Adrenalin fills the air on June 10, 2010 as the participants in the Grace Foundation of Northern California’s First Annual HELP Rescue Me! Trainers Showcase line up outside the arena, anticipating their turn to shine. Formal presentation of the trainers and their charges will put the work of the last seventy days on display for the crowd gathered at Cal Expo in Sacramento.
Among the bays, chestnuts and sorrels, one gray-white horse stands proudly, calmly taking in the activity around her as she and her trainer wait for their call into the ring. For seventy days, Vicki Britvich has worked with Mumpkin, helping her to heal physically as well as emotionally. The evidence of her success lies in Mumpkin’s demeanor. She is interested in what’s going on, but not intimidated.
The Big Moment
When the call comes, the two of them trot into the arena as a team to cheers from family and friends. The pair steps together over the trio of low jump bars arranged down one side of the arena to applause from the crowd. They weave a path around the barrels and platforms scattered over the dirt floor of the ring, heading for a giant inflated ball.
Mumpkin pushes the ball with her nose then kicks it with a hoof. Britvich returns it to her and they play a short game, volleying the ball back and forth along the ground. Then Britvich picks up the ball and rests it on Mumpkin’s back.
Other horses and trainers are working in the ring at the same time and the crowd is clapping and cheering; yet Mumpkin stands quietly as Britvich first rolls the ball along her back then bounces it vigorously beside her.
Abandoning the ball, Britvich leads Mumpkin to a blue tarp. The horse steps across the tarp, walking on the plasticized surface as though across the dirt of her home paddock. Britvich lifts the tarp behind the horse and slides it across her back, all the way to her shoulders. Mumpkin looks back at this new “cape” she is wearing, but shows no distress. At a request from Britvich, Mumpkin walks across the arena in her finery.
When their time in the spotlight ends for the evening, the two leave the arena as proudly as any blue ribbon winner. Tonight, the formerly frightened white horse showed the elegant butterfly she was becoming with the help of a patient human and natural horsemanship.
The Western States Horse Expo began in earnest the next day. At least seven of the fifty-odd horses in the Honoring Equines for Life Project had been adopted before the Showcase evening started. Others are still available for adoption; a few are reserved for the Grace Foundation’s other educational programs. Twenty-five of the horses are mustangs, rescued from an abusive location in Nevada. Among the remainder are several mini horses, a donkey and some of the other rescues from Grace Foundation.
Although the Expo is over, the work of the Grace Foundation of Northern California continues. Sadly, there will be more abused, abandoned or surrendered horses needing care and protection after these are placed. The Foundation plans more “HELP (Honoring Equines for Life Project) Rescue Me” events across the country in the future.
The Grace Foundation of Northern California: http://www.thegracefoundationofnorcal.org/index.html