines as she texts reminders to every participant the evening before their lesson verifying that they will be here for their lessons, responding to their questions, and giving support when needed.
Our instructors and therapist get to put the last piece of the puzzle. They spend time researching lesson ideas, create goals and objectives for each lesson, arrive at least 30 minutes before their scheduled lesson to assign horses, check tack, setup the arena, brief volunteers on what the needs of the lesson might be, and coach newer volunteers. They are the risk manager for each lesson that they are responsible for. After every session, they write up the evaluation of each participants’ performance.
This beautiful puzzle of a horse partnering with and giving strength to it’s human while teaching confidence and communication is one of those 1000 piece puzzles that takes hours, days, weeks to put together. So as we work together to put this puzzle together, I ask our volunteers to understand the difficulties and challenges and sacrifices that our families go through to get their family members out to the ranch to help them heal..., body, mind, and soul. I also ask our participants and their guardians to respect our volunteers, instructors, and support staff’s time and efforts by coming to their scheduled lesson at their scheduled time. Their is nothing more disheartening than to rush from work or home only to find out that your rider canceled at the last minute or worse yet just doesn’t show up.
Mud! I hate mud! So many of you have heard me say how much I hate mud! And then the rain came! I hate mud! There really is a reason for my obsession over no mud. Did you know that we are in the process of becoming a premier PATH Intl center? Separated into 5 categories; Business and Administrative Standards, Facility Standards, Equine Welfare and Management Standards, Activity Standards, and Service Standards. For each standard we have a policy and procedure that has been thought out, tried, written down, and followed! What does this have to do with me hating mud? One of the 42 Facility Standards is: Is the walking surface in the stable area maintained so that it is dry, even and easily traversed? So, please help me! Any time you hose off or bathe horses or clean a feed pan or water bucket or trough think about where we need to walk (in front of the stalls, by the gates, the pathway from the driveway to the stalls, …) and then avoid that area.
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Memorial Day 2015 will be long remembered in Central Texas and here at Healing with Horses Ranch.
After weeks of daily rains and very usual creek flooding, we experienced an "epic" flood. Manor only received about an inch of rain, but just north of us received 5 inches of rain. We were certainly going to flood, but our barn is a foot above the 100 year flood plain. We would be safe.
At 5pm, the creek started to go over it's banks. Pretty normal. By 5:45 the creek flooding was at its normal heavy flood stage. By 6:45, the arena was under water. A sight I have never seen or never expected to see!
The horses were in their stalls. I needed to go get them out of their stalls so that they could seek higher ground or at very least not get stuck in the stalls! The water was now up to my knees on the driveway and stalls! Not knowing what to expect, I opened the gates of the fields and made sure that the entry gate was latched. I thought I would put the horses in the barn. By the time I secured the horse feed, there was a foot of water in the barn and the horses had left me. I discovered later that they did indeed find high ground. Having never experienced this level of flooding in the 3 years that we have been here, I was fearful of the unknown! And I was alone and trapped in the barn now.
4 dear friends were determined to rescue John and I and the horses, but 973 was closed. Water was over the road and they were not allowed to come down. We were safe. Our house truly was on an island! Once we get a gate on our driveway, we will have another high ground area for the horses!
By 11:15, the water started receding and did so rather quickly. I was able to cross the driveway to find that the horses did find high ground and were comfortably munching on their round bale! I closed the gate now that I knew that they were safe and was finally able to return to the house. The flood plan really did work!
In the morning, we awoke to the arena being washed out and the stalls and mats were mostly gone. The ramp had washed into the middle of what used to be the arena. The barn was full of mud since there had been 1 1/2' of water in there! Clean up must begin! Ughh!
Thanks to so many people we are making quick work of a hard job. We had to cancel lessons for a week, but our volunteers came out and power washed the barn. We collected all of the feed pans, water buckets, panels, mats, and railroad ties that had washed away! The horses blankets were washed, dried, and moved to the loft. Files were dried and refiled. Saddles were all cleaned and conditioned by the Austin School for the Deaf middle school students. The refrigerator, dryer, and office computer were fixed. A dell group came out and moved the ramp back to where it belongs and rebuilt the arena and east campus fencing. The Wranglers gathered up all of the rail road ties and mats that were way heavy! Another Dell group came out and fixed the West campus arena and perimeter fencing. By Saturday, our classes resumed! The arena was still a mess, but we muddled through until we could raise the arena with 1' of road base and sand and mulch for improved footing!
I am so excited to announce the growth of Healing with Horses Ranch!
Please welcome to the staff of Healing with Horses Ranch our new Program Director, Lori Seeds-Martin and our new Equine Manager, Sarah Shilhavy.
In addition, we officially have 4 instructors-in-training, Crystal Merkel, Davina Merkel, Sarah Shilhavy, and Libby Hallett! They will be going for their certification the first week of August!
Lori will be working on program grants in collaboration with Lauren. She will also be working on assessments for each of our programs and starting a family preservation program! Eventually she will be managing all of the instructors, but since they will be needing mentoring for some period we will transition that over in the next 6 months or so. She will also be managing all aspects of programs, so volunteer coordinator and equine manager will be reporting to the program director.
Sarah is the part-time equine manager. She will be ensuring that the horses are fed 2X's per day and will be managing their health, so she will be helping the farrier and vet when needed. She will also be managing the conditioning team and conditioning of the horses as well as the documentation of all horse related items! This will be a huge time saver for me, so I am excited that Sarah has joined the team. When she becomes an instructor (in Aug) her hours will increase to full time sot hat she will also be taking some of the load of my teaching off of me!
We are establishing a solid base of support for our increasing growth with strong passionate team players! I am so excited for this opportunity and I get to work with some of the most amazing people that I have ever met!
The Power of Horses to Help Heal After Assault
All that I can say is "yes, yes, and yes!" Well written article that is an easy read. This is what and why I do what I do!