"It's a beautiful day to be a day-old foal," said Michael Muir, founder of Access Adventure, a nonprofit based at Rush Ranch that provides outdoor recreation in open spaces for people with disabilities.
Muir was likely referring to the cotton-candy clouds in the bright blue late January sky, but the day was also made sunny by the happy people inside the paddock fawning over two new foals. Everybody wore smiles, because who doesn't love to see a fuzzy, baby horse sticking close to her mom as they trot across the paddock. Michael Muir has been breeding, raising, and training horses since he was twelve. Since 1989, he has bred and raised Stonewall Sporthorses.
Three of his mares--Samba, Calypso and Minuet--had babies for the first time this year. As working girls, the mares were bred early so that their foals would be weaned and sold in time for the Access Adventure season, which begins on April 1 and runs through October 31.
From day one, all of Muir's horses are handled and socialized with people so that when training begins it is natural for them. "That is so important for their work with disabled people here at Rush Ranch," said Muir. "The horses are so habituated to humans that they treat us like one of the herd."
The training starts right away with the foals. Randie Boardman, who has volunteered with Access Adventure since the organization began operations at Rush Ranch, is working with Calypso' s day-old
foal, Lola Montez. "Calypso and Randie are like sisters," says Muir, "and Calypso lets Randie touch the foal all over."
Lola Montez was born at 6 a.m. She could walk and run within a minute and gallop in an hour. Foals need these skills to get away from predators. Samba, the mare who gave birth to the male foal Montero, had an easy delivery. "Easy for me to say as a man," said Muir, from his wheelchair that he maneuvers around the muddy paddock with an ease that comes with familiarity. One week after Samba and Calypso gave birth, Minuet gave birth to Montezuma, the third foal at Rush Ranch.
Rush Ranch provides a home for Access Adventure, and their beautiful horses. Solano Land Trust provides land that draws people who share a common interest in beautiful animals, open space, and the connections that bind us.
The foals will stay at Rush Ranch until they are weaned in six months. You are welcome to visit during open hours, but please do not enter the paddocks.
Please visit Access Adventure for more information about their inspiring program.
Photo by Rebecca King