Wednesday, June 15, 2011

An Unusual Love Story

All of the Hearts Horse Sponsors love their horses.  However, the bond between Bill Calise and his sponsored horse, Max, is especially wonderful.  
Max is a Draft-Quarter Horse Cross Gelding, born in 1987. Before coming to Hearts he was a retired forest service horse that spent most of his twenty-plus year career in the back country as a ranger's trail horse.  He's a big softie, and everyone loves his unique "moustache!"  Max was selected as the Hearts Horse of the Year in 2009, winning the opportunity to have his portrait done by the renowned equine artist, Katie Upton.
When Bill and Kathryn sponsored him in 2010, Max, at age 23, was beginning to slow down.  His teeth were worn down, so he was fed nutritious pellets to supplement his hay.  When Bill learned of this condition, he began grating carrots and bringing them to Max personally!  The two struck up a fast friendship.  Bill’s grandson, Wolfie, loved to visit with Max as well.

Finally, the day came when it was time for Max to retire from Hearts.  Due to the generosity of Bill and Kathryn, he is now happily residing in a retirement home for horses in the Santa Ynez Valley, where the Calise family continues to visit him. 
Hearts is grateful for the generosity of Bill and Kathryn Calise and our other wonderful Horse Sponsors.  With their support, we are able to provide the best of care for our horse heroes.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Summer Horsemanship Adventure is Coming Soon!

The Hearts Summer Horsemanship Adventure is open to all children, ages 8 to 13, with and without special needs. Enroll your child now for a magical week at Hearts.  The theme of this year’s camp is The Old West, and activities will include learning about horses, grooming and tacking, art projects, and of course, riding lessons.  Click here for an application form
Camp dates are:
June 27th – July 1st
July 25th – July 29th

We will also offer two weeks of horse camp for children served by CALM.  For more information about this program, contact Connie at 964-1519

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Good Bye To A Beloved Hearts Hero

Lilly, our Icelandic mare and beloved member of the Hearts herd since 2002, passed away May 27 at the age of 19 after a long battle with laminitis, a degenerative and very painful disease of the hoof.

We'd like to share some of the notes and letters (below) that have been sent to Hearts, which show how Lilly touched so many lives in such meaningful ways.

Sincere condolences to all of Lilly's fans and family at Hearts.

"Dear Connie and Hearts Staff,

I was so sorry to hear that Lilly's laminitis has overcome her great heart. I know that you worked extremely hard to help her heal. The decision to euthanize her must have been very painful.  After all, it is the loss of a beloved Hearts family member.

It is a sad day for Hearts. I remember meeting Lilly in an evening parade for Halloween, I think, when I first started riding at Hearts and still had my leg braces. We were on a straw-filled cart and Rueven and Lilly were prancing alongside. She was every inch the performer, head held high and proud. I remember seeing her covered with hand prints the day after summer campers painted her. How she tolerated all that painting I will never know. Still she stood proud and beautiful with all the hand prints. Surprised the heck out of me.

I think of her now, running proud and free like a cloud across the meadows and valleys, surrounded by her horse friends. Every once in a while she will meander over to groups of children to be patted and told what a good horse she is.

I know your decision was tough but I believe in your ability to put her welfare first. It is good to be able to end pain. Our horse herd is older and in the end you care so much for the horses and their good hearts in teaching students to live well and joyfully.  Necessary euthanasia takes a strong heart and a brave soul.

Again, I am so sorry for our loss of Lilly and for the need for you to have to make such a difficult situation. Love truly has no limits."

-- Catherine Callahan

I am sad to read this message and at the same time understand the need
to end the suffering she endured. I just notice Lilly on Saturday when I
took Tribeca to her lesson.

Lilly so beautiful spent a great deal of time rubbing her bum on the
reeling in her stall.

It was very funny. She is in a wonderful place where she has lots of
little girls and boys just lined up to pet and brush her."

~Tribeca, Trinity & Trianna.

"We are so sorry for the loss of Lilly, but she lives on in Brandon's heart.  He has a white and black bunny named after Miss Lilly and several stuffed animals in her name.  God Bless you all for your support to our kids and to the horses.  Love you all"

The Szumski Family

Hi Connie,

This is Peter.  Could I plant some white cala lilies right by Lily"s stall?  This would help us remember her.
I could buy them and plant them.

-- Peter

I am so saddened to hear of Lilly's passing, she will forever hold a spot in my heart as she was the very first horse Sorel ever sat upon.  I still remember the day she was hoisted onto Lilly and there she was, my daughter, my daughter with special needs, my daughter whom I mourned the loss of so many things she would never do, my daughter on a horse and a horse so beautiful!  She sat on Lilly, the little white Icelandic, and with tears in my eyes I saw my daughter a princess on her white horse......a moment for me of healing and moving forward, a change of pace on this path we walk. So thank you Lilly for that moment, rest in peace you are forever in our hearts.

With Love,
Megan, Chris, Sorel and Xander Kolendrianos

I so loved Lily! She taught me to trot, to tolt, and how to fall off. When I did fall, I broke my helmet and I was so very proud. Lily made me a real rider.

Lily was breathtakingly beautiful. My favorite visual memories are of the beautiful young Angelique with her long golden princess hair atop this white exquisite creature that only lacked a horn to be a real unicorn. Lily will be so very mourned. She will live in my heart forever.

Amen, mym

Beautifully said and absolutely agree, Megan!  Hearts has been a place of healing, hope and new eyes in which to see our daughter – the way our Ava desires to be seen – capable, eager, independent, joyful, an overcomer, hardworking, respected, encouraged, celebrated and especially lovely when sitting atop Lilly!

Thank you, Hearts, for your commitment to your riders and finding these sweet horses that allow us to trust and enjoy this amazing experience!  We will miss Lilly – she was such a dear to all of us Clarks... Especially my son who would tag along to Ava’s lessons – he always had to go check on her!

Ava’s Mom
I know.... why it is so windy this afternoon (Friday)- in Buddism.... the wind carries good souls on to the next journeys after they pass on... 
 Lilly must have been a very good one, judging by the wind... Gentle journey to her!

Indra and Liam Strong

Dear Connie -

Dick and I are so very sorry to hear about Lilly's condition.  What an enormous loss for all those connected with Hearts.

We know that Lilly is in trusted, caring hands and that she (and all the other horses at Hearts) can count on you and the rest of the team to do what is right.

Please know our arms are around you, and around Lilly.

With love to one and all,
Jan Ann Kahler

Oh. I am so sorry. Lilly will live in Abby's heart forever. She was a special part of our early years. We were blessed to have had the time we did with her.
Forever grateful,
Abby Carroll and family


So sorry to hear about Lily. Lana loved her so much and still always talks about her even though she hasn't been riding for a long time.

Daphane Turner

So sorry Connie

I love the poem by Kahlil Gibran

When you are sorrowful
look again in your heart,
and you shall see that in truth
you are weeping for that
which has been your delight

You and all the Hearts people who loved Lilly are in my thoughts with lovely memories of such a beautiful horse


So heartbreaking. We are so very sorry to hear. 
She had a life filled with loving hands while she was with you. 
Cassie and Katie Ferguson

Pony Express Delivers!

This year's Hearts student horse show, themed "The Pony Express," really delivered a fun time for all!

Congratulations to all our riders, who impressed and inspired everyone in attendance with their achievements in horsemanship!

And much heartfelt thanks to all the folks who make this very special event possible:

Pam Cary and Don Goodman

Bruce Bennett
David and Alyce Boyd
Victoria and Jeff Chasney
Joyce and Heinrich Falk
Paul and Marianne Gertman
Steven Goss ,DVM
Audrey Griffin
The G&E Jennings Foundation
Mitch Kaufman and Joann Moran
Lynn Kirst
La Cumbre Feed, Inc.
Roxanne Murrell
Mark Pasternak
Jphn and Susie reardon
Lisa Runyan
Gerrie Shapiro
Jason and Hope Shapiro
Barb and Sam Toumayan
Ellie Tuazon
Katie Upton

Gene Granaroli and Equine Evacuation
Jordanos Food Service
Eve Briere and Laura Denny for the scenery
Mike Wheeler and Whitney Elizabeth for their photography services

Bruce Bennet and Alex Kincaid
A special thank you to Dorothy Littlejohn for the wonderful video (above!) documenting this year's show! And to Melanie Jacobsen, for sharing these great photos from the show!

This year our Horse Show was documented by professional photographer Whitney Elizabeth. To see her photos, please follow the directions to her on-line
proofing gallery below.  If you would like to purchase a photo, you may do
so from her website.  All proceeds from photo sales will be donated to

1) Go to Whitney Elizabeth's website at

2) Create an account to login. Click the "Access Gallery" link once you have
logged in. 

3) Enter the access code: ilovehearts

You can view the Horse Show pictures and order any that you love.  Please be
sure to provide your correct shipping address so that orders can be
expedited properly.  All proceeds will benefit Hearts.