Happy Leap Year!

As we look at the calendar, it’s amazing to see March peeking at us around the corner.  If you look closely, you’ll see that this year we enjoy the gift of an “extra day” – February 29th – which only happens on the Leap Year.  Here at Therapeutic Horses of Saratoga (THS) we are especially looking forward to Leap Day because we’ll be celebrating Leap of Kindness Day (Feb 29th) and gathering many of our friends of the THS herd together for a fun event at the Horseshoe Bar and Grill.  If you’ll be in Saratoga, please join us! Click here for details.

With this second edition of the HoofPrints blog, I’m hoping to set the stage for our journey around the farm together with a bit of a “big picture” overview of all the moving parts that are working together to make the magic of “Helping Horses and Healing Humans” actually happen. As the new kid at the farm, I have thoroughly enjoyed these first four weeks observing and learning what lies beneath the buzzing busy-ness that you find when you step into the THS “hive”.

The bee hive has been the image that has stuck (no pun intended) in my head since my first day walking in the door of the THS offices.  It can look a bit confusing to the naked eye, but as soon as you start to understand everyone’s role, the many moving parts emerge like a symphony of overlapping, carefully choreographed circuits of activity. Everything happens in service to the THS herd of happy equines at the heart of our farm and our work.

Setting the stage

The buzz begins slowly, and even sleepily, as you pull in the driveway off Rt 29. The first faces to greet you will be Apollo (Saratoga Springs Police Department’s horse), Kramer and Kremepuff (our two minis) in the paddock to your right.  Then, as you follow the driveway to the right at the wishing well, you’ll see Frenchie and Spirit; and then you will see the parking lot where all the THS and ECS staff park next to our big red Cherry Tree Arena building.

As you step out of your car, you may see one of our two barn cats (Kit and Kat) taking a dirt bath in the sunshine, and then, as you walk in the main door, you’re likely to be greeted by a veritable tidal wave of wagging tails and smiling canine faces, the pack of happy dogs who spend their days at the THS Farm.  Once you’ve said hello to the THS welcoming committee of four-legged creatures, you’ll be greeted by members of at least three different teams of people who call this building our “home away from home”. They are:

  • THS office staff (Erin, Kim, Polly, Meg and Kate)
  • THS equine care staff  (Rachel, Lenore, Alex, Heidi, Lib and Jimmy)
  • THS horse-care volunteers (an amazing team!!!)
  • And depending on when you walk in the door, you might encounter
    • an ECS clinician and client
    • a Horse Play session participant 
    • one of our interns from the BOCES program
    • or an office volunteer tackling a project for the herd.

In the same way that each type of bee has a role in the hive, each of these teams arrive at the farm each day with a specific goal.  All of their goals are directly tied to our mission: Helping Horses and Healing Humans. Each individual arrives with a specific objective, role and set of tasks. Together, and concurrently, they keep the farm “buzzing” along.  It’s really quite an amazing system to observe.

As I’ve started sharing the story of “how THS works its magic” to my friends and family, it has occurred to me that a visual representation of all these moving parts might be helpful.  To that end, the team and I have created a THS Infographic to capture the essence of the three programs that take place at the THS farm and to identify all of the caring individuals who make these programs possible. Take a look at the image below and let us know what you think!

An invitation to join the herd

Over the weeks ahead I’ll take some time to introduce you to each of our teams. Today, I’m delighted to share our recently refreshed THS Volunteer Application. This simple questionnaire has been designed to welcome the gifts of time and talent from those friends, family, neighbors and community members who believe in our work and who may wish to help our herd.  If our mission is meaningful to you, please consider “joining our herd”!

Next week I’ll share an introduction to the wonderful work of my colleague, Polly, who coordinates the THS horse-care volunteers and her system of training and supervision.

Be well, be kind and shine brightly!