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Extreme Makeover: Home Edition--Therapeutic Riding Center!

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  • Hilltop Farms kept seven of the horses. There were about 8 places keeping horses for Renee (we had 7 trailers for the move). Hilltop was very gracious, and I can say that the horses there did not want to come home!! The pastures were spacious and filled with grass and it was a great place for them to get some rest. Hilltop had offered to haul the horses back to Freedom Hills, but the timing didn't work out.

    Renee didn't expect any of the horses to return while she was away, and neither did the people hauling the horses. When they picked the horses up the first Monday, everybody asked when to bring them back, and at that point, my information was that they weren't coming back until after Renee was home. There was collective relief, because the Fair Hill Internationals were the following weekend, and a number of people were either volunteering there or had shows planned for Saturday and Sunday.

    Of course, later that week the producer I worked with (Matt) said he wanted the horses back on Saturday. That meant I had to round up some new haulers and could only bring back a portion of the horses, since some were housed at show barns that would not be there. Saturday morning, I got a call from a concerned BOD member saying the barn and grounds weren't ready for the horses. So I and a friend went over and checked the place out, which was not ready for horses (the producer didn't understand exactly what was wrong). We made a list of the things that needed to be done and put the horse move off for another 5 hours. That also meant that we had to scrounge up different haulers because of their schedules. The producer was exasperated with me, but I had to put the safety of the horses first.

    Thank goodness for Whoa Nellie Farm and my friend Jeanne!

    When we arrived back at 5:00 with the horses from Hill Top, Renee's sister said they still weren't ready for the horses, because the field hadn't been cleaned up of wires and metal (that had been on our list). We put some of the horses in stalls and the big geldings went into the riding arena. That was a sight for the workers! I don't think they'd gotten to see large, excited horses thundering around an enclosure before.

    I was impressed by volunteers stepping forward immediately, without being asked, to water and hay the horses. What a great group of people!! The Freedom Hills volunteers are awesome.

    I made two more trips to get horses that night so the barn would have horses in it for the filming on Sunday. A woman named Michelle came with me. You can see her hugging Renee in the indoor arena at the end of the show. She was also there to help load horses the first day. Two of the horses had to stand on the trailer waiting for the furniture to be moved into the barn so they could film Rib and I taking the horses off the trailer. They actually used the clip of me leading Baywatcher off my trailer. Who knew? Rib managed to get nipped by one of the nervous ponies, and he was showing his little pink welt off to the other designer who was scared of horses. I told him to quit his whining and showed him where I'd rasped my knuckles off trimming horses that week. It was funny. They were very nice.

    The pregnant mares and more sensitive horses did not come back for several more days. The people who were kind enough to house the horses were very understanding about the fact that the fields weren't ready and we didn't want any horses to get hurt.

    I have to say that the horse people who showed up to help were wonderful, very professional, and did not let the excitement of the day, camera, crew, and stars of the show sidetrack them from doing their jobs and getting the horses out of there with a minimum of fuss. The horses at Freedom Hills are good animals, but their world was being torn apart and they could feel the heavy equipment digging holes nearby (some were sweating and white eyed in their stalls). For all of that, nobody got hurt and horses were loaded and hauled away without a cross word spoken.

    Pretty cool, and I was glad to be a part of it.
    "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."

    Comment


    • I got the sense from the show that Renee's heart is in ministry: ministering to her students, their parents and extended family, as well as her volunteers and workers. That house has such potential for her to minister even more. I doubt there's a selfish bone in that woman's body.

      What a blessing.
      <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.

      Comment


      • Ellie (Renee's daughter) is a part of my son's pony club. She represented the DelMarVa region this year by competing on the event team at PC Championships in Kentucky.
        Mosmom

        http://photobucket.com/albums/f45/ksox/

        Comment


        • The extra pics on the site linked in the OP are great. I love the exercise room in the barn. Of course hubby and I were awed by the mudroom. haha

          And when he saw how the ribbons were hung around the room in the family's old house, hubby said "No!" immediately because he knew I would want to do that with all of mine - haha.

          I also loved the pics Ty took for the mom's room. I need to try to take some artsy horse pics like that...

          Kudos to that family for living their lives helping others!

          Comment


          • Originally posted by Trakehner View Post
            Phewee! Some real sour grapes socialist weenies posting.....
            Wow, Trakehner, when did you start channeling Ronald Reagan?

            C'mon, anyone who watches that show had to notice this was a huge departure from the types of families they normally feature, and they're commenting on it. It's very hard for a lot of people to understand how someone with so much land (some say 60, the show said over 100, and one article said 156 acres) - it's really hard for some needy people to fathom that as being "in need." It doesn't mean they're socialist weenies, jealous, have sour grapes - what, were you trying to set a record for most name-calling epithets in a single post?

            And what's with the "lazy buggers...due to...kids with no fathers"? My kids were raised in my single parent home and none of us are lazy buggers who stole from any taxpayers. Go stereotype somebody else besides fatherless kids.

            Comment


            • I don't think anyone was complaining about the family, more the show. Clearly the family aren't over-the-top consumers, they run a therapeutic riding center I think it was more a critique along the lines of "did the show fulfill it's own stated goals of helping as much as possible?" And I have to agree that giving overworked people an enormous house to take care of and pay for may not be the best possible way of helping.

              Comment


              • Many of the clients in the local hippotherapy group here are covered by their insurance.
                That helps tremendously to keep things running.
                I am sure that is so there also.

                Comment


                • We merged two threads on this topic so please excuse any posts that seem out of order. Thanks!

                  Comment


                  • In the past, Freedom Hills has taken on riders regardless of their abililty to pay. So free lessons were given when necessary. They survive largely on donations. Everybody who volunteers there ends up buying odds and ends that need replacement and working to make repairs. Horses are large animals, and they occasionally break things! Anybody see those guys kicking the wall to show how strong it was? I had to laugh, because a 17.2hh WB lives there, along with a draft horse at least that tall and some other draft crosses. A kick from those horses does a little more damage than booted human feet.

                    Renee's able-bodied program, Rolling Hills Ranch, exists side by side with Freedom Hills. There are horses owned by the Freedom Hills program, which has to pay board for each horse, and are also used for able-bodied lessons. Renee is the director of the program, but she is not the president of the BOD. Her sister is also on the BOD, as is her father, who actually owns the farm.

                    Personally, I think the show was there to help Renee AND the Freedom Hills program. By helping Renee, they help the program. In some ways, responding to programs like "Extreme Home Makeover" is a case of be careful what you wish for. The show leases the property and makes all of the decisions from there. Renee had laid out what she'd like to see, but what she got is not very close to what she asked for. I'm guessing the show's producers (and Clark Turner) believe they gave her something better. Working horse people know better.

                    Still, I do think everybody's hearts were in the right place. The show stressed helping the community. The house was donated, so it's not like the money spent on that house would have gone to fund other homes in the program. It was all local, with materials and labor being donated for that one site. It didn't take away from anybody else.

                    Renee does have options for the upkeep of the house. Whether she wants to use those options is her choice. There is tremendous potential with a house that size and that well designed.

                    Personally, I'd love to see the Freedom Hills program also branch out to help disadvantaged kids where they can learn to care for the animals and help others--and actually see how difficult life is for some of the disabled people. It is a mind-opening experience for sure! Lost and Found horse rescue in PA does something similar, and the man there says that these kids can really connect to horses that have been unwanted and abused. With Freedom Hills, it could be win-win-win, where kids, horses, and disabled riders all benefit.
                    "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by matryoshka View Post
                      Personally, I think the show was there to help Renee AND the Freedom Hills program. By helping Renee, they help the program. In some ways, responding to programs like "Extreme Home Makeover" is a case of be careful what you wish for. The show leases the property and makes all of the decisions from there. Renee had laid out what she'd like to see, but what she got is not very close to what she asked for. I'm guessing the show's producers (and Clark Turner) believe they gave her something better. Working horse people know better. TRUE TRUE TRUE

                      Personally, I'd love to see the Freedom Hills program also branch out to help disadvantaged kids where they can learn to care for the animals and help others--and actually see how difficult life is for some of the disabled people. It is a mind-opening experience for sure!
                      Exactly, thank you. The new barn facilities will allow for program expansions. And we all know land and horse poverty!
                      Don't let anyone tell you that your ideas or dreams are foolish. There is a millionaire walking around who invented the pool noodle.

                      Comment


                      • Happy for them

                        I helped judge a horse show there a few years ago and it is something that I will always remember. I am very glad for them, and hope this helps them expand the program. I wish I had known about this in time to help, but I have friends that were involved, it is great to see how the community came together.

                        I am very jealous of the mudroom, however.

                        Comment


                        • my concerns were- do they WANT a house in the middle of a field that they probably use? Why did they leave the first house up, that will probably be higher taxes having 2 houses.

                          I kept wondering if they made the house and barn SO big that the owner would have a hard time paying the taxes. (i know nothing of how the gift thing/tax thing works)
                          but i loved the house (especially the mud room) and i loved the tack room where they hang up the saddles and 'GIRDLES'. LOL. Gotta wonder about a brit who does not know about horses. but i still like Ed a lot.

                          Mike was an inspiration, and he made me and my hubby get teary eyed.

                          i am SO ready for TY to move on and retire. i hate the way he called Renee "Man" i think he called her that every single time he talked to her. i was so aggravated! He has smoked one too many.

                          they definitely deserved it, i just wonder if they should try to make things fit into someone's budget. it's not easy to raise a family and feed 26 horses. I just hope they can keep going after the $50,000 is gone.

                          Comment


                          • I think the way it works is that the program leases the land, and any improvements they make to the land while leasing it is not taxed to the owner, as a gift would be. However, I believe they have to pay taxes on all the things they were given, such as furniture, saddles, etc. One would hope that the donations specifically for Freedom Hills would be taxed differently or tax exempt. Don't know, since I'm not a finance person.

                            I believe the farm was surveyed "just in case" weeks before the show was filmed. There were some difficulties, since the father owns the land and it is to be divided between Renee and her sister. Renee's sister hays several fields, which provides the round bales the horses eat all year. That's how they supplement the pasture. I'm thinking that if they surveyed it, they would have had to explore the possibility of putting a house in that field. I know Robyn was really worried about losing a hay field, since it is critical to getting the horses fed and they have spent years cultivating it.

                            Also, Renee can sell the old house. It's not as old as it looks, and maybe there will be some added interest in it since it was featured on national TV.

                            Ty is an interesting guy to watch. I got the feeling he is hyperactive (it runs in my family), and when I took my daughter to the doctor a few days later, there he was on an ad for an ADHD medicine. That explains the way he never really sits still. He is very intense, though, and I'm not sure how closely he listens. He was very nice and posed for countless pictures, including one with Flat Stanley. Calvert Elementary was doing some Flat Stanley activities at the time. I don't know how those guys could stand all the picture taking and hand shaking and people smiling up at them in adoration. That would drive me nuts. I guess it goes with the territory. Sheesh! I woudn't want to be famous like that.
                            "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."

                            Comment


                            • well, i see the other stars on the show are not as wired up as Ty. in any case, i wish Renee and her family the best.

                              Comment


                              • He was very nice and posed for countless pictures, including one with Flat Stanley. Calvert Elementary was doing some Flat Stanley activities at the time. I don't know how those guys could stand all the picture taking and hand shaking and people smiling up at them in adoration. That would drive me nuts. I guess it goes with the territory. Sheesh! I woudn't want to be famous like that.
                                Matryoshka, Do you have kids that go to Calvert? My son is in 2nd grade there.
                                Mosmom

                                http://photobucket.com/albums/f45/ksox/

                                Comment


                                • Freedom Hills Ride-a-Thon and Auction

                                  Mosmom, I sent you a PM.

                                  Freedom Hills is holding its annual Ride-A-Thon on June 15th and 16th at Fair Hill. There are two division: WTC and Walk Only. You should be able to find more info on the Freedom Hills web site. They also have their annual auction coming up soon. There may even be some memorabelia from the Extreme Makeover for auction. All proceeds go to the Freedom Hills therapeutic riding program. It's a fun night for anybody interested in attending.
                                  "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."

                                  Comment


                                  • Thank goodess for you...

                                    Tory Relic! You said what I was thinking and got myself so upset about it that I HAD to post something.

                                    You said, "I am pretty ashamed of many of the people on this thread, and I'm sorry the BOD personnel has seen it. The money/donations used for this show is private. The people who hold the funds/goods have a right to use it however they wish. See my other post for my suggestion on how those of you who wish to be negative can contribute to other poor families who need homes. Habitat will happily take your horse funds for building these homes. It's no more wrong for this program to build a family a very nice home than it is for us to keep horses, using money "that could help others" to support that. I am really disgusted at this line of thinking."

                                    Here, here! Those others sounded like a bunch of sour grapes, anyway!

                                    Comment


                                    • We missed it the first time around but caught the rerun last night. I was wondering about property tax issues and did a Google search for " extreme home makeover tax problems " and it looks like there's no free ride.

                                      How are these folks doing six months later?
                                      www.HistoricHousePreservation.com

                                      Comment


                                      • Originally posted by sobaytransplant View Post
                                        Tory Relic! You said what I was thinking and got myself so upset about it that I HAD to post something.

                                        You said, "I am pretty ashamed of many of the people on this thread, and I'm sorry the BOD personnel has seen it. The money/donations used for this show is private. The people who hold the funds/goods have a right to use it however they wish. See my other post for my suggestion on how those of you who wish to be negative can contribute to other poor families who need homes. Habitat will happily take your horse funds for building these homes. It's no more wrong for this program to build a family a very nice home than it is for us to keep horses, using money "that could help others" to support that. I am really disgusted at this line of thinking."

                                        Here, here! Those others sounded like a bunch of sour grapes, anyway!
                                        Tory Relic has passed away so she's not around to read your approval. See this thread:

                                        http://www.chronicleforums.com/Forum...d.php?t=154932

                                        Comment

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