The dogs were barking. Not unusual for them to howl at the moon on a cold, crisp early January morning. Or was it? As I lay contemplating getting up to see if there was a "ruckus" to be concerned about, I heard a whinny. The horses were talking to each other at this early morning hour? Or not? It was so cold out there..maybe the dogs needed a snack? HA! Really, to keep them warm or just pacified? Deciding to drag myself up from beneath the warm comforter and pillows, I peered out the bedroom window to see Pal focused intensely down the drive. Slipping a warm jacket on, I grabbed a couple of meat bones out of the refrigerator and found a small flashlight. Daylight It was still a couple hours before breaking. A cold, crisp winter wind stung my face as I walked briskly to the back lot. Jake and Bleu welcomed my intentions, grabbed their morning snack and ran back to the dog house. As I came back around the barn to give Vinny his token, I noticed frozen manure beside the barn entrance. Making a mental note to remind the volunteers be sure to clean up after their fun times with the horses, I tossed Pal and Mandi a flake of hay and headed back to the house. Now that my blood was pumping and my mind jolted from the winter air, I may as well check my email, I reasoned. An hour and a half later, I decided to turn back in to bed, relishing the idea of a Saturday morning sleep-in! Tiptoeing back in to the bedroom, I took another gander out the bedroom window, squinting my eyes as I focused on " those weird shadows" in the front yard. At first I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me, as I realized the "shadows were moving. The thought came quickly, "The horses are out! - how did that happen?" Throwing my jeans and sweatshirt on, I grabbed my heavy jacket,hat and gloves..As I came out the front porch door, one or two of the munching horses raised their heads as if to acknowledge my entrance to their moon-lit foraging area.."OK guys, how did you get out?", I asked..without a response. Quickly reminded of another time long ago when Pal came and lay down in front of my window.. Then too, I was reminded of God's beautiful sense of humor and majestic ways. Taking charge again,the horses and I, one by one made our way back into the side paddock (first re-locking the forgotten gate) as all the beautiful Moon-lit babies made their way back down to the bottom paddock. Thank You Father, for watching over the herd tonight as they quietly found their way to the front lawn, before my bedroom window, by the light of the moon!
It seems like I have always loved horses. When I lived in Alabama, I was able to ride horses at Gaits of Grace Farm once a month through a home school group. I then, started taking lessons there once a month and loved every minute.
When I first started working at Victory's Gait, I was learning so much and loved everything that I was doing. One of the things I learned was that I had a challenge horse and a lesson horse. I was mostly working with my lesson horse, Scarlet, but once I started working with my challenge horse, Rhett, well, he was definitely a challenge!
My highlight of working here was when I was riding Rhett in the arena when he got spooked and started bucking and rearing. I did a front flip off of Rhett and landed on my left thigh. I got up and went to the fence because I didn't know what Rhett would do next. All he did was run off and graze. So, once I calmed down I got right back on him, because I knew once I fell I would have to get back on him. After I was done riding him and we were giving him a bath, he laid his head on my leg telling me he was sorry. Rhett and I have a special relationship and I've conquered many fears with him.
I love working here and still learn something new every day. My future plans are to work with horses and be a horse trainer.
I love coming to Sweet Dreams Farm and working with Rhett. He is a challenge most of the time, but that's okay with me. I would rather have a challenge horse than an easy going lesson horse. Being a green-broke and playful Arabian, Rhett likes to test who's the leader. He helps me build my confidence in this way. Did I mention he loves treats? Oh yes!! I would suggest NOT saying the word "treat" around him.
Before I came to Victory's Gait, I rode horses at my grandpa's ranch in Wyoming. I was intimidated by the horses up there. When the horses gave me trouble I got tense and freaked out. I never really knew what to do. One year, I took my grandpa's spunky filly, Mandy, to a camp called Rodeo Bible Camp. That was a bad idea. Mandy was all over me. I couldn't control her. She would toss her head and wanted to take off running. She was nothing but trouble.
When I first came to the farm, Mrs. Vicki had me start out working with the lesson horses. As my confidence grew, I moved up to the challenge horses. I found out that Rhett and Mandy are quite similar from the first time I worked with him. Rhett became my favorite horse at Victory's Gait. I always wanted to work with him.
The next year came around and I was going to take Mandy to Rodeo Bible Camp again. This time I knew what to work on with her. I taught Mandy the games and other techniques I learned at Sweet Dreams Farm. Mandy worked out great that year and I can't wait to take her again.
Also, at Sweet Dreams Farm, my faith in Christ has grown. Mrs. Vicki has taught me to include God in what I have a passion for. I'm glad God gave me this opportunity to come and work with Mrs. Vicki and her horses. He has blessed me very much.
Zoie's growing up! Last week the sweet little-girl-turned-young-lady reached the ripe age of 11! While our culture teaches that milestones are made by one's age, it serves us well to remember that God sees the heart as man looks outward (1 Samuel 16:7). Especially in young Zoie's case.
On the day Zoie was to have her Pony Party,the weather called for a blistery day of snow. Worried about the cold-tollerance level of the root-n-toot-n cowgirls that would celebrate, thought came to change the party date. However, the morning of the Pony Party, I awoke thinking it may be good for the party-goers to see that horses need to be handled in all weather conditions. So, THE PARTY WAS ON! Amazingly, as the large snow flakes fell immediately prior to their arrival, I whispered prayers for the Lord to come and have His way. My awesome volunteer Kayla came bundled up to help. As we began demonstrating the "Games Horses Play" in the round pen, I was taken back by the number of guests that continued coming and coming, until there was a line of cars across the breadth of the roundpen, extending even closer to the front porch! The eager young riders, some experienced, many not so, were very patient and loving with the horses and each other. It was obvious that God was in our midst. The families of the guests helped where help was needed, effortlessly! And then as the weather continued it's wintery advance on the day, the party ended with Birthday Cookie and drinks, lots of hot chocolate in the basement canning kitchen. A HUGE SUCCESS! Who would have thought, but GOD? After turning the horses out with the herd, I made my way to to the back of the house saying goodbye to the families and their winter-brave students along the way. As I stood talking with Zoie's family in the canning kitchen, Paula, her mom, handed me a little gift bag. "Zoie wanted to do this for you, Mrs. Vicki". As I peered into the bag, I caught my breath as I saw a mulitude of bills, 5's, 10's, 20's! When Zoie had sent out the original invitations to the party, she asked her guests in lieu of presents, to make donations to Sweet Dreams Farm. OH MY HEART BE STILL - ZOIE'S GROWING UP!!
Thank you Father, thank you Zoie, thank you families that came and gave your time and contributions!
Her frame petite, like that of a model Barbie Doll; her smile and contagious giggle, beckons you join her excitement about life! It is her trademark Red Flaxen Hair that captivates your attention as it flounces about her quick movement.
Last Spring, Leah came to get vegetables with her little man Emmet and we soon became good friends..Conversing about the Atlanta Carriage Horses, her passion for their well-being and proper care revealed the nature of her heart and her compassion for Kingdom animals.
Leah is a promising young horse enthusiast eager to learn the ropes of Natural Horsemanship and most recently willing to take the "fall" for no other reason than to add a "notch" to her growing level of equine experience. Wow, that was a thought-ful! While In all the years I've worked with students to develop a strong foundation in horses through their Natural Horsemanship skills, I can't recall a single student willing to take a fall. Until Leah! In fact my primary goal is to train and equip students to avoid the pit-falls of the horse's unpredictable prey-mentality. .
Don't get me wrong, Leah's not self-indulgent for punishment - not by a far stretch of the imagination! She follows instruction and adapts readily to the task. Her small frame is stronger than appears and she handles her stead with finesse!
So when Leah began pairing with Pal, the largest, strongest lead gelding in the herd, I certainly had no qualms. She handled
him confidently and Pal responded lovingly . It was when he bolted into a gallop around the bend and down the hill, that Leah kept going at that 90 degree angle. As she tumbled off his back, Pal stopped less than 5 feet from his rider's fall as if to wait for her return to complete the ride they began at the barn. Jumping to her feet, Leah shouted "I'm ALRIGHT'! We hugged and prayed and breathed deeply and sobbed. The fall had happened, the notch was made. Facing her fears, Leah re-mounted her waiting steed and chalked it all up to the experience she would need!
Psalm 91 Is a wonderful reminder of God's loving care and compassion for us. "He gives His angels charge over us to keep us in all our ways". Yes, He really does loves and cares for us Leah, more than we will ever know!
When winter's place has come, all barren are the trees;
The grass has whithered gray, the green no more to see. The brisk air, the frozen ground, seems hopeless to surmount. My hands so cold, my ears turn red, my cheeks and nose aglow. The heavy coats, and gloves and socks and boots so weigh us down.
Oh come, let's go on to the meadow! Look o'r there, through branches; the thicket can I see; in places once grew dense, now opened up for me!
Oh beauty of the form of life seems stillness and on hold. Oh peer with me through barren sea of winter's frame of life. The things we see and depth of view still lingers fore our eyes. In past once hidden, now clearly seen quicken from within.. So walk with me, yea contemplate the Frame of Winter's Life..
Has it been 3 years since that fateful day in North Ga where we first met Norman? It was a day I will never forget. Having previously encouraged Farmer Jerry and my son, Craig and granddaughter Kaylee, to plow and plant a garden for a woman's rehabilitation center, we were all pitching in to get-er-done! The day was clear, sunny and humid, a late Spring day in May . When we first arrived I noticed off in the distant field 2 horses in a wire fence lot, but did not pay particular attention until a lady in charge of the facility pulled in the drive close to the garden area we were busy in. She leaned out her window and motioned to the horses in the field, commenting that the younger of the two had been ill and knowing that I worked with horses, wondered if I would take a look at him before leaving, which I agreed to. As we finished up in the garden, I beckoned to Kaylee to walk with me over to the field where the horses stood gazing out as we approached. As we walked closer, I could see that Norman was a young frail little guy. His red fur was scuffed and he had huge open sores on both sides of his withers that poured out infection, blood and cankered dirt and debris. Besides all his obvious injury and illness, Norman was seriously emaciated. Tears welled my eyes as the question, "Can you (I) help this horse"? rose up from my belly. I grabbed a bucket and began to wash Norman's wounds..
Three years later, with Norman now a household name on our farm, Norman's been "companion" sitting with a neighbor's mare while she has been off to college. The timing of Norman's visit was perfect , for he needed Savannah's acceptance to bolster his deflated ego.Three years of abundant TLC, extra feed and smelling like an emergency room from antibiotics and healing salves, kept Norman at bay from the other horses who had refused to accept him into the herd. Savannah needed a companion and Norman needed acceptance. Now it has been decided that the mare will go to college in South GA with his owner as she pursues an education and Norman will return home to our farm. Today I brought him over to spend time alone in the pasture with Pal, the masculine leader of our herd. As I watched them playfully nibbling on each other and then resume to grazing the bare winter fields, I had a peace that Norman will find his place in the herd as he returns to Victory's Gait!
Here we go 2013! In the early morning hours, as the rain steadily comes down, we contemplate snuggling under the warm covers, just a little while longer. Before heading out to brave the cold, the reality of life on the farm seeps in to remind us that staying on track with chores early helps to keep one's whit as the day goes by. So much to do, so little time, as they say!
Enter Victory's Gait volunteer, Amy. Recently she and another helper/friend, Anna came one afternoon to help with the horses and hopefully have a little fun playing with the horses.The plan was to help with evening chores, have dinner, spend the night and as I overheard their up-n-meet-plan, I wondered if the forcasted rains would hinder their great expectations! Little did the young equine enthusists know that heavy down spouts of rain would try to interfere with their plans. As I woke in the morning, I caught glimpse of the industrious young gals heading out the door. They diligently pursued their efforts to help
maintain life on the farm. Pouring a second cup of Mate green tea, I peered out the window to see them through the downpour, working the games with the horses in the arena! What a dedicated volunteer crew the Lord has sent, I thought to myself..it isn't too often that I get a day off, much less, a rainy day off!
Psalm 20:2 reminds us that God sends help from His sanctuary He gives us strength.. ...It doesn't matter our circumstance or situation.Our hope and expectation comes from the Lord (Ps 62:5). When our ways are committed to God, through prayer, He sends help from His sanctuary to give us exactly what He already knows that we need!
For years many friends and acquaintances have encouraged me to write. Seems like just being busy taking care of the farm has been a good enough excuse why not to write.. So determined to be obedient, as 2012 draws to a close, I feel the Lord's prompting to begin to write the amazing stories that our family has experienced on the farm on this blog. At least for starters, I need a place to begin.. We have witnessed some amazing miracles that need to be recorded and documented. Who knows, maybe a book will come out of this after all? My heart is to be able to relate some of the conversations and practical lessons I've been taught by God, penned (if you will), in an equine devotional form. It seems that one of my primary roles (besides tending to the herd), is mentoring the students and sometimes their families that come to the farm. Teach, train and equip is a primary function..Many think it is just the skill of horsemanship that they are coming to learn,. But honestly, our relationship with the horses only mirror our Creator's intention to draw us closer to Him through His Creation in the horse. Facing our fears, remaining steadfast and believing Him to find and to reach out for our destiny and purpose to come to pass. Regardless of the seemingly mundane or nothingness we face daily, we must learn that faith comes by trusting God in all of our circustances and situations, Focus on Him will build our confidence to know that He has given each one of us a hope and a future. So make a decision today to press on to the higher call.. Listen, can you hear Him calling you? "Then they heard a loud voice saying to them, Come up here.." Revelation 11:12