Kaibab and Bright Angel

The excitement grew as we learned that the story of Reigning Grace Ranch was chosen as the cover feature in a local magazine. The article would talk about what programs and facilities we offer to the community — and the opportunity to share the heart behind our rescued horses to inspire hope and healing in their human counterparts. We never knew what reach a single magazine article would have until we received a phone call from an elderly man, we’ll call him Joe, in Utah.

On the other end of the line, Joe explained that he had read the article about the ranch — and it was an answer to his prayer! (Oddly enough, he hadn’t even read the article until 3 months after it was published). Joe’s voice began to shake and he was trying to hold back his tears as he explained that he had been diagnosed with a terminal cancer, had no children and he had lost his job at a local university because of his illness.

Joe explained how he owned two draft mares, half sisters, that he had raised since birth. These two horses were one of the last things left for Joe to “get in order” — and probably the hardest thing, because he had to say goodbye. Joe explained that these two horses, Bright Angel and Kaibab (named after the famous trails in the Grand Canyon), were his pride and joy. They slowed his world down and anchored him when he needed a respite from the chaotic whirlwind of doctors, therapies and treatments and the reality of his world with cancer.

He explained that he needed to find a place that would ensure “his girls” a forever-home, where they would receive lots of attention and continue to be loved on as much as he loved them. He had poured the last years of his life into these 6-year-old Gypsy Vanner Spotted Draft mares and the time had come for him to let them go. His only request…that they stay together for the remainder of their lives.

After a moment of discussion and consideration, we decided to welcome these two girls into the Reigning Grace Ranch herd. We promised to keep our word, that they would never be separated. These two magnificent creatures have been a staple at the Ranch since 2015.

Kaibab and Bright Angel’s mothers were sisters (Gypsy Vanners), bred to the same stallion, a spotted draft horse. We chuckle when we tell their story because they are half sisters — and full cousins.

Kaibab’s mother gave birth a day before Bright Angel’s. Of the two sisters, Kaibab is the most confident and largest of the two. She continually looks after her little half sister, Bright Angel. Bright Angel is shy and tends to hide behind her big sis! These two mares are so incredibly powerful and athletic — and possibly the most photographed horses at Reigning Grace Ranch because of their striking, vivid blue eyes, their distinctive markings and their sheer size!

Reigning Grace Ranch is about helping animals and humans through difficult times. Ideally, we should all be about that. And, like the Cowboy Code we teach at the Ranch, we are true to our word and when we make a promise we keep it. We’re sure that when Joe, the sister’s previous owner looks down over them, he’ll be grinning from ear to ear to watch the important work that “his girls” are doing together at Reigning Grace Ranch.