There is so much going on right now in our world that it almost seems trivial to be writing about anything else. Horses are a big piece of my world, and I want to share a little bit about how Reigning Grace Ranch was able to save the day from an incredibly bad situation.
Here at the ranch, Christopher, my husband and Co-Founder, and I, made the decision from day one, to tell stories of triumph and redemption at the ranch, to give God the glory for the gifts He has given us to ensure the safety of His creation. With some context setting you will understand why today’s blog is a story of triumph.
If you have gotten the privilege to encounter a velvet muzzle brush across your neck, the sweet warm breath of this curious animal breathe you in, you have come face to face with one of God’s most magnificent creations, the horse. Muscular in stature, a long mane cascading down a strong neck, a forelock covering parts of their eyes, snorting that could intimidate even the strongest of men and hooves that seem as sturdy as steel, these creatures are extremely delicate. They are in continual sensory overload, experiencing all that the world has to offer them, from sites, smells, feels and sounds, they take it all in. Right here, right now. In the present moment. They are extremely social animals, sensitive to all of the energy around them. Advanced in non-verbal communication to ensure survival, these creatures, in many ways are superior to human abilities when it comes to flushing out truth and motivation. Horses have played a critical role in our history and culture. Today they remain as some of our most trusted companions and partners.
Why am I telling you all of this you ask? Because I am going to tell you a story.
As you may know, Reigning Grace Ranch is currently home to some 70 equine and burros, goats, sheep, pigs and cows who needed a second chance. Some of our horses were owner surrenders and some were rescues from horrific situations. Some even from slaughter houses.
Slaughter you say? Please stay with me. This is a little graphic, but I think you need to understand.
According to Return to Freedom, a non-profit organization who advocates for our American Mustangs, more than 1.5 million U.S. horses between 2001–2020 have been shipped from U.S. soil to Mexico and Canada to be processed for human consumption. Some of the biggest consumers of our beloved equine are Italy, France, Belgium and Japan according to the Animal Welfare Institute. I am asked all of the time, why would anyone send their horse to an auction yard or feedlot? There is more to write about the situations our horses endure, but I will save that for another time.
“More than 1.5 million U.S. horses between 2001–2020 have been shipped from U.S. soil to Mexico and Canada to be processed for human consumption.”
Being slaughtered for horses is being pushed onto the killing floor of a facility, where the site of blood, the smell of blood, and loud scary sounds are all around them. Once on this floor, horses will be repeatedly stabbed in the neck and then their throats will be slit and hoisted into the air by a chain wrapped around their back legs, where they are left upside down to die. Some die quick, others do not. From any perspective, this is a horrific final moment for our partners and trusted companions.
Most people raise their eyebrows when I bring this subject up because most folks have no idea something like this is happening to our horses. But it is, and it is horrifying.
One thing I know for certain, this death to our horses is cruel and barbaric. Imagine the horse. The animal that I described in the first paragraph, highly sensitive to their environment, they are completely aware of the death around them, the smells and the sounds of fellow herd mates going before them. Now imagine mares heavy in foal, facing death, next in line. Yes, even pregnant mares face slaughter on a daily basis.
A storybook ending that ends in triumph for Annie and Pistol
About now, you are probably asking yourself, where is the triumph in this story. Well, hold your horses, it’s coming.
On August 16th, 2021, Reigning Grace Ranch took in our 22nd slaughter-bound horse, a little 5-year-old pinto mare, whom we have affectionately named Annie, and her two-week old foal, Pistol, who has honestly earned his name in the short two weeks since his arrival. These two are confident, gregarious and larger than life. They have blended in at the ranch with other horses and volunteers, like they have known this place their entire lives. Annie and Pistol don’t know the perils in which they were taken from and their identity is not in the idea of being unwanted. They live like they are loved, and they are.
On the second evening of their arrival, we learned that Annie could articulate her lips in such a way that she could not only unclip the carabiner from her pin latch on her gate enclosure but she could also slide the pin out from the latch housing and just like that, become a free agent, walking among the herd. On that Wednesday morning, our volunteers were greeted with Pistol inside of the paddock with our draft sisters, Brighty and Kaibab. Annie was standing near, just outside of the sisters’ paddock. When I received the phone call about the situation at hand, my heart skipped a beat…a two-week-old foal in the same paddock with Brighty and Kaibab? The two girls easily weigh 2500 lbs. each and could do some damage if they so chose to! I was terrified. But Pistol was safe yet again. I even believe the three became best of friends that night. Just from his stall yesterday, he nickered out to them and they nickered right back.
A place of second chances for our children, adults and horses
Annie and Pistol have a second chance because of the incredible donors, volunteers and staff at Reigning Grace Ranch. Positive change happens one small act of kindness at a time. Over time, the change is massive. Horses heal one by one. That’s what we do. I am passionate about horses. I love having the gift of Reigning Grace Ranch where many can find refuge, their church. I am passionate about second chances for everyone. My heart is full because of the work that we do for our children, adults and horses. So yes, there are a lot of disheartening things happening in our world today, but there is a whole lot of good happening too. Look for the silver linings. They are always there among the shadows.
You can make a difference by supporting Reigning Grace Ranch today by visiting our Donation page.