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Archives for February 2014

Young Writer Spotlight – “Flash Flood” by Alexis

Alexis is one of our local riders and writers as well as a 4-H member! 

“Easy boy, easy. Don’t worry, we’ll make it out alive.” I doubted my own words. Llotto, my hot-headed Arabian horse, was steadily heading down to the bottom of the mountain, away from the lightning. Mom and I had gone out for a nice ride but instead we had ended up trying to get away from giant bolts of electricity coming out of the clouds. This is horrible, could our ride get any worse? I thought in my head. I had no clue that our ride was about to get a lot worse.

As we were riding close to the bottom of the hill, I heard a loud sound behind us. The sound was like a freight train thundering through the woods. I started to panic. It’s a giant truck that’s going  to hit us, HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  “Mom, what is that  noise?” I said, trying not to let mom know how scared I was. “It’s hail,  keep moving, we’re almost to the bottom of the hill.” It was too late. Suddenly, the roaring was right over our heads. The sky was pouring dippin dots except they didn’t have any flavor and they really hurt. The hail was so thick that I could hardly see five feet away. We trudged through in a desperate attempt to get to shelter.

We finally reached the bottom of the hill and took cover under some trees. We were soaking wet just from the hail. It was then when I realized that I had no protection from the hail; I was wearing a short-sleeve shirt and had forgotten my jacket. Sure, call me stupid for forgetting my coat, but I thought it was only going to be a short ride and was looking forward to riding Llotto, completely not thinking of myself.  (That’s how us horse people are).  My mom noticed the problem too. “Here, take my coat, you need it more than me” she told me. Usually I don’t like putting on a coat, but this was a crisis; I was terrified.  I put on the coat and shivered. I tried my best to protect the horse’s heads from the pounding hail by holding my back to the wind and letting our horses put their heads down next to my chest. Mom’s horse, Grady, had wide, terrified eyes and was snuggling in close. “It’s Okay; we’re fine and going to make it back to the barn” I told them.

It was sometime later when the hail wore itself out. “Mom, should we try to get home while the hail has stopped? ” I asked. “Yes, that’s a good idea” she replied.  We led the horses out of the trees and into the open again. As soon as we started to walk, it started to rain.  At least it’s not hailing. I thought. As soon as I thought that I wanted to take it back. It was pouring now and coming down so hard it felt like hail. But this, this was cold, hard, soaking us and scary!

We reached our dirt road and mom stepped out into the road.  “I’ll lead us through this mud on foot” she said. I really think that “mud” is the wrong word. I would put it more like “two and a half feet of water flowing at 100 miles per hour down the road.”  It is way more realistic than “mud”.  Well, mom thought that is was mud until she stepped into it and sunk up to her knees in water. The hail that had fallen earlier was covering the top of the  flowing water, making it look like solid ground. Through the rain, it was really hard to see.  Mom turned around and lifted me onto Llotto, despite the lightning. “We are going to have to ride home”  Mom said. “NO!” I thought, ” Llotto is scared of mud and stream crossings! How will we ever get home?”   

Okay, we need to stay to the side of the road and try to avoid the water”  Mom said. I was still shivering from the cold and pure terror.  I could tell that Llotto was also really scared.  “It’s fine; just water.”  I felt that I was assuring myself more than him. Above us, lightning flashed and thunder boomed. “We have to get home!” Mom yelled over the sound of water and sky. We stayed out of the water as best we could. Finally, we got to the main part of the dirt road and waded through the rushing water. The lightning was so bad now that we were forced to canter or be killed trying to get home. “What! Are you crazy! ” I thought when mom told me we had to run (It is very dangerous for a horse and rider to run on wet ground; for they could slip and get seriously injured). Well, here we go! I thought as we took off. Llotto kept his footing as he cantered.  We’re going to die, we’re going to die, I thought over and over.

We slowed at the narrow trail next to the road. “Do you want cover or to get home faster?” Mom asked.Suddenly an enormous flash of electricity struck over our heads. We had just been missed by the biggest lightning strike I had ever seen. We looked at each other and I said “HOME!”  We bolted as fast as the lightning that had come from the sky.

We came to a stop at the field right next to our property, the way in.  Dripping wet, mom opened the gate to our property and told me, “you dismount and go to the house and I will take care of the horses, don’t worry yourself. ”   Of course I was worried about them, but there was no time to talk.  As I ran to the house I saw that our pond that had been empty when we left was now full. There was a river running down our driveway and into the pond. Once in the  house  I stood shivering by the glass door, watching the pond fill up outside and dripping freezing water, forming my own puddle on the floor.

When mom came in from caring for the horses, I hugged her as she handed me a warm hat to put on.  “You know mom,” I said, “Llotto really helped me.  He stayed calm and listened to me instead of totally freaking out like I thought he would.”  Mom responded, “That is because you’ve built a great relationship with each other.  He looks to you for leadership and out there he was trusting you to get him home safe.”  “Yeah he sure did.”  I whispered.  “He saved my life.”  

Copyright 2014

Falling Into Place – Kelly Del Margo and Hilltop Stables

For most, if not all of us, it can be amazing, encouraging and insightful to look back over the years and see where people, places and circumstances have taken us.

Fifteen years ago, Kelly Del Margo’s daughter Samantha was at a friend’s house.  The friend had a riding lesson with Julie Phillips at what was then the Bobkat Ranch in Hangen Ranch.  Samantha ended up riding that day as well and a passion for horses ensued.  Up until then, Kelly had struggled to find something that her daughter was passionate about.  Something to give her focus, direction and teach her the life lessons that could build her into the person she was made to be.

Kelly herself had a taste of that passion when she was thirteen at Girl Scout camp and had the opportunity to care for and ride horses.  Not until Samantha climbed onto a horse that day at nine years old, did Kelly’s horse love get to come to life again.

As a single mom, Kelly worked and made sacrifices to allow Samantha to be involved with horses growing up.   Kelly knew this was Samantha’s passion and she was good at it!  Samantha was a part of Julie Phillips’ Horsefeathers 4-H group and Julie allowed Samantha to work off a portion of her horse lease and lessons.  Kelly attributes much of the amazing person that Samantha grew up to be to Julie as a mentor and friend and of course, to the horses.

One of the great joys of Kelly’s life has been her time as a teacher.  Kelly holds an undergraduate degree in Social Work and has a double Master’s in Education and Special Education.  She retired three years ago from the Jefferson County School District after being a Special Education teacher at West Jefferson Middle School and Colorow Elementary in Littleton.  With some health issues at the time, the timing for retirement made sense.  However, over the next couple years after retiring, Kelly struggled to find a reason to get out.  She ended up gaining weight and couldn’t find a purpose to get going again like she had when she was teaching and with her dearly loved students.

In the meantime, Samantha had started giving lessons to a family that lived in Indian Hills that had a horse facility on the property that they rented.  To have a horse suitable for lessons for their daughter, Kelly brought over her horse Frankie, originally acquired from Samantha.  Frankie has since passed away, but played a big part in Kelly’s healing within herself as well as in her relationship with Samantha.

Eventually, the family moved on and for eight months, the group of boarders that had collected at the barn struggled to know what the future held for the facility.  Finally the owner David wanted to be done managing the barn and Kelly took over the lease in May 2013.

With the horses to care for and a new purpose in her life, Kelly also joined a weight loss program through Kaiser Permanente and over several months lost 80 pounds.  Being outdoors, walking around the farm, working and riding were a significant part of her physical and mental wellbeing.  Last year, at least four days a week, Kelly and her horse Mack explored Mount Falcon Park.KellyDelMargoandMac

Managing the barn and caring for the horses was that “something more” that Kelly desperately needed to find since retirement.

The success of the barn she can attribute to people and circumstances that have purposefully fallen into place.  Luann at Canyon Tack & Feed (www.canyontackandfeed.webs.com) in Kittredge has supported Kelly in numerous ways. Julie Phillips (www.jubileehorse.com) has been a great friend for 15 years and gives riding lessons at Hilltop Stables.

Barbara Wright of Harmony Horseworks (www.harmonyhorseworks.com) has partnered with Kelly to help rescued horses, not to mention stopping in on a regular basis with food and treats for the horses.   Bi-weekly Yoga with Tysu has also helped to keep Kelly in balance.  Even her niece’s grandfather Tom collected materials and put in many hours making improvements on the barn, arena and built a bin to hold shavings.

The Foothills Chapter of Rocky Mountain Dressage Society has leased Hilltop Stables for the end of May, beginning of June to put on a lecture and three day clinic with clinician Dr. Maria Katsamanis called “Molecular Equitation”.  They also have dates reserved for clinics in August and October.  The potential seems endless and this experience has helped to renew her trust in people and life again.

The horses and the opportunity at Hilltop Stables continue to change her life and she feels truly blessed everyday to get up and go to the barn.  She now has the long term goal of getting her Doctorate from Denver University in their Equine Assisted Therapy Program.

Recently certified as a 4-H leader for the Mountaineer group, Kelly has a horse leader in place and is hoping that other kids in the area will let their interests and passions shape the group, weather it be archery, quilting, horses, chickens, cattle, etc.

Kelly has created a friendly, community atmosphere at Hilltop Stables in Indian Hills.  With a ten stall barn and an indoor arena on this amazing property, you can take in the views with a ride around the 185 acres of picturesque, horse heaven in 45 minutes. Of course, for a longer ride, the Mount Falcon Park trailhead is ten minutes away.  She currently charges $450 for full care and $350 for partial care.  You can reach Kelly at 720-984-0145 or kellydelmargo@comcast.net. Heather McWilliams © 2014.