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Blog Tales from the LOPE Ranch

2015 Year In Review


2015 was one of the biggest years ever at LOPE! Here are some of our favorite highlights.

Most Historic Donation: American Pharoah Halter


In 2015, Bob and Jill Baffert donated one of American Pharoah’s halters to LOPE! They sent the halter in honor of LOPE graduate Wooden Phone, who was trained by Bob Baffet during his track career. Wooden Phone’s race owners (Tom Durant and Jim Helzer) donated him to LOPE in 2007. He was then adopted by Suzanne, a talented dressage rider and LOPE employee. This year, Wooden Phone made his dressage show debut at age 18 and did tremendously well (racking up an impressive array of wins and ribbons).

LOPE originally planned to sell the halter at a specialty auction. But several supporters and fans asked if we could keep the halter for permanent display. LOPE created a special donor/sponsor group to endow the halter (by raising an amount equal to the auction value of the halter). Mrs. Janice McNair was the first endowment donor to join the group, followed quickly by several other donors — including Tom Durant, former race owner of Wooden Phone. LOPE is thrilled and honored to have such a special piece of racing history on display!

Favorite Success Story: Pastor P’s Pulpit


Pastor P’s Pulpit (now renamed Trip) was found at a Louisiana’s dealer’s lot in May. He was at-risk of being sold at slaughter. Previous race owners generously bailed him out and sent him to LOPE. Trip rebounded from his harrowing experience with aplomb. A natural diva and all-around class horse, Trip quickly found his perfect match in Alex (his adopter). Under her cheerful, confident guidance, Trip made a fabulous show debut by Fall 2015!

Best New Veterinary Affiliation: AAEVT

LOPE announced an educational partnership and scholarship program with the American Association of Equine Veterinary Technicians (“AAEVT”). LOPE will create a hands-on internship position that also includes a full AAEVT scholarship for their online equine veterinary technician certification. Both organizations will collaborate on a new Horse Owner education program. We are excited to partner with such a well-respected national equine professional association as AAEVT!

Biggest Program Growth: Horsemanship Education


In 2015, LOPE saw tremendous expansion in our education programs. To help encourage riders to work with green horses, LOPE created the “LOPE Along” Non-Extreme Horse Makeover Challenge. We teamed up with several terrific riding stables, clinicians, show associations and instructors to create a “pub crawl” kind of horse training challenge. LOPE also held its first ever No Stirrups November Training Challenge. Many equestrians (both local and out-of-state) signed up to lose their stirrups while raising funds for LOPE. We were thrilled with the level of enthusiasm and participation! Most significantly, LOPE introduced our Horsemanship Clinic Series. We held four horsemanship clinics that were geared toward helping people and their horses work together as a team. All of the above programs were well-received and popular, and we were impressed with the variety of horses and riders! Nearly one hundred riders/attendees participated in LOPE’s horsemanship education programs in 2015. And LOPE even added a terrific new junior education program (see Blanco River Academy item below).

Biggest National Recognition for LOPE: TAA Accrediation and TCA Award of Merit

taa-seal-2015LOPE was the recipient of Thoroughbred Charities of America (TCA) 2015 Award of Merit! This is such a special honor for LOPE and our work with ex-racehorses. In addition, LOPE also was officially accredited by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance in 2015! To earn accreditation, LOPE was evaluated in five key areas: operations, education, horse health care management, facility standards and services, and adoption policies and protocols. LOPE is honored that our work was recognized by such prestigious organizations as TAA and TCA!

Favorite New Junior Education Program: Blanco River Academy


LOPE partnered with Blanco River Academy to provide horsemanship and science lab curriculum to their students! Blanco River Academy is located in Wimberley and provides high quality, innovative education for 7th and 8th grade students. Their philosophy is geared toward individualized academic support for their students — with a strong foundation built on classical education in math, science and the arts. Each week, students experience hands-on education with the horses to learn the responsibilities of good horsemanship and the virtues the horses can teach us. We have loved working with such great students and look forward eagerly to the spring semester!

Coolest New Photographer


Cindy Swartzel is a talented young photographer with a wonderful eye for capturing horses. She did a wonderful job photographing LOPE’s Benefit Horse Show at Scissortail Hill Equestrian! Cindy has agreed to be LOPE’s official photographer and we are super excited to have her join the LOPE team! Cindy is also an avid equestrian and horse owner, so please keep an eye for her at local horse shows in the Austin area.

Favorite New Volunteers


Margo Mellon and Gracie Mallet have given much appreciated volunteer help to LOPE at the barn and at special events. Both Margo and Gracie are dedicated show riders, students and horse lovers. We would like to give a special shout out and thanks to them for all of their help during the holiday season!

Favorite Media for LOPE: Chronicle of the Horse


LOPE was selected by The Chronicle Of The Horse for their Charity Spotlight program and given a full-page ad in their July issue. LOPE’s ad featured one of our favorite success graduates, a very photogenic 5 yo mare named Onahotstreak. We were very excited to be part of the The Chronicle Of The Horse’s program to highlight equine nonprofits! And Onahotstreak loved being an equine supermodel for such a well-regarded magazine.

Best Christmas Present Ever


The LOPE horses received an incredible Christmas gift from very generous people in the racing industry! A Turnbow horse trailer was donated to LOPE by a race trainer and her family. We would like to thank Sara for such a tremendously kind donation and Tammy for helping this amazing gift arrive at LOPE in time for the holidays. The racing industry is full of good, compassionate people who care deeply about ex-racehorses. LOPE is honored and grateful to be supported by such special people like Sara — and we can’t thank her and her family enough for the trailer!

Thank you all for your support of LOPE and the horses! Because of your help, 2015 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 2015 ends, please click here. We wish everyone a Happy New Year and look forward to a great 2016.

Austin Equine Hospital Schleese
Paddock Foundation American Association of Equine Technicians and Assistants Sam Houston Race Park
Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance The Ranch Broker Moose Pants Studio
Thoroughbred Charities of America Scissortail Hill Equestrian Secretariat Foundation
Treaty Oak Equine Express