Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Horses and Hope: a Yuletide Celebration of Horses in Silly Hats

Joey P
On Saturday, I had the pleasure of meeting Joey P (Close Up - Luckey Lipco), a millionaire, a graded stakes winner, and a fan favorite. Officially retired from racing, the tall dark bay will soon be heading to Camden, South Carolina with his owners, Jane and Charley Gilbert. At Evergreen Training Center, he will enjoy a winter of light work, helping Derrick Barker with young Thoroughbreds, leading them on trails and on the track. In the springtime, he will head back to his home state.

Joey P was kind enough to indulge me with a short photo session, and he patiently wore a Christmas wreath and Santa hat with no complaints. He is in good company, since I spend quite  bit of time each December photographing horses, ponies, and donkeys wearing all sorts of festive costumes.
This might be my favorite horsey holiday photo of them all. Simon, the dashing "reindeer" pictured above, is a 30+year-old ex-Amish workhorse. Purchased from the direct-to-slaughter pen at New Holland Auction, Simon is now a permanent resident of Helping Hearts Equine Rescue in Perrineville, NJ. At the rescue, Simon's upper respiratory infection, hoof issues, and dental problems were cared for, and now he spends his days napping in the sun, being groomed by doting volunteers, and eating warm hay cubes in his cozy stall at night.
Jefferson Airplane
Jefferson, another Helping Hearts resident, is the December star of my 2012 Horses and Hope calendar. In addition to being the beloved ambassador/mascot of the rescue, he also helps in other ways. I received this lovely note from someone the other day:

"Sarah, the 2012 calendar hangs in my classroom. My students are the ones who make sure the right month shows. I have 60+ autistic, behavioral kids who rotate thru my pre-vocational program (assembly, packaging, sewing and woodworking).

One young man who doesn't speak very much stood up unexpectedly yesterday, walked to the back of my classroom, and touched the calendar. 'Donkey,' he said. 'Jesse, how do you know that is a donkey?' I asked. He touched the picture again, pointing to the ears,'Ears.' I said, 'His name is Jefferson and I am going to visit the farm where he lives tomorrow. Would you like me to take a picture of him for you?' Jesse smiled and sat back down.

His teacher came to pick him up at the end of his session and I told her I wanted to show her something. 'Hey, Jesse, can you do something for me? Can you find me Jefferson's picture?' He looked at me, stood up and walked over to the calendar. 'Jefferson,' he said as he pointed to the picture. His teacher said, 'Wow, you found the horse!' 'Donkey,' Jesse told his teacher. His teacher looked confused and turned to me with the question I was expecting... 'How did he know it wasn't a horse?' Jesse touched the picture and said, 'Ears!' His teacher didn't know the difference, but Jesse knew.

He has never looked at the calendar before, but I pulled out the 2013 calendar and he smiled. Those calendars, your pictures, are a new addition to my little toolbox of reinforcers I use to get my kids to do their work. The kids know I have an arsenal of fun, interesting and yummy goodies to pick from for 'helping' me. Thank you for not one but now 2 calendars my kids love to look at."

Zephyr, another resident at Helping Hearts, is available for adoption. His dam ran through the ring at Camelot Auction while she was pregnant with him. He was born at Helping Hearts in March 2011, and should mature to about 13.2 hands. I was very impressed that a youngster like Zephyr had the patience to pose for his photos in his wreath and hat.

For many months, I chronicled the progress of Zodiac (Jockey Club name Rhythmic Moves) during his recovery at Days End Farm Horse Rescue. He has been adopted and is now in a new, happy home. The fact that he stood before me last year, shiny and healthy, and posed for Christmas photos is nothing short of a miracle. Zodiac is featured in July in the 2013 Horses and Hope calendar. You can read his story here: http://thetdnblog.blogspot.com/2011/06/zodiac-nine-months-later.html 
Silver Gem and Anouk Busch
100% of the proceeds from the Horses and Hope calendar are donated to One Horse At A Time, a 501(c)(3) organization. Over $40,000 was raised with 2012's calendar, and we've already surpassed that amount with the 2013 calendars. The funds from the calendar help horses in need, from contributing to hay banks to providing emergency vet care to gelding colts. Over 300 horses were helped by the funds, including 255 colts and stallions who were gelded with calendar money last year. Silver Gem, pictured above with Horse Rescue United founder Anouk Busch, was gelded with the help of a gelding grant from One Horse At A Time. This year, Gem was adopted and is enjoying spending time with his new owner.
Audeamus ("Audi") is a 16h, 6-year-old Thoroughbred in the care of Second Call Thoroughbred Adoption and Placement. After he finishes rehab for his tendon, he will be available for adoption. Reindeer antlers, Santa hats, wreaths... Audi took his photo session in stride like a champ.

Of course, posing perfectly is not the only thing that horses do during my photo sessions. Some of them prefer to eat the props (pictured above).
Miss Tuesday, aka Stormin Miss
Some horses, like Miss Tuesday, ham it up for the camera.

 And others, like Mary the Morgan, appreciate the lights and holiday magic all around them. 

Horses and Hope 2013 Calendar
Last year, with the help of Gina Keesling of HoofPrints, my debut calendar contained over 100 photos of auction horses. Thanks to the support of horse lovers all over, it raised over $40,000 for One Horse At A Time, helping hundreds of horses in need directly, and untold others indirectly through increased public awareness. Now that we have one calendar's worth of experience to draw upon, the 2013 version promises to be even more exciting, even more creative, and as always, inspirational and positive.  

Please click on the links below to read read about the horses, ponies, donkeys, and mules in the calendar:

Sarah Andrew

Georgia's Story

Sunny's Story

Rosebud's Story

Tristan's Story

Mimi's Story 


A Visit to Project Sage Horse Rescue

Electronic Press Release: 2013 Calendar

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