Sunday, August 28, 2011


"Randy's Story Never Stops"

I received an envelope in the mail from Dick and Marie R. of Richfield, MN. Their envelopes are fun for me to open. Always a poster for an upcoming breakfast or an article or a particularly special picture. Every once in a while Dick will send me a photo of himself or another Zuhrah Horse Shriner atop their mount with a note explaining the event and the date. These photos always make me smile.

This envelope was no different. The envelope was fat and contained the August 2011 issue of the "Zuhrah Arabian" of Minneapolis, Minnesota. This was a twelve-page newspaper packed full of pictures, articles, and posters of upcoming events for the Minnesota Zuhrah Shrine Clubs. Our friends at the Maple Plain Ranch were, of course, represented. And lo and behold, Dick had drawn my attention to a special picture published on page 6. Hah! I knew one of those horses!

I'm going to let the article's scribe, Don Myron, tell you the story behind this picture. In his own words, as published in the Zuhrah Shrine Units column:

"...Let me tell you about a great happening that took place at the Ranch.

The Shrine Hospital called our President Brad R. one day and asked if the Horsemen could entertain a group of children at the Ranch. After a moment of thought Brad replied absolutely. To prepare for this day Brad, at a stated meeting, asked for volunteers to give up another day of their lives to entertain some children at the Ranch from the children's hospital. Four people volunteered! That day came one day in June. All four of the volunteers were on hand to welcome the children and their three supervisors or nurses or instructors as they were called. These nine children who were our guests were born without arms or legs.

The three volunteers were Dick R., Lowell C., and Paul B. These three took these nine new guests and placed a mammoth memory in their lives. They showed them how horses are groomed and cared for on a daily basis then they showed them how horses are saddled, took them in to the riding arena and gave them all horse back rides, three different times. These nine children weighed from 30 pounds up to 45 pounds and at 45 pounds, that is equal to the weight of a western saddle. Therefore Dick, Lowell or Paul had no problem gently setting each rider safely into each saddle.

"It was heart-rending watching the care and the attention that was given to these riders. The riders had big smiles on their faces and looked as if they had just conquered a brand new world. On the trailer that hauls these horses all over the country there is a saying, that says, "We ride so they can walk."

Dick, Lowell, and Paul had reversed that saying, "They were walking so these children could ride!" It was an emotional setting. The setting and seeing these children with their smiles on their faces left a tear on your cheek.

When these children were leaving they asked if they could come back. Our answer to them (was) that they would always be welcome any time they wanted to come back.

Sharing that day with those children was the most emotional day I have spent with horses in the 55 years that I have been a Horseman! Sometimes you would never have these opportunities unless you volunteered.

At the Stables of your Rhinestone Cowboys and From the Saddle of The Colonel,
Don D. Myron"

What a great story! Using their horses to help these children enjoy the freedom of movement atop a horse. I looked closely at the photo. Dick had a note attached to the photo to help me understand the players:

"Note Don Myron is standing with his arm on Randy and Randy's tongue is out. Randy loved the kids. The story of Randy never stops. As always, Dick"

Now it was my time to be emotional. You see, Randy is a Refuge Farms rescue horse. An elderly stallion with no teeth. No longer needed for his stud services, he was only days away from being euthanized.

I really didn't know Dick or the Zuhrah's then, but through their adoption of Randy and the expert care they have given this horse, I have come to know and have great respect for these men. In fact, my name for Dick is "The Consummate Horseman". And I mean it with all sincerity.

This is a nice, warm story, isn't it? A horse no longer wanted finding its way into the rescue world of Refuge Farms at just the right time. And then that old horse opened the door between the Zuhrah Shrine Horse Patrol and Refuge Farms. As Dick and I talked just the other day, we both commented how similar our organizations are - both using horses to help people in need. I am honored to be in such company.

But the story doesn't end here. No, not by a long shot . . . . .

Don had written his emotional impressions of that June 23rd children's visit to the Ranch and his article was published in the August 2011 issue of the Zuhrah newspaper. But Dick had included another article that had recently been published. It read:

"Myron, Don D. of Plymouth, died July 26, 2011 at age 85. Don was a graduate of the University of Iowa. His career began with Gold Bond Stamps and he later formed Don Myron Realtors. He was Past President of Caaileros del Norte, the Zuhrah Shriner's and was still active with the Zuhrah Horsemen."

Dick told me that at the service, as you drove into the driveway, in the circular lawn just before the entrance to the building was The Colonel, Don's horse. Fully decked in the Zuhrah dress uniform and with empty boots, backward, in the stirrups. The Colonel was greeted by many of Don's friends and it seems only fitting that the horse that Don loved and trusted so be present to greet the guests and pay his personal respects to his owner.

I also found out that Don was a volunteer Hennepin County Park Rider and also a member of the Volunteer Ski Patrol. There is an upcoming event where Don will be recognized by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Department for his years of service. It was fitting, too, that Dick recently rode The Colonel, Don's trusted horse, in the Zuhrah Parade Unit. Fitting because Dick and Don were lifelong friends. In fact, in Dick's eulogy of Don, he read the closing paragraph from the article his friend had written just a matter of days before he crossed over:

"Sharing that day with those children was the most emotional day I have spent with horses in the 55 years that I have been a Horseman! Sometimes you would never have these opportunities unless you volunteered."

Respect. Tradition. Honor. And a deep love of the horse. All characteristics and values that Refuge Farms holds high. And all characteristics of this group we have come to know as the Zuhrah Shrine Horse Patrol.

Funny, isn't it? How rescuing an old stallion without any teeth opens doors for you. Doors that lead you home. Doors that lead you to true, good friends that you never knew you had.

Thank you, Don, for sharing your story. Thank you to you, The Colonel, for being true to your owner. And thank you, Dick, for passing this story and pictures on to me.

"Perhaps my time seemed all too brief
Don't lengthen it now with undue grief.

If my parting has left a void
Then fill it with remembered joy.

Be not burdened with times of sorrow
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow."

Amen, Don. Amen.

Enjoy the journey of each and every day,
Sandy and The Herd and that Randy

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