The Hilltop Refugio in La Peñita has been bustling with activity the past few months. In addition to the usual morning routine of cleaning stalls, feeding, watering and grooming, the Jaltemba Equine Education Project (J.E.E.P.) rescue horses and junior instructors have been doing a lot of riding and training. A few dedicated neighborhood kids have been chosen to be instructors-in-training and have each been assigned to a specific horse. They are learning how to care for and handle the horses, and in the future they will help teach new students how to do the same.
(top photo) Christian on Flash, Julie on Shadow, Tommy on Hermosa and George on Peso.
Billy Biscuit is my personal favorite and we have had more than a few excellent adventures. One of my most memorable is his first beach sand experience. I had no idea how he would handle the ocean waves, so when I followed the lead horse over the first sand dune I was thinking about noise and the action of the waves being of concern to him. Apparently, he was thinking about how nice and soft that sand looked because he hadn’t taken more than two steps in it and he was down. I found myself standing beside him while he contemplated a nice roll in the sand, saddle and all. It wasn’t easy getting him up either.
Shadow is everyone’s favorite. He is such a gentleman and the oldest of the group. Now that he has regained most of his health and vitality, he prances everywhere with his head held high. Julie, one of the instructors-in-training, has taken over the care and exercise of Shadow since Kathy’s return to Canada. Julie is 11-years-old and Shadow is her first hands-on experience with horses. She has gone from timidly brushing him from maximum arms length to being a confident rider. He takes good care of her and the other students. He has become the teacher.
Hermosa is mainly being schooled by Tommy, a 13-year-old who loves to ride. Hermosa used to make mean faces when people came near but now she enjoys a nice rub on the head. She has big, kind eyes and a sweet and willing disposition. Hermosa stays quiet and calm and takes Tommy anywhere he wants to go. She is taking the week off to rest and has been laying down a lot.
George, Tommy and Christian dug all the old hard dirt out of Hermosa’s stall and replaced it with soft sand. It is our habit to let Alma, the filly, loose to wander and explore when we are working at the Hilltop Refugio. She watched the new sand go in Hermosa’s stall, and as soon as we finished she ran in there and started pawing and digging it all up then she rolled and rolled. I think it was a hint that she would like some sand in her stall. It is a lot of hard work but each horse will eventually get new sand to lay on.
Speaking of Alma, what a little character she is. One day we had Flash, George’s older gelding that he rescued years ago, tied up waiting for Christian to finish his chores. We let Alma out and she ran straight to Flash, gave him a sniff then turned around and gave him a swift kick with both hind feet. She is so small she didn’t hurt him and he just gave her a “look.”
If she can reach through her stall rails to her neighbors food she will eat it first and save hers for later. She does the same with their water. I guess this plucky attitude is what has helped Alma survive her previous harsh conditions.
Christian is 10-years-old and is one of our first students at the refugio. His favorite mount is Flash whom he rides every chance he gets. He arrives at George’s house first thing in the morning and waits on the step until George is ready to come down and saddle Flashy. He then rides Flashy up to the refugio where we saddle the rest of the horses.
George has been schooling Peso on a regular basis. Peso came to us very afraid of people. He is thick with scars on his hindquarters, but we don’t know what has happened to him. He has made the most improvement of all the horses. His eyes are much softer now and he is gaining confidence in people. He seems to have the most trouble with the mounting and dismounting process, so Christian and Tommy have been spending time getting on and off over and over until he realized it was nothing to worry about.
Canelo is gorgeous and athletic. He does not appear to have had much schooling in the past. George has sat on him bareback a few times and we put Tommy on him while we led him around. He will need some more training before he is ready to be ridden. He is a sweet horse and enjoys being brushed and petted.
Local vet Dr. Cueva came up to the refugio last week to give the horses tetanus injections and some dewormer.
Having all of these horses in our lives is a special gift and it is so rewarding to see their progress both in health and in their acceptance of us.
And if Billy Biscuit would get up out of the sand, Carlos and his construction crew could get a lot more work done on the new bathrooms and gift shop!
by Donna Brownfield
About Jaltemba Equine Education Project (J.E.E.P.): Jaltemba Equine Education Project (J.E.E.P.) was established in December 2012 by George & Loretta Leavitt to help large animals like horses, donkeys and mules who are ill, malnourished or being mistreated in Jaltemba Bay, Nayarit, Mexico.
To learn more and to make a one-time gift or recurring donation, visit Jaltemba Equine Education Project (J.E.E.P.)
Donate to J.E.E.P. Today!
Your donation will help J.E.E.P. buy food, shelter, medication and the equipment necessary to care for our rescue horses. Remember, donations of tack and gear, both new and used are always needed and much appreciated.