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7 horses in 7 days!

7 horses brought to safety in 7 days. Since last Monday (Sept. 30) we have been able to bring in 7 at risk horses thanks to all of our supporters and donors. This is truly something we could not do without you all. To be able to get a call for 3 horses at risk and to be able to help them, no questions asked, is a dream come true for us. And at the same time, to be able to work towards saving others from the auction just a few short days later, is nothing short of amazing for us! We are horse rescuers. Our goal, our dream, is to be able to help them out of whatever situation it is that they are in that puts them at risk of abandonment, abuse, neglect, or slaughter. And every day, thanks to all of you, we get closer to our goal and our dream becomes a reality.

The first 3 horses brought to safety in the last 7 days were 3 horses that had found themselves in a horrifying situation. Law enforcement stepped up and removed them from that situation where they then spent the next year recovering. We cannot thank the wonderful people who took them in enough. But, that was a temporary situation. And with winter bearing down on us, the horses needed to find homes. With killbuyers and flippers raising their hands at every turn, their only safe option was to go to an organization that could fully vet the potential new homes. But, then, to find an organization who could take in 3 horses at once, again with winter bearing down on us, was not an easy task. Thanks to all of you though, we were here for them and the wonderful people who took on the expense, the time, the heartache, and the enormous task of rehabbing them, can now rest easy knowing that their future is safe.

At the same time though, we were in the midst of fundraising to save horses from the auction taking place just a few days later. While we had a lofty goal that we were unable to meet, we were able to save 4 from the slaughter pipeline, from ending up in the wrong hands, and from an unsure future. Thanks to all of you, 4 more beautiful souls are resting easy, settling into their new surroundings, and preparing for their future with wonderful homes who will give them the love and the attention that they all deserve. And there are more horses on their way here soon.

While this is our goal, this is our dream, to be able to help as many as we can, it is an exhausting task at times. The weather has been completely working against us and our bodies are weary, but this too shall pass and the horses out there in need are on their way and we will be there for them. But, we need you to be there for them as well. Without you, we cannot help them. Without you, the fate of the 7 horses brought to safety this past week, would be uncertain. Without you, we would not be here. So, we thank you for your past support, your current support, and your future support. You, our supporters, our donors, are the backbone of this organization. And thanks to you, we have been able to help 59 horses already this year. Help us help more. There is no horse out there that deserves to be abandoned, abused, neglected or slaughtered. Help us keep as many of them from that horrible fate as possible. Thank you all!!

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I know my name is Mufasa.

I know my name is Mufasa. Or it is now anyway. I had a different name before. I had a different home before. I had a different life before. But, none of you knew me then. None of you knew me when my body was strong. None of you ever got to see what a majestic animal I was. I worked so hard for my owner. I did everything he asked of me. And I have the scars to prove it. He worked me hard and I did what was asked of me. But, just like him, I got older. The work became harder for me. The food he would give me was not enough anymore. I tried and tried to do my job everyday, but it became so hard. And then one day, he loaded me onto the trailer. I had no idea where I was going, but it was nice to be riding instead of pulling.

We pulled up to a large building with many other trailers. I could hear dozens of other horses and at first, I was a bit excited about who my new friends would be. But, I soon realized that the others were scared. There was so much desperation in their voices. So much fear. And then there were those who just stood quiet, with their heads down, almost as if defeated. I no longer wanted to meet any of them. I no longer wanted to make friends. I quickly realized that this was not a new home for me. I was unloaded and led into a small pen where I stood, for hours, on concrete with no food or water. My owner left me there without saying a word. He didn’t even want to keep my halter. I think I was forgotten as soon as he walked out the door. All my years of faithful work, forgotten. I became one of the forgotten. One of the ones you never hear from or see again. One of the ones that people like to pretend don’t exist. But, I do, though I no longer much wanted to.

More horses came in after me, but I no longer cared. It had become clear that I would either die here or somewhere else soon. People came in and they would stop briefly and look at me and talk about how old I probably am. They would walk away and start cooing over the younger horses who were in way better shape than me. I used to look like that though. Before. And so I just stood there. My head getting lower and lower. My legs aching from standing on the concrete. And my mind drifted off to happy times. Days of sunshine and friends and running through the fields. I was lost in this dreamland when I suddenly heard a gasp. I looked up briefly to see a girl standing there, trying to reach her hand to me. I turned towards her and she gasped again as she saw my broken lip. I quickly turned away to try to hide it, sure she would walk away. But, she didn’t. She stayed with me. For a long time. Eventually she did walk away as I heard her say “You’re coming home with me today, I promise.”

It took several more hours before I saw her again. And when I did, I was in a ring surrounded by people who looked at me funny. I felt as though I was a novelty to them. There was no affection or compassion on their faces. It made me feel very uneasy, but as I was turned around, I looked up into the stands, and there she was. The girl who promised to take me home. My hopes began to rise as I saw her bidding against these other people. But, they kept going. I was getting so nervous about who would win me. Would she keep her promise? I began to feel as though she wouldn’t be able to. Everything happened very fast and as I was led out of the ring, I had no idea where I was going. I imagined I was going straight outside to the pens with all the screaming, scared horses in them. I didn’t want to go out there. I would have rather just laid down where I was and died. Instead, I was turned and moved back into the pen I had been in. There were very few horses left in the entire building by then. I still did not know my fate and worried and feeling defeated, I let my head hang even lower as my legs ached even more from the concrete.

And then…there she was. The girl who had promised me was there. She came up to me again and told me everything was going to be ok now. She told me I was safe. She told me she would take care of me and make sure nothing bad ever happened to me. And I felt alive again. She had to leave again, but I now trusted her. She had made a promise and she had kept it. The people who owned the building brought me out to the trailer and I happily climbed on with the others she must have made promises to. We were all brought to the same place and we got to stay together while we adjusted to our new surroundings. Some of them were still scared and a bit afraid of her. But, not me. She would pet me and talk to me and bring me so much food. Soon I began to feel stronger and I heard others say how much better I was looking. I feel better too. I had a different name before. But, now, I know my name is Mufasa. And I like it.

Mufasa’s story is no different than so many that we see at the slaughter auctions. The old, the thin, the “washed-up”, the “useless” all dumped off like yesterday’s garbage without a second thought. I was that girl that made him the promise, but I could not have done so without the help from all of you. We shudder to think of where this gentle giant would be now if it wasn’t for all of you. This Saturday, there will be more just like him and we are hoping to walk in there and be able to promise them safety. Please help make sure we can do that. Please Give Now!

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How can you help in October?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease.  As many of you know, I finished my battle with breast cancer exactly 5 years ago this October.  It was this battle and my inability to care for my Kirby during that time, that has led us to where we are today.  This year, to celebrate not just 5 years of Pony Tales, but 5 years of being cancer-free, we are hoping to help more horses than ever before in a single month.  In the final days of September, we have already found homes for 6 horses.  In the final days of September, we have taken in 5 more.  This Saturday, we are hoping to save 10 more from the slaughter auction.  That will be 21 horses either finding safety or homes in just 2 weeks.  Imagine how many we can help over the next 30 days…

But, we need your help.  It costs approximately $1000 per horse to save them from the slaughter trucks.  We can only save as many as we have funds for.  So far, we barely have enough for one. 🙁  If that is all we have funds for, that is all we will be able to help.  The rest of them are counting on you to save them.  So, I ask you, in celebration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, in celebration of my birthday, in celebration of 5 years of Pony Tales, and in celebration of 5 years cancer-free, please help them.  Give Now!

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Why do we do what we do…?

I know this question has been posed before, but not by us, specifically.  So, with everything that has been happening over the last few months, I feel as though it is time to broach the subject with you all. But…where to begin…?

There are so many reasons that come to mind. First and foremost, as always, is my Kirby. But, while he set this all into motion, in the end, it really isn’t JUST because of him. I have been a horse lover since the day I was born. Ask anyone. In fact, as soon as Nate and I even talked about moving out here, my first thought was that I would be able to once again have horses. That was in 2009 and we got our first horses in 2010. Kirby did not come along until 2013. So, the love and respect and appreciation I had for horses, and all animals really (shout out to the dogs and the cats and the goats and the chickens) was already there. But, because of him, my eyes were opened. Because of him, I entered a world I didn’t even know existed. Because of him, I am where I am today. But….

It wasn’t just him. While he holds, and forever will hold, an enormous part of my heart, it was the thought of all the others out there in need. I’ve mentioned how when I saw him needing a home that my first thought was “who is going to take in a 2yo, one-eyed arabian?” and the answer, of course, was “ME!” At the time, I did not care if he could ever be ridden. I did not care if I would be able to “use” him. All I cared about was giving him the best life I could…he deserved it. And in the end, I wish I could have done more. I wish with every fiber of my being that his life would have been longer. That there was SOMETHING I could have done to make it where he was still with me today. But, life had other plans….

What I do know, is that I did give him a good life. He was loved and adored and I was able to ride him once he grew. And I bought him a fancy saddle and I bought him a fancy bridle and he had the best care and everyone at the barn loved him and spoiled him and gave him attention when I couldn’t be there. And my heart shattered into a million pieces when he left me. And honestly, I cannot even believe I’m able to even talk about this now. But, I have come to realize, that him leaving me…was as important as him coming into my life to begin with. It opened my eyes to yet another world that most everybody tries to avoid…the world where they leave you…and you have to let them go. The world where they are suffering, but your gut reaction is to do everything within your power to keep them with you.  The world where people believe that the pain they themselves will suffer if they let the horse go, somehow outweighs the pain and suffering that the horse is experiencing. It’s an ugly world. Possibly uglier than the “horse world” itself. But, it exists. It is real. And it hurts…

So, why do we do what we do? We can’t save them all. We can’t help them all. No matter how much we want to. But, we can save and help the ones we can. Many times though, in order to help them, we have to enter that world where we let them go. We have to enter the ugliest world out there, over and over. And we hate it. But, it’s what is right…for them. We kick. And we scream. And we cry. And we struggle within ourselves. Maybe we should do this. Or let’s try this. Or what if this happens. And we have an internal battle within ourselves even though the entire time, we know the answer…let them go…

While that increases our pain, our suffering, our tears, our sleepless nights…it decreases theirs. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but we suck it up and we carry on…for them. We are an open door, full circle of life shelter. We do not have to be, rather we choose to be. If I had known how everything would end with Kirby…I would still do it all again. As painful as it is for me to even talk about him still to this day, over 2 years since he left me, his life, and ultimately his death, gave me the strength that I now need. I falter. I question myself constantly. I wonder, if only we do this with this horse or that with this horse, can we “keep them alive”. And 9 times out of 10, we can. But…why? For who? For the horse? Or for us….?

Horses live in the now. They do not go to bed at night and dream of tomorrow or think about the past. This is one reason you can see how grateful they are when they are saved. They are in a terrible place and suddenly no longer are. And they know it. And they show it. And they appreciate it. But, they are not dwelling on the past. They are thinking about their current situation. Once out of a bad situation, they are happy, but if they are still in pain, they are thinking about that also. They want to walk to the water tank, but it’s so far away. They’re so thirsty or hungry, and you can actually see them psych themselves up to make the journey…just for a little food or water…they suffer. So…we do what is right for them…we let them go…and end their suffering.

 

That is why we do what we do. Their suffering must end. No matter if it’s just getting them out of a bad situation and into a loving home or if it requires us making that call…that nobody else would make…for them. “Saving” a horse, or any animal for that matter, does not always mean that they are kept alive at all costs…no matter how much we want it to… Sometimes, the only way to “save” them is to end their pain. And we will still struggle within ourselves, and we will cry, and we will battle our emotions, and we will lose sleep, but in the end…if their suffering has ended…they have been saved.

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How would you respond?

I used to be in a horse group on social media.  I can’t recall the name of it right now and I am not sure if it is even still around.  But, what I do remember is that it was a group with a name making it sound like you could ask others for advice, information, guidance, etc. in regards to horses.  I know there is another group that I am currently in that is similar, but it was not the same group.  Anyhow, one day someone posted a picture of their horse.  And the horse was quite thin.  Oddly enough, the poster was asking advice on how to get weight on her horse.  I thought I would respond and give her some helpful pointers, products, etc. that may help (besides the obvious “talk to your vet”).  However, as I began reading the comments and “advice” from all of the others that had responded before me, I was dumbfounded.  Not ONE was helpful.  Not ONE offered advice.  Not ONE offered help in any way.  EVERY comment was bashing her.  Telling her she shouldn’t even own a horse.  Telling her that the horse’s condition was clearly her fault.  Telling her what an awful person she was and that this horse should be taken away from her.  When, like so many other people need to do, she recognized she needed help and made the ultimate “mistake” of actually asking for it.

My planned response went from helpful advice to calling out all of those before me.  It went something like this: “You people should be ashamed of yourselves.  She is asking for help.  Yet is met with nothing but ridicule and vigilantism.  THIS is why horses are left starving and dying in backyards.  Because if someone asks for help, they are vilified.  You all should pray that you never find yourself in the position of needing help and if you do, I hope to God that you are met with the same backlash that you are giving her.”  At that point I felt as though I should leave the group.  It was not a group I wanted to be involved with.  It was titled and advertised as a group that would offer people help when they asked, but far too many of the members had no desire to offer help at all.  They just wanted to start a feeding frenzy over this poor girl and her struggles with getting weight on her horse.  I said as much and the admins asked me to please stay.  But, like I said, I don’t think I’m still in there or that the group is still even around.  But, that’s not the point.

The point is that everyone and their brother is out there saying oh if only people would just ask for help there wouldn’t be so many horses in bad condition.  Yet, when they do ask for help, far too often they are met with the response that this girl received.  No one knew (or bothered to ask) any history on the horse.  No one had any firsthand knowledge about this horse.  No one had any firsthand knowledge about the owner.  Not one person knew anything more than what they saw in the picture: a skinny horse.  And therefore, by God, it is abuse, neglect, bad ownership, the authorities must be called, the horse must be seized, etc.  Because clearly there cannot be any other explanation for the horse’s condition, right?!  I myself do not have any of that information, but what I saw, beyond a skinny horse, was an owner seeking help.  An owner who needed help, but made the ultimate “mistake” of actually asking for it.

In rescue, there is a bit of a tight rope that we must walk.  If we fall off, on one side we enter a pit where we put fear into the owners who know they need help, but are now afraid to ask for it.  We risk alienating them and their willingness to come to us for help without having to worry about being vilified.  And on the other side, we have the horses out there that need help, but we can’t get to unless the authorities can make it happen.  For the sake of the horses, we must stay on this rope.  We must be there for them all.  We must stay on that tightrope and help the horses that come from both sides.  The wire wobbles at times and we struggle to keep our balance, but we must stay on.  The horses from both sides are depending on it.  So, while some may not like our stance during particular situations, there is a reason for it.  In order to keep our balance, we must keep looking straight ahead…at the future…and recognizing the long-term effects of our current actions in any given situation.  Because if we fall, we fail the horses.  And THAT is unacceptable.  We are a rescue and we are to be here to help those that we can.  Be it the owners who need help and allow us to give it, or the horses seized because the owner would not accept help.  That is our job.  And that is what we will continue to do.

If you support our mission and our goal to help horses, not vilify owners, then please consider a donation to help us help those that are currently awaiting us.  An owner is allowing us to help, but we need more funds to do so.  Every little bit adds up.  So, please Give now.

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My name is Elsa.

My name is Elsa.  My name is Elsa because my ears were “frozen” when I was born.  You see, I was born in the middle of winter this past year during the polar vortex.  There was no place warm for me to go.  So, my ears froze.  And the tips died.  And they fell off.  I hear I am lucky to have survived at all.  And I imagine that is true.  It was so cold that day.  And for days after.  But, my momma helped me.  She kept me as warm as she could and I’ve now grown big and I’ve grown strong, but…I am so scared….

I was in a scary place.  I was lucky to have survived.  And now I am lucky to be safe.  Others like me were not so lucky.  And I am scared for those that I left behind and those that will be born this coming winter.  Will they be as lucky as me?  I was close to going to the auction.  I’ve never been there, but I am told it is an even scarier place and that horses like me are rarely ever heard from again once they go there.  I hear they are chased into a ring surrounded by strange people and loud noises and then chased back out and onto a large trailer filled with dozens of other horses just as scared.  And some of them fight, while others are too weak or tired to fight any longer.  Some of them fall down and get trampled by the others.  The smaller ones (like me) get pushed around and squished and bit and kicked and as they huddle to the back, they get pushed off and fall down when the door opens to run others on.  Only to then be yelled at and beat by people to get up and get back on the trailer.  And then the trailer leaves and they are never seen or heard from again.

But, I am safe, thanks to all of you who donated to the kind people here at this new place (I hear it’s called Pony Tales).  I don’t know what that means, but I know that they give me food and water and that they’ve let me stay with my friends who were also saved, so I don’t feel so alone.  They tickle my nose and they slowly remove all the burrs from my mane and they give me scratches that make my lips get all funny (I can’t help it. It feels SO good!) and they tell me that everything is going to be ok now.  And I believe them.  I believe that everything will be ok for me and my friends that are here with me, but…what about the rest of my friends…?

They are still there.  And there are people who are yelling at my old owner so much that all of my friends are SO close to getting sent to the auction if they don’t stop.  If they will leave him alone, all of my friends have a chance to be safe…just like me.  But, they won’t stop.  They keep yelling.  And the yelling gets louder and louder.  I am so scared for my friends.  I want them here with me.  I want them to meet the kind, gentle hands that I now know.  I want them to feel so good that their lips get all funny too.  The people here tell me that if you will help them, they will bring as many of my friends here as they can.  And my old owner says that he will let them bring my friends here.  He will let them be safe.  He will let them avoid the auction.  But, it has to happen soon as the yelling gets worse and worse with no signs of stopping.  And he can only bear to listen to it for so long.  My friends need you, just like I did.  The others who will be born this winter need you before they face the same fate I did on that cold, subzero morning.  And they might not be as lucky as I was with only losing the tips of my ears.  But, with your help, the people here at Pony Tales can prevent that from happening to any more.  With your help, all of my friends (and those to come) can be safe.  Safe from the auction.  Safe from the yelling.  And safe from the cold.  But, time is running out.  Please help them.  I am so scared for my friends….

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What is the Pony Tales Trail?

We’ve been knee deep in prepping the trails for the upcoming 3rd Annual Pony Tales Trail. So many think of it as just another organized trail ride. And while that is true to some extent, it is so much more.

The Pony Tales Trail is a fundraiser held each Labor Day weekend to help us take in, care for, and find homes for as many equines as possible. But, it is carried on the shoulders of not just those of us doing the physical labor of planning, preparing, and holding the event, but on the shoulders of those whose land we are riding on. You see, this “just another organized trail ride” would not be possible without them. This ride exists solely because of the kindhearted, generous nature of the local farmers who are always doing whatever they can to help support the horses here. Many of them do not even like horses, but they DO love animals and they support what we are doing here. They allow us to go onto their land, unsupervised, and clear and mow and make trails almost anywhere we wish, just to show their support. When the idea of the trail ride first came up, we thought no way are we going to be able to find/build a trail of this magnitude around here. There were just SO many plots of land we would need to cross, so many people to ask permission from, and it seemed quite hopeless to be honest.In the end though, we were met with only one “no” the first year and one “no” the second. And oddly enough, the two that said no, are not from this area, they do not farm, they do not help or support their neighbors in any way. So, the no’s came as little surprise to anyone around here. And funny enough, it almost seemed to encourage the rest to be even more generous to us and we had little trouble finding a way around them. It was almost like the rest felt they needed to make up for the unkindness of another in their community. This is such an amazing community here and we sometimes wonder if the ride should instead be called the “Cooks Valley Trail” as that is where the majority of the ride takes place. This small, close-knit community of hard-working, honest, generous, kind, and supportive citizens, is truly what makes this ride a possibility. But, you only get one chance.These trails are located solely on private land, other than the small section of county forest that we ride through, but even that is land-locked by private owners and is only available to the public with those owner’s permission. Which they will give, if you are on the Pony Tales Trail. Once a year, each and every landowner opens up a piece of their land to you as they ask you too to help support the horses here. These are not rich owners, they cannot offer much in the way of funds, but what they can offer, they do. This ride takes you to places and lets you see sights that you will only ever be able to see during the ride. This is a once a year opportunity. And let me tell you, the scenery is amazing and you don’t want to miss it.If you can’t make it, you can still offer your support by making a donation. No amount is ever too small. The horses are counting on you and the landowners are hoping that what they are offering is not in vain. Thank you all and we hope to see you on the Trail!

 

 

 

 

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5 years from now…

I woke up this morning after a long weekend of driving, reflection, and hard work. Right away the mind goes to the tasks that are planned for the day and it was time to get to work. I busied myself with the usual, but my mind kept drifting off. I could not stay focused on what was in front of me. I kept feeling like I was forgetting something. I reviewed past emails, messages, notes, anything that would spark a reminder of what was missing. Then, as I drove to town to run errands, it hit me: I missed our official 5 year anniversary yesterday! And right away, my memory rewound to that trying, exciting, scary, yet joyous time when Pony Tales was officially born: August 18, 2014.

I thought about every single equine that has passed through our gates since that time. From the first surrenders, Indy and Archie, to the most recent, and everyone in between. I can still remember where each and every one of them came from, when they came here, their condition upon arrival, their fear, their transformations, and where each and every one of them is now. Past sadness and loss came rushing back, but it was tempered with the thoughts of the happy endings. And I thought to myself, will I still remember them all 5 years from now? Will the memories fade? Will the feelings I had for each of them drift away? It’s been 5 years. I could never have imagined we would be where we are today 5 years ago. So, where will we be 5 years from now?

It’s a scary thought for me. Especially as we are growing by leaps and bounds as I type. Just this year alone, we are on pace to find homes for more horses than the last 4 years combined. We have a goal of helping 200 horses by May of next year. And I worry, will I remember them all? And what’s worse, I don’t think I will….

If we reach our goals, if we grow how we are planning, there will be so many that we are able to help. SO many. And while we are all excited and looking forward to changing the lives of so many horses and people as well, it seems as though the emotion will have to take a back seat. And that is scary for me. If the emotion is gone, what is left? Do I become a robot just going through the motions to get the job done? Do I distance myself from them to focus on the many other aspects and tasks that this growing organization is going to require of me? And if I do, will the emotion disappear? If it does, what will become of me….

I was told once that there is always that “one horse” that drives people like me into this. And in fact, there was that one horse that started this whole thing. Pony Tales was born on the back of one horse, but now that horse is gone. All that’s left are memories. And those memories will not fade, of that I am sure, unless my mind begins to fail me some day. So, while it is scary for me to think that one day I may not be able to remember each and every beautiful soul that has passed through our gates or the details of each of them, for me, the emotion will never fade. I may not have the one on one connection with them all as I have had in the past, but the connection I will have with them all is that one horse that started it all. Without him, none of us would be here, not the horses, not our volunteers, not our supporters, not me. He lives on in each and every horse we help and I will never forget him. Which means…I will never forget them.

But, I wonder, 5 years from now, will today be nothing more than a distant memory? Will we look back at this time and reminisce about the “good ole days” like we do now? When Pony Tales was just a whisper in the wind and the work was easier, the days were shorter, and the heartache was less. Possibly. But, the thought of how many are out there that need us, that we will now be able to help, makes it all worth while. Growing pains are hard. They are painful indeed. But, we will get past this and our wings will spread and envelop and lift as many as possible to safety. We will no longer be a whisper in the wind, but we will be the wind ourselves. Just imagine where we will be…5 years from now….

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Boot Camp

We’ve been back from boot camp for a little over a week now and while I have been so excited to share everything with you all, I have really been struggling with putting it all into words.  Especially since we were thrown right into the beginning of the barn excavation the moment we returned, along with catching up with all the inquiries (emails, messages, etc), checking up on all the horses, making arrangements for the other horses on their way, meeting with adopters, implementing our new procedures, and preparing for the upcoming Pony Tales Trail.  So, having a few moments to quietly reflect on everything that happened August 2 – August 9, has been a huge hurdle.  Yesterday though, I inadvertently found myself with more than just a few moments to reflect and organize my thoughts and to actually truly be able to take in everything that happened in those 7 days.  We were invited to set up a booth yesterday during a celebratory event at another equine rescue organization, the first time they had ever invited another equine rescue organization, and we were happy to attend.  My GPS had other plans for me though…

What should have been around 4 hours one way, ended up being 6 1/2. Upon realizing that I had been taken to the wrong place (84 miles south of where I needed to be), I briefly pondered just throwing in the towel and going home. My phone car charger was MIA yesterday morning and I did not have much phone left (though I had already stopped twice to get chargers, but neither of them worked). Anyway…instead I decided I had gone this far and maybe going the 84 miles north would actually get me closer to home. Plus, I had said I would be there and I wanted to be and then I finally found myself a car charger that worked on my phone! In the end, I eventually made it there and was awed by the amazing turnout and support that this organization had and I was happy that we were a part of it, albeit a small part. Unable to stay long as the horses back home awaited me (and I was a little concerned about another 6 1/2 hour drive), I wandered around, ate some delicious food, saw some awesome animals, met some awesome people, packed my stuff up, and headed home.

By this point in the day, I was tired, my behind and my back were sore, and I really just wanted to get home. Focused on where my phone was telling me to go (and praying it was right), I didn’t even realize that the radio had been turned all the way down for…hours. With the window rolled down due to missing AC, it was hard enough to hear my phone giving me directions, so I just left the radio down. And as I drove, my mind eventually moved away from the trials of the day and the busyness of the last week to those 7 days in Tennessee. This accidental roundabout trip I went on yesterday, by myself, provided me the quiet time to really think and absorb and ultimately…form the words I’ve been searching so hard for. But, I still do not know where to start…

Do I start with the guy who ran over my foot with his suitcase at the MN airport and broke my toenail? Do I start with the anxiety and panic I was feeling before we even left that morning? Do I start with the anticipation and apprehension of what was to transpire that week? Or do I just dive right into the events and occurrences we experienced during boot camp? That…is one question I was not able to answer for myself yesterday. So, I think I will just start from the beginning, in summary fashion, before today gets away with me as well.

Other than my foot getting run over, the trip to Hohenwald, TN on Friday, August 2, was fairly uneventful. When we arrived, we met up with Tawnee and Jason from Horse Plus Humane Society and the film crew for Horse Rescue Heroes. We had been told that they had an “activity” for me and Nate on Saturday and we were very anxious to learn what it was. They took us to the bed and breakfast (I will refer to it as the cabin) where we would be staying for the week and we all just talked for a while as they showed us around. When we finally learned what the activity was, my thoughts, fears, apprehension, worry about everything back at home, melted away. While I knew deep down that everyone was in wonderful hands, leaving them for so long was terrifying. It always seemed after all, that whenever I was gone, tragedy would strike. So, to be gone for an entire week, had my stomach in knots and my anxiety level at maximum capacity. But, this activity, gave me something to focus on. There was someone there, in Hohenwald, TN, that needed me to be there that week…

On Saturday, Nate and I had most of the day to ourselves as we awaited Bryanna, Lea Anne, Tammi, and little Preston’s arrival later that evening. We drove around checking out the area, the sights, the history of this little “hole in the wall” town in the middle of Tennessee. We were greeted with the nicest, most welcoming people everywhere we went. Nate pointed out and laughed at all the big trucks with half a lift kit in them (apparently that’s a thing the guys talk about…idk) and there were a LOT of them! As we searched for “things to do” in the area, we learned that pretty much everything is 2 hours away from Hohenwald. I mean…like EVERYTHING! So, we stopped into a local bar and talked with the bartender. She told us about the Natchez Trace and mentioned Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis & Clark) and how he is buried up there. We went to check it out and sure enough…there it was. But, reading about his death at such a young age, is what really stuck with us. Google it. Please! Eventually we made our way back to the cabin and relaxed as we waited for the rest of the crew to arrive. (Did I mention there is no cell service or internet there?! Oy!) Before they arrived though, our “activity” kicked into high gear and the excitement of what was happening became almost intoxicating!

But, boot camp was to start early the next day and soon we all had to call it quits and turn in for the night. Plus, Nate had to catch a plane the next day. As his time to leave approached, I struggled so hard to hold back the tears. By that time, we had already experienced so much and so much had happened that I don’t know what would have happened if he hadn’t been there. Not to mention the fact that I was about to spend the next 6 days with people that, while we all knew each other, we had never spent this amount of time together. My anxiety began creeping up again and the apprehension of being alone with them and Nate hundreds of miles away, had my emotions on overload. Unavoidably, the time came for him to leave, and I had a meltdown. We still had hours of work to do that day, but all I wanted to do was get back to the cabin and focus on the activity. So, I kept to myself and I watched. I observed. I cried. I took shelter from the storms that rolled through and worried how Nate was fairing driving through them. I looked at my phone constantly for the notification that he had arrived at the airport safe and sound. And then that he made it home. Hoping they would come before we went back to the cabin, because if not, I wouldn’t get them. And I would worry. When all the work was done, Tawnee and Jason took everyone out to dinner and there was much talking and introductions made. At one point, Jason said “I wish Nate was here” and without even meaning to, I said out loud “me too” and the tears came again. Sunday was a hard, long day and my eyes burned from the constant shedding of tears. But, thankfully, before we went back to the cabin, I got the text I had been waiting for: I’m home. My mind then quickly went back to the activity, where it needed to be, for my own sanity.

Without going into details, we spent the next week going through the gamut. I had lightheartedly referred to it as “boot camp” a while back, but I tell you what, that’s exactly what it was. Over the next 4 days, me and the fantastic ladies that I was so worried about being alone with, experienced it all. We saw the best in people, followed by the worst from others. We saw the ugliest that man has to offer and then the most beautiful offerings from others. We met people currently trying to overcome what to some would be insurmountable obstacles, along with others who already had. We witnessed the devastating effects of soring followed by the joy of freedom from their chains. We saw indescribable hate from some towards those who try to help these horses, but, we also saw the most generous acts of kindness from those who support those trying to help. We witnessed the end of an era in that little town, but possibly the beginning of another. We even…saw a tornado! That is not on my highlight list though….Lol

In the end, while I missed Nate terribly, the fantastic ladies who took time off of their jobs and away from their families to join me on this “adventure” of hard work and learning, were the best people I could even imagine having with me. They stepped up every time they were needed and displayed their true love and desire to see Pony Tales on its way. And they have not let up since. And while there is still so much to talk about and tell you all, yesterday I came to the conclusion that the only way to do it, is to let you all witness it yourself. This TV show, Horse Rescue Heroes, is going to be amazing. You will laugh, you will cry, you will be angry, you will be shocked. Everything. When you watch this show, you will run the gamut with us and you will get a rare, inside look, into the reality of horse rescue. The horse world itself is ugly. The horse rescue world…is even uglier. We have been blessed to meet some amazing people and don’t get me wrong, there are good people in both worlds. But, the good people are the quiet ones. The good people are those you don’t often hear from or about. This show is your opportunity to hear directly from them. Your opportunity to go through what they go through right along with them and realize why it is we do what we do.

And when you do watch it…you too will learn what that incredible week long “activity” was. And I promise…you don’t want to miss it… 😉

There is so much more work here yet to be done as this transition kicks into high gear and there is much planned. The barn building has began and we are hoping to have it up and functioning in October…as we will need it for something… 😉 But, we could still really use your help. Please consider even the smallest donation to help us reach our goal of being able to help 200 horses by next May. Every little bit helps! Click here to donate!

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Make a Donation that will last a Lifetime!

Pony Tales invites you to be a part of a very special limited commemorative opportunity by purchasing a personalized engraved brick. The bricks will be installed at the entryway to the new barn that is set to begin construction soon. The entryway will consist of a custom brick patio and pillars and offer the inviting, user/volunteer-friendly atmosphere that we are striving for. When complete, the entryway will be the path that every beautiful soul who enters our gates will walk across. This is your chance to support Pony Tales with a donation that will last a lifetime. Brick purchases will benefit thousands of equines in need for years to come and will symbolize your commitment and love for animals. Bricks can be inscribed in honor or memory of an animal, an animal lover, a donor’s name, in memory of a loved one, a family name, or a business name. Two brick sizes are available: 4×8″ brick ($50) or an 8×8″ brick ($100). Clip art and custom images can be added as well.  Images below are examples.

 

Email us today at buyabrick@ponytaleswi.org to pre-order your brick(s) and have a chance to select the placement of it in the entryway.  Payment can be made directly into the building fund by clicking here. Thank you all!!