Freedom was abandoned in an outdoor dog pen. He was left mercilessly to fend for himself with no food or water for over a month when his owners became addicted to drugs and fled their foreclosed property. Thankfully, compassionate neighbors took notice and brought him buckets of water from their own homes. When police finally reached his former owners and were asked what they wanted done with the horse remaining on the property, they callously said to "shoot them".
Freedom came to the Ranch having been physically rescued in a short amount of time, but his level of distrust for people indicated that he hadn't always experienced kindness in life.
Read more of Freedom's story by clicking here.
SPONSOR A HORSE!
Our heart for rescue...
The Bible instructs that we are to be caretakers of God's creation, yet so many times, humans fail to steward well those they are given care over. In Tennessee, the laws fall short of acknowledging the fact that horses are more than simply livestock and as such, these large and majestic, yet fragile animals often fall victim to people's neglect and abuse.
In Middle Tennessee there are multiple well-run Equine Rescues. Because of this, we have chosen to let the rescue organizations with long-standing relationships with law enforcement handle rescue cases and we come alongside as a Foster home for rescued horses. When asked to assist, or in situations like the case with Freedom, we step in as we are able to.
If you are aware of an equine in need, whether you own the horse or simply know of the horse, please contact us and we will either assist or help refer you to the appropriate person.
He hated confined spaces, was terrified of a stick (crop/whip), and reacted violently in fear to sudden movements. He hated having his ears touched due to flies having eaten away at the insides of them. Getting him to the point where he could be safely ridden by Ranch participants was going to be a process.....
The same week that Freedom came to live at the Ranch, we had started doing sessions for a few individuals from a group home that worked with young adult survivors of human trafficking. We had started trying to get Freedom Used to being in a stall by bringing him in to enjoying the horse version of a bowl of home-made chicken soup: a warm grain mash rich with nutrients to help him gain some weight. One of the girls was immediately captivated by our new little yellow horse (who at that time was about to take on the name "Cappuccino"). She asked if she could go into his stall and I a bit hesitantly said "yes". We opened his stall door, to his usual startle at the noise, and approached him confidently yet quietly. I proceeded to extend my hand and put it on his shoulder so-as to let him know we were near and were there simply to be with him. What proceeded was something like out of a movie: he stopped eating and immediately acknowledged this new person in his presence. Not with fear, but curiosity. Suddenly our little hungry man wasn't so interested in his soup. In a change of plans, we quietly haltered him and led him out of his stall.
As is protocol for all of our participants, they are required to wear a helmet when grooming and working with a horse. We walked Freedom to the door of the tack room so my participant could grab her helmet and this little yellow horse who didn't like small spaces followed his new friend into a small 8x8 tack room! My heart nearly leapt out of my chest in panic until I realized he was totally calm with her. After a few white faced yet uneventful moments he was calmly following her to the arena step-in-step.
It was clear something beyond the seen was happening. As our participant took him slowly and deliberately through the series of exercises we do with all of our horses to familiarize them with unfamiliar people or 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."
Freedom has continued his emotional rehabilitation and has become the "Ranch favorite". His process of being a riding horse is still in development*, but his ministry at the Ranch is far more than helping people learn to ride. He's the horse that helps survivors of trauma feel understood as he operates and 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 and in order for him to be calm, his partner needs to take active physical steps to be the calm for him. In this process, participants also learn how to usher in and experience peace even when circumstances can dictate otherwise.
It's a process that they're able to take off the Ranch and into their every-day life, and it's a process that we ultimately learn by trusting Jesus as our Prince of Peace. So many aspects of horsemanship mirror and parallel what we learn in the Bible: choosing peace in the midst of chaos and choosing to walk in trust in the face of fear are just two of the tangible representations that Freedom helps participants learn.
You can help make this happen for more individuals and more horses. Please consider partnering with us by donating. We're looking for horse sponsors (information located here), or donations to cover the cost of sessions for the individuals that come to the Ranch. Though all programs are completely free-of-charge, the average cost to the Ranch for one 90-minute session is $60.
*Since this was written, Freedom has become a successful riding horse and is being ridden by participants in sessions.