"And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should."
During my interview with Cherry Tapley, President & Founder of Nalani Horse Rescue in Broad Run, VA, this quote continued to play through my head. It is a line from the poem Desiderata - a poem I often turn to when I am seeking guidance in life (see freebies in the menu above). But in this instance, it is a quote that seems to sum up the theme of this particular rescue highlight.
Like many of us, Cherry was a child with big dreams of having a horse of her very own. As the years went by this dream stayed a dream. It wasn't until adulthood that she began taking riding lessons, which we all know is the final nail in the horse-obsessed coffin. She was hooked and began learning all she could about horses on the internet. One day, her search led her to the website of a horse rescue. There was a picture of a severely emaciated horse, and the story of how this horse was beaten and forced to walk at an auction. Burned into her brain the image broke Cherry's heart, and with a little prayer she knew she was being called to rescue horses.
Slowly making her way into the rescue scene, this new life's purpose was solidified by the third horse auction she attended. Horse number 106 caught her eye. He was swollen, shaking, bloody, sweating from pain and unable to walk. It looked as if he had fallen inside the trailer on his way in and been trampled on by the others. "This horse needs to be euthanized" Cherry thought. She waited and waited for another horse rescue to come along and end his misery, but no one did. It was then she realized that she was that rescue. She hunted down the horse's dealer, bought 106, and called out the vet to end his suffering so he wouldn't have to endure a second long trailer ride to the sad fate of slaughter. This was real, and with enough money left to rescue one more horse, she found Mosby.
"There are 100 horses tied up and you don’t know anything about them, but it’s funny how sometimes one just speaks to you" explains Cherry. Mosby's demeanor was despondent. He was emaciated and out of energy, yet somehow he heard Cherry and bent his neck all the way around to make direct eye contact with her. She knew this was the next horse she needed to save.
I had the pleasure of meeting Mosby when I interviewed Cherry one Saturday morning. As his head peeked slightly out of his stall I could tell he was curious, smart, gentle, forgiving and of course, handsome. Then as I often do, I wondered how such a horse could end up at auction in the first place. Cherry believes that Mosby came from an Amish farm, and at one point was tried as a Saddlebred show horse. Mosby's tail was altered in a way that is seen in many Saddlebred show horses so that their tail flows in a peacock-like fashion. He also has two razor-blade like scars on his poll, but no one is sure what they are from. Perhaps he didn't perform in the ring the way his previous owners wanted? It's hard to say.
I asked the rescue's volunteer trainer,
Kate Breiner, about her training methods with rescues. While she doesn't follow any specific training program, she said her training style is all very positive. For Mosby, she spent a lot of time listening to his needs both physically and mentally. Both his body and his mind needed time to heal after what must have been a traumatic past. He spent the first year after being rescued just being a horse and putting on weight.
Kate could tell she needed to take things one day at a time. Things many horses don't bat an eye at (although they've all got something, right?) were initially very frightening to Mosby, and little things like an unfamiliar face at feeding time would set him back. He also faced setbacks in his health. One day he went down on his knees in his paddock. The vet was called out and after discussing Mosby's history it was determined he had caught West Nile Virus. Luckily, thanks to timely vaccination on the rescue's part, after 3 days of night checks and prompt vet care, Mosby made a full recovery without any lasting damage.
His training progressed after his recovery thanks to Kate taking her time and not pushing Mosby's mental or physical limits. Then as if he flipped a switch, at the 1 year mark of his training Kate explains, he realized "he was ok" and he could let his guard down. Not pushing him in his training and rehab really paid off. This was evident as I watched Mosby fully trust Kate as she led him to the gorgeous outdoor arena to show me what he could do. The wind was blowing, a couple airplanes flew by, a dog ran alongside a horse and rider in the distance and Mosby was a star. Not only that, he looked happy.
Mosby's ideal adopter would be someone who has experience with rescue horses, has their own barn to avoid the changing environment of a boarding situation, and who is willing to work with him to determine what job is right for him. Flexibility is key to ensure Mosby continues his progression, and at Nalani Horse Rescue they are patient to be sure each horse goes to the perfect home and the perfect situation.
Being only 4 years old, I asked Cherry where she pictured Nalani Horse Rescue in 10 years. Her answer was perfect. "I could have never imagined that it would be what it is now. 3 years ago when I answered that question I could have never imagined that it would be what it is today, so I don’t want to put any limits on it".
The rescue is small, but Cherry likes it this way for now. Having the capacity of 6, she can be sure each horse is treated as an individual and gets the time, attention, and customized care that they need and deserve. It is also very important to Cherry that the horses she saves get the chance to rediscover themselves in the beautiful, peaceful environment that Nalani Horse Rescue provides. She wants them to feel as if they've
just walked into heaven when they step off the trailer for the first time. After all, Nalani means "The Heavens" in Hawaiian.
Nalani Horse Rescue's goal is to keep horses from a horrific fate - one horse at a time. "Whether that's being in the wrong hands, going to slaughter, starving, an owner who isn’t kind, a life that isn’t peaceful - whatever that may be." Cherry said. I asked Cherry what is one thing she wished the public understood more that would be helpful to rescues and horses. "A lot of people think of horses as a luxury item and therefore always well taken care of. They would never imagine that there is a need for horse rescue." she explained. Spreading awareness on this need, and making a donation is a huge help. In fact, many people have come forward and made a donation to Nalani in the amount of $106, the number that honors horse 106 that the rescue saved from slaughter.
Nalani Horse Rescue embodies the following quote that Cherry holds dear:
"Saving just one horse will not change the world, but surely it will change the world for that one horse" - Unknown
And as Nalani Horse Rescue takes things one day at a time and embraces the future and all its possibilities, "no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should".