1000 Words

New Semester, New HoofTrek Classes!

Having older students who understand more English has certainly helped make our lessons more impacting. Also having less students per class. We are able to give more one-on-one time to each.

Here are some pictures from Gr. 7B, who meet on Tuesdays

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And here are some pictures from Gr. 9, who meet on Wednesdays

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“Let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me; and He shall make peace with Me.”

~ Isaiah 27:5 ~

One Year!

It has now been one year since God gave us our first two horses, Khzak and Jaral.

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A year ago we were both beginning to think that God was leading us in a different direction from HoofTrek and both starting to pray about different plans for the future. We told God we would give up this dream, as we only wanted His will to be done and Him glorified by our lives, when He worked marvelously and gave us these two horses.

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In the past year He also gave us Shiyra and Starr, bringing us up to four horses. He has provided for all our expenses, and guided us through our first semester of HoofTrek classes. We have been so blessed, have learned so much, and have been able to be a blessing to the children and youth here in WPY.

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Thank you to all who have prayed for us and with us, those who have encouraged us, and those who have supported us financially. We look forward to what God will do this year.

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Horse Updates

Khzak – he has been started under saddle and can walk, trot and canter on cue. He is still quite mentally immature, and makes the children work to gain his complete co-operation.

Jaral – he is still growing and spends most his time just being a horse. That said, he leads well, stands for grooming, lunges, and has gotten used to wearing a saddle/bareback pad with girth. He is safe around the children as he has learned that biting people is rude.

Shiyra – she is our angel. She goes very well under saddle in all paces. She is patient, polite, and easy for everyone to handle.

Starr – we have only had him a few months, but he has come so far. He was very excitable and nervous when we got him, but now he has learned to trust us and is calm enough to use for grooming sessions in HoofTrek classes. Over the next year we will slowly start him under saddle as he can physically and mentally handle it.

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“I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to you among the nations. For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens, And Your truth unto the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth.”

~ Psalm 57:9-11 ~

We All Know…

That one kid that throws a tantrum when they don’t get their own way.

In our little God-given herd it is Jaral.

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Jaral is nearly 18 months old, he is now gelded and much better behaved then when we purchased him back in Februrary. But one thing about him has never changed; and that is his way of communicating his dislike of whatever it is he is being asked to do.

What does he do? He lays down and kicks his feet in the air like a naughty child!

We first noticed it when we began teaching him how to lunge. He would do a little and then try to take off, when that didn’t work he would lay down and roll around on the ground!

Then when we began trimming his feet, he would lay down when he’d figured we’d had enough time.

One night we were hanging out in the paddock with him around a bonfire we’d lit. Ely was holding a stick which he came and took from her, then gave back and took again a few more times. Then he figured she should move, and when she didn’t,  he tried to lay down on top of her!

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Another time I put the bareback pad on him. I’d just done the girth up and he whipped around to look at it, turned his head back to look at me and promptly fell over and lay there like I’d killed him. Took me a while to convince him he was still alive and could still walk around.

Lately, during HoofTrek classes we have been bringing him in for the grooming part of it, then leaving him tied while we do some other activities with the other horses… without fail, after 10 minutes of standing there he will lay down and roll, and then just lay there all stretched out until someone comes over to get him standing again.

He makes us laugh. Usually once we get him up, or catch him going down and make him stand, he stops trying to lay down and cooperates nicely. We still find it funny when we all turn around and see him stretched out pretending to have died.

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God is so good!

The 4th Horse

As I write, or rather, type this post from my desk in the staffroom, the sounds of school surround me. A classful of voices recite their lessons and I watch as tiny grade 1 students happily follow their teacher to practice their english in the outdoors. Its a beautiful, sunny Friday morning, the end of the eighth week of school. My days at school begin with Bible with my grade 7a (lots of grade 7s this year) class, followed by piano classes, and end with hooftrek classes with the special needs students. Kathleen and I are so thankful and excited to finally bring the horse program, during school hours, to the students. Its been a long time of planning and praying and God has brought it all about at last!

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Kathleen spent the August holidays here, working Khzak and Shiyra, preparing them for the HoofTrek classes. Both horses are doing very well with the children, although they still have much to learn. They are also teaching our 5 HoofTrek Trainees the fine art of horsemanship. We are very thankful for our trainees, who don’t just learn the ropes of horse riding, but also assist us with the upkeep and management of our paddocks and arenas.

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Since I returned to Cambodia after August holidays we have had Jaral, our 1 1/2 year old pony, gelded. We hope that this will help his often overbearing behaviour to tone down a bit and also help him to ultimately grow a bit more in the long run. He has proved to terrorise more than a few of our students with his antics so we are introducing him into the program slowly. Meanwhile Khzak and Shiyra have been real gems, earning the students’ affection by their patience and calmness.

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We have been very blessed by the visit of a group of teachers and grade 8 students from a school in NSW. They built a log roundyard and an extra 30 by 30m wooden railed paddock for us. We are still working on pulling out the copious amounts of spiky plants and leveling the ground, but are so thankful for the extra place to put the horses out to grass and area for training.

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Kat and I are very happy to be joined by a new co-volunteer and friend, Marissa, who has slipped right into our routine and family here. Marissa is a joy to have around and along with helping us out with Hooftrek classes, has also taken on teaching some added classes in the school. It is Marissa’s hard work and generosity, and that of her family and friends, that has enabled us to purchase our fourth horse. Nahal Starr (guiding star) is a 2 1/2 year old copper coloured gelding that God found for us in a near-by village. He comes from a loving home where he was very well treated, and apart from some spoilt habits he has a gentle, sweet nature and likes people. I am especially excited about Starr’s arrival as he is my special project to work with and train.

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These first two months of school have been jam packed with not only plenty to teach, do and train, but also overflowed with blessings from the Lord. When I reflect on it all and on how far He has brought me, all I can say is “What a mighty God we serve!”.

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We are so thankful for your prayers and support, whether through donations or through emails or messages of encouragement. May you all be blessed and brought closer to our heavenly Father.

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Next Year is Coming

Shiyra is settling in and has easily slipped right into our family. Since exams are over we’ve had some time to work with her and she has proven to be a very intelligent girl. She has shown herself to be very willing, easy going and a quick learner. We put a saddle on her the other day to get her used to the feel of it and pressure of the girth. We aren’t sure if she has been saddled before, but she wasn’t phased by it at all. She is very sweet natured and seems to enjoy being with us.

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Some of the grade 11/12 boys came over to ride this afternoon. They really enjoyed it despite the rain that came and cut their ride short. Khzak was very opposed to working in the rain, I might add. As a result of the downpour, our day paddock has become a lake, at least knee deep in parts. We are thankful these horses are so used to being picketed out, making it easy for us to tie them out in grassy areas on higher ground.

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We’ve had a meeting with Tim about plans for next year. We plan to take on the students from special class, 12 in total, but broken into two groups of 6. We will take each group for the last two periods of school in the afternoon, twice a week, for semester 1. That amounts to a total of 24 lessons.  Most of them have a physical or learning disability, allowing them to join a special english class which will be tailored to help them learn. The first few lessons will be focused on helping the students become comfortable touching and grooming the horses, leading on to riding and other activities that their physical capabilities allow. Our aim is that this program will be therapy based, helping these students develop spiritually, mentally and physically.

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We have one month to make sure we have all the equipment that we need. We are still trying get correctly fitting tack for Khzak and Shiyra. Ely will be in Australia for the month of August sourcing tack and other items, so if you know of any saddles of bridle parts etc. lying around in need of a home, please email or contact us.

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Shiyra’s Story

On Saturday night, July 2nd, we, along with our house mate and two friends (who came along for the fun and to take turns driving), once again traveled down to our friends’ place in Kompong Thom.

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Starting out!

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Seyha with Him and Gemma’s foal, Gracie

Early Sunday morning we started out on our second horse finding mission, taking Hym with us. We picked up Da, the young man who helped us find Khzak and Jaral, in Kompong Cham and he began taking us to see all of the ‘seh thom’ (big horses) in his area. Unfortunately, most of these were still too small. Some were the right size, but always had some negative feature such as sore hips, swollen legs, sore backs, or just plain untrained. So we began looking further afield; all the while Da’s phone was ringing hot as his contacts informed him of horses he could show us. We went clear to the Mekong river, crossing it on a ferry, searching on the other side with no success and so took a return ferry ride. We drove back to Da’s village to look at more horses.

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Managed to catch Da, our horse man, in a picture!

Night fell and it was 8pm when we finally gave up, dropped Da back at his home and drove to the Kompomg Cham city to sleep on the verandah of the SDA church there. Before we drifted off to sleep under the mosquito net, Kat and I prayed again as we had countless times that day. We weren’t discouraged, but certainly wondered about what God was up to. Anyway, we knew He had everything in control, including the whereabouts of our next horse.

In the morning (Monday) we picked up Da and were off again. We saw 2 horses that were possibilities. The first was a 4 yr old stallion, pulling a cart, named Dragon. He was an ok height, but he had some serious hoof problems. The hoof wall on his right foreleg had peeled off really high and he was a little lame. We knew the hoof would heal with proper care and trimming, but it would take time. He was also rather small through the loins.
The second horse was bigger. They called him the mean horse, so we nicknamed him Diablo. He was a brown stallion about 4 yrs. It was so sad to look at him. He is kept in a little stall, 3m x 3m and only taken out 1 or 2 times a month. It’s no wonder he is “mean” his owner never brushes him and they have to tie up bis legs to do anything with him. As we watched him, he never tried to hurt his owner, but did threaten and attempt to bite. Again with time, these behaviours could be turned around, but it would be a lot of work and Kat will be alone during the holidays.

With Dragon and Diablo in our minds as possibilities, we looked at a few more. Then Da told us that was it. He didn’t know of any more horses to show us. It was time to make some decisions. Kat and I bowed our heads in the rear compartment of Syeha’s car and prayed again. We decided that we would go bargain for Diablo and if they accepted our price that would mean God wanted us to have this horse. Kat and I held our breaths as ‘the boys’ went out to make the offer. God answered. They didn’t accept. So we didn’t buy.

It was past lunch time by now. Maybe, we figured, God didn’t want us to get a horse this trip, but had brought us down here for another purpose. We had a peace in our hearts about the whole thing. We thanked Da, paid him and dropped him off at his house.

So what next? Do we just go home or return to our friends house and send back three of our companions who needed to be elsewhere, then continue on to the Vietnam border? Undecided we pulled out of Da’s driveway and headed back down the highway toward Kompong Thom. Well, we didn’t get very far. Approximately 600m down the road from Da’s house we pulled to a stop on the opposite side of the highway to a house that had 4 horses tied up at the front. They looked small, but maybe the owner would know of others.
The owner was a horse dealer who buys and sells horses from Vietnam. He had a tall mare and her 1 day old colt, her 10 month old filly, who were tied under the house and another filly and 2 three year old mares whom we had seen out the front. The tall mare was too expensive, and her conformation was not the best, but the two 3 year olds were both quiet, ridden and handled by his children, and they didn’t try to bite once. They both had a round, broad build. All of these things attracted our attention. One of them, a pretty, golden dun, was the tallest of the two and this confirmed our choice.

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Group photo with Shiyra and her previous owners

The owner wanted 1700 USD for her, but Seyha, our friend and driver, bargained him down to 1550 USD. God is good! Thinking about this later, Kat and I reasoned that if we had seen her first, we would have liked her, but probably wouldn’t have bought her because she wasn’t quite the size we were after. We wouldn’t have appreciated her as much if we had not seen all those other horses first. Also, if we had gone to see her, then left, and then come back later, we could never have gotten that price for her. The sellers really don’t like it if you leave and return. They automatically add 100 USD to the price for not buying the horse on the spot, which is kind of what happened with Diablo… And so we found out, as we always do, that God had it under control the whole time.

As we drove back to Kompong Thom that evening, the first rain of the weekend starting to spit on the windshield, the papers signed saying she was ours in our hands, Kat and I named her Shiyra, which means in Hebrew ‘to sing’ or ‘praise’. We certainly do praise God for this new blessing to our growing family!

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Rainy Season

This Sunday finds us a little more laid back than usual, thanks to the student teachers from Avondale who have been taking our classes for the last week and will continue to until July 7.

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Jaral had his third trim this morning in front of a bunch of curious onlookers who wanted to see the horse have his “toe nails” cut! Jaral’s behaviour during trims is improving all the time despite the pesky, biting insects that are such a bother to the horses at this time of year. He still likes to take the chance to have a good ‘ol stretch and use Ely as a bit of an itching post!

Khzak gave two girls a ride. He’s turning into a real gentleman and his old habit of biting has pretty much vanished. The children are becoming more confident around him. They’re discovering that if they scratch and rub him and give him a hand with the flies, he’ll stand still and be less “scary”.

We are praising God for green grass! The contrast between the brown, bareness of a few short weeks ago and the now brightly carpeted paddocks is amazing. The rain is coming more consistently now, nearly every day, which is a huge blessing.

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Khzak has now recovered the weight he lost from his operation and is looking great. Jaral is growing and getting taller too. Khzak’s mane is starting flop over – yay it’s growing!

Next weekend is opening up as another possible time to go horse ‘hunting’. We are especially looking for a horse with extra height, which the finding of may be quite a task, but we know God has it all in hand. Please keep us prayer!

Stay tuned!

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