Rescued Ranch Horses
Several of Freedom Reigns Ranch's session horses were rescued from abuse and neglect situations right here in Middle Tennessee. These are some of our rescue horses:
Freedom: After his owners abandoned him, Freedom was rescued in November 2016 and is now a permanent Ranch resident.
Warrior: Rescued in 2019, Warrior was missing a staggering 450lbs. Despite best efforts and care, he succumbed to the effects of starvation days after rescue.
Joseph: This senior gelding was rescued from auction in March 2019 and is now happily living out his days as a permanent Ranch resident.
Goliath: This mini pony was living as a stray before he was rescued in March 2020. He’s now a permanent Ranch resident.
Jesse & Wildfire: These two strays were rescued in November 2018 and adopted by loving new owners in December 2018.
Gideon: After being rescued in August 2017, Gideon was adopted out to his new family in November 2018.
Jeremy: This sweet gelding was starved and neglected until he was rescued in June 2020. After four months of rehabilitation, he was adopted by a Ranch volunteer that October.
JJ: The first foal (a.k.a. baby horse) to come the Ranch, JJ was rescued from a neglect situation in June 2020. A Ranch volunteer adopted him in April 2021.
Flair: Born in rescue to a 30+ year old emaciated donkey, both he and his mom miraculously survived. When Flair was weaned, we couldn't say no to his adorably disfigured nose captivating his namesake. Flair is a permanent Ranch resident and when old enough will be large enough to join our riding herd for sessions.
Shadow: Our volunteers just couldn’t get enough of this cute mini pony when he arrived as a foster from rescue in June 2021, and was adopted within two months.
Trixie: Found in the spring of 2022 roaming near an equestrian center in Franklin, TN with a BCS 2 and extensive skin infections. We began her rehabilitation and after 3 months she was healthy enough to be adopted.
You can read more about our rescue horses on their profiles.
Warrior: Intake weight: 831lbs (should have weighed 1300lbs)
Our heart for rescue...
At Freedom Reigns Ranch, we believe God calls us to care for His creation—and to help redeem it when others fail to fulfill their responsibility to care for it.
In Tennessee, the law classifies horses as livestock and doesn’t fully protect these majestic, yet fragile, animals from neglect and abuse. Fortunately, multiple well-run equine rescues in Middle Tennessee help horses in need.
In 2019, after searching for local rescue organizations that shared a similar heart to ours, Freedom Reigns Ranch discovered Hickory Hill Farm in Lebanon, TN, and formed a partnership with them. Hickory Hill handles the details of each rescue, and Freedom Reigns serves as a foster farm for those horses. Our team is excellent at caring for horses in critical need, and helping to heal rescue horses—who often have similar pasts to human survivors of trauma—helps Ranch participants heal, too.
When this horse’s owners became addicted to drugs, they fled their foreclosed property, abandoning their horse in an outdoor dog pen with no food or water. He lived in the pen, with barely enough room to turn around, for over a month.
Thankfully, early on, compassionate neighbors noticed the horse. They brought him buckets of water from their homes, food they thought he might like, and alerted local law enforcement. When the police were finally able to contact the horse’s former owners and ask what to do with him, they callously said, "Shoot ‘em."
Instead, he came to Freedom Reigns Ranch. Although he had been rescued from the dog pen in a short amount of time, his level of distrust for people told us that he hadn't always experienced kindness in life.
He hated confined spaces, was terrified of riding whips (which many trainers use to give gentle training cues instead of punishing blows), and reacted violently and fearfully to sudden movements. He hated having his ears touched because flies had eaten away at the insides while he was confined. We knew rehabilitating him to the point where Ranch participants could safely ride him would be a long process.
We started by trying to get him used to being in a stall and helping him gain weight. To do that, we brought him inside to enjoy the horse version of homemade chicken noodle soup: a warm, nutritious grain mash.
The same week this sweet, scared rescue horse came to the Ranch, we started doing sessions with some young adult survivors of human trafficking. One of the girls saw the horse—who we were thinking about naming “Cappuccino”—inside his stall. She was immediately captivated and asked if she could go into the stall with him. A bit hesitantly, our founder Carissa said, "Yes." The two of them opened the stall door, which caused the horse to startle at the noise, and approached him confidently yet quietly. Carissa put her hand on his shoulder to let him know the humans were near and were simply there to be with him.
What happened next was like something out of a movie: He stopped eating his soup and acknowledged these new people in his presence—not with fear, but with curiosity.
In a change of plans, they quietly haltered him and led him out of his stall. Since all participants are required to wear a helmet when grooming or working with a horse, they walked Freedom to the tack room door so the girl could grab her helmet. That’s when the second miracle happened: This little yellow horse—who didn't like small spaces—followed his new friend into a tiny 8-foot-by-8-foot tack room!
The horse was totally calm with the girl, walking with her to the arena step-in-step. Clearly, something was happening beyond what we could see. The girl slowly and deliberately took the horse through the series of exercises we use to familiarize all our horses with new people and objects. After a few moments, they both exhaled simultaneously, and she softly said, "You need to name him ‘Freedom’ because he finally found his freedom." How could anyone argue with that? Freedom has continued his emotional rehabilitation and has become a favorite at the Ranch. Although becoming a riding horse was a long, slow process, he is now a successful session riding horse for Ranch participants.
But Freedom’s ministry is far more than helping people learn to ride. He's the horse who helps survivors of trauma feel understood because he expresses himself in a way that closely resembles a person dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Freedom is a total mirror to those around him: In order for him to be calm, his partner needs to take active physical steps to be calm for him. In this process, participants learn how to usher in and embrace peace even when circumstances urge them to feel otherwise. They're then able to take this ability from the Ranch and apply it to their everyday lives—and ultimately, we all learn to do this by trusting Jesus as our Prince of Peace.
So many aspects of horsemanship parallel what we learn in the Bible. Choosing peace in the midst of chaos and choosing to trust despite our fears are just two of the tangible ways that Freedom teaches participants to trust God.
You can help more individuals and horses experience this peace and trust. Since all programs are completely free of charge to participants, the Ranch relies on donations to cover session costs, which run $60 per 90-minute individual session. You can make a donation toward these sessions or help us care for our horses by becoming a horse sponsor. Please consider partnering with us by donating to the Ranch.