Sunday, October 11, 2009


A Humdinger of An Evening!

The abrupt arrival of hard frost and thin ice on the stock tanks in the mornings has me thinking about all that needs to be done before winter sets in. I feel the usual panic and the need for more time and a source of more energy to get doors closed, tanks cleaned, heaters installed, fans covered, hay piles created, and of course, the horses juggled around for the coming cold season. It is a busy time of year with the creation of the fall newsletter looming and end-of-year reporting just around the bend. Another calendar turn and we are all looking 2010 right square in the eyes.

But this year, November brings with it an event that is laddened with work. Yes, more work! Lists upon lists of work to be done. Lists of contracts and arrangements. Lists of details and things to bring with us. Lists upon lists of tasks to complete. November is the month of the Refuge Farms Annual Fall Gala & Auction!

In the past, we had hosted Open Barns in September here at THE FARM. We would clean and mow and clean some more and then open the gates to the public for an afternoon of celebration. We had horses and wagon rides and food and some vendors in the yard. It was a grand time! And soon we exceeded our available space! Parking on the highway was not allowed and so we parked in the yard since the pasture was full. We parked in the ditches when the yards were full. We literally ran out of space. And so we needed to move our event.

Our first off-site event was held at a golf club. Very nice facility. Very nice event, indeed. Tony Stromberg brought his spiritual calm to the event and it was grand! But driving home, I felt something was missing. Something hadn't been quite right. Driving home, I wondered, "What had we overlooked?" Arriving back at THE FARM, I realized what had been missing. Horses. We had not had horses with us. That was what had been missing......

So, this year we'll resolve that issue. This year our Annual Fall Gala & Auction is being held at the University of Minnesota Equine Center on the St. Paul Campus. It is being held right where Handsome and Dude and Laddee and Randy had their surgeries. It seems almost like a second home to some of The Herd. For me, that facility is a place of comfort. We bring our worst ones there for the best treatment. And so it is only fitting that we bring a few of our horses to join us for the event on November 7th.

We will have horses in one end section of the arena. Horses with water and hay and our corral panels to create a fence. And they will be there to remind us of why we do all of this work. Who are we bringing? Not sure yet. We will have to see how the juggling of herds works out here this fall, but I'm thinking Handsome and some of "his girls". We'll see.....It will be a mystery until you arrive!

Then in the other section of the arena, we will have our tables for dinner, our auctions, our raffles, and our speakers. Right there. Right within ear and eye shot of the horses. To remind us. This is why we do all of this. They are why we do all of this.

We begin our evening with a social hour at 4pm. Our cash bar will serve local brewery beers, wines, soft drinks, and water. The silent auctions will begin and end with the social hour. Jayne Bradford will once again accompany us with her music that she so magically creates on that keyboard. And then it will be time to eat!

Our dinner is being catered by Prom Catering. Your choices are New York Strip with Mushroom Demi-Glaze, Thai Ginger Salmon, or a Vegetarian Ravioli with Spinach Alfredo Sauce. Yum!

Following dinner, our Emcee, Beth Kidd of WLTE radio will begin our program. Beth is one of the kindest women I know and she is returning to Emcee our event - of which I am most happy! Our guest speaker will be introduced and then he will address us. Here's where I will find it hard to stay in my seat......

Dr. Don Hoglund, DVM is a man of experience and expertise. He knows the world of horses. His program on inmates with wild horses has been replicated throughout the country teaching inmates the power of gentleness while saving the lives of endangered wild horses. He relates to burly men and wild horses.

Doc, as he is called, is a consultant to the United States Department of the Army, the Bureau of Land Management, and to the Walt Disney Companies. He personally trains the horses for the Eisner family. He deals at the "big" level.

Recently, he orchestrated and saved the lives of over 2,000 wild horses off of the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. Horses that were mysteriously dying at the water holes. Endangered by the tests of bombs and chemical warfare being conducted on the land as we prepared for the Middle East effort. In the face of a war zone, Doc went to save the lives of the innocent inhabitants of the land. The horses.

I have read his book about the event, "Nobody's Horses". I have read it several times. The man worked in the face of adversity. Adversity from the government, the land itself, the weather, and even the local humans who loved these horses but who viewed Doc as an "outsider". Complete with human conflict and the risks of dealing with wild horses, Doc tells the story of his effort and, as I read his book, I realize that I love this man.

At one point in the middle of the first round-up, Doc arrives at a corral area to find a little colt standing alone crying out. Now, Doc has the weight of 2,000 wild horses on his shoulders. Two thousand wild horses! Who can take time for one little colt who is obviously just lost? Obviously just separated from its mare? Who can take the time for just one?

Doc does. He goes to the colt and sees that the little one is blind. With all of the pressures on his shoulders, Doc takes the time - makes the time - to care for the little blind colt. Securing him and feeding him. Taking him under his big arms and placing him where the colt will be safe until Doc can return to feed him again. Every single life is important to this big man. Like I said, I love this man.

So Doc will speak to us about his adventure and about the equine situation in our world today. He will challenge us and he will tell us what we know way deep inside but sure don't want to hear out loud. Doc will speak to us. Directly. And Refuge Farms is hugely honored to have this man amongst us. You see, Doc has never aligned himself with a rescue before. He travels at the "big league" level. But he figured it was time to get involved at the local level. To work with local rescues. And Refuge Farms is his first rescue. Wow. What an honor. Can you see my chest swelling with pride???

Our live auction will follow Doc's message. Jeff Hines is once again with us - for the seventh year in a row! - to lead us through our items. If you want a preview of the live auction items, simply go to and look for the Refuge Farms logo. And if that doesn't do it for you, come back next week as I tell you the story of some of our items. There are stories there, people. Stories to be told.

Our evening will wrap up and you will head home with your heart filled. You will have met new friends. And you will have connected with some old friends. And you will have met some of The Herd. And you will have met a man who makes history. And of whom they are making a movie about. You will have me Dr. Don Hoglund, DVM.

And as you drive home, you will also realize that you helped to save a life. We make all of these lists and haul all of this equipment and move our horses and rent all these tables so that we can save a life. That's why we work so hard. To save a life.

So put us on your calendar for November 7th. Go to our website at and click on the Gala poster to find the RSVP form for your dinner choices. Mail it in to THE FARM and then get there! You won't want to miss this one! It's going to be a humdinger of an evening!!!

Enjoy the journey of each and every day,
Sandy and The Herd getting ready for The Gala!

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