Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Research!!! Lookie here!

Researchers Find Working With Horses Increases Emotional Intelligence in Humans
“When nurses and doctors benefit from collaborating with horses then ultimately their patients also benefit.”
Researchers in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture recently completed one of the first studies to explore how working with horses can develop emotional intelligence in humans. UK Center for Leadership Development researchers, Patricia Dyk and Lissa Pohl, collaborated with UK HealthCare nurse researchers, Carol Noriega, Janine Lindgreen and Robyn Cheung on the two-year study, titled “The Effectiveness of Equine Guided Leadership Education to Develop Emotional Intelligence in Expert Nurses.”
“With Lexington being known as the Horse Capital of the World, it is only fitting that the University of Kentucky is conducting pioneering research in the emerging field of equine assisted learning,” said Patricia Dyk, director of the Center for Leadership Development.
The project included a control group of 10 nurses from the Neuroscience Surgery Service Line and an intervention group consisting of 11 nurses from the Trauma and Acute Care Surgical Service Line at UK Chandler Hospital. At the start of the study and again six months later, both groups took the online assessment appraising emotional intelligence. Nurses in the intervention group participated in a one-day workshop that involved experiential learning with horses.
“Each exercise in the workshop was designed to develop the four emotional intelligence competency areas of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management,” said Lissa Pohl, research project manager and workshop facilitator.
Nurses from the intervention group filled out qualitative surveys immediately after their experience with the horses and again three months after the workshop.
The before and after survey results showed there was an increase in the scores of the intervention group in all four competency areas when compared to the control group. The researchers admitted, though, that the small number of participants in the study makes it difficult to conclude that working with the horses was the cause of the intervention group’s increase.
Marie-Claude Stockl was the co-facilitator for the workshop with the nurses. She owns the Horse Institute, and as such, facilitates equine-assisted learning workshops for corporate groups in central New York state.
“We are thrilled to get this research completed, because it builds the credibility of all organizations offering this type of learning experience,” she said.
According to Pohl, the initial results are encouraging and they lay the groundwork for subsequent studies of larger and more diverse populations of nurses.

“If horses can increase our ability to understand ourselves and others better, then the healthcare industry is a perfect place for studies like these,” she said. “When nurses and doctors benefit from collaborating with horses then ultimately their patients also benefit.”

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Horse Health - Wintertime... Brrr

So. It's not even Thanksgiving and already here in East Texas we've had a little ice, a few hard freezes as well as the earliest freeze in 15 years. Plus the old-timers and the Farmer's Almanac are saying the winter this year is going to be a doozy.

In East Texas, we do not have the FEET of snow that they have further north. (We live below the snow belt for a reason!) However when it gets cold, it gets cold and wet and miserable for humans and animals alike! 

What kind of things do we do to help insure that our horses stay healthy in the cold? Remember there are a lot of right ways to do things. These are just some of the things that work for us:

1) We change their feed up a little.  Except for the rye we planted in the fall, the grass has all gone dormant and is brown and dry. So it's time to start putting out hay. We also start adding alfalfa pellets to their feed. Alfalfa is a hot feed so it starts warming them up from the inside out. We still watch their weight, especially Cowboy's, but generally horses use more calories staying warm in the winter, so that offsets the extra caloric intake from the alfalfa.

2)When they are out in the pastures, we make sure that there is enough hay for them to munch on all night. That helps keep them warm too. Just make sure that whatever hay you use is clean, fresh and mold free.  They usually won't eat moldy, dirty hay unless they get desperate, but if they do it can make them sick...real sick.

3) Feet. It is even more important to keep their feet as clean and dry as possible. Imagine having to walk on dirty ice and having that build up in the crevices of your feet...not good. Plus we have to watch out for thrush. Thrush is a predominately bacterial infection of the frog of a horse's hoof. If not caught in a timely manner, it can become not only horribly stinky. but incredibly painful as well. It tends to show up when their feet stay wet for prolonged periods of time...like Winter and Spring. It sounds kinda yucky, but cleaning those hooves and paying attention to the way they smell is really important this time of year.

4) Water, water, water. Just because it's not a gazillion degrees outside, doesn't mean we don't have to pay attention to how much water they are drinking. Warm it up if you have to...We do!
Oh and when fishing that ice out of their water troughs, I really like using one of those pooper scooper things you can get for cat boxes. Can get the smaller chunks that break off and still keep your hands dry.

5) Shelter. We make sure they have something to break the wind and keep ice off their backs. When they are out in the pastures and the temp is below freezing or close to it, 2 of our horses get blanketed, because their coats are not thick enough yet this year: Flame because of skin allergies and Scooter because she's not quite there yet.

6) Did I mention water?

Most of the horses' coats have come in as thick as I have ever seen them. Maybe the old-timers and the Farmers' Almanac are right.  Brrrrr.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Horse Health 1 - Colic

One of my favorite sayings is:  There are a lot of right ways to do things.

This seems to be especially true when it comes to caring for horses. There seems to be as many opinions for how to care for horses as there are "horse people". What we do with our horses and how we care for them may seem crazy and not work for our neighbors. What our neighbors do to care for their horses may not work for us. However, bottom line? If both herds are happy, healthy and willing to do their jobs, then we are both right! Even if what we are doing is totally different.

Sometimes the bottom line for us is money. A little bit spent up front can save a lot down the road. One dramatic vet bill could be disastrous and even mean having to make a life or death decision for one of these incredible creatures. A decision as Executive Director and an owner, I dread.

For instance, colic is the number 1 killer of horses, surgery costs around $10,000 and has a 50/50 chance of survival. So we do extra seemingly "crazy" things to try to make sure our horses do not colic.

1. Since our soil is predominately sand, we have to think about sand colic. For our messy eaters, we have mats underneath and around their feed troughs so that when they try to find all the food they lost while looking around with a mouth full, they don't eat sand as well as feed.

2. To keep their digestive systems free of parasites, we worm all of them every 2 months year round with alternating wormers. That part is not unusual. What may be different is that we worm them at the end of the day on Saturday and then give them Probios on Sunday morning. The thinking behind this is that in order for the wormer to work, it must strip their systems of parasites and bacteria...good and bad...which can cause irritation. The Probios puts good bacteria back into their gut and soothes it. Plus since we are closed on Sundays and Mondays, they don't have to work again until Tuesday. To make sure that the process is working and the worms have not become immune, we have fecal tests done at least once a year as well.

3. Bearing in mind that for a horse's digestive tract to work properly, it must stay lubricated, i.e...water. We know which horses drink a lot, which horses drink a little less, and constantly take note if one is not drinking their normal amount. Again, that part is not unusual. The difference? All our water buckets are bright yellow. Rule of thumb here is that if the water is not clear and clean all the way to the bottom, it gets dumped and cleaned out...even if it just got cleaned yesterday. I don't want to drink dirty water, do you? Also we know that periodically, the water around here will become more alkaline than usual and a couple of the horses don't like the taste and will not drink. Our solution? Peppermint. Those little red and white candies you can get individually wrapped at the dollar store? Yes, those. Take one of those, unwrap it, drop it into the water bucket and swirl it around a little. Then Poof! The water tastes fine. In the wintertime, we will even add a little warm water to the buckets to make sure they are drinking enough.

4. Colic can also be caused by stress from seemingly little things like fresh spring grass popping, or a thunderstorm or a personnel change within the herd. There is a 72 hour window when those type of stressers occur that a horse can colic. So when that happens, everybody's feed gets watered down. Not like soup, more like pudding. That way we know that it goes down smoothly with enough lubricant.

These are all little things, different things, that cost a little money up front. But they make a huge difference in the health and welfare of our horses as well as our budget.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Patience 2

It is interesting seeing other people's perspectives on patience. I do not believe it is something people truly "strive" for.  In this world of "instant gratification" striving for patience seems a bit contradictory...in my opinion... kinda like "military intelligence".  I believe patience can be both a gift for some of the youngsters among us as well as a lesson learned through love and pain for some of us that are not so young.

Patience, like strength, is also one of those things you never pray for. Because God will give you the opportunity to be both patient and strong. In this rehab center after having my knees replaced, I'm beginning to think that someone out there is praying for not just strength and patience for me, but humility as well...and God is listening and answering.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013


This much-coveted skill can be a difficult one to achieve, but is immensely helpful, particularly when working with horses and/or children. They both do stuff they know they shouldn't, they both test people, and it doesn't do too much good to actually yell at either one. A quick "Don't do that!" is ok, but I know for a fact that a monolog of yelling doesn't work. It has never worked when a horse gets me worked up and I "launch" on him, and I know as a kid being yelled at never got the message through my thick skull any better. How each person keeps their cool in a situation is different, and how each person gains patience is different. Normally this is where the writer would go into some really neat and awesome personal story on either how patience has worked in their favor, or more preferably how they gained said patience, but my "How I got some Patience" story can be boiled down to a sentence. I figured out being impatient didn't make things go faster or better, and that it was a waste of energy. There is no good in working yourself up over how you shouldn't have to wait this long for whatever it is. It doesn't feel good to be steaming and fuming. What does feel good is after you've faced a situation and had patience, knowing that because of your focus and determination you handled yourself in a manner that you are proud of. That's when patience pays off. Not in the moment you decide to take a deep breath and deal. It's when you are proud of yourself based on a decision that you have made.

-Felecia West

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


You should always remember who you are, whose you are and where you came from. I believe this should apply to organizations too.

I like to think that there is always a "method to my madness".  The reason we as a team went to visit Windridge as our first yearly "field trip" is that they are an integral part of who we are, whose we are and where we came from. The foundation of Shadow Ranch itself was built with the knowledge, compassion and advise received from the souls that make up Windridge.

Nestled in the beautiful piney woods of East Texas is a place that I refer to as the Disneyland of therapeutic riding centers: Windridge Therapeutic Equestrian Center of East Texas. Over 20 years ago, Margo and Bruce Dewkett founded Windridge. They started with 6 horses and a handful of riders. Now they have over 20 horses and over 100 riders each week. They have struggled and sacrificed shedding blood, sweat and tears for an organization, an industry and a passionate calling that drives them: helping individuals dealing with disabilities.

When the dream of Shadow Ranch became a goal, I knew that we needed guidance to ensure we created an organization with a firm foundation. I grew up in Texarkana and had seen Runnin WJ start up. I met Patricia, it's founder and asked if she could give us advice on starting up our place. She gave us the best advice that she ever could...talk to Margo.

Margo took me under her wing not only as a future instructor, but as an Executive Director and a founder. She gave me insight to all the different hats I would have to wear and struggles we would have to go through within each. She made sure that I knew how difficult a road it would be while at the same time how much true joy and fulfillment there would be ... step by step. She and her crew drilled into me the safety standards of the industry and the horror stories that could come if they are not used. Margo instilled in me the need to be vigilant in taking care of the little things so that they do not become big things.

To this day, I am not sure Margo and her crew know how much that 9 months I spent with them meant to not just me as an individual, founder and Executive Director but to Shadow Ranch as an organization.

Margo, Bruce, Dawn, Julia, Kim, Sarah, Debbie, Charlynn, Chris, Val, Ms. Francis and all the rest of the Windridge family, thank you.

Shadow Ranch is not Windridge, nor do we strive to be Windridge. We are our own unique family. But, bottom line? If it had not been for Windridge, there would be no Shadow Ranch.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Standing Tall: Why Posture matters

  We see a lot of kids, teenagers, and adults with poor posture these days. Maybe it was always like this, maybe it wasn't. I haven't been around long enough to know. What I do know is that posture is important for many reasons and that's why it's today's topic.

First impressions: These are something you can never get a re-do of, that's why it's called a first impression. How an individual presents themselves the first time they meet someone is what forms that immediate opinion of their personality, abilities, work ethic, and confidence level. While there are many aspects of presenting yourself, one very important one is posture. If someone has their shoulders slumped or they are slouching, they are conveying to those around them that they are tired and/or insecure about themselves. On the other hand, if you are standing tall with your shoulders back and looking where you are going, you appear alert, focused and confident, which leads us into our next reason to sit up tall.

Posture affects your mood: While your mood often affects how you carry yourself, changing your posture can also alter your mood. Have you ever noticed how slouching can increase that bad mood you just can't shake off? There's your reason.

It's good for your body: Whether you slouch or excessively curve your lower back, poor posture all around puts additional stress on your back and eventually takes its toll. To preserve the amazing creation that is your body, sitting up straight can go a long way to keeping you healthy.

     How does this tie into horseback riding? How a person carries themself on the ground normally follows them onto the horses back, and it's often more noticeable than in daily life because of the added movement of the horse. Learning proper posture on the horse and being made aware of how good and bad posture feels is one of our many goals in therapeutic riding to make our students lives better. I've noticed in myself how good posture habits have been learned on the horse and followed me even when my feet are on the ground.


Sources: http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/proper-back-posture-neutral-spine-topic-overview

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Field Trip to Windridge

(left to right) Marion, Me (Felecia), Jim, Tyle, and Kyle

As an all-new yearly tradition at Shadow Ranch, we took a field trip to another therapeutic riding center.
     In order to be more effective instructors and better educators, we are always striving to grow and advance in our knowledge on horses, students, and the industry as a whole. Seeing how other centers operate allows us to make better decisions as we grow and instruct.

     I could just tell you all about the tour....but I'd rather show y'all!
An illustration of the fabulous sensory trail, we are considering adding one where the hot-walker was.

Learning about the Hippotherapy room.

In the lounge.

Kyle and Felecia in the small Library of Windridge. (Can you tell I'm a note-taker?)

The classroom!

The tin ceilings help cut down on echoes.

Signs and labels abound at this facility, and we love it!

These bottles of sand are on pulleys and strings to help riders learn how to be gentle with the reigns. This is my favorite thing of the whole visit!

Another idea maybe? (I put this idea on Shadow Ranch's Pinterest page ages ago....silly people!)

Jim and Dawn in the research room.

Lunch Time!

Cheryl and Marion....waiting for food.

Felecia and Tyle after eating.

In closing this blog post, I'd like to personally thank Dawn for conducting our tour of this wonderfully organized and beautiful center. -Felecia

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

If you ever take an interest in sign-building

     The importance of a quality sign for a therapeutic riding center, or any business, cannot be understated. While something as simple as a sign may not seem important, it's one of the many aspects of marketing that either adds or takes away from your center's reputation.
     Think about it as walking into a store and seeing a large sign that announces a product on display. If it's in disrepair, you will think the store does not take pride in the product and/or does not care, so why should you? If the font is impossible to read, your interest is either peaked or completely gone, a risk which most centers are unable to take. This article will help guide you on ways to make your sign readable, relatable to your center, and to make it as inexpensively as you can.

 -Choosing a good location: For this article, we will assume that your sign is to show the exact location of the center or business (think out in front). You should choose a place that is easy to see from the road and is free from brush.

-Designing it: There are many things to take into consideration when designing your sign. Of these things are color and font. If you already have a set of colors for your business, try to work at least one of these colors into the sign along with a neutral color. I would not advise doing more than three colors maximum, neutral or otherwise. If you do not have set colors for your business, take a look at your logo and pull from that. Make sure that the colors chosen are not close therefore making the sign hard to read. Also, look at your surroundings. You can see above where a green sign would have gotten lost in the background of trees and grass, making it hard to notice.
     When choosing a font make sure it is readable, welcoming, and clean. I chose to do the sign free-hand giving it a unique but professional look. I would advise against using "Comic Sans" as a font as it's very common and more dated than others.

-Building it: There are many fantastic ideas for building signs. Some stick with plywood and 2x4's to keep it simple and inexpensive, others to go great lengths with brick and other elements to give it a more upscale look. We went with taking an old wooden tabletop (found at an antique store) and with the bottom side facing up, created a frame on the back consisting of two 4x4's which entered the ground, and two 2x4's acting as a brace. If you decide to go this route, DO NOT use particle board! It will not stand the test of time against the elements. You can use plastic or metal as well, but plastic tends to not last as long, and metal is prone to rusting. In the case you chose wood, make sure to use a good outdoor paint (we used Home Depot's BEHR). If you are wanting to use brick, stone, concrete, or other elements to build your sign, but don't have the funds, craigslist and freecycle can both be good potential avenues for this. Just remember to be safe when using these types of websites. Never going alone, bringing your cellphone, and (if possible) meeting in a public place are all VERY smart.

So as you're choosing your colors, fonts and building materials, remember how neat it is that you get to represent your center or business in a way that nobody else is able to. Put your heart into it, accept criticism well, and you should be pretty darn well off in creating a fantastic sign.


P.S. Thank you to our ranch hand Kyle and our wonderful volunteer Lacey for building this!!! Power tools are not my friends......

Friday, August 23, 2013

How the sign came to be......

If you follow us on facebook, you have probably seen the picture of our beautiful sign proudly bearing the name "Shadow Ranch". If not, the picture of said sign will be on here tomorrow.

When making the sign, we had two things in mind, we wanted it to look nice, and we wanted to do it inexpensively. Pam and Marion bounced ideas around, and relative of Pam's had made the sign for their business out of an old wooden headboard. She fell in love with the idea and I volunteered to go shopping for it.

At one antique store that is particularly well-priced, I could not for the life of me find a solid wooden headboard. I thought about where else I could find one that I would know was wood, but I was stumped.....aside from going to every garage sale in town, and I knew at best it would be a long shot. So poking around on the second floor of a sweltering hot building, I found a tabletop with the paint peeling off, and since some of the paint had worn, I could tell that it was wood. Knocking on it to hear the sound, I found it was the same all over except for the top where it was slightly different (found out later it had a linoleum-type of plastic on top). Upon discovering it was only twenty dollars, I purchased it and hauled the treasure home in my green station wagon for the night.....I will never take my rearview window for granted again.

Upon arrival of work the next day, I proudly showed off my thrifty find to everyone. Pam had really liked headboard idea, but was open to different ideas as well. So I drew  the designs allowing her to see on paper what I already saw in my head. After some convincing, she liked the idea. I had my summer project and got to work.....

I sanded the whole thing down because the paint was peeling, and while I did not strip it (didn't feel it was peeling that badly) I made sure there was nothing flaking off before I painted it. Because the plastic-type top of the table was difficult to properly roughen up with the sandpaper, I went over it with a light coat of spray paint. The color didn't matter because spray paint is an attaching layer, sort of like a primer. Then I painted the whole sign in two layers of the basic colors (the back is a darker blue like the lettering to protect it from the great outdoors). After this I worked on the letters. First, I measured out the horizontal length of the sign and divided the length by the letters in the word. Ex: If it were three feet long and I had three letters, each letter would have a foot of space. I marked the boundaries each letter had, and then I drew an outline of the letters. If you are ever doing lettering for a sign without stencils, I strongly encourage you to do this. I made many mistakes and it took a few coats of paint to even cover up the pen, let alone had it been painted. I'd also advice using a pencil instead of a pen, erasable and then easier to cover up. After this, I ran it by Marion, she liked it, and then I painted the letters. What felt like a million and one touch-ups later, the sign was ready for the world to see.
     Because power tools are not my best friends and construction isn't exactly my forte, I had our ranch hand Kyle and our wonderful volunteer Lacey do the building part. I just told them what I thought would work. Apparently my idea wasn't too bad because they made it almost identical to the drawing I made them. After this, they put it in the ground, another part of this process I'm not too great at and am very happy they were able to do. (Thank you both soooo much!!!)

     After one final touch-up (done after the photo was taken) the sign was completely done and is now happily doing its job of telling people where we are on this little county road.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Beat the Heat! Staying safe in the triple digits

If you don't live in a cave, you probably know that Texas gets hot in August. Those of you that live here especially know how scorching those triple digits days can be. What you might not know is how to keep you and your horses hydrated and at least not too miserable during the sweltering season that is summer. Here are some tips on how to keep horses and yourself healthy and safe when just standing makes you look like a pro athlete from all that sweat.

This one really can't be stressed enough. While you can drink too much water, it's very unlikely that you'll do so when you're in a southern summer. Remember that if you're thirsty, you're already a little dehydrated. For the horses, make sure that they have plenty of access to clean, fresh water in a shady area. When it's 100+ degrees, some horses don't have the energy to walk in the sun to drink hot water. You can find some other great facts about H2O here, on WebMD.com

2. Electrolytes
Ok, so sometimes water just isn't enough. When the heat index says it's going to be 95 degrees or higher, we give our horses just a pinch of electrolytes because sweat isn't just water, it's also salt and some sugars. If you're still feeling depleted after drinking a bottle of water (or two or three) then try drinking something like Gatorade which is designed to help you out when water can't.

3. Hose off
Sometimes horses are just soaked from the heat without even doing anything. Hosing them off with cool water, starting at the legs and slowly getting higher can help cool 'em off. Just remember to use a sweat scraper so all that water doesn't absorb those sunny rays and become insulation on your horses coat. For people....well Marion just gets cold water from the fridge and sprays us with her super soaker......not sure if I'd recommend that though....

4. Ice
Putting ice on a horses neck  (wrapped in a towel) is a quick cool off, especially if hosing them off doesn't seem to help any. For people, a towel dampened with very cold water and put on their neck and forehead works well. Using one of those gel neck-ties as prevention is even better.

5. Alcohol
In an emergency, keep in mind that alcohol's quick drying effects can cool off in a hurry. Not recommended for regular use though because it can also dry the horses' skin.

6. Food
We change our feed in the summer to lower the protein and high carb content because believe it or not just their food can make them even hotter. People - Even though you may not feel like eating because it's so hot, remember you still have to eat.

-Felecia West and Marion Cox

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Country World News Magazine

We got our first official news article about us today in Country World Magazine. Ashley Colvin did an awesome job. Like most news articles there a few little boo-boos, but overall was fabulous. (Thank you, Ash.)


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

LSTEN/PATH Region 8 Conference

So, everyone but Pam and Kyle went to the LSTEN/PATH Region 8 conference this weekend. We each learned a lot. For those of you who do not know, PATH is the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship and LSTEN is the Lone Star Therapeutic Equestrian Network. PATH Region 8 covers TX, OK, AR, LA, Mexico and South America. Texas, however is so big and has so many therapy centers that we have own network too. LSTEN's main purpose is to supply educational opportunities to centers that do not have the ability to attend the PATH national conference.

Here's what stuck out the most in everyone's mind:

Felecia: learned about volunteers, how to keep them happy so that they stay awhile. Different things that I can utilize in lessons, an some more stuff I can do with social media.

Jim: Lady Vet was awesome! Toxic plants: wilted red maple leaves, persimmon seeds (We gotta watch Empress, she loves those things). Vet from OSU was awesome teaching about wound care.

Tyle: The disability video (f. a. t.  city video) putting in perspective how the mind of  a child with learning disabilities works and their processing patterns. I really like the theraplate in the round robin class, too.

Cheryl: Really enjoyed the CSI for horses with the vet (all those toxins) and loved listening to the saddle-fitting class. Was fun to watch the 3 stages in the alternative therapies for the horses.

Me:  All the above plus: I learned more about fundraising. Got my CPR re-certification. Learned how truly dangerous blister beetles are for horses and what attracts them (grasshopper eggs - eewwww).

Pam on the other hand had a challenging weekend and told us that we can NEVER leave for 4 days in a row again. We love you, Pam. Thanks for being here so we could get most if not all of our CEU's for the year done in one shot.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Saying goodbye to Ronnie

The second half of Shadow Ranch's mission statement is "to make a positive difference in the lives of our staff, volunteers and community".  In following this part of the mission statement we have created an organization that is our own little world and as much a family as it is a business. So it is with mixed emotions that I write this.

Today is Ronnie's last day.

We are going to miss him terribly, but know he is going where he  needs to be.

Ronnie came to us as a volunteer via Workforce Solutions. He had lost his job as a school teacher and these folks were helping him. One of the things they require is that anyone they help (while still unemployed) must put in volunteer hours at a local nonprofit. That's how he found us.

Ronnie had been exposed to show horses through his wife and mother-in-law, but had never worked with therapy horses so some of what we do he was familiar with, but a lot was not. I don't know that he had ever been an actual "ranch hand", but he worked hard and put his whole heart into everything he did.

Sometimes the horses took advantage of him, because when they see him all they see is a huge heart carrying a feed bucket. He would do anything we asked of him and 99% of the time he did it with a smile on his face. Even when we were picking up hay out of the hay meadow in 100 degree heat. There was Ronnie, sweating like the rest of us, but with no complaints and a smile on his face.

However, Ronnie is an academic. He was born to teach. It is his passion and what he is good at.

Ships pass in the night and people go on with their lives. Ronnie, thank you for touching our lives and sharing your heart with ours. Thank you for all the hard work and the smiles. We wish you success and all the joy that life has to offer. If you're in the neighborhood please, please stop in and let us know how it's going.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Falling in Love with Horses - Felecia

I've been told the story of me staring at the pony rides at the State Fair a dozen times. For a busy three year old that was always wanting to see MORE, me staring at something was at least somewhat eventful. I don't remember much from that day, just the Ferris wheel and those ponies on the red metal walker going around and around. I must have seen some picture or something of these fascinating creatures before then, but it wasn't important until that moment. Then I got to ride one and I spent a good amount of the time looking down at the horse. I was then as obsessed with horses as a three year old could be.

As the years wore on into my preteen years, my friends outgrew loving horses. As toys were replaced with makeup and boys were suddenly interesting, somewhere horses couldn't find a place in their new, oh-so-adult lives. I toned down my love of horses just to fit in better with these friends, but the horse posters still hung proudly on my bedroom walls.

Around this time, and off and on until high school (when I was then able to ride consistently) I got horseback riding lessons. Riding is one of the few activities that I meet challenges head on and work through them, never once thinking of quitting like with Algebra or Chemistry.

Because of my perseverance and surprising amount of patience with horses, I knew I wanted to have a career with my passion. I bounced around a ton of ideas from farrier to trainer to equine massage therapist, hoping I'd find something just...fit. None of these job opportunities ever seemed to stick with me. Then my instructor told me about a gal that rode at our barn who could tell me more about therapeutic horseback riding. Burnt out on bouncing around ideas and my graduation date just days away, I thought volunteering would tell me if I liked this, if I could do it, and if I could fall in love with the industry like I am in love with horses. I obviously did fall in love with it, because the next year, I went to school at Equest, got my certification, and am now flourishing in a field that suits me beautifully.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Welcome to our Dream!

As you can read in the "About Us" tab, Shadow Ranch was a dream that turned into a goal that became reality. What we hope to do with this blog is educate, engage, and inspire people through sharing both our story and the industry.

With this blog we will be able to bring you in more closely to what we do and give personal accounts of stories. We will be showing some of the unique differences between therapy horses and other horses in their care as well as their training.

This picture illustrates how the sidewalkers are responsible for the riders' safety while making sure that the rider does most of the work themselves. The idea is for them to gain strength and build upon their capabilities rather than their handicaps.

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