Refuge Farms home of "Horses Helping..."

The Dunn County News
November 25, 2007

A reflection on thanksgiving

   T is for true. I never knew what true meant until Jerry, the Roan Horse. Jerry showed me what true looked like. 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. 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 in the ability to help. 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. It is my personal belief that Andy Durco, who co-founded Refuge Farms, but has passed on, knows how we have grown, and he sees our good works and the magic. And he knows of our struggles and stresses and tensions and shortcomings. Andy knows, and he does his best to mentor. I just wish that I had him face-to-face for 15 minutes 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 again and to put the risks and the liabilities and the worries away. Just fifteen minutes. I am grateful for Andy.

   N is for never. Refuge Farms would not be here 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 - the horse they always wanted, or just a place to "be." Everyday people who give of their hands, their smiles, their time, their talents and their support. Refuge Farms would not exist without the goodness of these everyday people. Never.

   K is for a kiss. 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. The horse kiss is when you least expect it. Sometimes you kiss them. And sometimes they kiss you back. How remarkable. The kiss.

   S is for strength. We have had much sadness and grief this year. Too many lost in too short a time, but our hearts are strong. Sometimes the strength comes from a 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 we are finally weak enough to cry. To once again find strength.

   G is for growth. 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 and grow and adapt. Like the horse, we must adapt to survive. We must learn and we must grow.

   I is for intuition. I am beginning 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 allows me to react more quickly and naturally than if I were to dissect a situation and plan a response. I must learn to trust my gut. Use my intuition.

   V is for validation. Every morning I walk into the barn, and an entire assembly of living, spiritual creatures 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 I get my validation of what this mission is 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 their same magic on you. Their same validation.

   I is for initiative. 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, the limited budget, the risk to The Herd, the reaction by the volunteers and supporters of THE FARM and the very existence of the organization. We take small steps very carefully, always with the eye on the budget, 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 present. And to enjoy the present to its fullest. Live in the now.

   G is for goodness. I am surrounded by goodness: people who volunteer in every and all aspects, horses that want nothing more than to be allowed to be a horse and Friends of THE FARM who want nothing more than to support our missions of healing. I am surrounded by goodness.

   On my early morning entrance to the barn, I look up to the FAITH bucket hanging from the center rafter, and I am reminded of a question asked by a young guest: "Which horses eats out of that bucket?" The response: "They all do."

   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.

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

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