05 January 2015
By Joanna Dunn Samson, FOTAS Director
The horse trailers started rumbling down the dirt road around 8:30 on Monday morning, December 29th, to attend the Fifth Annual FOTAS Hunter Pace held at the Fox Nation, a magnificent 1300-acre farm in Windsor owned by Sarah and Jim Wildasin. Despite a cloudy day with occasional drizzle, by noon 24 teams totaling 62 riders had signed up, tacked up, mounted up and taken off on a picturesque 6-mile course through verdant meadows and groves of stately pines.
Also in attendance were four residents of the Aiken County Animal Shelter: Duke, a happy, yellow lab cross; Charlie, an affectionate, scruffy-haired gray terrier; Robert, a quiet, low-key, black coon hound cross with brown markings; and Rusty, a 35-pound, pretty 8-month-old female of indeterminate breeding with an affectionate and exuberant personality. They were escorted around Fox Nation all morning by long-time FOTAS volunteers and supporters: Girl, Randy and Caroline Wolcott and Elizabeth, Kelsey, Bennett and Celia van Liew.
“What a place!” said Duke, lying on his back and squirming ecstatically on the grass. “Is this heaven or what?”
“Oh yes,” said Rusty, wagging her tail furiously and ogling the crowd. “And look at all these people! So many people! Oh my, oh, my – this could be my day. Maybe someone will take me home! I’m so excited I can hardly stand it!”
Charlie moved closer to Caroline. “Did you see all those gigantic horses with those huge hooves? They don’t make me nervous, though, not one bit. No, siree. Well . . . maybe it would be safer . . . Hey! Caroline! Down here! Down here!” he barked, jumping up and down. “Pick me up, will ya? I really need a cuddle.”
“No worries, little guy,” said Robert, “you’re totally safe. This Pace was planned by crackerjack FOTAS supporters – Sarah and Jim Wildasin, Melanie Oldham and Gina Salatino. They’re total pros.”
“Uh huh.” said Duke, leaning against Randy’s leg for a possible scratch behind the ear. “Know what else? Nigel and Jim built 31 jumps built around the property, and on each jump is a snazzy sign made by Wendy Gutfarb with the name of a sponsor and a photo of one of the Shelter alumni – how cool is that?”
Charlie peered down at them from Caroline’s arms, “What? Horses jump? Oh dear, those hooves . . .” He shivered and buried his head in Caroline’s sweater.
“Huh,” said Robert, sniffing the grass for varmints, “that’s twice as many sponsors as last year. The community has really rallied around this event – big time.”
“Oh yes!” said Rusty, “and all the money they make here goes directly to help all us animals at the shelter, you know, with medicine, supplies, leashes – where would we be without leashes for our walks? ”
“Whoa! A life without walks? Too awful to imagine,” said Duke, with a vigorous shake and a roll in the grass for good measure.
“For sure,” said Robert. “I’d like to tell all those volunteers and organizers and the whole darn community how grateful we are for everything they do for us!”
“Us, too!” they all agreed and wagged their tails with ebullient enthusiasm.
It was a great day for everyone.
Betsey Minton and Ann Kinney won first place in the First Flight Division. Tom and Caitlin Tiernes and Scout and Paris Beddington blew everyone out of the water with the fastest course time. Betty Alexander, Douglas Berry, Sue Sisco and Jean Bickley took home the Third Flight first place ribbons.
Charlie found his true love at the Pace and went directly to his forever home. Duke and Robert were adopted the next day and in a loving home by New Year’s Eve.
The beautiful Rusty is still waiting at the Shelter for someone to take her home.
Please don’t wait. Their lives are in our hands.
Happy New Year and God Bless.
PETS OF THE WEEK
RUSTY Female, mixed breed, 8 months old, 40 lbs — $70
FRECKLES Female, Calico, 2 years old, 7.6 lbs — $35