September 30, 2014

Lamb of God

Dreamer and Hope of Florabella

Dreamer and Hope - the horse and the lamb of Florabella

Dreamer, one of our newest rescues from a slaughter feedlot in Washington, and Hope our rescue lamb. ♥  Follow their story at the Dreamer and Hope Blog.

March 10, 2014

Letter to Willow (on the anniversary of her death)

Dear Willow, 

It has been one year today since you left... and I don't miss you any less. I miss you every second of every day.  I miss your hugs, the way you smell, the softness of your fur, your three little braids, and the way you'd rest your head over my shoulder.  I miss the butterflies I felt when I was with you and how you made me feel so safe..  like a child home in mother's arms... and I miss the comfort of your love and strength . I just miss you. 

And I do still dream of seeing you healthy and whole in your pasture during the spring... on the green grass with all those tiny yellow flowers and the sunshine warming your back...  Even though that day never did come...

Yes, I've missed you my sweet girl. But I finally understand why you had to leave me though. I felt it then, but I know now beyond any doubt that you were my special angel... sent by God... my very own angel. And I realize that you were never meant to be with me for more than a short time here on Earth.  But somehow you've always been with me, and will always be. That is so obvious now looking back.. after all your health issues were resolved, you had that awful accident that broke your leg. We sent you to the best surgeon in the world, but even so, the surgery failed only a week later and despite my pleading, they had no choice but to take you. You were with me just long enough to show me all that you had come to teach me. You gave me so much, but even after your death you kept sending me gifts and signs... beautiful signs. Because of you, my faith was renewed and strengthened... because of you, my relationship with Martha grew into a beautiful friendship... because of you, we went on to rescue other horses.  Because of you, I found opportunities to pay it forward and to share just a bit of the love you gave me with others... and because of you, my world will never ever be the same. Ever.

Proof of God's love, your story has changed not just my life, but the lives of many.  I continue to receive personal stories from people around the world who have been inspired to rescue a horse, make a donation, or volunteer their time to help horses in need... and all in your name.  There was even a little girl who had been following our story and decided that for her 11th birthday, instead of birthday presents, she would ask everyone to bring items to donate to the local horse rescue... and instead of having a party, all of her guests joined her in delivering these items to the rescue.  The photos her big sister sent me will forever stay in my heart.  

And then there are the emails I've received from people regarding their faith and God.  People who were finally sure they'd see their loved ones again one day... because they knew for sure now that Heaven exists...  people who had lost faith but found it again through our story... and people who had conquered their fears or who finally found the strength to make a change or the courage to follow their dreams. And somehow all because of you...  One of my favorites was from a woman named Becky.  She sent this to me during the holidays, and it was the best Christmas gift ever:

"Shana, I grew up with horses until the age of 10 when my mother left me and I ended up in foster care. For 46 years I put that life behind me, and while I still loved horses, I never allowed myself to get close to them as it brought painful memories back. Your love story with Willow changed all of that for me. I am riding again and giving my talent of photography to those around me who ride. I want you to know that Willow, through your writings, saved me as well. I'm glad she continues to bless you. Merry Christmas to you and your family." 

I love it when people call our story a love story.  I set out to rescue you... but you rescued me.  And you loved me and showed me what it looks like to live without fear, to rise above, and to love and trust without condition.  Yes ours is a story about love, and since God is love, it's a story about God too.  It's a story of love and of faith... Beauty from ashes...

Yesterday in church, when everyone was praying silently, I was so lost in prayer and thinking about you that I didn't even notice Martha had stood up... until she bent down and whispered in my ear, "Listen, Shana... this is the song I used to sing to Willow."  I opened my eyes and heard the beautiful words "How Great Thou Art..."  Martha and I looked at each other and no words were necessary.  I've never heard that song at this church before... in fact I haven't heard it since the last time Martha sang it to you.  To us.  And I flashed back to those cold days last winter out in your pasture, us comforting you as you struggled... And Martha singing those words ever so softly... "How Great Thou Art..."

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"

So today I am choosing not to be sad that you are gone.... but happy and lucky... so lucky... that you were mine at all.  And that you are still and forever with me.   I carry you in my heart....

I carry your heart with me
I carry it in my heart
Anywhere I go, you go my dear
And whatever is done by only me
is your doing.

I fear no fate.
I want no world...
It's only you.
Whatever a moon has always meant
And whatever a sun will always sing...
it's only you.

Here is the deepest secret
nobody knows...
And this is the wonder
that keeps the stars apart,

I carry your heart,
I carry it in my heart...
             - E.E. Cummings

My beauty, my Velvet Willow... I love you.  Thank you for rescuing me.

Love forever,

March 8, 2014

Rain's Accident

Yesterday was one of the scariest days of my life...

Martha came to work with Rain and Violet.  It was sunny and warm, and I was so excited to ride Rain.  When I got out to the barn, Martha had Rain in cross ties and was grooming her.  Everything was fine as always, but while we were tacking her up, something went terribly wrong.  We have no idea why, but all of a sudden Rain started pawing at the ground. I was standing right next to Rain, and Martha was behind me. Martha knew what was coming and pushed me back out of the way, "Shana stay back!"  It all happened so fast, but I remember Martha calmly whispering Rain's name as if pleading for her to calm down. But it was too late... Rain backed up, pulling so hard; and then she reared up violently yanking both cross tie bolts out of the walls.  I saw her go up, and the cross ties go flying.. almost in slow motion.  And I keep replaying it all in my mind.  When the bolts finally came loose, rain catapulted backward and flipped completely over taking out everything in her path. She landed in the worst way... falling against the sliding barn door and landing on a chair smashing it to pieces underneath her. It was so awful to watch and even worse to see her lying there.. the sliding door pressing into her stomach, and her two front legs against the outside of the barn and back legs inside.  All four legs too close to the walls- she was stuck... and she was still. Too still. It was just under a minute probably but felt like an eternity with her down like that on top of debris, just still.  My hands over my mouth, tears rolling down my face.. I was in shock I think.  I didn't know it at that moment, but Martha was sure that Rain had broken her neck.  What I did know was that Martha was scared.  She tried to be calm and strong for me, but I'm very connected with Martha and could feel exactly what she was feeling... she was scared to death.  And so was I.  Still, Martha remained calm on the outside and walked slowly over to Rain and scratched her lightly on her neck... "Rain, it's okay girl... get up. Get up, Rain..."   And then after some pushing and kicking against the barn walls, Rain thrashed and struggled her way up.  Before she could take off, Martha took her rope and started to assess the damage.  She was pretty banged up... cuts, scrapes, patches of missing fur, and puncture wounds in her mouth.  And not surprisingly, she was lame and limping.  Mostly though her neck and head are so sore.  Dr. Kimmons said to give her two grams of Bute and to observe her.. that she'd probably feel worse before she felt better.  And that Monday he'd come and run some tests if she didn't show signs of improving.  I love this horse so so much....  I am so worried about my Rainy Belle...  Martha is coming today at 2:30 to work on Rain... she thinks a little myofascial therapy  will help her.

I still can't believe it happened.  And only two days before the year anniversary of Willow's death. :(

My poor sweet, gentle Rain. Please God let her heal- both physically and emotionally from this...

January 28, 2014

Misty Blue & Weeping Willow

My sweet Misty girl... she's come so far. She's so soulful, and sometimes when I hug her and close my eyes it almost feels like I'm with Willow again. I know for sure that Willow led her to me... we needed each other. This image is so special to me- it's as close as I'll ever get to having both Misty and Willow in the same photo - with Willow's weeping willow tree in the background. ♥

January 16, 2014

I love Rain

Here we are together... even though we are both muddy, I love this photo because I think my smile shows how happy she makes me. She's so soft and gentle... She gives me unlimited kisses, and her whiskers tickle my cheek. And she smells like cinnamon. ♥

I'm so crazy about her. ❤ Something woke me up early and I felt the need to go out to the barn... so glad I did. Look at the sun streaming into Willow's old stall. It was 19 degrees but I felt so warm... She is always with me. (taken with iphone)

January 1, 2014

Rain & Misty in more snow

Woke up to one degree weather here in Tennnessee! Rain and Misty were bundled up and warm though... my hands were frozen, but they warmed right up under Rain's coat. And she still smells like cinnamon. ♥ Looking at the video and photo, I'm reminded that the sun was still shining, and that Willow is still with me. ♥

December 24, 2013

A Christmas Gift

It's Christmas Eve, and something very special and beautiful happened this morning... I woke up early and went out to feed the horses. It was cold, and the sun was peeking up over the hills. I put hay down for Misty right outside Willow's stall. But instead of eating it right away, Misty looked toward the sun, and then all of a sudden, it started to snow! I grabbed my cell phone from my coat pocket and started snapping. You can't really tell how much, but the snowflakes were the big fluffy kind. And as they fell from the sky, I got that old familiar feeling - almost like butterflies - that I used to get when Willow was with me. Snow always reminds me of Willow, but this morning, I knew she was with me. I think Misty knew too. I can't believe I caught this moment with my iPhone. I think the snow was Willow's gift to me... a peaceful reminder of God's love (just like she was). What a beautiful way to start my Christmas Eve... my heart is so full. I wish everyone could experience their own Christmas miracle today... ♥

December 18, 2013

Christmas Barn

Decided to decorate the white barn this year for Christmas... The last photo is of the decorations on Willow's stall door.  ♥ 

December 10, 2013


I was so excited to wake up early to a blanket of beautiful snow... I ran out with my iPhone and grabbed this shot of Misty and Rain.  Despite the snow, the sun was shining, and their coats were warm. Snow always reminds me of Willow. ♥

December 5, 2013

Morning at Martha's Farm

One year ago today, Willow was delivered to me at Martha's farm.. I drove out there early this morning and surprised Martha. I brought Martha a small, handmade painting of a Friesian horse on old barn wood.  I also brought the old Faith sign that I kept on Willow's stall door, and I hung it back up. Martha gave me a big hug, and we spent some time together right there in Willow's stall.

I don't think I'll ever be able to express just how grateful I am to Martha for all she did for Willow... and for me.  Mostly though, for loving Willow with her whole heart. Willow has brought many gifts to my life... and one of the greatest gifts is Martha's friendship.  Yes, we were friends before, but our friendship has grown so much during our journey with Willow and even now many months after her death.  Martha has done amazing things for our horses, but truly the most amazing thing is what she has done for my soul and for my faith.  I appreciate and admire her so much... she is sure proof of God's love.  And I am the fortunate witness...  and the very lucky recipient of her guidance, encouragement and unwavering love.

I cried plenty of tears this morning- happy tears because I am so thankful for the time I had with Willow and for everything our journey together has meant to me. And look who showed up right when I was about to leave... Abigail! Willow's best kitty friend... such a sweet kitty. I really feel like Willow was there today too... right there with us. In fact, I know she was.

November 30, 2013

One year ago & a new photo of us

I came across this photo of us from last winter... I don't have any photos from the day I met her (I was too stunned to pick up my camera)...

A year ago today, I met the soul and started the journey that would forever change my life in the most miraculous ways... I will never forget the complete shock and sadness I felt when I first saw her. And I felt so scared... I was just so scared.

It must have been some special kind of faith deep down inside of me that helped me make this decision - despite my fears and doubts. My has that faith grown... and grown... and it continues to grow. And I think my heart has grown too. I experienced the most incredible love and witnessed the kind of hope and strength I only wish I had myself. I learned so much from her... yes, I learned SO much from her... much about life, much about faith, and much about love. I have so much more to learn, and the miracle is that she is still teaching me.

And though our time on earth together was short, our journey together lives on. She is with me. She is in me. She watches over me... Yes, I miss her, but I'm happy that our story has inspired others in so many positive ways; and I am comforted by the stories others are still sharing with me... .. stories of faith renewed, horses rescued, donations made, poems written, and long lost dreams fulfilled... and all in the name of my amazing, beautiful, divine horse named Willow.

 I do believe she was God's gift to me, and I am so so grateful...

November 20, 2013

Misty & Romeo

So often in the morning lately, I'm awoken early by the sun rays streaming into my room... and I get this feeling - a sort of nudge to run out to the barn. And when I do, something magical usually seems to happen.

On this particular morning, our new barn kitten Romeo seemed particularly interested in Misty, and at one point I thought they were going to touch noses or maybe even kiss, so I started snapping with my iphone...

Of course I didn't notice anything until I reviewed the photos... the two below are in sequence. In the first, Misty and Romeo seem to be seeing or sensing something, and then in the 2nd photo, there was that small green light (some call it an orb) that so often appears (especially near Willow's stall). ♥

November 19, 2013

Princie Pie & Charlie

Most of my mares don't care to wear flowers, but Princie Pie's always up for it. Such sweet boys... ♥

November 17, 2013

Sweet Mirabella

Mirabella is doing so well. She's very sweet, easy... just lovely in every way. She is a gift, and I'm so grateful. ♥ I can't help but compare these photos of Mirabella (top) and Willow (bottom)... I still can't believe they are cousins.

November 15, 2013

Misty Blue

So powerful, yet so vulnerable. Neglected and abused, but still trusting. Her spirit was never broken. I love Misty so much. ♥

November 5, 2013

Rain and Violet

Rain and Violet... they are both so gentle and kind... both gifts from Willow.  ♥  From Mississippi and Florida, I found them while not even looking for horses.  And I bought them both site unseen, because I knew in my heart that they were perfect for me. And since Willow died, I trust my heart. They are the two horses I ride now, exclusively...  They take care of me, and I feel safe with them.  Yes, I trust my heart because I feel that Willow is somehow guiding me.  But when I really think about it, I still don't feel worthy of all that God has blessed me with, especially Willow's undying love and guidance...

Thank you God.

October 13, 2013


She arrived in the long fancy horse trailer driven by her owner's grandparents. I couldn't help but think of how different this was compared to Misty's when she drove up in the rickety old hillbilly cattle trailer. I could see through the window that she indeed looked a lot like Violet, but was surprised when she backed off the trailer that she was a bit taller than both Misty and Violet.. My guess was 15.2 hands. Her coat was shiny, black and perfect... her tail was properly braided up, and her mane was evenly cut and very short so it could be neatly plaited for shows. Before I took her lead rope, I looked into her eyes. They were big and round and brown. And deep. I got that feeling in the bottom of my stomach... butterflies. As I slowly lowered my face to exchange breaths with her, I whispered "Hello sweet girl... welcome home". And I kissed her soft nose. As we all talked, I led her over to the front lawn so she could eat some grass. What a treat for her, as the man explained... she never got to eat grass... Only grain and hay in her stall. He told us that she was always kept in her stall, unless she was working or showing. Like many show horses, they wanted her to avoid any injuries or cuts/scrapes... and they wanted her coat to be shiny and black and perfect for shows. Boy, was her life about to change.

 I already knew I was keeping her. But I indulged the man who was insisting that we tack her up and take her for a ride. Normally, my fear would set in... horse I don't know, just coming off 3 1/2 hour trailer ride, new place, no other horses, yummy grass she'd rather eat, new rider, new tack, etc. etc. But I rode her...right there on our front lawn. And he was right- she was perfect. I hopped up on the big western saddle and even attempted to neck rein her. She was so slow and smooth and easy. Her trot was amazing... a dream really. And Michael rode her too. The man told Michael "lope her off" (that saying still cracks me up), and I could see Michael trying not to let me see him smile as he cantered her all around the front of our property.  I could tell he liked her.

After they left, we walked our new sweet girl back to the mares' pastures. I had taken Paloma, Misty, Violet and Mirabella to the back pasture and closed off half the barn. We needed to keep them away from our new mare until they had gotten to know each other a bit from over the fence. I made sure that she had fresh water and hay, loved on her for a bit, and then walked back to the house. I turned around and looked back at her grazing in the warm sun and thought of how ironic it was that her registered name was Sunshine... as she was never allowed to be outside in the sun. I wondered how it must have felt for her to feel the sun on her back as she grazed on the sweet grass. I still had butterflies... and as I walked, it started to rain. It was so sunny, and the rain took me by surprise. It was a beautiful rain, and it felt so good- I had to smile trying to remember the last time I walked in the rain without an umbrella. I couldn't see her any more, but I wondered what my sweet new mare thought of the cool raindrops landing on her warm back.

And then I thought of something I once wrote in a poem long ago: "Sometimes the sun shines through the rain". (How fitting for my life since Willow died...)

Rain.  Yes, I will call her Rain.  It's absolutely perfect... just like her.

October 11, 2013

Lucy Strikes Again...

The other day, I took a shortcut out to the farm last week and saw a sign alongside the country road that said, "Found 2 kittens. Please claim before they have to go to the shelter." Well, I couldn't help myself and called. The man explained that he'd been biking on that road when he saw the kittens nearly get hit by a car. They kept crossing the road, and he knew that if he didn't rescue them, they'd be killed. So he hid his bike behind some bushes and scooped them up- one under each arm- and started walking. He was several miles from home when a woman stopped and asked if he needed help. She kindly gave him and the kittens a ride home. I told the man that I'd help him try to find their owners, and if they weren't claimed I would either find them a home or take them myself and to call me in a few days.

Well, while I was on Craigslist trying to see if anyone had posted about lost kittens, my fingers suddenly gained a mind of their own and slowly typed H O R S E in the search bar. I tried to stop myself, but couldn't... And that's how I found a sweet Western Pleasure show mare in Mississippi (advertising in Nashville). I've never ever clicked on a Western Pleasure horse ad, as I ride English and know nothing about Western Pleasure. Yet something compelled me to do it. And to watch her video. And to call the number. And then... yes... to buy her and set up her delivery for Sunday morning. Now how am I gonna "splain" this to Michael... I wondered. But I'd been through all that before - several times. And my sweet husband always comes around. Well, eventually...♥ 

October 10, 2013

Mirabella & Violet

I think Violet still thinks Mirabella is her baby... she still shares her food. ♥

October 9, 2013

All 7 horses (video)

I love our herd (and that's including my angel, Willow) ♥

October 8, 2013

Three months with Misty

Misty... She is so beautiful... always has been to me though. And here's what just three months of love and nurture can mean to a horse...♥

September 18, 2013

Misty in the mist...

I love Misty. I love that she stops eating grass when she sees me coming... and how she saunters over and then stands very close to me.  I love how still and quiet she is when she's with me... and how she listens.  And I love that she smells like Willow. ♥ (notice the heart shape opening in the trees...)

August 4, 2013

Nibbles the Pony

We weren't really looking for another horse, but I woke up yesterday morning with the feeling I should take a look online...  and I found the cutest pony.  Described as super sweet, I thought he might just be perfect for the kids...    There were several people interested in him, and I was impressed that the owners wanted to show him to everyone before deciding who would be the right home.  We had so much fun at their farm... especially with the darling bottle-fed baby cows they had!

 And here is Sophie riding our new pony (Sasha named him Nibbles!) :)

And little Sasha riding Nibbles too... ♥

August 2, 2013

The reason I hold on...

The reason I hold on 
'cause I need this hole gone...

 Funny you're the broken one 
 but I'm the only one who needed saving... 


I think this was the last photo of us together. I was a mess... crying so hard in the comfort of her mane. I am trying so hard to learn from my sweet Willow... though she was a horse, she rose above all of the awful things in her life and held her head so high. She was such a good example for me, and I've been trying harder to live like she did.

And though I still have so much more to learn from her, I am so so thankful to God for showing me the light through my wonderful Willow. Truly... I've experienced a miracle. And she has saved me...

But I still miss her... ♥