It’s been a relatively quiet and snowy winter here in northwest lower Michigan, and most of us - horses, cats, and humans - are awaiting spring. (Farm Security Agent Jake, a real fan of winter, enjoys his own take on “snowplowing” every time we get a fresh fall. He’s only sad that his humans don’t embrace snow-rolling with the same enthusiasm he shows.) There has been some snowshoeing, some basic groundwork, and some grooming as we wait, but in general winter is a time for planning - garden, training, and program - and catching up with everything set aside during the busy summer. The horses wait, welcoming their occasional human visitors as they dream of spring grass and summer fields.
A Sad Goodbye
As many of you know, we lost our lovely Arab, Shadows of Mahogany, in mid-January. He was 26 - a significant age for a horse - and developed probable pneumonia with incipient kidney failure after an esophageal choking incident. Aging horses sometimes experience significant decay in their back molars, necessitating removal of those teeth if infection and pain result. This was the case with Shadow some years back. This is one of the harder aspects of managing an older herd, as many equine therapy-related facilities do. Our older horses have wisdom and calmness, but like any aging population, they are more prone to health issues. We are proud, though, that Shadow lived such a long and interesting life. He was very much loved, and he is greatly missed. (For those who wish to donate in his memory, we will soon be offering a keepsake made from the hair of his mane. Check back here for more information, coming soon.)
…And A Hello, We Hope
Because we’ve lost Shadow, we’re seeking another horse. Not a replacement - Shadow is irreplaceable - but another horse we can use for lessons and gentle riding work. This new horse will have to be as terrific as Shadow. Any candidate must have a very gentle disposition. In fact, the perfect horse will be known for his or her calm demeanor and unflappability. Must be beginner-ready, 15 years or younger, no more than 15.2 hands, and free of serious or chronic health conditions or lameness. We also need a horse with a SLENDER build (for our riders who have less flexibility and cannot ride a wide-barreled horse.) An Arab build, like Shadow, might be just right, but we are willing to consider all that meet these qualifications. We would prefer a rescue or a donated horse - we have found that some of our very best have come from this sort of background, and as a nonprofit, we prefer to work with others who need a little help.
Any horse who joins us will have a friendly herd, a pasture home with run-in space, excellent care, and lots of love, for life. If you know the perfect horse, text our Executive Director Mary Van Dorp at 231-233-1552, or send us a note at our email, firstname.lastname@example.org. And thanks!
From the Board
Our first Board meeting of the year, in late February, went well. We revamped our Board structure, creating a Board position to head up each of our programs, and we’re adding two committees, one for Fundraising and one for Community Liaison work. Let us know via an email to the address above if you’re interested in serving on one or the other. We also added an unpaid volunteer coordinator position, which our longtime farm friend Trish Wellman is trying out. (We are incredibly grateful to all our volunteers. It’s worth pointing out here that none of our Board members or our Executive Director are paid. For everyone here, it’s a labor of love!)
We are planning some changes to our TRAILS program, which we will post here and on our Facebook page when they are further along and have been approved by the Board. Contracts for our other programs are currently under review, and as soon as they’re approved, we will post that information, along with schedules. In the meantime, if your child is involved is Centra’s SafeNet program or the Manistee ISD and you want them to participate at Northern Pathways this summer, talk to staff at those programs.
More New Stuff Coming
First, we recently recreated our Facebook page. Look for it under Northern Pathways in Kaleva, Michigan. Though we’re still ramping up, we try to provide more frequent updates on our activities there. Once spring arrives, we will have more frequent photos and videos. Send us a friend request!
We’re also about to launch our new blog! It will be part of this web page, and our goal is to give our horses a voice. This will require, of course, time spent out in the barn and fields, listening carefully to what our equine friends have to tell us. Since “horse” is both a verbal and physical language - often more physical than “spoken,” we plan to take lots of notes as we watch ears, feet, and tails and listen for vocal additions. We already know that some of our horses are more “talkative” than others, and most have an excellent sense of humor. We’re curious to see how they want to use this space, and we hope you’ll enjoy it too! We’ll post a note here and on our Facebook page when the blog goes live. .
In the meantime, we wish everyone a peaceful and covid-free late winter, and we look forward to seeing you when the ground grows green again!
Farm Security Agent Jake makes the most of winter.
Fiddler peers over the fence from a winter pasture, and displays her opinion of the season.