I'll be honest it feels odd writing down a testimony, I usually just verbalize it..but here it is:
I first swung my leg over the back of a pony at the tender age of 5 at a local pony farm, conveniently called The Pony Farm, in Washington State.
That began the life long love affair I had with horses. After much persistence and blessed with parents that both love me and could afford the pony, I welcomed home my first pony at the age of 10 her name was Brandy. As little girls and boys do, I outgrew Brandy and found her a new home with another little girl. I then found my first horse, was a rescue horse purchased at a slaughter auction. A tall Arabian mix, he was so skinny and malnourished, it is amazing that he lived. Especially since neither my parents nor myself knew what we were doing when it came to rehabbing a horse. I named him Kruma SA and he became a much loved companion. After he recovered, we did 4H and ran barrels and poles and trail rode all over the place.
More Arabians followed in the 80's..horse shows, lessons and a dream job at a Saddebred training facility. All of this came crashing down when I lost my mom, to cancer in 1987. She was my kindred spirit and fellow horse enthusiast.
Having sold all the horses during my mom's illness, now with her gone as well, I was feeling un-anchored. A year later I left college and joined the United States Air Force and served overseas in England as well as California in the Security/Police Forces. It was a wonderful experience and I credit the service for helping me develop a good work ethic and communication skills.
After getting my honorable discharge I moved to Minnesota and began working as a 9-1-1 Dispatcher at an area Police Department in 1992 and has been serving in that capacity ever since.
It wasn't long after getting out of the Air Force and moving to Minnesota, I was back to riding horses again. Having purchased a couple Arabians and an Off Track Thoroughbred and a Quarter Horse.
Time went on, children and divorce and a riding injury found me back in the un-anchored position I felt when her mother had died. I wasn't married, I had children I was running after on crutches and physical therapy (from the accident). I sold my last horse.
This is when the good Lord started putting "crazy" Christians in my path. You know, the crazy Christians that seem unnaturally happy, and talk about Jesus like he is their best buddy. Those crazy Christians that talk out loud about their faith..sheesh! I wished they would go away.
I didn't realize at the time, I was being called. Seemed the more I tried to escape the more another one of those crazy people were talking to me. Finally, realizing I was tired and worn out, feeling out of options and seeing an inner light in these crazy people I decided to attended church for the first time in decades.
In 2003 one of those "crazy Christians" a former follower of Islam, born in Iran, became my husband, his name is Esmaeil. God blessed me with this loving husband who supports my dreams and encourages my growth in Christ daily.
However, the memory of the riding accident lingered, the demands of young children mounted and I let go of one of my passions, horses. I didn't look back.
Time rolled on, the children grew up and left the home. Having a sedentary job and lifestyle was taking it's toll. I received some sobering news from the doctor, I had tipped the scales at over 300 lbs..310 to be exact.
I sat at the kitchen table. I knew I had to get moving, but to be honest, it was painful to even walk at that point. I didn't know how I would even start to move..oh I could eat better, but moving..ugh.
It was cold and snowing, March in MN is so unpredictable. I looked out onto my empty pasture, my empty barns and decided...I'm getting back into horses.
I scanned the "Dreamhorse" classifieds, making decisions on what I wanted to purchase. I wanted to do a kitchen remodel and that was going to take up most of my savings..but I thought I might be able to find something in the price range.
Then I saw it..a picture of a slaughter truck loaded down with horses. I thought, well..that might be a place to start. Since I didn't know if I would ever be a rider again, I could rescue a horse, wouldn't matter if it was a rider or not..but it would be here and force me outside to care for it...and I could give one poor soul a home and in a way, give back to the horses that had brought so much joy into my life.
I announced to my husband "I'm going to go to the auction and buy a horse"...knowing my health was at risk and I was looking for something to do..he just smiled and said "have fun".
So off I went! I arrived to see a pen full of scared, discarded horses. Some were beautiful, others, not so much. An older one wandered by me and stopped. To be honest, he was probably one of the ugliest horses there. He was old, underweight, hammer headed, wormy with a long back..he was perfect and to me he was beautiful and probably one of the least likely horses to find a home...So I named him Boaz (strength from within) and as I was going home to arrange for transportation, I heard a wracking cough. I looked over to see a smaller white young horse, coughing so hard, it would sway on it's legs.."Oh my gosh, strangles for sure" I thought. I couldn't leave him there, he was covered in bite marks from the other horses, it was obvious he had a fever and he was covered from head to toe in ticks.
"Well" I thought "come along little buddy, can't leave you behind", so the next day, I came home with not one, but two horses, the second one I named Kai (means Rejoice in Finnish and Restore in Japanese)...my husband just smiles and shakes his head.
The re-newed horse loving me, was able to overlook all their conformation faults and just see the beauty of the horses that now stood before me. I bent to the task of getting both healthy (me and them). Cleaning stalls was excruciating to begin with, thought I'd have a heart attack, but after many breaks, I managed to get them cleaned and kept them clean. The weight started to come off and I was active again with my horses.
I then saw a picture posted on FB of a starving horse down in an Oklahoma Kill Pen..they wanted way too much money for this horse, it was skin and bones...they were trying to manipulate some bleeding heart into taking it..There was no way I was falling for that..the horse was barely alive! Well with a rather large shove from the Holy Spirit, I drained more money out of my kitchen remodel project and purchased and paid for his transport and rehab at Hope Farm. I named him Finnick...
Then more horses arrived. I received a beloved Arabian show colt with a career ending spinal injury named Nykkon WLF and a beautiful Arabian Mare, named Crysstal Echo aka Cece, who needed a safe retirement home without the threat of being sold off.
Needless to say, my kitchen remodel money now resides in the barn, vet care, hay and feed, farrier bills..but this is okay. A kitchen is a kitchen and what resides out in the pastures of Hope Farm is what I believe the Lord wanted me to do with that money.
Over the summer months I found myself processing a lot of grief. I spent hours in the barn, cleaning stalls, brushing manes, tails and quietly crying and praying. And then I knew why the Lord wanted me to rescue these horses. It is undeniable that horses have a inborn ability, a God given ability, to help heal the soul...and this they did.
But God didn't want me to stop there...he was showing me His path and at first, to be honest, I refused, "I was too busy, I had a job, I would do it when I retire..." But when you ignore the Lords request, like I did, I get sleepless nights, and internet searches which inadvertandly point me in the directions he want's me to go. Like those "crazy" Christians that used to pop into my life unannounced all those years ago..the Lord kept leading me down this path.
And then I found it...faith based Equine Assisted Learning..and I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. This is indeed how the Lord want's me to spend the rest of my life. Opening the barn doors to Hope Farm, helping others going through grief and trauma, spend some soul healing time on the farm, with God's magnificent creation, the horse.
I am still working full time to keep this going...if it is the Lord's will, someday I'll be able to do Hope Farm full time and expand our nonprofit to include the handicapped as well.
For now, I move where the Lord wills and I will follow.
And your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” Isaiah