Many friends have been asking about our lovely herd of horses, and missing their visits since exiting the Anheuser Estate. Our horses enjoy being guests on a private thoroughbred breeding and training farm in Illinois. During the day, after their morning breakfast, the herd spends time on the rolling hills of two, four acre pastures. Foraging, playing and roaming, they take full advantage of the the beautiful and accommodating atmosphere. During the evening, each horse rests in separate stalls located in the same barn.
Ride On St. Louis staff and trained volunteers of our caretaking team travel to the site a minimum of twice per day to provide care. Daily chores start early with a wellness check and morning feed of rationed hay and grain. After finishing their breakfast, caretakers walk each horse to the pasture, clean and refill each pasture water trough, and remove any accumulating manure piles. When the barn is empty and horses are happily outside, morning caretakers begin mucking (removing feces, urine and wet bedding) from each of the stalls. Next, feed tubs (where horses eat their grain) and stall water buckets are scrubbed and disinfected. With clean buckets and tubs, caretakers can then begin to "set" the stalls for evening feed. Each horse has his water refilled and his individualized hay, grain and dietary supplements prepared and distributed to his stall. When all the stall work is complete, the aisle-way gets swept and shovels, stall forks, muck buckets and brooms get cleaned and disinfected before being stored. Before heading out after the morning chores, caretakers log their activity and any noteworthy observations or instructions for the next caretaker to visit.
In the evening, a caretaker arrives again to begin the evening routine. Caretakers redistribute clean stall bedding and double check that each horse's feed and water is appropriately in the stall for the evening. Each horse is brought in from the pasture and checked for wellness before retiring to their feed and stalls. The aisle-way is swept, tools cleaned and notes logged before the caretakers make one final check on the horses.
Staff have the added responsibility of maintaining and exercising the horses. As horses continue to shed their winter coat well into summer, grooming is an important aspect of their care. Grooming, bathing and taking care to clean hooves are essential to the healthy horse and helps promote blood flow, maintain body temperature and prevent injury. When it comes to exercise, horses partake in both mental and physical conditioning with both ridden and ground work. Because this thoroughbred farm does not have an arena (indoor or outdoor), staff may work horses in a level part of the pasture or hack to the training track and back. Although it is challenging to work the horses in the manner best suited for their career, staff is appreciative of the level parts of the pasture that allow consist long-lining and ground work.
Our horses offer time to a small number of clients in our Barn Buddies and modified Unmounted Activities programs, and have provided the opportunity to experience riding to over 80 children with physical disabilities during a collaboration with the Disabled Athletes Sports Association last month in June. Although limitations of their current residence in Illinois prevent consistent and full programming from occurring, Ride On St. Louis strives to continue helping those in need, while we work towards securing a forever home.