One of our new incoming mares gave us a totally unexpected Christmas gift – a little filly, bouncing around the pasture when the crew arrived in the morning. We named her “Feliz,” which translates to “Happy.” Watching her discover new things, watching her run back to mom every few minutes, seeing her approach humans without fear and standing bravely as we ran our hands down her back, these are the small things that remind me of how very precious life can be.
It’s that gift of life that we are celebrating this week. In the midst of ringing bells, singing choirs and buying gifts, there is a deep feeling within of hope and forgiveness. It brings a sense of peace to our soul, a welcomed pause from our daily struggles throughout the past year. Soon it will be New Year’s Eve, another day of reflection.
How did we do this past year? What did we add or subtract from our world that made it a better place? Did we make a giant leap forward or simply spin our wheels as another year passed?
Habitat for Horses is a different place than it was this time last year. Because of the efforts of a lot of supporters, we now have a covered arena, a large outdoor arena and a new office. Within the next few months we’ll be offering equine assisted psychotherapy and equine assisted physical therapy, both which are close to my heart. After fifteen years, we are finally able to utilize some of our horses in the best way possible by using their magic to help people.
Ages ago a young lady made a request that touched me deeply. “I just want to act normal for one day, to go sit on a horse, to laugh, to forget about everything. Just one day to remember what life used to be like.” She never had that opportunity because shortly after she uttered those words, she passed away from cancer. Today there are hundreds just like her, terminal or close to it, that want more than anything to break away for a few hours, to feel the strength that only horses can give, to be a part of the world before walking back into the white walls of a hospital.
We can offer those hours to them now.
Meeting up with law enforcement at 6am, gathering trucks and trailers, halters and lead ropes plus enough trained people to do an effective seizure – we’ve been doing it for fifteen years. Rushing back to the Intensive Care barn with a horse that’s barely alive, hanging IV’s, getting them into the Anderson sling, staying up night after night until they turn the corner – it’s a part of what we do. Taking the weak, skinny and sick and making them healthy takes time, talent and a lot of energy.
It’s the next step that is sometimes the hardest.
Finding them a home, putting them back into the world with people that will utilize their unique skills while offering a safe, loving environment is perhaps the most difficult job of all. For those horses that can no longer be worked, it takes finding that very special person who owns acreage and wants a few horses to just enjoy.
So image the thrill of taking our own horses and utilizing them in programs that help people. There is something magical happening when a teenager suddenly makes a connection. Bells don’t ring, explosions don’t happen, but hearts beat stronger and tears flow as never before.
Picture the kid with spiked hair and a dozen piercings, filled with hate for the world, suddenly hug a horse and break down in tears. “No one ever listened to me before. No one ever respected me before.”
Picture the twelve-year old girl that refused to say a single word for two years after being sexually assaulted suddenly start laughing as her horse trotted in the round pen.
We’ll continue to work with law enforcement, that part will never stop. We’ll offer help when and where we can to those owners that are going through hard times, We’ll rehab and doctor and do our best to make them whole again and find them homes with those who will never again starve or beat them into submission.
And with every fiber of my being, I promise to continue fighting the battle against those who kill horses for fun and profit and support those who stand with us, the majority of Americans, as we stare down the legislators who trade their vote for blood-soaked money.
But there will also be moments when I will watch a little girl with no hair but wearing a giant smile give a horse a hug or watch a former soldier with no arms ride a horse around the arena. It’s those precious moments that, to me, are gifts from God.
As are those of you who have chosen to support Habitat for Horses with your dollars. You are an important part of all we do. “Thank you” isn’t enough, for none of this would happen without your help.
It’s the dawn of Christmas, 2013. May your day bring a peace and happiness – from the horses of Habitat.
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