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June 2024 Newsletter

Updated: Jun 18

Dear Emerald Hills Ranch Community,

As we transition from the refreshing colors of spring to the warm embrace of summer, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the busy and productive month of May. This past month has been filled with new arrivals, heartfelt farewells, and significant improvements around the ranch. Together, we’ve faced challenges head-on and made strides toward enhancing the well-being of our horses and the beauty of our surroundings. Let’s take a moment to celebrate our collective efforts and look forward to what the upcoming summer months will bring.

General Happenings at the Ranch

Spring was especially pleasant this year, with temperate weather that truly felt like a proper spring season. Now, summer has arrived, turning the hills a beautiful golden hue. As always, the beginning of summer means managing the dry conditions in our pastures, but we’re well-prepared—water has been released from the dam, marking the start of irrigation season. This annual ritual is crucial for keeping our pastures green and our horses happy and well-fed.

We’ve experienced some unexpected weather patterns, including hail storms and intermittent rainy days. These weather events have kept us on our toes but have also provided much-needed respite from the dry conditions. The grass has thrived, leading to a bit of a growth spurt that has kept our mowing equipment busy. Despite these challenges, the spirit of teamwork and camaraderie has been evident in every task we undertake.

As summer officially begins, we’re reminded of the importance of staying vigilant about fire safety. Our recent fire drills were a great success, and we’re grateful for everyone’s participation and support. As we continue to prepare for the hotter months ahead, we’re confident that our community will remain safe, well-prepared, and resilient.

Together, we’ve made significant strides and continue to uphold the values that make Emerald Hills Ranch a special place. Here’s to a fantastic June, filled with new opportunities and cherished moments. Thank you for being an essential part of our community.

Welcome New Ranch Members

• Debbie Downing moved into the live-in pasture with Tater, the handsome dun paint gelding. Tater quickly secured a paddock and is now comfortably settled in #22. Welcome, Debbie and Tater Tot!

• Trina Helmke has returned with Rio. Oh, the tall and handsome Rio, how we have missed you both. We’re so glad you are back and settling into paddock number 6.

• Jessica Bugbee has arrived with Giatana and Ember after a delay due to injury. Giatana is a stunning gray mare, and Ember is such a sweet bay mare. They are getting used to their new digs in paddock number 14. We look forward to seeing them out and about the ranch.

Fond Farewell

We wish Tawny and Django happy experiences in their new home. We are thrilled for Tawny and Justice to have this opportunity to live and work where Django will be living. Plus, they are engaged! Congratulations, Tawny & Justice.

In Loving Remembrance

Telli crossed the rainbow bridge to be with Nocci, his dearest friend. We enjoyed watching his personality blossom over the past year and will miss him dearly. Carol is riding Sunny and horse shopping! It’s hard to express our sadness in his passing, but we know that eventually, we all must go.

Boarder of the Month

  • Name: Olivia Bodner

  • Horse name: Niilo + Zody

  • How long have you been riding horses: I rode on and off as a kid, but I've been taking lessons since I was 11 (9 years).

  • What is your favorite movie: The fact I don't have a good answer means I need to watch more movies... but at risk of being nerdy, I loved the Harry Potter movies (though the books were by far better).

  • What is your favorite hobby or pastime besides horse riding?:  I play the tenor saxophone in the UC Davis Concert Band and love it! I play both with the group and for fun in my own time.

  • What breed is your horse, and why did you choose this breed?: Both my horses are thoroughbreds; my trainer when I got Zody was really into the OTTBs and got me into them. When it came time to find Niilo, I was head over heels for the breed and was super excited for the opportunity to start him from only 6 ries off the track.

  • What is your favorite food dish?: I will forever love homemade Mac and Cheese.

  • Name one thing about your horse that most do not know: Zody and Niilo both know how to smile  - Zody will also lift his front feet in sync with me if cued (in exchange for treats of course).

  • What would your dream vacation be?: A riding trip through Ireland and then continuing to travel/explore/hike Europe is absolutely on my bucket list. though that likely won't happen for awhile.

  • What is one word that best describes your horse?: I always call Niilo a "labrador" since he's always very in my pocket and just wants attention. Zody is easily a "cat" - he wants attention when he wants it, but it has to be on his terms.

  • What accomplishment are you most proud of?: Right now, I'm super excited about having been accepted to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and will be starting classes this August. However, I always say that I'm very proud of how well Niilo has come along and also consider that to be a continuing accomplishment.

  • Why do you enjoy horse riding?: Riding is special to me in so many ways, but the way it centers around the relationship between horse and rider is one of the things I find truly special. It's a constant conversation between horse and rider that requires not just skill, but trust and mutual understanding. Therefore, when I'm riding I focus on my horse and what we're doing at the moment, which I find freeing as well as incredibly rewarding. It's something you can never truly master either, and I also love that there's always room to improve and get better at - there's always one more goal to hit. In the end though, it's all about spending time with my horse and enjoying the moment.

  • What is something on your bucket list that you hope to accomplish soon?: One thing on my bucket list is to travel and see more of the national parks across the US beyond the west coast. My plan is to do so in June as a part of a cross country road trip to Massachusetes after I graduate

  • What advice would you give to someone new to horse riding?: The main thing I'd say is never forget why you're riding - whether it's to just have fun, to spend time around horses, or another reason, it's very easy to lose sight of why we love riding and get caught up getting better or preparing for shows. Remembering to enjoy the process along the way is what truly makes it special!


Fire Drills: The two days of fire drills ran smoothly with a good number of participants. A truck and trailer were hitched and left out for folks to practice loading, and many took advantage of that. New emergency signs were started and will be helpful in directing traffic should we need to evacuate. Thank you, everyone, for your support in making our ranch safe for fire season by being prepared.

Pond Maintenance: The pond had a fern invasion that looked like algae but was a giant fern growing over the top. Morgan made it his personal task to hand-rake all the fern out in preparation for the two aerators that will be installed this summer.

Pasture Mowing: We started mowing the pastures while we waited for the water to be released from the dam when the tractor went kaput. We are currently strategizing how to get the pastures cut since our new tractor won’t arrive for a few months.

New Group Paddock #26: The fencing is up and almost ready for move-in for Lauren’s horses, Rain, Jason, and Gallon. This was no small feat; it required locating irrigation piping that was installed before Bob & Kay bought the ranch. Once located, several risers were disconnected and will be moved this coming month. Have no fears, though, as we are still able to irrigate with one riser.

Water Line Break: We had a significant water line break by the mini’s paddock, requiring extensive work to maintain water access for the live-in pasture, Sunny, the minis, pond pasture, and the cows. We appreciate everyone’s patience as the whole ranch water was shut down for a day. The good news is that we found a mystery pipe that may allow us to install more water lines out to those pastures.

Water Tank Cleaning: We have started to power wash water tanks, providing the horses with fresh, clean water and saving the fish as we go.

Weed Whacking: There is always weed whacking going on. The grass is beginning to slow its growth rate, but we focused this month on the internal areas and along the inner pastures.

Fun Facts about Horse Care/Health

This month, we’re diving into the crucial topic of saddle fitting, an often overlooked but essential aspect of horse care that can significantly impact your horse’s comfort and performance. Whether you ride Western or English, ensuring that your saddle fits properly is key to maintaining your horse’s health and happiness.

Western Saddle Fitting:

A well-fitting Western saddle is vital for distributing the rider’s weight evenly across the horse’s back, preventing pressure points and discomfort. Here are some resources to help you choose the best fitting Western saddle for your horse:

How to Pick the Best Fitting Western Saddle: This guide covers the essentials of Western saddle fitting, from measuring your horse correctly to understanding saddle tree types. Read more

Saddle Fitting: Discover more tips and techniques for ensuring your Western saddle fits perfectly, promoting your horse’s comfort and your riding efficiency. Read more

English Saddle Fitting:

English saddles require precise fitting to avoid causing pain and potential injury to your horse. The fit affects not only the horse’s comfort but also the rider’s balance and position. Here are some expert tips on fitting an English saddle:

The Nine Points of Saddle Fit: Learn about the nine critical points of saddle fit, including wither clearance, channel width, and seat size. This comprehensive guide helps you assess and adjust your saddle for optimal performance. Read more

English Saddle Fitting: Detailed instructions on how to fit an English saddle, including what to look for and how to measure your horse properly. This guide ensures you get the best fit for both you and your horse. Read more

Proper saddle fitting is more than just a matter of comfort; it directly affects your horse’s health and your riding experience. An ill-fitting saddle can lead to soreness, behavioral issues, and long-term damage to your horse’s back. By taking the time to ensure your saddle fits well, you can prevent these problems and enhance your horse’s performance and well-being.

Why is Saddle Fitting Important?

Comfort: A properly fitting saddle ensures that your horse is comfortable, reducing the risk of soreness and irritation.

Performance: When your horse is comfortable, they can move more freely and perform better.

Health: Avoiding pressure points and distributing weight evenly helps prevent back problems and other health issues.

Safety: A well-fitted saddle enhances rider balance and stability, contributing to safer rides for both horse and rider.

We encourage all our riders to review these resources and assess their saddles regularly. Your horse will thank you for the extra care and attention! For more detailed information, explore the provided links and ensure your saddle fits perfectly to keep your horse healthy and happy. Happy riding!

Photo of the Month

Safety Issues

• If you see any water leaks, please notify staff immediately, as well as any broken fence boards. We try to stay on top of all of them, but it’s a big ranch, so helpful eyes are much appreciated. Especially if we can all glance at water tanks to prevent any horse from going without water during the heat.

• It’s fly mask and spray season. The ranch offers this service to keep your horses safe from nasty fly-borne issues. The service includes putting the mask on in the morning, spraying owner-supplied fly spray, and then removing it at night. It’s an easy way to keep your horse comfortable in these hot months and to have another set of eyes on your horse twice a day in close proximity.


• If you have not secured your potential evacuation spot should the need arise, this is a friendly reminder to do so. Even if you had plans last year, perhaps a quick email or call to verify it is still okay to bring your horses there should we need to evacuate.

• Make sure all our trailer tires are full and that the wasps have not made any nests in the trailer or its parts. Last year, Janice learned that the hard way during our fire drill.

Cartoon of the Month

Final Thoughts

As we move into June, it’s a great time to reflect on May’s busy and productive month. We faced some equipment challenges but also welcomed new members to our community, bringing fresh energy to the ranch.

Our successful fire drills showcased our commitment to safety, with many of you participating and practicing our emergency procedures.

We made significant progress with ranch improvements, from pond maintenance and new paddocks to fixing water lines and maintaining our pastures. This work is a testament to our dedicated staff and supportive community.

As summer heats up, let’s stay vigilant about hydration, water leaks, and fly control. Remember to use fly masks and spray to keep your horses comfortable and ensure your evacuation plans and trailers are ready.

Thank you for being such a vital part of Emerald Hills Ranch. Your hard work and community spirit make this place special. Let’s enjoy the summer and tackle any challenges together.

Warm regards,

Laura & Eric

Emerald Hills Ranch

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