Bandera residents and visitors opened their hearts and wallets last Saturday at a fundraiser to help pay the medical bills for Smiley, a horse who underwent lifesaving surgery at the end of June.
Smiley is one of the many horses who have been rescued by Harriet Stewart, co-owner of Major Hope Corral along with her partner, Tom Lamonica. It was clear from speaking to the attendees at the fundraiser that they appreciated the work that Harriet was doing, not only to rescue horses but to promote Bandera as the Cowboy Capital of the World.
Bandera Historical Rides is the trail-riding part of Major Hope Corral, which also offers tourist cabins, riding lessons, and horsemanship packages. One of the trail-ride routes takes guests into Bandera proper, where they can be seen stopping for refreshments at various establishments in town.
Harriet’s dream has always been to rescue horses that others have given up on, then train them and give them jobs where they can offer enjoyment to others as well. Smiley, whose story was told in last week’s Bandera Bulletin, was familiar to many riders and well-known for her sweet personality.
When she fell ill suddenly, and emergency veterinary care was not enough to help her, she was transported to Retama Equine Hospital where she underwent major surgery that revealed problems in her colon that would have killed her without the operation. With older horses the expense of surgery can lead to heartbreaking decisions, but since Smiley was only nine years old, and since Harriet hates to give up, the choice was made to try to save Smiley and then figure the rest out later. A true survivor, Smiley came through like a champ.
Scores of donors and volunteers pulled the fundraiser together in record time. Businesses that contributed include the Bandera Bulletin, Bandera General Store, Bandera Gun Club, Bandera Meat Market, Bandera Public Library, Bandera Wranglers, Bonita Ranch Boutique, Buddy’s Water Well and Septic, Frontier Times Museum, Prairie Song Custom Sewing,Redfield Equine, Rusty Cowboy, and Viking Water Well Services. A special thank you goes to TXN (Hondo National) Bank for the use of their smoker, which allowed delicious barbecue plates to be offered to the attendees.
There were too many individuals who donated their time, auction items and financial support to allow for personal thanks and acknowledgment to each one, but Harriet spoke passionately about her deep gratitude for the help that poured in for Smiley that allowed her to save Smiley’s life.
She hopes that everyone accepts her heartfelt thanks and she invites the community to come and visit her and Smiley at the Major Hope Corral.
Smiley is very eager to get out of her stall, and it won’t be long before she is well enough to return to the trail, thanks to the kindness and generosity of the community of Bandera.