Saturday, November 24, 2012



As I pondered the message of this Thanksgiving weekend, I found myself looking in the archives for one of my all-time favorite blogs. It was was a Thanksgiving blog. My search took me all the way back to November of 2007. Oh, we were so young then! So new to the world of rescue! And so eager to change the world and save every single horse in the world!

The message of that 2007 Thanksgiving blog stands true - very true - yet today. And so, I've reprinted it here for you for this Thanksgiving of 2012. Hundreds of horses later, the lessons are still the same. The values are still the same. The Missions are still the same. The need, unfortunately, is still intense and still the same.

My prayer this Thanksgiving is for peace - inside and outside of each of us. May you find the peace of the season in your inner soul. And then, may you simply open yourself to allowing that peace to spread from within you.

Blessings to each of you - and enjoy the message of the 2007 Thanksgiving blog!

Refuge Farms blog, original publication November 27, 2007:

T is for true. I never really knew what it meant to be true until I met Jerry, the Roan Horse. Jerry showed me what true looked like. Every single day, he was happy to see me, came to me for affection, and he only wanted to please me. I felt and knew that whatever it was that I asked of him he would do to the very best of his abilities. He protected me. And he remained true to his very last breath.

True is loyal. True is earnest. True is compassionate and includes the showing of affection. True is believing the best of the other.

True is not blind. True sees the shortcomings and accepts them as well. True sees the short-tempered days, and waits quietly for them to pass. True sees the need for knowledge and participates - even facilitates - in the learning. True sees the faults. But still remains true.

H is for heart. 2007 is just over three-quarters completed. And my heart cannot take too much more of 2007.

We have had much death and turmoil this year. Much sadness and much grief and much disappointment. It seems as though we have barely finished the crossing of one and begun the grieving for that one when another has crossed. Too many in too short a time.

But a true heart is strong. Sometimes the strength comes from some place we did not even know we had. Sometimes the strength isn’t really there; we just play the role until it reappears again. And sometimes the strength comes back when you finally give yourself permission to be weak enough to cry.

The heart of a rescuer sees much that it never talks about. Much that it must suppress and try very hard to forget. The heart of a rescuer sees a huge need and feels small and insignificant in the ability to help - to make changes for the good. But the heart of a rescuer believes that saving one, just one, is worth the entire battle. Saving only one fills the heart.

A is for Andy. My dear, dear Andy. Whose simple challenge has brought together a collage of people who would otherwise have not known the others exist. Whose simple challenge has transformed lives and remodeled life goals and purposes. Whose simple challenge has created a small patch of land filled with the hope of healing and rescuing.

It is my personal belief that Andy knows. He knows how we have grown and he sees our good works and the Magic. And he knows of our struggles and our stresses and our tensions and our shortcomings. Andy knows and he does his best to mentor. I just wish that I had him face-to-face for fifteen minutes. Fifteen glorious minutes for him to tell me the way. To coach me and guide me and to warn me. And to refresh me. Fifteen minutes to bring the challenge to the front and to put the risks and the liabilities and the worries away. Just fifteen minutes.

I am grateful for Andy.

N is for never. Never in my wildest dreams did I fathom that a simple challenge would result in this! That this little patch of land would house over 320 people in a single afternoon! That business relationships would be developed and grants would be needed to sustain us! Never did I imagine, standing there next to Frances Andrew in the driveway, that Andy’s simple challenge would create this!

And never would Refuge Farms be here, where it is now, if not for The ‘Other’ Herd and The Friends of THE FARM. Everyday people whose hearts, for some reason, stay behind each time they depart. Everyday people who find something here - friends, the horse they always wanted, or just a place to ‘be’. Everyday people who give of their hands, their smiles, their time, and their talents. Refuge Farms would not be without the work of these everyday people. Never.

K is for a kiss. Kisses come in all shapes and all sizes - the deep kiss of a lover, the air kiss of Hollywood, and everything in between. There are two types of kisses that I love the best – the kiss of a child and the kiss of a horse.

The child kisses you when they leave. Sometimes it is shy and coaxed by Mom. Sometimes it just happens on its own. That Magic just appears. A child’s kiss from a new friend who may not really be sure of you yet but trusts you and Mom enough to pucker up for and give that gift of a kiss.

And then the horse kiss when you least expect it. When your fresh, clean shirt is on. Or when your hair is freshly washed. Or when you run to the barn on your way to work just to check the gates. The kiss appears and you need to change clothes. Sometimes you kiss them. And sometimes they kiss you back. How remarkable. The kiss.

S is for strength. I see sheer, overpowering physical strength from the smallest of them. The largest? The strength is visible in simply the size of their necks and the hardness of their muscles. But it is not this physical strength that causes me to marvel. No, it is their spiritual strength.

Horses appear to be, by nature, a spiritual being. Babee Joy continually impresses me with her wisdom and strong, quiet leadership. Her deep, throaty commands to the others. I speak to her as Ruby from time to time. Not because of my poor memory or by mistake but because, at that particular time, she is Ruby. I can feel his spirit in her.

Miss April impresses me with her ownership of the entire place. She is the sole remaining Foundation Horse, you know, and she takes that role very seriously. April learned much from Jerry and Big Jim. She was a good student. Her spirit hovers over the entire place. It is huge.

And Spirit? Well, you know I think that Spirit has been here before. She is so new here and yet she is right next to Miss April and so calm around Jeri-Ann. Maybe she is here for them. I don’t know, but her Spirit is wise and familiar. I’m glad she’s back.

I have witnessed horses plead for the presence of one who has crossed. I have witnessed a horse run and run and run, looking for the one who is no longer in the barns. And I have witnessed the silence of a horse as it grieves.

But likewise, I have witnessed a horse rejoice in the warmth of spring sunshine! I have witnessed a horse play and run and jump to celebrate the thrill of being here - now! Now! And I have witnessed this energy and playfulness as it becomes contagious and others join in the celebration!

Horses are strong. They endure. They live in the right now. No regrets or guilt. They let it go. They live in strength.

G is for growth. Now this could be growth in the size of The Herd. Growth in the size of our mailing list. Growth in the size of our attendance rosters. But no, to me, this growth is in our growth as Humans.

We are learning to accept one another’s differences. We are learning to look others right in the eye when we need to clarify something said or unsaid. We are learning to ask before accusing and labeling. We are learning to listen before judging. We are learning to share and to give and to trust. We are learning to be like horses by learning to grow and to adapt. Like the horse, we must adapt to survive. We must learn and we must grow.

I is for intuition. In these past seven years, I am learning to trust my intuition. Trust my first response. To be more like the horses and to react to what I see and hear, not what I suspect or wonder. I’m learning that my intuition is my instinct. And my instinct has allowed me to react more quickly and more naturally than if I were to dissect a situation and plan a response.

It is my challenge to learn to go with my instinct. Trust my gut. Use my intuition.

V if for validation. I am so fortunate. Every morning, upon entering the barn, I receive validation that what my life has become is good. I walk in to the barn and an entire assembly of living, spiritual creatures is awaiting my arrival and is happy to see me. Every one of these creatures is alive because Refuge Farms was here for them. And they are glad to see me. Glad that this small patch of land is here. Glad that they are here.

How many people receive such validation every single day? Is there worry and stress and tension and pressure here? Sure. But not when I’m in the barns. Then, and only then, do I get my validation of what these Missions are all about - this healing thing. This validation that what we are doing is good. It is hard work but it is worthwhile. Refuge Farms heals horses and gives Human Beings the very same opportunity. If desired, these horses can work the same Magic on you. The same validation.

I is for initiative. Every day there are opportunities that must be decided and the future of this organization is mapped by those decisions. Those decisions must be weighed with the need for growth and the limited budget. Those decisions must also be weighed with the risk to The Herd and the very existence of the organization. And those decisions must be weighed with the anticipated reaction by the volunteers and supporters of THE FARM.

In general, Refuge Farms is a conservative growth organization. We take small steps very carefully. Always with the eye on the budget and the risk and the liability but also with consideration for the opportunity and the need.

We move forward with tempered initiative.

N is for now. I’m finding it to be very solid ground to think like a horse. To not focus on regrets or the past. To remember, but not be weighted by those remembrances. And to not worry about the future. And what might be. No, instead to think like a horse and live in the now. The present. And to enjoy the present to its fullest.

Horses are best examples of this philosophy when I call them to eat. Regardless of what is their focus at the time, one holler and it's heads come up and here they come! It is time to eat! Don’t worry about what it was we were doing! Don’t worry about the coming storm! Don’t think about the heat or cold of the day! No! It’s time to eat! Let’s eat! NOW!

Big Guy was the greatest example of living in the now. Letting yesterday go. Forgiving the shortcomings of today. Letting them roll past sometime in the night and moving forward to now. Right now. I still pray every single day to ask his forgiveness. I ask for him to teach me how to let yesterday go. How to forgive myself.

G is for goodness. I am surrounded by goodness. People who volunteer of every and all aspects. Horses that want nothing more than to be allowed to be a horse. Friends of THE FARM who want nothing more than to support our Missions of Healing. I am surrounded by goodness.

On my early morning ventures in to the barn, I look up to the FAITH and the HOPE buckets hanging from the ceiling rafters and I am reminded of a question asked by a young guest to one of our volunteers: “Which horses eats out of those buckets?” he asked. “They all do,” was her response.

It is faith. It is kindness and being true and it is now. It is initiative and growth with intuition. And it is validation and kinship and strength. It takes heart and it is pure goodness. It is Thanksgiving and time to give thanks. Thanks for being alive and in this place at this time. It is time to be thankful for all of you and for Refuge Farms. Amen.

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

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