The following first appeared in The Brownsville Press (August 2023)
Most days, the horses of the ranch amble about their west Haywood County hills in search of sun, fresh grass, and the companionship of their herd mates. These nine horses, their donkey companion, and four wiry goats make up the contingent of creatures on the ranch.
Each animal here is a redemption story. Restored. Rehabilitated. Returned to life. Overcomers. In the Christian faith, overcomers are promised great rewards. This cast of creatures have paid enormously before their arrival here in Haywood.
Molly, for example, a small quarter horse mare, spent the first 10 years of her life in a dog pen before gaining her freedom. Despite her previous imprisonment, she’s exceedingly gentle, responds patiently to requests made of her, and is exceptionally kind to others in the herd.
Twix, another quarter horse mare and the herd’s leader, came from an area meat auction. Had she not found a home on the ranch, she’d likely been butchered. The same goes for Grace and Faith, two others that came from the same auction a year after we picked up Twix. When purchased, none of three seemed to have much to offer. Starved, ugly, and filthy, they quickly blossomed into full-bodied, clean, beautiful, and confident animals that contribute to the community.
Then there’s Boaz, a young wethered goat, that was rescued from a dog chain that kept him fastened to a tree for several months before his freedom was purchased.
Billy Bob, the donkey, was beat regularly with a 2×4 board before being rescued. He was feral upon his arrival. In time since, my 12-year-old daughter has gentled him, is able to touch and love on him with the children that visit the ranch.