Bibi is waiting to be adopted. She is a beautiful line back dun mare estimated to be 15 years old. This former roping horse loves kids and is ready right now to go to a loving home.
Capt. Nemo is a gentle sorrel that is close to 20 years old. He may not be rideable but would make a great pasture pet.
And then there’s Mio, a 15-year-old blind palomino who is unable to be adopted. All are currently living the good life in a safe environment out at the Hill Country Horse Rescue in Pipe Creek.
Each of the equine residents of Hill Country Horse Rescue has a story, and each is fortunate to be there. Thanks to the dedicated team at this rescue operation, these animals are carefully tended, nourished and loved. The operation was founded in 1986 and sits on 22 acres just off Texas 16 in a sprawling complex that includes an outdoor round pen, multiple paddocks and a 24-stall barn.
Principals to the rescue are President Carole Gage, Vice President Jim Otten and Secretary/Treasurer Kristina Walker. All three have a passionate love of horses, so in 2019, when the opportunity presented itself to take over the rescue from its original owners, they jumped right in. Carole, who has worked with horses all her life, says they embraced the need to provide aid for abused or neglected horses and ultimately find new homes for as many as possible.
The need is there. According to a 2017 Economic Impact Study by The American Horse Council Foundation, there are 767,000 horses but slightly over 50 registered horse rescue operations in Texas.
The Hill Country Horse Rescue shelters around 20 horses at any given time, but at present, they house 26.
People in need find them most often by word of mouth, social media or their website. Horses come to them from an 80-mile radius, mostly from owners no longer able to care for them, those who move away or have kids who no longer have an interest. On occasion, they receive seized horses from the sheriff’s department due to animal cruelty cases.
To run a busy operation like this takes time, energy and considerable dollars. The owners jointly run the facility with the assistance of one full-time employee and numerous volunteers. The call is out for more volunteers, especially barn workers, horse caregivers to groom and to trim hooves, and experienced horse trainers. They also need help from those able to repair and maintain their numerous buildings.
The cost for hay and grain alone is staggering, so donations are always very much appreciated. For those wanting to help and have more interaction, a pony may be sponsored for $25 or a horse for $50. Horse adoptions are $500 and require an in-depth interview and several visits to ensure a good fit. The most frequent adoption requests are currently for a saddle horse or a horse fit for a young rider.
The Hill Country Horse Rescue, a nonprofit 501(3)(c) organization, prides itself on the extraordinary care given to its animals to ensure they are comfortable and well nourished.
Carol says, “Our ultimate goal is to find homes for all the horses; however, we have several that, of necessity, are permanent residents.”
They also provide education on care and feeding to owners of older horses to avoid the need for seizure.
The great outdoors is waiting for you! Families together around a picnic table, friends gathered around a glowing campfire, or finally taking that bucket list backcountry hike, nothing beats an outdoor adventure. With the weather cooling here in Texas, we can plan the perfect place to explore in this great state and beyond. Whether it is a day picnic or a few days of camping, packing your cooler and planning favorite food makes the trip even more memorable.
Growing up in the mountains of Utah, I was blessed to camp, hike, fish and visit beautiful lakes and panoramic red cliff vistas in southern Utah. My family’s camping trips were made special and safe by knowing what to pack to make the most of our destination. Putting together your food and cooler isn’t hard. Just keep in mind a few tips and tricks to keep your food safe to eat and enjoy.
Pack food that doesn’t require a lot of prep and travels well. Nothing beats a delicious breakfast to start your day camping, but peeling potatoes, cooking bacon and making eggs can create a lot of dishes and pans to clean. Try pre-cooked sausage and bacon to cut back on time and cleaning. One of my favorites is Hungry Jack dehydrated hash browns, (available at H-E-B). Lightweight, quick and doesn’t need to be kept cold. Just add water and brown in a pan. If you’re going for just a day trip and want to get an early start, pack muffin tin eggs for breakfast when you get there to start your day.
Everyone loves a great egg or potato salad, but be careful. Mayonnaise salads with eggs and meat can quickly become dangerous to eat when not kept cold. If camping overnight, consider prepackaged coleslaw or green salad mixes you can buy with a dressing packet in the package to cut down on spoilage.
Scrambled eggs can be frozen. Cook a pan of scrambled eggs with diced onions, peppers and cheese. Freeze in a gallon zip-top bag. When freezing, lay flat for easier packing in the cooler. Warm up the eggs in a pan, then wrap them in tortillas for a quick and easy breakfast.
Microwavable rice/grain packets can be reheated in a pan. Packaged tuna makes sandwich-making a breeze — no can opener or mess, plus the tuna doesn’t need to be refrigerated. Pop-out biscuits in a tube turn into donuts when fried. These “donuts” bring back fond memories for me. It was always a treat for dessert after a big day of hiking or fishing. After dinner, mom would fry these up, then toss them with either sugar-cinnamon or dip them in frosting. We would eat them around the fire while my brother and I would see who could tell the best ghost stories. Don’t forget to take Jiffy Pop popcorn that you cook on the stove!
Keeping food cold is a priority. Bring one cooler for beverages and a separate cooler for food. Beverage coolers are opened frequently, allowing cold air to escape. Freeze your bottled water before packing for extra cold protection. Simply take the lid off and place upright in the freezer. Recap the bottle to pack. By taking the lid off you prevent the bottle from overflowing or bursting. Coolers with food will stay colder longer because they will be opened less frequently. Depending on the length of your trip/day out, a separate cooler with extra ice will help you to replenish ice in food and beverage coolers.
Wash all perishable foods, such as fruits and vegetables, before you leave home. Prepare what you can at home. Carrot sticks, celery, green salads, etc. Pack all foods in airtight bags or sealed plastic containers – this helps prevent cross-contamination and a mess.
Once you arrive at your camp or picnic location, be sure to keep your coolers out of the sun. Ice will last twice as long when your cooler is placed in the shade.
Only open your coolers when necessary and, when you do open the cooler, close it right away. Don’t drain the cold water from freshly melted ice out of the cooler, as the cold water helps keeps the items in the cooler cold. Drain the water only when necessary to create more space in the cooler or when adding more ice.
Hiking and biking have always been popular activities in the Texas Hill Country – and now more so than ever. Not only will the weather gradually cool off in the coming weeks, but outdoor activities are on the rise as a way of spending our new-found extra time, relieving the tension of dealing with the pandemic and doing something where you can have fun with loved ones while maintaining that all-important social distance.
According to a 2019 Sports & Fitness Industry Association Survey, more Americans are choosing to exercise outside. The Harvard Medical School Health Letter highlights the benefits of both hiking and biking as follows.
Dr. Aaron L. Baggish, associate director of the Cardiovascular Performance Program at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital said, “The nice thing about hiking is that it exists along a continuum, from a gentle walk on a flat wooded path to mountain climbing.”
So, regardless of age or athletic ability, nearly everyone can find a hike that offers the right level of personal challenge.
Cycling is “socially oriented, it's fun, and it gets you outside and exercising,” said Dr. Clare Safran-Norton, a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.
Going for a ride is good for your heart and muscles, and it may improve how you walk, balance and climb stairs.
Riding a bike:
Talk with your doctor, especially if you’ve never hiked or biked before. Bring a map and a partner, stay hydrated, wear sunscreen, and choose the right footwear, clothes and equipment.
Dan Oko of Texas Monthly writes that “Hill Country hikers face an embarrassment of riches.”
Popular spots include Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, Pedernales Falls, Lost Maples and Garner State Park.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area has nearly 11 miles of hiking trails built around Enchanted Rock, which covers approximately 640 acres and rises approximately 425 feet above the surrounding terrain to an elevation of 1,825 feet above sea level.
Lost Maples State Natural Area has over 10 miles of trails, including a loop that takes you along the top of a 2,200-foot cliff.
Hill Country Bicycle Works posts Weekly Road and Mountain Bike Rides on their website, along with links to 10 area Mountain Bike Trails: www.hillcountrybicycle.com. Two that owner Lisa Nye-Salladin recommends are: