After a year being chemically poisoned, surgically sliced and diced then roasted in the radiation room until well-done, I kicked cancer's butt and stayed on "this side of the grass." I remained immensely grateful and cherished my good luck because the odds against my survival were dismal at best. The toll was a steep one, however. My successful career was over, savings depleted, and my "can't do this anymore" list filled up.
It was time to look into my Bucket List.
Only one, single item was in it. A horse. My heart's desire was to own and train a horse of my own. But where to begin?
My husband and I raised our two children in San Clemente so after 30 years, we decided to move to Temecula to start fresh and enjoy the wide open spaces. I began volunteering at a local horse rescue to learn everything about horses and hone my long dormant riding skills. After a couple of weeks, I noticed a big, brown off-the-track thoroughbred quietly hanging around his fellow geldings in a large corral. He was named Handsome John and was placed in the rescue after a career-ending bowed tendon. He appeared healed but was always left behind when the other horses were selected to go out on trail Apparently, the poor boy had lost his spirit and confidence; even being afraid to walk over a crevice in the dirt.
We became fast friends after I noticed that he loved to eat fruit of all kinds. I came to the rescue each day armed with lots of water and a big bowl of cut fresh fruit I decided to take Handsome under my wing as a project horse.
There we were. Two broken down beings trying to find our "new normal" again. As I cheered Handsome John on to face and overcome his hurdles we both progressed as one. When it was time to go out on trail, we lingered behind so Handsome could succeed at his own pace then catch up to the others. After a year, my beautiful boy overcame most of his issues and even enjoyed ponying other horses.
It was time to make Handsome John my own so I officially adopted my Bucket List boy and began looking to board him close to my home. After interviewing the owners of five boarding stables, I chose Caroline and Marty Collins' facility hands down. Not only was Handsome John's new home packed with all the bells and whistles every horse lover would need but my special boy needed guardians who were devoted and loving horse people since I had never owned a horse before.
Caroline and Marty's days begin and end with the care of all of the horses on their ranch just as if they were their own. Caroline quickly noticed that Handsome was still on the mend so her local veterinarian was called and conducted a complete exam, testing and recommended a new diet. She also observed his still sagging spirits so Handsome was placed with two other geldings, one being her own, and the three quickly settled down to enjoy the good life.
Under the Collins' expert care, Handsome John soon regained his energy, the sparkle in his eyes and held his tail held high as he galloped around in the arena. I also became fast friends with my fellow horse owners at the ranch and talked endlessly about everything "horse." Most every weekend now, our group goes on a trail ride taking in the beautiful scenery and stunning silence right outside the front gate. Sometimes our ride concludes with a relaxing lunch on Caroline's lovely patio. This new stage of my life could not have been possible without Caroline and Marty's endless efforts to make everything as perfect as possible. I just can't thank them enough.
There is no need to refill my Bucket List now!
We’ve boarded our horses at other facilities in the past and Collins Ranch is by far the best! The ranch is located in the rural hills south of Hemet and east of the lovely Temecula Wine Country, in the Sage area. There are miles of safe, quiet trails for riding. The ranch is completely perimeter fenced for safety.
Marty is always working at improving the facilities for the comfort of the horses and horse owners. Now he is enlarging pens and putting up more shade covers. Caroline keeps us informed about our horses with phone calls and emails. She is very knowledgeable.
She is always available to assist in any way she can, from assisting the vet, to dispensing medication or special feeds as necessary.
Caroline and Marty are very nice people who really love the animals in their care. We feel confident our horses are getting the best care possible.
Thanks for all you do for Hickory & Lacey.
John & Carol Ann Williams
Moreno Valley, California
With great sadness we made the decision in September 2015 to have Lacey euthanized. She no longer wanted to make the effort to stand up, and at the ripe old age of 30 years, we took care of her best interests, fed her a big last favorite meal and said a sad "Goodbye" to a real character, a loved, grand old lady- who I will always remember. She lived here for 6 years.