9:30 AM and it was HAT weather, in the chapparal region of El Dorado Hills. (This is not the manufactured Orange County in the Foothills part of eDH but the original ranchland area, south of highway 50.)
We picked up Lorrie and her friend at the last chichi outpost before heading south on Latrobe Road into the the land that has meant The Real California to me, all of my life; the golden rolling hills dotted with ancient oak trees, sizzling in the summer sun.
We pulled into the ranch that the Grace Foundation inhabits and found a bustling place with kids, adults and happy horses. This was the place. We went into the office, which is in a trailer and immediately got the feeling that everyone here was volunteering because of the love of animals. Period. Young and not young, alike. We introduced ourselves to our guide, Jeanne, who is the Director of Operations, which means that she has given of herself to be Beth De Caprio's surrogate, running the ranch, fielding questions and watching over the whole place. There are others, many MANY others...an army of volunteers.
We signed the waivers (if you get stepped on...it's your own fault, stupid) and headed out on our guided tour of the facility. We began with the temporary dog building, which was, and will be again, their Classroom. The first thing that I noticed was that this building smelled like...clean. These are the few dogs who do not live with families, as Trixie did.
We went back outside to get the scoop on the big area at the heart of the facility. This is the riding arena for children who come for therapy. It is a magical place with storefronts sponsored by companies, small and large, where certified therapists work with kids with lots of different disabilities. Volunteers can be trained to help, here.
We moved on and visited the area where the littlest outreach ambassadors roam around with the big horses who would be picked on, in a normal situation. They seem to coexist beautifully. We saw some of these little guys at the End of the Trail for the Wagon Train celebration, this year.
As we moved on around the land, we met a couple of kids who were learning how to groom horses. You see, The Grace Foundation has Horse Camp and Vet Camp for kids, in the summer. How wonderful.
This young man was VERY serious about his work. You can see, in the background, the area where horses are shod, by folks learning to be farriers. This is another way that The Grace Foundation keeps all of their responsibilities while keeping the costs down. It is a win-win situation, in my estimation.
We kept walking and saw the area where they keep the last of the mustangs, who have been deemed a little too wild to be broken and adopted. They are a beautiful bunch and all bear the neck brands of animals that roamed on BLM land. (I wish that they could still run wild, personally.) I got a sniff from one mare and felt quite honored.
Across from the Mustang paddock is this riding ring, where kids at Horse Camp were learning to ride, thanks to the tutelage of the young ladies who began riding at the ranch, when they were little. Jeanne said that she really misses these kids, when they graduate High School and go away to college.
We left this area and began walking back toward the buildings, observing an eagle scout's project, which was turning a tractor trailer into a stage for events. It was just one of the many many donated projects, here on the ranch.
I was hoping for but not expecting to be able to meet the Susanville Mares but, we were ushered through the Do Not Enter gate and into the world of the Mamas and their foals.
This is the newest baby and his Mama. She is so healthy and gorgeous and went through so much hospitalization for a bad leg and other complications. She is sweet and beautiful and her little guy is adorable and just two days in the atmosphere!
Another of the mares and her older baby.
The new mama followed us, looking for some loving. These horses are SO beautifully cared for, by people who LOVE horses. This is as it should be and there so many dedicated volunteers, making it happen.
This is what we got, when we came over to let them give us snuffly nibbles. Hellooooooo!
I loved the look of this girl. She is so shiny, except for the rolling in the puddle, part. Her foal was jumping for joy, a little after this photo was taken. There is your Appaloosa influence.
This is the area where the First Arrivals live and aren't they beautiful. You would never guess that they had been in such poor condition. It takes a lot of $$$ to accomplish this big turn-around, to be sure.
Speaking of Money. We officially raised $5334 and because we did this today, Rod got the ball rolling with Chevron for the additional $3k matching grant. We handed over the check today. Lorrie, Rod and I with Jeanne, who was getting a little teary-eyed. You see? One skein of yarn at a time, we made a big pile of money. I decided, yesterday, to wrap up the initial yarn sample that Lorrie did and let her present it to the foundation. We did GOOD!