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Paid Back in Full

23 Jun

Chessy is a Morab Horse

Chessy and his biggest fan, Jenna.

Chessy and his biggest fan, Jenna.

IMG_2128. Like an Arab, he is smart, discerning, and careful about showing his emotions to one he does not trust. Like a Morgan he is handy, fancy, and determined. Little did I know that this little horse would pay me back in a way I never dreamed.

It was a brutally cold day in December when I discovered Chessy standing at the gate. Like all horse women and men, you can read a horse’s body language as a conversationalist does with an audience. I intuitively knew that there was something wrong.

I opened the gate and walked towards him and that’s when he turned his face towards me. His eye was literally in pieces.

I grabbed a leadline, fearful to put a halter on his face. In my other hand, I held my phone and shakely called my vet. She happened to be in the area and made a hasty drive to my farm. Upon inspection she did not give me good news. He would have to be transported to the University of Pennsylvania or she could remove his eye. Either way, this was a traumatic injury.

To give Chessy the benefit of saving his eye, I decided to send him. We made the harrowing trip to New Bolton Center and they met me at the bay. They had called in an equine optometrist and she encouraged me to see if they could save the eye by cleaning it and putting it back together.

After two days, Chessy had a roaring fever and an infection that was threatening his life. She decided to do a corneal transplant. He was under anesthesia and not doing well. She called to tell me that he was not doing well. I did what I always do, I prayed.

That night, I crept into the still barn at 9:00. He had tubes protruding from his head, they had drilled holes through his skull to flush continual antibiotics into the eye so that he would not reject it. For days, he was in a precarious position. He would gently lay his chin on my shoulder. I would scratch his funny spot, but he would not react. He was hurting and so was I.

Then I got a call from the vet stating that she felt that he could go home with the knowledge that I would have to give him medicine into his eye every two hours. I quickly gathered volunteers that would be willing to take night and day watches. I cleaned the stalls with bleach and fluffed his stall with soft straw.

It was not to happen. The day of transport I was told that he had double pneumonia and he could not go home as planned. He was moved to the ICU and was in critical care. Again he was administered meds that kept him quiet and comfortable. I went to see him and cried. Now tubes were surgically placed in his neck.

Again, I did what I do best, I prayed.

Within two weeks he had recovered and we planned to bring him home. But then came the crushing blow of them all. He had gone into colic and the impaction was in the small intestine. This was fatal without surgery. They had drugged him with heavy sedatives and were waiting for my reply.

My bill thus far was over $12,000 and I could not go further financially. He had been through too much and I made the painful decision to forgo the surgery. I left work early and went into his stall. His head hung to the ground, tubes hung from every main vein, he stirred when he heard my voice.

He tried to turn and face me, but the sedation made him stumble. I prayed over him. Placing my hands on his stomach I asked God to miraculously heal him. That’s when I heard the leading vet clear her throat to signify her presence.

“Jill, I am sorry. We will keep him comfortable until we cannot control the pain. We will let you know when we put him down,” she placed her hand on my shoulder. Finality was in her voice.

I was not ashamed of my tears, for they flowed like the beautiful Brandywine River that Chessy had crossed when he was healthy.

“I am believing that God will miraculously heal him, I hope I get a call with good news and not bad,” my sobbing took over and I could no longer speak.

“Jill, this colic is a death sentence. I am sorry,” she smiled faintly.

I slept fitfully that night, waiting for a phone call, but it did not come. At seven o’clock in the morning, my cell phone rang. I grabbed it and heard the vet on the end speak with disbelief. My little Chessy had pulled out of the colic.
I got off the phone and sunk to my knees, God had showed up in a circumstance that everyone else said was impossible.

Today Chessy is the favorite mount in my lesson program. He is gentle and kind. Always the gentleman, he is aware of every rider and their needs.

Little did I know that he would pay me back with kindness. Six months later I had accidentally left the main gate open. The horses had discovered my mistake and were peacefully eating in my backyard. Upon opening the garage door, my ever diligent guard dogs went after each horse with a vengeance. The herd took off.

Down the driveway they galloped and onto a major road and ripping towards a very busy highway only feet away. I was devastated. I grabbed grain, buckets, halters, lead ropes, and ran for my truck.

That’s when I heard their hoof beats coming closer.

Leading the herd was Chessy. He took them back down the driveway and into the open pasture gates. He had controlled the herd, comforted me by bringing them back, and showed me that he had never forgotten my kindness of saving his life.

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Spring Schooling Horse Show

3 Jun
Our proud riders

Our proud riders

It is the Spring Schooling Horse Show. Excitement hangs in the air. Children, parents, grandparents, uncles, and aunts gather at the fence and watch their riders in the riding ring.

Ribbons adorn the bridles of our ever patient horses and ponies. Parents snap pictures proudly of their child’s accomplishments. Other riders hug each other and high five the winners. It is a moment suspended in time.
The last class of the show is the long awaited, Down and Out. Usually this is jumped by horses, but this is a growing year at Raise Your Dreams Farm and we have chosen to conduct this class on the two feet of our riders. They have been practicing each time they come, especially Timmy. He is up to three feet.

Check out Alena in the Down and Out Competition.  Check out her huge cheering section!

Check out Alena in the Down and Out Competition. Check out her huge cheering section!

Down and Out is when the rider (or in our case, the student) goes over a vertical. Each time they go over the jump, it is raised until it is either touched, falls down, or unable to clear it. In our Down and Out we have increased the incentive by giving half of the purse. There is nothing sweeter in a teenager’s pocket than some cold cash.

It is down to the last four jumpers. Timmy, Jacob, Jenna, and Emily are accomplished jumpers. Jacob and Timmy are best friends. Jenna and Emily are best friends too. They encourage each other. Then Emily falls into the jump. She is down. They pick her up.

Emily being picked up after falling in the Down and Out Class

Emily being picked up after falling in the Down and Out Class

Next up is Timmy, he crashes into it too. Jacob is trying to psyche himself up and he is encouraging the crowd to chant, “Jake! Jake! Jake!” He crashes into it.

Timmy showing his skills!

Timmy showing his skills!

 

 

It is down to Jenna. If she jumps this, she will be the winner! She backs up for the final sprint. The crowd starts chanting for Jenna, changing their allegiance.

Jenna and her winning jump!

Jenna and her winning jump!

 

Jenna flies over it, her blonde hair swinging in the wind. Her beautiful face set in determination. She lands in perfect balance- she is the undisputed winner.

That’s when a parent walks over and tells me what she overheard.

“Timmy threw the competition. He wanted his best friend to win. I overheard him tell the others that he was going to purposely knock it down so that Jacob could win,” she placed her hand on my arm and smiled. “You have amazing students here!”

We have amazing students here. They are only out to do one thing- to make others look better than they do. They don’t want to win if it will help another that deserves a win. What an amazing place Raise Your Dreams Farm has become!

Hey can you help us out? Post your unwanted tack, clothing, riding apparel, etc. on the classified section on http://www.anythingforhorseandrider.com.  Thanks!  This site funds our little farm!

Hershey and His Duck

29 May

“Miss Jill want to hear what Hershey did to a duck?” Briah is our constant at the farm and she is so observant for being so young. She notices the nuiances of each horse and rider.

I gave her my full attention, I wanted to hear this story.

“The female and male mallard ducks were flying around and they landed in the pasture and Hershey came running over to them. The male flew off but the girl got confused and got cornered by Hershey.”

“Oh no, did he hurt her?” I asked.

“This is the interesting part, he just nuzzled her with his nose. It was like he was petting her.” Briah said with a huge smile.

Later the ducks flew over the field looking for their big four legged friend.

I NEED to get this on video! Hershey and his ducks could be quite a hit.  Now the ducks are constant companions to Hershey, they just follow him around all day.

What animal has your horse befriended besides another horse?

Hershey doing what he does best- galloping around!

Hershey doing what he does best- galloping around!

Fuzzy and Three Angels

28 May

She was a handful, and then she discovered horses. Her behavior was so disturbing she went to a special school. Her mother had heard about equine therapy and that is how I came to know her.

She promptly fell in love with Fuzzy, a QH with an attitude. He was definitely not an equine therapy horse. After much begging and pleading I promised her an opportunity to ride him if she got a 100 on her behavior chart at school. Up to this point she was getting at most a 60. I was confident that Fuzzy would not be in her near future.

I was sure she would never get a 100, but that week she did. I had to hold my end of the bargain.

That Saturday I tacked up Fuzzy, praying for a miracle. Had I just set up this young girl to get hurt? I was sick to my stomach.

She came bouncing and jumping and yelling. Her excitement was too much to contain. Remarkably she quieted as she sat in the saddle and Fuzzy was a perfect horse. We did posting trot, sitting, standing in the stirrups and holding her balance in transitions. She was spectacular and so was this usually very naughty Quarter Horse.

Pushing my luck, we decided to do a lap of my property. As soon as we got out of the ring he leapt in the air and reared to gather leaves from the tree in our back yard.

I don’t lose my composure, but I did this time. I screamed for her to hold on! Helplessly I had to wait until Fuzzy came down on his own. Turning Fuzzy could have resulted in him falling and it seemed like an eternity until he came down. She grabbed mane and did everything explicitly.

Finally, he came down and that’s when she looked at me and said “Miss Jill, I don’t know why you are so upset, there were three angels keeping me on Fuzzy the whole time. As soon as they saw that I was safe they left me.”

Well, we do pray for God to protect our riders! Silly me, I should have known, God had sent His divine angels!

Thanks God! You always have all of our backs!

Please help us serve childen that cannot afford equine therapy and desperately need it. Just post your unused tack, clothing, horse related business, etc. on http://www.anythingforhorseandrider.com.

Hey LIKE us on http://www.facebook/anythingforhorseandrider.com!

The Employee of the Month is……………………………

5 May

 

Bradley with horse capturing equipment, feed, halters, and lead lines!

Bradley with horse capturing equipment, feed, halters, and lead lines!

Bradley!

Woodstown, NJ is a small farming community located in southern Salem County. It is where I bought my horse farm, and it is here that I have learned that your best friends come in all sizes and shapes.

Bradley works at the local feed store, Ice and Coal, because that’s what it provided when the town was first established. It is here that you can find livestock feed, paint, gourmet chocolates, and baby chicks. Conversation flows easily, thanks to Doug, the owner. He has his hand on the pulse of the community. It is here that you are called by your first name, or for the older folks, by their surnames with respect.

You cannot be in a rush to pick up your supplies; surely, there will be a rich conversation that draws you in to the warmth embrace of a family here at Ice and Coal. It is not beyond Doug to stop by to see how you are if he has not seen you in a while. One day, I was short on feed and I called to see if they were still open. They had just closed. Doug reassured me that the feed would be waiting for me on the dock. “Pay me later!” he said.

This is the place that I found comfort in being a “farmer” with the older folks that astound me with their wisdom and colorful stories. The workers have worked there for thirty and forty years telling stories of the old times, when farmers would deliver their corn and oats to be made into horse and cow feed. They are strong and healthy from lifting hundred pound sacks of grain, fencing supplies, and hay.

Bradley is unlike his peers. He is frequently found under his tractor. Strength and wisdom is in his heart. Though he is a senior in high school, many people frequently mistake him for being older. Bradley is my neighbor, this is defined by living within five miles of me, and he has done a few small jobs at my farm. He has plowed my fields, fixed my tractor, and now that he works at Ice and Coal, loads up my truck with horse feed, treats, salt licks, bran mash, and whatever else I need.

That’s why I was shocked when he flew down my driveway. I knew there was something wrong, and I quickly met him outside.

“Jill, horses are loose at the end of the road! I don’t know whose they are, but I figured you could help me capture them!” At the end of the road is a very busy road for this farming community and it could be disastrous. Horses loose on this road could mean death to the surprised drivers.

I grabbed feed, halters, lead ropes and grabbed my keys. We both climbed into my very crowded truck. We drove to the end of the road and found three very upset horses. We captured them and Bradley walked them back to their farm with me. As we walked, I started asking him about his knowledge of horses and that’s when he said he was not all that familiar with them, he just wanted to help.
Maybe that’s why I think he should be Employee of the Month! He goes above and beyond what is expected of him. How refreshing to know this young man is not afraid to help others, even those that he does not know.

By the way, he was very late to school that day, but I think it should be excused; it is not every day that someone gets to rescue countless lives!
Bradley, you are an outstanding young man! Thanks for always keeping a cool mind and doing what is right!

Need a horse, riding equipment, tack, etc.???  Find it on http://www.anythingforhorseandrider.com!

A Dose of Hope

29 Nov

I am going to be honest.  I am a little discouraged.  It is hard for me to admit this because so many people see me as a positive encourager, but I am just a little “blue.”

So I am going to encourage myself and remind my broken heart of all that I am grateful for in my life.

1. I am a child of the Most High God- I am born again and know that I have a relationship and bond with God Almighty.  He has “stepped” into so many of my circumstances that He is as real to me as my husband.

2. I live a GREAT life- full of promise and hope.  I have a horse farm- how much greater can it get???

3. I have a supportive and loving husband who tells me constantly how much he loves me. I can look like a hot mess and he still tells me that I am the best looking woman he has ever seen (he needs glasses!).

4. I have my health.

5.  I live in the best country in the world!

6. I get to teach both riding lessons and students in a high school.  I am surrounded by greatness and they challenge me everyday of my life.

7.  I have great friends who know how crazy my life can get,and they still take time to encourage me.

I am going to stop now, because I am already encouraged to keep the faith, to trudge on and have hope.

How do you encourage yourself???  Please share!

Give Everything and Then Some More

7 Oct

No rain or storm, just a miraculous rainbow to show us that He reigns here!

No rain or storm, just a miraculous rainbow to show us that He reigns here!

Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. James 1:2-3

Human nature says run when it gets hot. It also tells you that it would be easier to give up then to continue on. It is also harder when everyone else abandons you.

I am and have always been wilfully stubborn. It was a time in my life that swimming in life was no longer an option, but to hold onto God and the life raft he held out to me.

We were being sued for a million dollars. My husband was unable to handle the stress of this looming disaster. I could not handle it either, I just spent hours and hours in prayer. God would lift my heart and I would feel encouraged.

One day, my husband, walked into the kitchen and said, “I cannot take it any more. I am going to get away from this place. I am staying at my brother’s house,” he had tears in his eyes. With that he walked out of the house.

I felt so alone. None of it made sense. A lawsuit because we refused to let our neighbors send their water through our horse pastures into our creek. This prohibited them from building their home and they sued us as a nuisance. If we had been sued as a negligent, our insurance would have picked it up. Instead we had to pay out of our pocket the lawyer bills every month. We had already spent $60,000 in petitioning the court to drop us. The state of NJ allows anyone to sue and we were the receipients. It was and always will be the darkest time of my life.

That’s when I recalled the verse, James 1:2-3. This would produce patience and something even more valuable- a relationship that is unbreakable with my husband.

I know that there are many going through trials and suffering, but know that God will work it all to your good.

Today, I own my neighbor’s land, and we won the court case! The land is now called “The Happy Ending” because the ending was so happy.

I am here to tell you that God loves you and will use all to teach you valuable lessons. Don’t give up, just give in to His Will.

Today we ride horses on the property, grow hay, and enjoy it immensely. It was because I gave everything I had and then some more.

Keep up on all that happens on the farm on facebook on anythingforhorseandrider.com and raiseyourdreamsfarm.com.

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