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 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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