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Blog Tales from the LOPE Ranch

2014 Year In Review

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Favorite Media Coverage: The Blood-Horse Article in Winner’s Circle

In August, LOPE was featured in The Blood-Horse Winner’s Circle section. The story was titled “A Leap of Faith” and chronicled LOPE’s start as an organization. We appreciated that the reporter focused on LOPE’s interest in horsemanship and training for the ex-racehorses in our care. She was especially intrigued that LOPE was started by someone (Lynn Reardon) with little experience in training or ranch management — and she quickly saw the connection between Lynn’s career change and the transition that the LOPE horses must make from racing to new riding careers. As the article stated,

“Lynn Reardon sees a lot of parallels between her life and those of the retired racehorses she works with every day as the founder of Texas-based LoneStar Outreach to Place Ex-racers. She understands the jolt of a sudden, life-altering change of purpose and the uncertainty it brings, even if hers was self-inflicted.”

Huge thanks to the Blood-Horse and writer Tayloe Clements for their coverage of LOPE’s work!

Favorite Success Story: Chaz (aka “Dontpokethecobra”)

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Cobra was one of the biggest horses we ever had at LOPE. He was tall and stout, with the proportions of a baby dinosaur. Cobra also had a sweet, puppy-like temperament — he was truly a gentle giant at heart. DeeDee adopted Cobra (now renamed Chaz) and they are a terrific team. As DeeDee writes,

“I just wanted to send you an update. He has NEVER met a stranger and wants to be everyone’s BFF! He is so smart and willing. He has adjusted so well to his new lifestyle. The ranch offers so many different riding possibilities for us that we never get bored. The last few days we have been doing our exercise workouts in grassy jump field. He loves watching all the cows and calves and he is just a stone’s throw away from where they are baling all the hay! He is so smart and I absolutely adore him! Thank you so much for acting on your passion and making a life out of loving these horses. We are going to do great things in our future!”

Favorite New Programs

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2014 was a big year for new programs at LOPE. We began our Horsemanship Education Program to provide education for people who are interested in adopting, owning or retraining ex-racehorses. After twelve years, we have learned so much from the LOPE horses who have come through our program. The Horsemanship Education Program is a way for us to share that knowledge. There is strong interest in the program and its services (with over 40 lessons, horse assessments, clinics, coaching and training sessions scheduled within in the first few months).

Soon after Horsemanship Education Program launched, we then opened a school for the ex-racehorses. The LOPE Academy operates like a kindergarten school program. For each “semester,” some LOPE horses are selected to go through foundation work at our facilities. LOPE will customize a learning plan for each horse to help them build a strong foundation for their futures (in whatever discipline that may be). During the semester, the LOPE Academy horses are taught for the entire duration without interruption. They aren’t available for adoption until they have completed the program — but prospective adopters can get to know the horses and our foundation approach via reading our blog progress reports, observing the training sessions and taking lessons via our horsemanship education program.

There has been a large postive response to our first “kindergarten” class of horses in the Academy. Each horse has multiple prospective adopters eagerly following their progress. And the waiting list for horses to come to LOPE has doubled, as many people in the racing industry want to see their ex-racers have a good education before adoption.

Most Exciting New Sponsor

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Scissortail Hill Equestrian became the LOPE Benefit Horse Show sponsor in 2014. They ran one of our most popular shows ever! The Scissortail Hill team is especially dedicated to compassionate horsemanship and horse care, as well as helping students develop strong equestrian skills. As part of their facility acquisition, they took in several neglected horses still onsite there (including two OTTBs) and brought them back to full health. We are impressed with the high quality of instruction that they offer to all levels of riders in many different disciplines. We are honored to have Scissortail Hill Equestrian as a sponsor — and we are thrilled to announce that they will host our Benefit Horse Show in 2015 as well! Please check out their website for information on lessons, training and events. Their 2015 event schedule is full of ideal schooling opportunities for both green and seasoned horses.

Favorite Show Competitors

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At the LOPE Benefit Horse Show this year, we saw several terrific ex-racehorses in the ribbons! Luna was adopted by Janet in early 2014 and attended her first show at our event. As you can see from the photo, they did great together!

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Taylor adopted Penny a few months before our show. Although Penny was a little unsure of new places, Taylor’s gentle support helped her gain confidence (and several ribbons) by the end of the day.

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Several other ex-racehorses attended the show from a terrific barn run by a former track outrider. We loved seeing these former racing warriors expertly steer their riders around the ring! Huge thanks to Laura and her special group of students and horses!

Best New Equine Intern

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Rudy is a 6 year old QH with some experience in team roping and trail riding. He is a very kind and willing horse. We like to joke that Rudy has a police cadet type personality — he always wants to do the right thing and follow the rules. Rudy helps give lessons in our Horsemanship Education Program and is in training to become LOPE’s pony horse. With his stocky build and gentle leadership vibe, Rudy is an ideal candidate to help young ex-racers learn important new skills.We are excited to have Rudy join the LOPE team and look forward to watching him grow into the job.

Most Harrowing Veterinary Case

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In addition to our Academy horses in retraining, LOPE also takes in horses who have injuries that require special rehab care. However, our most serious vet case this year was a sound, young horse without any injuries. The night before Thanksgiving, a LOPE horse named Sure Personal displayed discomfort symptoms. We rushed him to Austin Equine Hospital and within a few hours he was in colic surgery. Fortunately the surgery was uncomplicated and Sure Personal is now back at LOPE. His prognosis is excellent, for a happy, healthy life! Huge thanks to the Austin Equine Hospital team for saving Sure Personal.

Best Band and Musical Sponsor

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Hot Club of Cowtown is a terrific Austin band. They have generously provided two incredible live music events for LOPE. Their fiddler, Elana James, has a great horse background that includes being a wrangler at a Montana ranch. Thanks to their help, LOPE has raised funds for the horses and enticed music lovers to learn more about our work. Huge thanks to Hot Club of Cowtown for making room in their busy touring schedule to help the LOPE horses!

Most Fun New Event

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On October 4, LOPE held its first Open House at our Wimberley location. The event featured horsemanship demos, farm tours, chicken bingo, great BBQ food, race-themed silent auction and amazing live music from Hot Club of Cowtown. The Open House was a huge success! The attendance was much larger than we expected. And to our surprise, the most popular part of the event seemed to be the horsemanship demos and farm tours. We loved seeing so many people enjoying the day and the horses. LOPE will host another Open House in 2015 and look forward to making this event an annual tradition.

Favorite Repeat Employee

A few years ago, Suzanne worked part-time for LOPE during college. She then adopted one of our most special horses, Wooden Phone (winner of over $800K and a truly cool personality). Suzanne and Wooden Phone (now renamed Watson) then moved to Houston. Earlier this year, she returned to Austin — and promptly showed up at LOPE again (we love people who can’t resist the LOPE horses). The timing was perfect — LOPE had recently relocated to two new facilities and had expanded our programs. Suzanne is now working for LOPE again and we are so happy to have her help. Welcome back Suzanne (and Watson)!

In Memory: Mary Ritchey

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In 2013, Mary adopted Zuper from LOPE to be her pet and companion. Zuper was a true racing “warrior” — he raced till age 9 and then was LOPE’s herd boss till retirement. Mary and Zuper had much in common: lively personality, zest for life and great heart. Mary fought illness bravely for years with strength and spirit. Zuper was a huge source of joy to her during those hard times. Mary would spend time with Zuper every day, petting him and feeding him carrots. When she could no longer leave the house to pet Zuper, he would position himself in the pasture so that she could watch him from her window. Near the end, she had Zuper’s win photo from his racing days at her bedside — so that she could still see his handsome face and athletic spirit . Mary lost her battle and passed away earlier this month. LOPE has opened a special fund in her memory to help horses with special needs or unique story (like Zuper). We hope to honor Mary’s memory in our work and carry her spirited love of life with us daily.

Thank you all for your support of LOPE and the horses! Because of your help, 2014 was a big year for LOPE in so many important ways. If you would like to make a tax deductible donation to the horses before 2014 ends, please click here.

We wish everyone a Happy New Year and look forward to a great 2015!

1 Comment

  1. Sandy Carr says:

    I’m SO glad to have joined the “LOPE” family by adopting a sweetheart, “Isa My Love”, on December 28th! “Isa” will be moving to New Mexico to be a pasture buddy for a lonely horse. Even though “Isa” can’t be ridden due to racing injuries, his new vocation is just as important. You can bet he’ll make LOPE proud in 2015!

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