Sunday, August 19, 2007


Another “First” Today

Today is August 19th, 2007. Put today down in the records someplace. Vincent, please put this date in a database or almanac someplace, could you? Today is another “first” here at Refuge Farms. And I will admit, I’m excited and pleased and relieved but a bit apprehensive, all at the same time.

A little over three weeks ago, right smack in the middle of the oppressive heat and when I didn’t think my legs or my arms could handle just one more day of this stuff, my telephone and email realigned my priorities. In a span of 90 minutes I became a working machine and I was emailing and calling and talking to everyone in my little brown horse book. You see, seven - yes, seven! - horses had been brought to the attention of Refuge Farms all in just 90 minutes.

Not a big deal, typically. Really, we get horse messages and emails all the time. An email is how our Addie-Girl came to live as part of The Herd. But, most of these calls and emails are for people scouting, as I call it. Checking out their alternatives. And sometimes, the people aren’t even sure if it’s time to find a new home for the horse. Just looking. And I do my best to discuss their alternatives and encourage them to rethink their commitment to the animal. Is it really necessary to ride for an entire day? Is it really necessary to trailer to South Dakota for a weekend with that horse? Maybe you could let him retire in your pastures and you could trailer your younger horse? How deep is the love that you say you have for this horse? And on and on and on…. I do my best to be polite, but I’ll admit that there are times when I am infuriated by the time I hang up the telephone! It is then that I do my very best to remember that not everyone takes the ownership of an animal as seriously as I do. And if they did, Refuge Farms would not be needed, now would it? If only!!!

Anyhow, of these seven horses there were two that were in that “scouting” category. I felt no pressure and no emergent need to look for homes for them. And so far, their owners have not called me back…we’ll see.

But five of the seven had needs. Real needs for right now. My fingers flew as I sent out emails to people who had horses, boarded horses, knew of people who had horses, or would post emails on bulletin boards in lunch rooms and locker rooms about these horses. These five were the full spectrum, too. Lame, not so lame, young, older, healthy, needing to be retired, and just fine…what a group! Some had life changes imposed upon them because of issues not even related to or caused by them! Land being sold, owners moving, death’s in the family. Life was throwing its usual curves and a horse stood quietly somewhere being on the end of the long, long tail that was wagging and where the horse landed was anybody’s guess.

But all five of these critical needs horses had Humans advocating for them. Some had Humans crying over them. And all five of them I took on with a vengeance. For some reason, I needed to help these five. I could not rest until I had. What was it that drove me so? As I sit here today, I believe I knew what was coming back then. I believe I knew that Richard was crossing soon and saving the lives of these five would help me as I realized I could not nor I should not save the life of Richard. Way, way down in that heart of my soul, I was trying to stop the bleeding by saving others. It’s a salve of sorts. The bleeding still comes, though….

Vincent, our Webmaster down in Louisiana, even got in the game! He posted notices and made telephone calls to complete strangers talking about horses. That is how intensely I felt the need to help these five. I even threw one out to the Administrative Team and said, “Please help?”. Vincent rose to the task and saved a life. Bravo! Bravo!

But today! Today is a “first”! Today, Spade arrives from Southern Minnesota and this creature will actually set foot on our grounds! He will receive the first two promises from me and I will alter the third promise a bit for him. The third promise will be given to him as a guarantee that I will watch over him and insure he has a good home, although it may not be here at THE FARM. That will be interesting…. Wonder how that will manage to come out of my mouth!?

Then a bit later, Czar will arrive from central Illinois. And Czar will be, too, given the first two promises and the remodeled third promise will again come stumbling out of my mouth… somehow. The two boys will sit with me here for a little while until their new Mom comes to pick them up. And I will brush them and watch them and talk with them and wait with them. And I will do my best not to fall in love with them. And we will wait for Penny. Thank heavens for Penny!

A few quick emails and Penny’s heart and barns and pastures opened right up. Penny already has a Refuge Farms horse. It’s been about four years now, if my memory is somewhat clear. Gibb has been with her and his health is restored and he is looking wonderfully happy and chubby! Penny does a good job with her responsibilities of family and job and horses. I would not hesitate to give her any of my own. She is diligent and kind and willing to work with something that isn’t perfect. That has issues. That needs a home. Thank heavens for Penny!

And that’s the “first”. When Penny arrives, Spade and Czar will be loaded in to her horse trailer and off they will go! Their feet will leave the grounds of Refuge Farms and they will go to their new home. And my corral will be empty again. That’s never happened before here at THE FARM. A horse has never come and then gone again. Look at Gracie. Look at Addie-Girl. Both of them came “for just a few days until homes could be found”… The “first” will be in letting them move on with The Promises tucked safely in their hearts. It’s a good thing happening here today. It’s just new. And I am like my horses. I don’t do too well with change...

But this change is good! And it is happy! And it is life saving!!! So today I will accept eight hooves on to the grounds. Eight legs will go in to the corral. Two big bodies will munch on some grass. And four eyes will look over the place and wonder where they are now. There will be much horse talk over the fences and I’m sure Babee Joy will exert her size and show us all that this is her pasture, her land, and who are they??? One human will cry when she leaves her friend. But I will hug her and assure her he will be safe and loved and cared for and available for her to see whenever her heart tells her it’s time. Three horse trailers will arrive and only one will leave with a load. A huge load. A precious load. A big heart pulling two newly adopted horses to their new safe, comfortable, healthy home. And then there will be one woman standing in the driveway. And I know that woman will be crying. Oh, the tears will come even though it is a happy day.

My tears will be for my gratitude to Penny. For the appreciation of the breaking heart of my fellow horse lover who now must drive the hours home to Illinois. For the nervousness of Spade and Czar as they check each other out and wonder about these new smells around them and where are we going now??? For the thousands of horses out there that are not nearly as lucky as these five. And for Richard. There will be a few tears for The Old Horse because I now have nothing to fill my mind other than him. And I will visit him and console myself. And I will tell myself what I already know. He truly enjoyed his time here. He loved Ole Man Cole and even little Gracie. He was at home in the midst of others just like him. And yes, he was starting to see that touching was all right. Nice, even maybe… I know all of this. It was just so brief a time to share with him.

Then I’ll head back in to the barns and busy myself with cleaning and picking. But I will be sure to check voicemail and email before too long. These last two weeks I have found homes for the five of the seven that were in dire need. Who knows what or who is waiting in my in-box...

Enjoy the journey of each and every day,
Sandy and The Herd


Here’s an update for you:

It’s 2pm and Spade is here. A marvelous, black, tall, young Thoroughbred with healing feet and spirit! He is brave but trembling. The first one to the fence to greet him was Miss Betty! And then of course, up came Jeri-Ann with no tact whatsoever. Just popped her head over the fence and started to bite at his neck in her style of a greeting. Babee Joy was a bit more cautious, but nose touching was completed and then we all went back to eating grass.

And to my surprise, there were tears upon separating from Spade. I hadn’t realized that this was not just a surrender because of needing to reduce the expenses around the homeplace. This was a surrender because his owner is deeply grieving the loss of her horse. Colic took him and she’s in pain. It’s written all over her face. And it’s like looking in the mirror. I tell her briefly of Jerry, the Roan Horse and we cry together. Each of us mourning the loss of “our” horse.

Spade is wonderful! Warm and wanting to be touched and eager to run and play! What a spectacle he is here at THE FARM! And so I come in to the house to work on paperwork to not get too attached in our few hours together…

* * * *

It’s 4pm and Penny with her loaded trailer full of new loves is gone. Kristin and her niece are dried off and starting the long drive back to Illinois. It’s pouring rain. But what an afternoon!

Refuge Farms had two healthy, show quality geldings in our yard and they were magnificent!!! Theses horses were on strange grounds being handled by strange people and smelling strange horses and drinking strange tasting water but they behaved like true gentlemen!

Spade spent about 90 minutes in the corral getting to know April and Addie-Girl and tossing his head for the benefit of Babee Joy and Beauty. Czar was asked to exit one trailer that he had been in for 7 hours and munch some lawn grass for 20 minutes and then asked to go in to a strange trailer. His look was “you’re kidding, right?” But with a touch of the Parelli Friendly Game and Hide-Your-Hiney and the Porcupine game, he loaded 3 steps at a time. And upon loading, Spade was waiting for him and the two were instant pals!

My heart is swelling to have seen and been a aprt of the gifts given from Human Being to Human Being today. And the pure trust by the horses that were being given. How generous of the owners, how trusting of the horses, and how absolutely loving of Penny.

And yup, the tears ran from more than my eyes today. Tears of joy but tears of understanding the pain of watching your horse load in someone else’s trailer and go down the road without you.

I talked of our Mission Statement today and told them how “I will watch over” is taken very seriously with me. I looked these women right in the eyes and promised that their horses would not be bartered or sold or mistreated or underfed. And I promised them that they would not cross until the horse’s eyes told me it was time. And then I looked these magnificent creations right in the eyes and stood right before them and promised them the very same things.

Such huge promises but promises I have never more felt needed than today.

And oh yeah, for those of you that have emailed me – the remaining three horses of the five that needed homes? They were in their new homes before the day that Richard crossed.

Five lives saved. Five new starts. Numbers 113, 114, 115, 116, and 117. I’m pleased and I’m tired. Going to go feed and call it a day. G’nite!

Enjoy the journey of each and every day,
Sandy and The Herd

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