Toni’s Ponies has exploded over the last 8 months and we are so excited about all the new volunteers that have decided to make the rescue a priority. Our volunteer base has just about quadrupled in size and we’ve been working on the best way to be able to communicate with everyone. We want everyone to know that we truly appreciate the time you spend here on the farm and that every little bit you do helps keep this place running.

Due to the potential dangerous nature of working with large animals and farm life in general we can not have people on the property without a member of the Toni’s Ponies present. All of the people you see here on a regular basis (Toni, Andy, and Alex) work other jobs during the week/weekends. While someday we hope to have a paid staff we are not there yet. Our volunteer workdays are Wednesdays, 9am – 4pm and Saturdays 9am-2pm. In addition we will be looking to train a few teams of people to feed during the week. (If you are interested in this please let us know.)

We don't want anyone to miss out on the latest news and it has been getting a little hard and inefficient to be in contact with everyone on a one on one basis. We would like to put together a weekly newsletter for our volunteers and everyone that would like to keep up to date on the going-ons here at Toni’s Ponies.

This will be the place where we will notify you in any change in the volunteer day schedule, additional volunteer needs, and events that are coming up. As the weather gets bad this will be especially important. We intend to send out only one email a week unless something urgent arises so we promise not to inundate your inbox with tons of mail.

If you would like to receive this weekly newsletter please sign up below! Even if you think we already have your email address it would help us out greatly if you would get it to us again! Thank you!

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It’s been awhile since we’ve been able to post to the blog. That’s largely because it’s summer and we are outside with the horses as often as we can! Since February, Toni’s Ponies has changed and grown dramatically. We went from a few very loyal volunteers on a semiregular basis to a workforce of dedicated people coming twice a week! We’ve been working hard on improvements to the property including new steps to what will soon be a camping area near the lower pasture, an outdoor kitchen/covered teaching space, cleaning and clearing the back trails and of course new shelters for the horses! We’ve also been fundraising like crazy! We had our annual fundraising Yard Sale for feed and hay and we are happy to report that our barn is FULL! The price of hay has gone up dramatically this year and it’s even been a little hard to find. We sighed a breath of relief this week when the last of it was delivered! This week we hosted our Farm Friends Summer Experience for kids! In short we had a blast! The kids got to spend a week around horses, learning about what it looks like to run this place, playing in the woods, doing chores, getting creative and having some horse time as well! We also have a concert here on the farm TODAY! We would love to see you!

So we’ve been a little busy and we’ve been meeting a lot of new people and fielding a lot of new questions. While Toni has been doing this for quite a while now we are still pretty new as a nonprofit and the amount of growth we’ve gone through in just the last six months is significant. As this has happened our rescue has changed. We’ve discovered needs that our community has and how we can be a part of it in different ways. We wanted to take this time to answer a few questions we get on a regular basis and let you in on what the direction of Toni’s Ponies looks like!

1. How long does it take to “rehabilitate” a horse?

This might be one of our most asked questions. And the answer is tricky. There’s no set time on how long it takes to rehabilitate a horse and get it ready for their new home. Many times we do not know the horses background and it’s a little trial and error as to what is going to work to make them feel safe and loved. What it usually involves is figuring out a feeding regimen that works for them as often the horses that come here need weight put on badly. Also we have to figure out what the best course of action for the horse will be. Many of our older horses will live out the rest of their lives here at Toni’s Ponies as we are also a sanctuary. After we get horses healthy we need to work with them to get them used to having people around them. Sometimes a horse is rescued or has come from a surrender due to the families inability to provide for it and that horse might be ready to find a new home very shortly. Other times it takes years before we feel that a horse is ready to head to their next home and sometimes this is their last home.

2. Do you have any horses for sale or adoption right now?

First things first we do not sell horses. When we adopt out a horse we do ask for a donation to be made directly to our feed store. Right now we do not have any horses up for adoption. In the last year we’ve rehomed five horses. That’s actually quite a bit for us. We will absolutely let folks know when we have one that is ready for adoption.

3. When can I come and meet the horses or help on the farm?

That’s a great question! We have been having regular volunteer days since mid April and they have been awesome. While the rescue is definitely a full time job we are not open to the public 7 days a week. Toni has two other jobs outside of the home and we are completely volunteer run. That said we have volunteer days Wednesdays and most Saturdays. Every once in a while we have an event on Saturday and the rescue will be closed to the public. You can also make an appointment by contacting us via the website, facebook, or phone.

4. What’s next for Toni’s Ponies?

Well this is a big one and it makes my heart skip around a little just thinking about it. Since February we’ve had quite a bit of exposure. People have reached out to us and have started volunteering. We’ve noticed that the farm has become this place where people come to connect. They connect with horses, which in itself is incredibly therapeutic and with others as well. We have such a neat mix of folks that come to work together and spend time with our equine friends here. We really want to lean into that. Toni’s Ponies hopes to be able to connect more people within our community through these horses. There’s something for everyone here. We want to focus on giving these horses the best life they can have and also give people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to interact with horses a place to do so. We want to see families come and enjoy a day working and playing together. One of the things that has been great about our kids program this last week is that the parents seem to enjoy the farm just as much as the kids. They’ve brought treats and have followed their young ones around the field meeting their favorite horses. That’s really the dream. There are always going to be horses in need of rescue and we want to be there for them. We want to provide a place where they can grow and heal and find their forever home and in the meantime we want to be able to have people here who will show them love and who absolutely need them in their lives just as much as they need us.

5. How can we support Toni’s Ponies?

Our community has been incredibly generous and we want to thank everyone! It takes a lot to keep this place running and we have been blessed with volunteers and folks that donate monetarily as well. We are not exaggerating when we say every little bit counts. We’ve set up a new form through our giving platform, Zeffy. This for is a horse sponsorship form. For those that want to make a monthly donation of any amount please head over to this form. You will be prompted to choose a horse from a drop down menu and as a sponsor we want to send you monthly updates and photos of your chosen horse and we will have sponsor events as well! Monthly sponsorship helps us so much! The other ways to support are liking and sharing us on FB. This helps get the word out and we so appreciate this!

Click here for horse sponsorship!

Ok another long post in the books! Thank you readers if you’ve made it this far. We have so many other questions that we will get to at another time! I’m getting ready to head out to our last day of our kids program and also get ready for a concert this evening on the farm. We would love to see you! Music is from 7-9 and we will be selling pulled pork sandwich dinners (sandwich, coleslaw, chips and water) for $10. As always thank you for being our village!

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There’s so much that we want to share about what we do here. It’s hard to know where to start. That said, the past few weeks have been keeping us on our toes with a few of our rescues. So, this week we are going to talk about the reality of the rescue.

Rescuing can be equal parts heartbreak and hopefulness. When we bring a horse back to the farm, more often than not, they are in pretty poor shape. Sometimes we have history on their lives, but many times we know very little. On top of this, most of the horses here at the rescue are older horses. They might have arthritis, lameness due to injury, parasites, muscle issues, you name it, we’ve seen it. They may also have had very loving homes previously, but due to circumstance they had to be surrendered and are missing home and their loved ones. Anyone that’s ever had to leave their people know how that feels. Not all wounds are visible.

With all that being said, let’s talk a little bit about what happens when you must call in reinforcements. The past few weeks we’ve had the vet out here at Toni’s Ponies THREE times. Two emergency vet calls and one routine check-up.

Last week we talked about Rusty. That was our first vet visit. He was checked out, sedated, belly tapped, and tubed. The prognosis was leaning toward euthanizing him if things did not get better. The tests that were done onsite pointed to that being the most likely outcome. We were devastated. It’s crazy the emotions you go through on a day like that. You wake up a little tired but get out there to greet the day and the animals. I can’t speak for everyone, but, especially on those cool sunny mornings, it is the best way to start the day. They’re always happy to see you, and you have that sense of accomplishment as you scoop the grain combination into the buckets and set about the day’s work. But then, something doesn’t seem right. One eager boy isn’t where he’s supposed to be. You already have this inkling that the day is not going to go as planned. Worry sets in and you have to figure out how bad it might be.

While my neighbors, Toni and Andy have been around horses for a long time, I’m relatively new to this. I didn’t know how bad of a sign it was that Rusty was pretty sweaty on one side and only wanted to lay down. The horses here at the farm lay down all the time. When we first moved in next door it really freaked me out. I texted Toni asking if that was normal. I was always under the impression that horses slept standing up. Which apparently, they can, but when they feel comfortable and safe, they have no problems flopping down in the middle of the field for some poor equine novice to assume the worst!

Rusty was not just napping. From the time Andy found him, he knew something was really wrong. He was in so much pain. And not long after we got him up and moving, he was back on the ground, thrashing. It’s one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen. Andy and Toni worked quickly calling the vet, and then it was a waiting game. After the vet left, we waited and waited and expected the worst and hoped for the best.

On the day to day making choices is hard. I hate deciding what’s for dinner each night. The choices Toni’s had to make during her time running this rescue are just impossible. How long do we wait for the poop to come? Is he in pain? Is he just really stoic? When do we take him in? Surgery at the price tag of upwards of 10K is not really an option. The other horses still have to eat and have money available for care. These are very hard choices even when the practical decision is clear. Because it’s not just about practicality. Your heart is invested and you sit with the knowledge that you rescued this beautiful soul just a month ago. He’s made it to his forever home, and he’s going to get the best care from people that love him, and how could that possibly be coming to an end so early? In Rusty’s case, as you know, he beat the odds. The poop eventually came, he kept grazing. Toni was up every few hours waiting for more poop and checking on him throughout the night. He’s a happy boy these days and our hearts are so happy.

Now let’s talk about Princess. Princess is a 30-year-old mini horse. Exactly one week after the Rusty scare, we went to feed in the evening only to find that she hadn’t eaten her grain from the morning. When we walked around the corner, we were shocked to see clear snot running out of her nose. It was clear to Toni that she likely had an obstruction and was having a hard time breathing and passing any extra food. When she was brought to the lawn, she still wanted to eat, but now that clear snot turned green instantly. The vet was called and they sedated and tubed poor princess. For those of you who don’t know what tubing is; they put a plastic tube through the horse’s nose and try to flush out any obstructions that might be lodged along the digestive system. They run warm water, salt, and other minerals through them. In Princesses case it didn’t seem to do much. The vet then asked if we had any Diet Coke around. She explained that getting Princess to take Diet Coke (caffeine free) every two hours might help in breaking up whatever obstruction there was. So, Toni, Andy, and Shelby were set on the task of administering the Diet Coke every couple of hours through the night and for the next 24 hours. The vet said that about 70% of horses will actually just drink it up. I guess Princess fell in the other 30%. She was not having it. For Princess there was no real decision to be made. This either worked or it didn’t. She was too old and too small to have any kind of surgery. It didn’t make it any easier to see her in pain though. And of course…there was the waiting. Again, we found ourselves waiting for poop. Luckily it came in the form of a tiny little patty about 14 hours later. More followed! Another happy ending.

Our third vet visit was for our big boy Finn. This was just a check-up and everything went beautifully. He was such a good boy. Finn has an older injury that he needs to be on medication for. That medication has to be prescribed so a vet visit was in order. It’s was also good to get him checked out for anything else that might be going on. Sure enough, the vet found a little lump on his sheath and a biopsy was done. I have to give credit to our vet. He got right up under Finn and took a little chunk right out of him like it was nothing. The next time he got under there though, a couple things happened all at the same time. Stella, the Great Dane, coughed and a carrot was broken in half close by and Finn jumped straight up in the air. I’ve never seen someone move from a crouching position to 5 feet backwards so fast! Good reflexes Doctor! As for Finn, he was just as chill as ever once his feet hit the ground again.

These stories all had a pretty good ending. We know when we take a horse on that we are not guaranteed a medically sound animal. We know the risks and we take them anyway. We know that once they come to this safe place, that does not mean they aren’t going to colic or choke, or fall. Horses are big animals and they can get hurt in so many ways. Many of them have been hurt and that’s why they ended up in need of rescue. It’s not always a happy ending. Sometimes they don’t make it. We do everything that we can and it isn’t enough. Those are hard and sad days. We’ve poured our love and time and money into them and they still don’t get better. It’s really expensive to rescue, on many levels. Financially these past couple weeks added up to about $3000 in medical bills alone.

That said… there is nothing more beautiful than watching a new horse join the herd, or walk up to someone for the first time and let them pet them. On the days that I look outside and see five or more horses all laying out in the sunshine sunbathing and feeling safe; those moments make my heart swell. When you get to see an old ranch horse that outlived his usefulness so he was shipped off to a feedlot only to find a teenage girl that completely falls in love with him and essentially, he’s getting a second life… Gosh there aren’t words for how good that is to see. We don’t have all the answers and we wont always have happy endings but we do what we can for the horses we can. We are hopeful that this rescue will grow and that we will be able to save more horses and build a place where they are loved and they come in contact with people who need them just as much as they need us.

When you support Toni’s Ponies you are supporting horses getting a second chance, which in many cases means a whole second life. Thank you for being our village and letting us do the things we do. Heartbreaking and hopeful.

If you would like to help support Toni's Ponies please consider donating through our donation platform. Here we get 100% of online donations and it makes it super easy to give monthly as well! Thank you again.

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