Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Tractor

You may have noticed that there is a new paypal donation button at the right side of our blog. It is to establish a tractor fund.

M. Legend Brown (Mike) has seen us struggle with our old beat-up tractor. Just about every time he sees us, he asks about it. He has seen it with a flat tire, he has seen it out in the pasture where it has quit on us.

Admittedly, our tractor is on it's last leg. It is ancient. Every time it goes down, Jim has been able to get it running again so far. However, there are MAJOR problems with it. One of the big tires keeps going flat on us. It blows oil like crazy, it runs the battery down in a heartbeat, and now diesel is somehow getting mixed in with oil if we don't turn off the fuel valve every time we kill it. It's so old that most parts are now obsolete. To say it's being held together by baling wire would not be too far from the truth.

Starting it is a process:  Check the tire and usually put air in it, reattach the battery cables, turn the fuel valve back on, climb up in the seat, say a prayer, turn the key and see what happens.  Oh! And be ready for Plan B,  if it won't start for whatever reason because the job still has to be done! (The song to "Green Acres" just popped into my head for some reason!)

So yesterday Mike suggested we start a "tractor" fund and see if we can get some people involved to help us get a newer tractor. He even set up the new button for us. He can tell his friends and spread the word, you can tell your friends and spread the word, we can tell our friends and spread the word. Hopefully we can little by little raise enough money to get a newer tractor.

It doesn't have to be new or have all the amenities like a/c. It does, however, have to be the right size (40 -60 HP). Too big and it won't fit through our gates and we wouldn't be able to use the implements (disk, blade, forks,big mower). Too little and we could fit through the gates, but we still wouldn't be able to use the implements. It does need to be designed to handle 30 acres and have a front-end loader. AND we would really, really like for it to be dependable. (I value Jim's sanity more than I could ever say.)

Unfortunately tractors, even used ones, are not cheap. A good 2010 model will probably cost between $25,000 and $30,000.

So here we go. Do you or do you know anyone who is passionate about horses, therapeutic riding or just need a tax deduction? Every little bit counts and collectively, I think we can get it done. We are coming up on the end of the mowing season, so the goal is to get this done by Spring 2015. Can you help us?



Monday, September 1, 2014

The Movie! Another God Thing!

Steps of Faith

So in late February, I was going into one of the local radio stations to do a PSA. We were trying to raise the last bit needed for the last half of the down-payment of the property. While there, Enola Gay introduced me to a nice man named Eric King who was a director for movies - Hollywood type stuff. Very cool, really nice man. We exchanged pleasantries, shared what we both do and went about our merry ways. 

A couple weeks later I get a phone call from Eric. He tells me that a writer/director friend of his had come up with a faith-based story with Hippotherapy as a subplot. Can he bring him out to meet with us? Sure!!
Next thing you know, Eric is introducing us to M Legend Brown (Mike) and his team. We show them around, introduce them to the horses and tell them some of what we do. We head back up to the porch and grab some sweet tea. Mike starts telling us about the vision he has for the movie, how our place would be perfect for the ranch part of it and asked if we would consider joining his team. I told him sure, but with a few conditions: 1)Would have to clear it with the Board of Directors to be certain, but didn't think they would have a problem with it. 2) Would have to schedule it around classes. 3) Since we would have to bring in our people to work extra, they would have to cover their pay.

Conditions get met and things started happening. Gail comes and spends the weekend with us and becomes a sponge to learn all about the ranch, what we do and specifically what my job is. Then Malik comes and spends some time with us, then Chrystee. Then on a cold wet Sunday in April and a whole host of folks pull up. It's like controlled chaos with everyone knowing exactly what they are doing ... except us. Pam is in the house like a Mother Hen trying to make sure everyone has whatever they need. Jim, Kyle and I are out with the horses. We add one more condition...that before any camera or piece of equipment is used around a horse, they must give me 5 minutes with them and the horse. It's a safety thing to make sure the horse doesn't get spooked and no one gets hurt. They are in total agreement. The picture above is one of those times.

We say a group prayer and the shooting starts. They really do say: "Quiet on the set!"I think they got 1 or 2 scenes shot and then it started raining. Oops! Had to call it a day. 

Early the next morning, that same army of folks show up. We bring in the horses and the chaos begins again. Let me tell you: these folks are really hard workers. They shoot scene after scene in no particular order...that we understand!

Ms. Jan is in the house trying to stay warm until her scene. She's to be in the background having a class. They say it's time and she comes on up. However, in the cold, we can tell that she is really stiff. She won't admit it, but she's hurting a bit. So I tell Candice (Mike's asst) that once Ms Jan is on board, they have 30 minutes ...period. They run through one scene in about 15 minutes. They are setting up to run it again, when I wave Candice over. We're standing right next to the arena where Ms. Jan is on Cowboy when I ask Ms Jan how she's doing. Ms Jan is being a real trooper and says "fine". Having worked with Ms Jan for over 3 years now and catching Jim's eye, I knew better and said loud enough for Candice to hear: "She's lying"! Ms Jan just smiled that sweet smile of hers, but didn't disagree. Jim shook his head agreeing with me. I started counting down time at that point. No matter what, Ms Jan was not going to get hurt up there from riding too long in cold weather. Candice completely understood. They ran the scene again and were done with Ms Jan in about 10 minutes. That was professionalism mixed with compassion!

They shoot until it gets dark and show up the next morning and do it all over again. Just before dark, there's a shout out...it's a wrap! They start packing up all their goodies and they go over the whole place inside and out cleaning and making sure there is no trash anywhere and nothing out of place. Heck, the house was cleaner when they left than when they got there. They took all the trash and after asking if we wanted any, they took the leftovers from all the food they brought, and trust me these folks can eat! They even brought in a big package of toilet paper to replace what they used.

Even through all the chaos, the degree of professionalism, compassion and caring was breathtaking. 

Before they left, we asked Mike how long it would take to put everything together. We had heard that it could take over a year. Our mouths dropped open when he said he wanted the first premiere to be in Dallas this August...4 months down the road. Wow! 

True to his word, in mid-August the first Red Carpet premiere was in Dallas, followed by one in Ft. Worth, Terrell and then one in Sulphur Springs. 

We've seen Steps of Faith twice now and have taken something different away each time. In my humble opinion, it is an amazing movie.

Good job, Mike and crew! And thank you for getting the word out about therapeutic riding to the many people that have never heard of the industry, much less what we do. And thank you too for the help you have given and will give in the future to Shadow Ranch.

Love you!


Wow, what a year so far!

It has been a very busy and absolutely amazing year so far. I have been remiss in keeping our blog up-to-date and for that I apologize and promise to try to do better!

Let's see if I can catch you up!
  • Winter, Spring and Summer classes went off without a hitch slowly gaining more clients as we go. As always, we saw first steps, heard first words and shared tears of joy with the help of our four-legged friends!
While classes were going on, this was also happening!
  • Ms. Jan agreed to join our Board of Directors and has become a huge advocate making a real difference. (Thank you, Ms Jan, we love you!)
  • In March we officially finished raising the 2nd half of our down-payment and became property owners!!!
  • As posted earlier, Empress went back to her owner, but with help from some neighbors and our Vet, we got 2 new Haflingers - Tex & Doc. 
  • In April, a movie was shot out here.  Ashley from the newspaper did a great write up about it for the local paper. Talk about exciting! More about that coming in the next post.
  • In May we hosted an EAGALA Ethics clinic with counselors from all over our service area.
  • We lost Kyle (he found a better paying job) and Tiffany came on board to take his place. She has some really big shoes to fill!
  • We had to shut down classes for a week because of a really bad storm. Didn't do any real property damage, but all 9 horses got hit by hail and they needed time to heal.
  • Our fiscal year ended in July with a very successful SHOT Show and Competition.
  • Then came August with: a) Hay being cut, baled and put up for the winter (673 bales, wow!), b) the first movie premiere (OMG it is awesome!), and Southwest Wrestling Entertainment partnering with us to raise funds. All the while working on summer projects like: constant horse training and getting the new boys ready for classes, keeping up with the mowing and upgrading the driveway. Please remember that with the exception of help from an occasional community service personnel and a couple of volunteers, we do it all ourselves. Volunteers? Anyone over 14 years old? Please?
  • Pam and I took a 4 day vacation. First one in 6 years and it was fabulous. Thank you Jessica and Becky for the trip to Lake Hamilton!
  • August ended with the movie premiering here in Sulphur Springs. Thank you to Shannon Oaks Church for hosting it and all the folks that came out to see it!
There, I think we're pretty much caught up on a high level. I'll post some more pics in the picture tab within the next few days.