Sunday, May 30, 2010


A Gentle Guest Returns

On Memorial Day Weekend of May of 2009, I introduced you to Dan Knutson. I met Dan back in the 70's while we both were working in the Gambles Corporate IS (Information Systems) Division. I was a consultant and Dan was the "techie" that I turned to in order to make "it" all happen. A friendship grew from that hectic time. A friendship that has lasted.

After Dan's initial visit to Refuge Farms, I asked that he write of his impressions. He did write and many of us talked of his observations. It did not surprise me to read Dan's words, but then I had come to know a bit of the man. His mind is surprisingly adaptive and deep. The little details do not pass him by. And he is a talented writer. And so since it is once again Memorial Day Weekend and so this morning, I am going to remind you of his words that were published one year ago today . . . .

A Note from Sandy: One of my long, lost friends reappeared in my life this week. And he brought with him a flood of memories. Memories of our good times, our laughs, and some of life's most unexpected moments.

I asked this friend, as he was pulling out of the driveway, if he would care to write a blog. And he did. Below is that blog. Enjoy. And thanks, Dan!


Happy Memorial Day! I long ago felt uncomfortable with that sentiment but finally decided that I was happy with the privileges that our heroes helped to protect over the history of this country. We honor their memory today.

Regular readers of this blog will no doubt be wondering who this guy is intruding on their surroundings so let me introduce myself. About 30 years ago I was assigned to a project at a company in Minneapolis. A woman named Sandy would be the Business Analyst and I would be the Systems Analyst. We were both young, aggressive, and we were going to fix everything wrong with the entire world. It is possible that our expectations exceeded our reach.

Sandy and I remained friends for a decade and more but then lost track of each other after geography and other things changed. We found each other again last year and I found myself near to Spring Valley last week so that I could finally see Sandy and her charges in person.

On this day when we honor human heroes, I want to honor the volunteers and supporters of Refuge Farms. A hero is someone who ignores dangers to their well being and their very life to defend the defenseless. I know that horses are not helpless but they do not, in fact, have a defense against the evils and ignorant neglect of their human keepers. Those of you who defend them are indeed heroes in my book.

Thank you for your sacrifice.

By the way, some of you might not know that the original name for Memorial Day was Decoration Day when, once a year, graves of those fallen in battle were decorated. When you are next at THE FARM, look across the lawn from the house and you will see the decorated graves of our fallen heroes of The Original Herd. Remember them as well.

Be well, all of you, and do your work with a glad heart. You may not save the world by yourself but it cannot be saved without you.

Dan Knutson

Today, on Memorial Day Weekend of 2010, I have the pleasure of once again giving you the words of Dan Knutson. Dan spent the better part of last Wednesday with Isaac and I. He was a gentle soul while in the barn. Quietly standing and observing. Soaking it all in. Not getting himself or his noises in the way of the work that Isaac and I were so intent upon. Respecting our need for rhythm and quiet while we worked with these horses that carry so much baggage from their human handlers.

Not once did Dan seem "miffed" that my attentions were on Isaac and the horses and not on him. Not once did he give me a sense that I must juggle my energies. No, he allowed me to remain focused to insure safety of our dear Isaac and the calmness and system for the horses. Bless you, Dan, for understanding my heart.

That evening, Dan chose to leave as Isaac and the boys and I cleaned up for a bite to eat. But Dan returned the next afternoon to spoil me with a good meal, an air conditioned ride, and great conversation. Alas, I was poor company. Too tired to keep a good conversation going. And already too stressed with the list of things rattling around in my head that needed to be done in preparation for the events this weekend.

But, nonetheless, Dan was a gentle and kind man and understood. He quietly watched me as I cleaned my plate of every morsel and crumb. And then, I'm sure, saw my eyes begin to droop as the conversation waned. He understood and was gracious with me. Thanks, Dan.

So, on this Memorial Day Weekend, I am once again honored to give you the words of my friend, Dan Knutson. He will return again this time next year. And next year I will take us someplace to do something. We will create a new memory and we will spend time out of the barns. We will once again laugh over the pen and the waitress with her tray of dinner selections. And maybe, if he is willing, I will have more words to grace our pages.

Here are Dan's words for Memorial Day of 2010:


I returned to THE FARM after a difficult year badly in need of Magic. Luckily, this seems to be the fount. I got hugs from Sandy and bumps from the cats and missed Little Man terribly.

I had the distinct honor to meet Isaac and watch him work alongside Sandy (after being kicked in the head just a few days ago – yikes!). They are like a great doubles team or; since I suspect Isaac doesn’t play much tennis, maybe a great double-play combination. Both of them seem to be telepathic when it comes to horses. Sandy knows when they are stressed and Isaac knows when he can push a bit more and get done. It was magic just to watch.

I realized as Sandy told me the story of each horse in the shoeing bed that I finally understood an aspect of her work that had escaped me since we reconnected. I have known since I met Sandy that she loved horses. What I understand now is that she cannot do what she does now without accepting abuse.

Understand, I don’t mean that she condones abuse, but that she observes the presence of abuse and sees the results of that abuse in her charges (I won’t say the relationship is ownership). She is willing to confront the abuser and even negotiate the outcome that she must have.

Most people, me included, try and leave abuse behind at top speed. At most we may report it to the “proper authority”. Not Sandy, she grabs the proper authority by the arm and demands that something be done – not to punish the humans but to help the horses. I suspect that those of you who read this blog regularly are the same kind of people and I salute you all.

In a habit that I hope to develop, the last moments at THE FARM I stood by the Memorial Beds as seems appropriate at this time of year. It was glorious weather and I tried my best to memorize everything. The magical scene will have to last another difficult year. I think it will be enough.

Dan Knutson

Enjoy this day of memories. Make memories this holiday weekend for yourself. And do spend a moment, somewhere in there, for sitting quietly and being grateful. This weekend is a holiday for remembering. Remember them all.

Enjoy the journey of each and every day,
Sandy, Who is Remembering The Herd Waiting Over the Bridge

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