Yesterday, this shy boy peeked his head into the barn while we were working. We were thrilled. Then, timid and gentle, he edged in further for a drink of water. He was vulnerable being so close to us but had a soft look in his eye. This is HUGE for a horse that has lost so much trust in people.
Several months ago we got a call about the ‘shy boy’ from The Hooved Companion Project. While listening to the voicemail message, I had the feeling that something horrible happened to this horse, unspeakably horrible. I learned more about the ‘shy boy’s’ history on a phone call with the founder of Hooved Companion and I understood my initial feeling. She described his last stop, a kill pen in Washington (a gateway to slaughter), as the worst of the worst. I was uneasy and unsure. I didn’t know if we could help this ‘shy boy’. Mike and I spoke about it a lot. We are a sanctuary: a safe-haven for all to come and be cleansed of fear-based things. Of course, this was ours to do!
They called him Flash. When he was claimed from the kill pen he’d been wearing a halter for a long time, too long. The folks at Hooved Companion were very good to him. They started the process of rebuilding his trust. They were able to get the old halter off and treat the wounds left behind. They fitted him with a new, soft halter and gave him nourishment the skinny boy needed.
On November 5, 2017, Flash arrived at The Farm Way. Three days later we took his halter off. He’s safe here. He has a horse, Venus, that came with him from Hooved Companion that he is attached too. If we had to catch him, for any reason, we could. For the time being, though, we wanted to honor his request not to be touched. We decided to wait for him to let us know when he’s ready. I remember the day when we decided this would be best: It was one of the recent, bitter cold days. Mike and I were out checking on the herd. Venus and Flash were the last two to check over. We wanted to chip off ice from Venus’s feet, so I had a halter and lead. The shy boy took off at a trot and Venus followed. I stopped, and said, “we only want Venus. Mike is going to chip out the ice stuck on her feet.” They both stopped. Venus turned and looked at me. I walked up to her and she let me put on her halter. The boy made a circle around and positioned himself so he could watch. We took care of Venus’s feet and checked over the rest of her body. She felt very warm and comfortable. As we brushed our hands over her body, it was almost like she purred, she is quite the love. Mike and I then went towards the boy and he immediately turned to walk off. We went still. We simultaneously sat down in the snow and started telling him how sorry we were for all he had been through. We did the ancient Hawaiian Ho'oponopono with him. For those unfamiliar with this quest for forgiveness, Ho'oponopono translates in English to I’m Sorry. Please Forgive Me. Thank You. I love you. Even though Mike and I are not the humans that hurt the animals that come to us, we always begin by apologizing for any hardships they endured at the hands of people. During this little heart to heart conversation with him, something incredible flowed through me. While the seeds of forgiveness were being sowed in his soul, I glimpsed another world where we all easily communicate with each other, the animals, nature, and so on. In this space, all is revealed and begins again with love as the foundation. This is the world for all of us. This horse, along with all the animals, will help us live it.
Today, we call him River. When we gracefully flow with the River our true purpose is revealed. In fact, you can’t miss it if you let The River (sing it just like Rush!) guide you. Remember my fear of failing him earlier? I realize now that it was River that helped me remember part of my purpose before we even met. I am here to listen to these souls and help them convey their messages to us.
Yep, this shy boy came with a really crappy past, and his start here has been challenging. Yet, he carries something so giving and wise within his essence, we know he is going to be a huge help to many.
Thank you, River, we are honored to be your sanctuary.
River and Venus Enjoying a Sunset Dinner
The look on Mama’s face the first morning after their arrival said it all: It was a look of…"Is this for REAL?” We answered her with: “Yes, Mama, this is home.” The gratitude from her brought us to tears. She knows her baby is safe. As parents, we understand this is everything.
We actually feel gratitude from all the horses. Is it possible they are excited to be a part of Baby growing up in an environment where she is honored and loved from the beginning?
While we understand it is not plausible to give all our horses at the sanctuary a healthy beginning, it sure does feel good to think, that possibly by our horses witnessing and aiding in the loving life of Baby, this could help heal their deepest wounds and restore trust and balance in their lives. Knowing how this is also going to impact the children and families who visit The Farm Way brings us full circle with our mission: We are a sanctuary where ALL of life's best possibilities are encouraged.
In the fall of 2011, Mike and I moved to a small farm in Central Illinois where we immediately found ourselves rescuing horses. The rescue was not part of our original plan, but we felt the calling while doing a search for a pair of ponies we did plan on caring for on the farm. Since childhood, my entire extended family and I have been horse owners. Mike and I wanted to continue this tradition. Upon searching the internet for a pair of ponies, we were overwhelmed with the number of horses that needed a rescue and/or a home.