Monday, November 6, 2017

Morning Hike and Horse Haven

We had a slight change of pace on the morning of our fourth day at Best Friends, we went for a short, fun little hike. Since the sanctuary is located in a red rock canyon, there are tons of different hikes all within the property of Best Friends, it was fun to take advantage of being in such gorgeous surroundings.

We signed up for the hike through Best Friends, so we met up with a few other volunteers and our guide before setting out on our little adventure.

We had the most perfect weather, nice and sunny, but not too warm. The hike was relatively easy, mostly flat with a few slight inclines and a couple steeper parts. It was my kind of hike.

The kids knew our Guide, Cassie, from previous years of volunteering. Apparently, Cassie used to work in Cat World at Morgaine's Place and the kids got to know her pretty well since they love volunteering at Morgaine's Place. They stuck right by Cassie's side the entire hike, they loved telling her jokes and riddles. 

That barn you can barely see in this picture is called the Disney Barn, it was built by Disney for their film "One Little Indian" It is located in one of the horse pastures so I got better pictures of it later in the day.

Our hike ended at a small cave that contains a hidden lake inside.

It was extremely hard to get good pictures of the lake in the dark cave, but it was there, and it was cool.

Wild turkey tracks

On our way back to the welcome center, Cassie showed us some Anasazi ruins. This area was once an amphitheater.

The kids and Cassie

After lunch, the Griffins did a volunteer shift at Cat World (Sam is is just old enough to volunteer at Cat World and isn't old enough to volunteer at the other areas yet, so they spent most of their time in Cat World)

I had signed up for a shift at Horse Haven and was so excited to get to work with some gorgeous horses!

"Horses, burros, mules, goats and sheep call Horse Haven home. The animals on these scenic pastures have come to Best Friends because they were abused, neglected, or simply because they became old, injured or unrideable and their families could no longer afford to keep them. At Horse Haven, the animals have access to outstanding medical and farrier care. They benefit from Natural Parelli Horsemanship. They get good food, room to roam, love and attention, and a beautiful canyon to call their home-between-homes, as they heal both physically and emotionally."

Horse Haven in divided in two parts, one section is located close to the visitor's center and Piggy Paradise which is referred to as lower canyon. While there are quite a few pastures located more in the red rocks called upper canyon. When I reported for duty, I was excited to learn that we would be spending our afternoon in upper canyon since it's a little more scenic and we hadn't spent much time in that part of the sanctuary yet.

We drove from lower canyon to upper canyon in a golf cart type vehicle. Our first pasture was home to some pasture pals, which are older, gentler horses that can't be ridden but make good pals for other horses.

At each stop, we would spend the first few minutes mucking out the pastures. Since there was 5 of us working together, it literally took just a few minutes to get the entire pasture cleaned, which was awesome. Then we would spend 15-20 minutes brushing and loving on the horses before moving on to another pasture.

 This sweetheart is named Curly Sue and is one of the more well known residents of the sanctuary. I had heard about her a couple of times in some of the tours we had taken around the property, so I felt somewhat privileged to get to meet her and spend some quality time with her.

She is a Missouri Foxtrotter, and her famous curly coat comes from a recessive gene that expressed instead of the more common dominant treat. She loves people and being brushed and petted. She would nudge us with her nose if she felt like she wasn't getting enough attention.

The horses loved exploring our little cart.

I love and adore horses, I took horse back riding lessons when I was younger and we were in charge of caring for the horses we rode at class. I always loved brushing the horses and taking care of them. I loved having the opportunity to brush horses again, I find it so rewarding and relaxing.

We said goodbye to Curly Sue and her pals and headed a little higher up the road to another pasture of older, sweet horses.  A few of them had been napping and woke up when they heard us coming so they were still a little sleepy during our visit. One buddy could not stop yawning the entire time we were there, he seriously must of yawned like ten times in a row, he must of been so sleepy,

Next up was the pasture with the aforementioned Disney Barn! This pasture is home to a few younger horses and they were in a mischievous mood!

As promised, here are a couple closer up pictures of the barn. It was a really well built and functioning barn for originally being a movie prop.

This buddy's name is Speedy, he is a mammoth breed donkey. He is known for being very sweet and cuddly, but is also strongly opinionated about where he wants to go and want he wants to do. He lives with a dominant horse and they play all day long. He followed us around while we were mucking out his pasture. 

After we had finished all the pastures in the upper canyon, we came back to the lower canyon and feed all the goats their dinner. Needless to say, they were pretty excited about it.

After my shift was done, I couldn't resist checking out the piggies one more time. The weather was a little better than last time I visited them, so more were out and about enjoying the sunshine.

So chubby cute

This pretty kitty lives at the headquarters for Horse Haven, I loved his fun coloring.

After our volunteer shifts, I met up with the Griffins, we headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up and have a little rest then we went out on the town to get some dinner. It took some persuading, but we were able to get the kids to agree to try out a new restaurant instead of going to the Three Bears.

Jenny and I were excited to try out The Rocking V, it was a new restaurant in town and it was always jam packed full anytime we drove by, a sure sign of a good eatery. We made sure to show up early to make sure we got a table.

While this was a somewhat fancier place, with fancy Mexican dishes, there were hints of a quirky sense of humor throughout our dining experience. Like this public announcment on the menu ...

All of my food was amazing! 

Another little hint of their quirky, fun humor.

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