Cody was born in 1994 in California. She is a registered Quarterhorse, bred especially for cutting cows and competition, which requires speed, agility and a natural forward impulsion. But Cody flunked out of cutting school because she is so quiet natured, peaceful, gentle and sensitive. Janie Thompson was looking for exactly this kind of a horse, and Cody found her new home in Stevensville with Janie and her husband Brooke Thompson when she was 4 years old. The Thompsons have been my next door neighbors for 25 years. Cody was the horse-soulmate of Janie's life. Janie devoted herself to Cody's care, her handling and training. Janie was a very fine rider and taught Cody everything a horse needs to know. I think it is fair to say that Cody was the center of Janie's world, as was her faith and her husband Brooke. Janie had multiple physical concerns, broken bones, partial deafness, punctured lung from an accident, a traumatic childhood that affected her throughout her life, and Janie battled with lymphoma cancer for 20 years. As much as Janie took care of Cody, Cody took care of Janie. Cody learned that her purpose here on earth was to care for sensitive people in need. Janie had a dream for Cody: that she would someday be of service to women who had experienced trauma, because Janie knew with her body and soul of the healing presence Cody was in her own life. For many years I would see Janie and Cody riding quietly through the woods together. Cody with her head bobbing calmly up and down as she walked slowly down the trail, Janie with her eyes closed, her looped reins dropped over the saddle horn, Janie's arms and hands hanging relaxed by her sides. Cody would carry Janie through the woods for hours like this. It was a relationship of complete trust for both Janie and Cody. Cody's gentle movements massaged Janie's fragile broken body, while Janie could be heard reciting Bible versus to Cody and singing hymns out loud as Cody carried her through the woods here at Bass Creek. I'll bet Cody knows the entire Bible and dozens of hymnals by heart. I went on my last ride with my dear friend Janie and Cody just before Halloween, 2010. We rode for about 3 hours all over the Bass Creek Recreation area behind our properties. Janie told me she felt better than she had felt in 20 years. Then within a few weeks, Janie developed a very aggressive type of leukemia, and Janie died on December 5, 2010. Before she died, she was terribly worried about what would become of Cody when she was gone. Brooke vowed to take care of Cody for the rest of her life, and I asked if I could become her caregiver and love her like she was my own horse. Brooke accepted and he and his new lovely wife, Donna Rae, are both thrilled with Cody's involvement in Therapeutic Riding. Cody is the center and the hero of my Horse Time program. She is a talented lesson horse, a generous and patient teacher, and a natural born therapy horse. Cody's name in Latin means "descendent of the helpful one"; how perfectly appropriate. My relationship with Cody is one of the most treasured I have in my life, and I always give tribute to Janie every moment I am with her.
Caesar was born at the Chief Joseph ranch in Darby, Montana in 1995, and at that time, his name was nicknamed "CJ". He is an unregistered Quarterhorse that throws a lot of the Thoroughbred characteristics. Not much is known about Caesar's early life, except that he was a very spirited and strong willed. Instead of nurturing these amazing qualities, Caesar was treated roughly with force by his former owners, and this did not go well for him. He ended up being shuffled around to different owners and finally became such a problem that a professional trainer was hired, my friend Kathy McConnell. Kathy had Caesar for 2 months and really bonded with him as she gave him the thoughtful training he deserved. Kathy reports that Caesar was quite a handful and had many issues with being caught, handled and ridden. She became very attached to Caesar, but as is the hardship of all trainers, when his two months training was completed, she had to return him to his owners. That winter on Christmas Eve around 10PM at night, the owners called Kathy and said, "If you want this horse, come and get him right now. Otherwise we're going to shoot him." Kathy jumped in her truck and hauled her trailer right over. She arrived at a horrible scene, with a bunch of men trying to winch Caesar into a horse trailer. He was cross-tied and frantic, frothing with sweat. Blood ran down his face from where he had been beaten with a chain, and there was a 10-inch long fresh cut across his hip where he had been beaten with a wooden plank. Kathy ran into the group and took Caesar's rope yelling "Stop what you're doing, I'll take him." Caesar followed Kathy willingly, he readily remembered her, and literally jumped to save his own life right into her horse trailer. He was 8 years old then. Kathy won many team penning competitions with Caesar and he helped her train a lot of colts by ponying them patiently alongside. He was such a good horse Kathy didn't want to part with him, but he was developing early arthritis and could not do the demanding work she needed her horse to do, so she gave him to her father. For the next 8 years Caesar became Kathy's dad's horse and was often known to share an evening beer with him. (Caesar loves beer!) He wasn't treated badly anymore, he was loved and cared for, but he only got ridden during a little bit during hunting season. It took Caesar many years to recover from his traumatic past, and Kathy says that he used to be just like Raven (read below). I was taking lessons with Kathy in August, 2011 preparing for my certification with PATH Intl. I was in between ridable horses then and wanted to practice. So Kathy told me she had a great horse that wasn't being used that I could borrow, and if I fell in love with him, I could have him. Caesar and I had an immediate connection and he found his forever home with me. In the last couple of years that I've had him, he steadily continues to grow more calm, trusting, happy and grateful. Caesar is a wonderful generous trustworthy therapy horse who has been around the block and back. He has a special love for children and gives himself completely to them. Caesar is now my champion therapy horse for small children or for students who do not wish to ride. Everyone adores Caesar, the oldest member of our herd at 21 this year.
Sunday is the newest horse at Horse Time. She is with us on a two year lease as her owner has moved to California to reinvent her life and there was no way to bring her horse with her. Sunday is her owners love and she has been raised with nothing but kindness and respect. Sunday is 1/2 Quarterhorse & 1/2 Percheron, weighing in at around 1,500 pounds. She is a big sweet mare with amazing potential as a therapy and lesson horse. I am truly enjoying getting to know this magnificent horse, riding her and working with her all winter in preparation for our 2016 Horse Time season. She is in training now, and although you might not have a lesson with her just yet, you will be able to meet her and see for yourself that Sunday's heart is as big as she is!
Raven is a purebred Paso Fino, born on a breeder's ranch to two registered parents in Powell, Wyoming 2006. The breeder was striving to enhance the natural smooth gait of the Paso Fino, focusing on the "Largo" gait, the fastest and smoothest of the Paso Fino gaits. When Raven was a young colt the breeder died, the children inherited the ranch. They didn't care about the horses and all 400 of the purebred Paso Finos needed to be disposed of immediately. Since Raven was one of the most beautiful ones, he was adopted with the first bunch by a rough cowboy got him who thought he was a trainer. I was told that this cowboy tied his legs and tortured him somehow. Only Raven knows, but this first imprinting was very strong, damaging and has had lasting effects. Raven has PTSD and huge trust issues. This so-called trainer turned a sweet innocent horse into a renegade. The man wanted to turn Raven into a barrel racing horse, but that didn't work out, so he ended up next with a teenage girl, but only for a short time as he was so wild. Then Raven was adopted in Ronan, Montana by an older couple who were interested in him because of his looks, his size and his smooth gait. But he was too much horse for them too, and a couple in Stevensville, Montana had him for the next two years. This couple really loved Raven and I believe contributed a lot to his rehabilitation. But finally they gave up on him too. This is when I spotted his Craigslist ad and brought him home, January 2014. I believe I have a gift with horses and was confident that I'd win Raven over in a couple of months, but as it turned out, it was 4 months after I let him loose in a pasture before I could touch him again. Raven was the most damaged horse I've ever met, and I am so grateful to him, because he has has been my greatest teacher and has turned me into a real horse handler. Over the almost 2 years that we've been together, still working on baby steps toward trust. I have watched tiny miracles happen as Raven dares to take risks and allow himself to be loved and to heal. I feel such a deep connection with him, infinite patience and love. Every day we do a little bit and the more I do with him, the better it gets. I have had a saddle on him, he allows me to catch him, and I do believe he enjoys the snuggles and body massages he gets. He is not a therapy horse in my program, as he is in his own intensive therapy. But last winter I hosted a workshop for psychologist Kristin Fernald, my dear friend from Lopez Island, Washington. Kristin practices Leigh Shambo's H.E.A.L. model (Human Equine Alliances & Learning) of working with people with PTSD with horses. There were 6 students in the weekend workshop, 5 of them professional counselors. I offered all four of the horses described here for us to participate with. I didn't think Raven could even handle the attention of 7 women, and in fact, he couldn't. But his fear and courage is what endeared him to all the women, and he is who we talked about the most. Women were dreaming about him, and the fragility of his feelings triggered everyone into deep processing about themselves. So in this way, Raven was the superstar of the H.E.A.L. workshop. Raven presents exactly the same behaviors as many of my young students with autism. He desperately wants to connect and be part of things, he wants relationships, and he tries so hard. But something inside him won't always allow him to relax, to initiate, to feel comfortable with himself. As I work every day with this beautiful little horse and the amazing children with autism who come to Horse Time, the similarities are stunning. Raven is my greatest teacher in my work with students with autism, and my students have helped me understand my smart, sensitive, gifted little horse. Every day I learn so much, it is very humbling.
Milagre is our beloved baby horse! Milagre is a Mangalarga Marchador, born at the 4-Seasons Ranch in Hamilton, owned by Lori and Peter Silcher. Their ranch is one of the nine breeders of Marchadors in the United States, and there are only around 400 Marchadors currently in the US. I met Lori Silcher and Milagre when he was 4 months old. I was visiting her ranch south of Hamilton, not looking to acquire a horse. But there was this little colt, Milagre, and he stared at me and followed me along the fence. There were other people there, but he was only looking at me. There were other foals there, but none were focused on me like Milagre. He took hold of my heart right then and there. I truly felt like he was choosing me. For the next year I thought about him all the time, dreaming that he might become my horse. Lori Silcher told me that Milagre was a test-tube baby. His mother fell victim to a terrible injury. Tapixaba (Tapi) was Lori Silcher's most beloved horse, and it was the hardest choice imaginable, but Lori decided she had to put Tapi down. Shawn Gleason, the brilliant vet from Tammany Veterinarian clinic in Hamilton, offered to do something he had never done before. As he was putting Tapi down, he removed one of he eggs from her ovaries. Lori Silcher had frozen sperm from a Marchador stallion that was now a gelding. Tapi's egg and the frozen sperm were sent to Denver where they were put in a petri dish, and a little embryo formed. When this was stable and big enough to transfer, the embryo was sent to Boise, Idaho, and inserted into a surrogate mare. The mare's body accepted the fetus and when she was stable, she was trailered to the 4-Season's Ranch, where Milagre was born April 9, 2012. His name translates in Portuguese as "Miracle", and he is truly a miracle in my life. He finally came home with me when he was 14 months old. This little horse is the most amazing partner and friend to me. He is very intelligent and kind. I climbed on his back for the first time on April 7, just before he turned 3 on April 9, 2015. Since then we have been on over 60 rides and he did fabulous in his first Trail Competition. Everyone loves Milagre. He is my dream horse.