Sunday, November 18, 2012

UPDATE - Sterling's Second Start

Sterling and Kim placed 2nd in the GHJA Show this weekend. Here are a few pictures of his big weekend.

Sterling and his rider, Kim Payne, at this past weekends GHJA finals.

Sterling and Kim, along with their trainer, Sami Malik, and Sterling's mom - Tiffany Brown

Sterling and mom Tiffany having a moment at the GHJA finals this past weekend.

We are all proud of Kim and Sterling. Just wait until next year!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Sterling's Second Start

Once upon a time way back in 2007, in a land far removed from Georgia, a little Thoroughbred colt was born. With wide brown eyes and a taste for wood, "Dixie Jammin'" wasn't your typical colt. We don't know everything, but we do know he learned enough about racing to earn his gate card and Jockey Club tattoo. But from that point until September 2010 the story gets muddy. Why September 2010? Because that is when Blue Skies Riding Academy heard about the West Virginia seizure of 52 horses from Hidden Meadows Equine Rescue for starvation and neglect.

This is what our instructors Heather and Sami found when they first saw "Dixie". Scoring only a 1.5 on the Henneke Body Scale, the poor gelding was deemed fit by the on site vets to travel; and so with two other survivors Connor and Ella Grace began the journey to a new life. When I arrived the next morning and took their liquid breakfast out to the West Virginia babies my heart broke at the lack of spark in their eyes. Even food didn't perk their interest. At the so called rescue they were freed from, the animals were eating acorns and rocks just to fill their bellies.

It was agreed by one and all Dixie did not fit this gelding! He was shy, introverted, a cribber of unparalleled determination, and afraid of his own shadow. I don't remember who first came up with "STERLING", but it stuck. As the weight slowly came back and his rehabilitation progressed, it was time to find Sterling a person. Many of us took time with Sterling, working with his wood addiction, teaching him ground manners, and giving him more love than he could handle. Due to starvation, his growth was stunted. As he gained strength, he popped out abscesses, strained muscles in his rump and was butt high more months than we could count. Now, at 5 years of age he is over 17 hands and all horse. But he still needed a person. Enter Tiffany -

Tiffany works at the barn part time, as an instructor and volunteer. While her background is in dressage, Tiff couldn't help but fall for our little "Ster-Fry". His movement, when correct, was beautiful; his legs long and delicate, and keeping him at a trot for more than 10 paces a joke. And so, the long-legged dressage rider became the person for a green hunter prospect.

Sterling is technically grown up now. At 5 his size might not change, and his cribbing obsession is just as strong as day one, and he is still afraid of his own shadow, but what a magnificent horse he has become. Tiffany is finishing up her art degree, and Sterling has become the model for many of her school projects.

With Tiffany at school, another person has stepped up to love on our "Chicken of the Barn", Kim. Kim has been riding ponies at BSRA for many years, and when it was decided Sterling needed another rider to help train him, Kim happily volunteered. The pairing is awesome, and they have already made quite an impression together in the local shows. Sterling is still green, and sometimes it shows, but he is all heart!

This weekend, Kim and Sterling will be competing at the GHJA finals, and Tiffany will be there ringside cheering him on. Our little Thoroughbred has come a long way from the dull, ragged, neurotic baby I first met sucking on the top rail, but I know his future will be brighter still with the love of two good women, a barn full of friends, a round bale to dive into and a piece of wood to suck on!

If you would like more information on Blue Skies Riding Academy, our rescue and retraining program, or our riding lessons, please visit our website at

Friday, November 9, 2012

And On Our Sister Station...

Today, on my personal journal/blog I am participating in a Blog Hop! There are over 200 author bloggers participating and everyone is giving something away, like gift cards and FREE books!

So hop over and read about how we feel about Autumn's Harvest!

Blonde Not Dumb

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Happiest Little Pony in the World

This week has been a good one for my Blue Skies babies.

Connor, a rescue from West Virginia, who arrived at BSRA in September of 2010 at the ripe old age of 18 months, has an adoption pending. Connor hasn't had an easy life since birth. We don't know where he came from or when he entered the slaughter pipeline. We do know he was saved from slaughter and sent to a facility in West Virginia. When the police and animal control stepped in to save the dying and starved horses at this 'rescue', we took three home to Emerson.

When Connor arrived, his weight wasn't too bad, but it was obvious he was at the bottom of the herd. His sides were covered with bites and kicks. Luckily with only two other horses in a very large pasture he was able to perk up much quicker than his two companions: Sterling and Ella Grace.

From the first we didn't try to ride Connor much, especially being unsure of his age. When he was ridden or worked with from the ground, he proved to be a very bombproof little Quarter Horse. Still growing we were excited for his future when disaster struck our beloved 'Khan'.

One summer night, while the herd was in the pasture, Connor ended up impaled on a wooden fence post. The barn manager came quickly, hearing the commotion in the barn, but the damage was already done. Connor's chest was split from top to just behind the front legs. That was June 2011.

His recovery has been slow, with forward progress and a few relapses. Last March we took him along with Vince to Auburn to have the slow closing wound ultra sounded to make sure there was no wood still caught in the chest. Once they gave Connor the 'all clear', we began using him for pony rides, walking only. He has spent his days growing (he is approaching 15 hands while we never thought he would go over 14), eating and regaining his strength.

Connor's personality is pure Quarter Horse. He got a little nippy when on stall confinement for 8 months, so you have to remind him not to grab for treats, but other than that his personality is all sunshine. Now, he has met a little girl who adores him, and it is easy to see he loves her too. The happy ending we all were afraid might never happen for this miracle horse is now becoming a reality.

I will miss him greatly. In the pasture he was the quiet companion of any horse who felt alone. Everyone loved on him, but we all wanted so much more for him than the life of a sanctuary horse. Thanks to all of those who have prayed for this little guy, brought him treats, hand walked him during the rough early days, and to Heather and Sami for bringing him into our lives. I cannot imagine our barn without him, but I wouldn't change this adoption for the world.

He's earned it.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

For the Love of An Animal

After the winds and damage of the past week left for other pastures, we went to the barn today. First time I had seen my four legged babies in two weeks, due to work and family commitments. Pulling up the drive, all the horses mingling around the barn for breakfast and morning hay, I remembered that long ago fall day my darling daughter took her first lesson and another generation of women fell in love.

My first memory of pony love is of a fat little pinto at the neighborhood fair. Of course back then each pony was tied to a wheel and walking in preset circles for 5 minutes then stopped for the next group. When it came time for me to leave that pony I screamed like someone was cutting my legs off. At that age it was hard to put into words the peace and sense of purpose I found on the back of that pinto.

Throughout my life I have ways to be around horses. My cousin was the lucky one, she actually became a jockey back when that was strictly a male profession. She has the injuries and scars of many pileups and dismounts but worse, she lost the passion for the horse itself. Because racing is a big dollar business, thoughts of what happen to the poor horses that don't make it on the track are avoided as the cost of doing business. That side, unfortunately, I am all too familiar with. Perhaps sadder than the grown animals discarded around the country are the poor foals, stripped from their mothers after only days in order for the mares to nurse the foals of more valuable horses.

Several years ago, my friend and her daughter became involved in the rescue networks. Working mainly with off-track thoroughbreds, they soon found themselves the savior of more than one OTTB. At Blue Skies Riding Academy we have more than 8 OTTB currently being trained for dressage, hunter, jumper, and trail professions. But these "throwaway horses" existing in more industries than just racing.

For any of my friends who are on hormone replacement therapy, I apologize in advance. In case you don't know it, the hormones the pharmaceutical companies use come from pregnant mare urine. And how do they get this urine? Mares are kept pregnant, then stripped of the foal after birth so they can be re-inseminated to produce more urine. The poor babies who are taken from their mothers are divided. If female, they might be allowed to mature, so they can join or replace their own mothers "on the line". Males are not wanted or needed. Three guesses where they end up.

So the next time you see a post on my Facebook or Twitter about a horse needing a sponsor, think about the Starbuck's latte you drank that morning and consider exchanging your caffeine habit with something better - being a part of saving an innocent from the avarice of mankind. Listed below is the link for Blue Skies Riding Academy. Your donation is tax deductible as we are a registered 501c(3) non-profit. We also do pony rides, Girl Scout and Boy Scout programs, birthday parties, lessons, and summer camp.

If you don't live in this part of the country, namely the South, check into local rescues in your state. Horse Rescue United, located in New Jersey works and listed reputable rescues in several states. In Georgia we also have Iron Gait Percheron Rescue, Georgia Equine Rescue League, and Save the Horses to name only a very few. I know there are a lot of people out there asking for money who have no viable references. Always check into a rescue before donation. But please do donate - dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, mules, you name it they need help.

To Donate to Blue Skies Riding Academy