Welp, it’s official: I’ve done more than just sit on a horse.
I love learning from books, but it’s obvious I am going to need a lot of hands-on instruction to wrap my arms around this horse farm thing. Lucky for me, there are 28 horses very close by in varying stages of health, rehabilitation, and riding work.
Lots of feed, lots of poop, lots of names to remember and personalities to learn. The owner and her handful of loyal volunteers do it all. Right now, Lynn and Sherri are the backbone of the operation keeping Kim’s horses healthy. They have more help occasionally, from Lynn’s husband Steve and from two awesome teenagers, Sadie and Lilly. They definitely seem to be in need of an extra set of hands and Kim was more than willing to take me on in exchange for some heavy lifting.
Kim is one of those salt-of-the-earth horse/farm people I love. She’s got happy eyes, strong hands, and a country accent you can’t help but enjoy. Her phone beeps non-stop as she tries to balance the dizzying array of people in the busy horse community she’s built. Effortlessly warm, immensely patient… and Kim knows a TON about the horse world.
She runs a non-profit equine rescue and therapeutic riding business. She also does for-profit riding lessons and ranch camps, and runs a for-profit youth ranch in the summers. This year, volunteer Sherri is developing a third venture, Horse Powered Reading, to help kids get outside more and learn to read while running around a sort of obstacle course.
Coyote Hills also has a small contingent of mini horses to help kids feel more comfortable. Truly, it is the perfect place for me to learn, and it is uncanny how close Kim’s operation is to my vision. My whole goal with this horse farm is to build a community of people who care for each other and reconnect with outside. One key component to the entire vision is the connection of kids with horses. It is truly amazing to see it already in existence here.
I called Kim this morning to see about working with her for a few hours. I was a little concerned that I would inconvenience or irritate her with my total lack of knowledge, or that the people there might laugh at me for my ridiculous idea. What I found was something completely different: wide open arms.
Come on, we in the barn.(That is not a typo. That is how Kim talks.)
I arrived right before feeding time… and feed I did. First Kim taught me how to put on a harness and walk the horses to their stalls, then Sherri and Lynn showed me the ropes of the feeding process. They were also very happy to let me carry most of the buckets. =)
Kim has a special blend of food varieties for each horse. She is adamant that they only get high-quality feed with no added sugar, so she also feeds them coconut meal for an extra treat. No surprise, they love it! Each horse’s meal is blended in its own individual bucket, then diluted with water to help with digestion and water intake. The bucket gets carried to the stall and you basically muscle the horse out of the way as they try to eat it straight from the bucket on the way to the food bowls. Crazy horses.
I loved the entire day. Being outside, the quiet of the work, communing through physical labor. Lynn and Sherri are incredibly inviting women, both very kind, funny, and a bit soft-spoken. Sherri said she thinks my idea is fantastic and that I have such a great personality, she’s sure that whatever I want to do I will do it. I am over the moon about just getting to spend some time with all three of them.
I also loved the horses. Prince and Cheyenne are my favorite right now, absolutely stunningly beautiful. No idea what type of horse Prince is or how many hands tall, or where they even measure hands from . . . but he is massive. Cheyenne is feisty, but I naturally respect that. There are so many horses, all different from each other. I can’t remember them all on sight, but I do remember most of their names: Jolly, Apache, Grace, Trigger, Buddy, Bentley, Cheyenne, Sweetflower, Rocky, Gypsum, Daisy Mae, Kite, Annie Oakley, and the old girl, Sweetie. Then there are the minis and the donkeys: Cookie, Sully, Sugarfoot, Rodeo, Stormy, and Eeyore.
I fed horses on day one and deep-cleaned stalls on day two. I think that means I am now officially a poop-slingin, horse-feedin, rider-walkin volunteer for an equine rescue.