In 2014, we welcomed home a Project Hope Horse Rescue pony named Dakota. Dakota had a history of neglect and possible abuse, and was rescued as a 6 year old stallion when his then owner decided he was wild and untrainable and should be put down. Fortunately, he was rescued and gelded and went to a carer who gently taught him some ground manners. When I saw Dakota’s face, I knew he would be a wonderful addition to the herd. For the first month or so Dakota was fearful, difficult to catch and wary. However, with radical kindness and respect for his uniqueness, and by gently allowing him to decide at what pace to connect he and I have become very close. He is now a star therapist and is smart, intuitive and gentle.
Opal is 3 years old and she was rescued at the age of 6 months when she, her mother, 3 other mares and a “gelding” (her stallion father), were left abandoned with no food, water or shelter on a property. Opal went to the same carer who started Dakota. She is sweet, a little afraid of the world, gentle and unspoiled. She and Santana have developed a strong connection already. She helped my husband start his healing after he lost his father. She is kind and gentle little mare who often invites herself into sessions.
Princess Anna is a mare with a history of being pushed beyond her psychological, emotional and physical limits. Anna was considered “stupid, spooky and untrainable” before coming to Epona Brae. She is actually a sweet, gentle, big hearted, sensitive and highly intelligent mare. A great mother to her son Santana, and a great partner under saddle. She responds to connection, honesty, kindness and respect.
The infamous Sugar Baby joined our herd in 2012, a competition mare with the reputation of being dangerous and dominant. Despite her defensiveness and aggression in early days, two years later, she and I have connected very deeply. Sugs has a lot of physiological scars from a history of hard show jumping plus emotional scars from a history of hard treatment and hard work. When I met her she was “shut down” and a perfectly performing equine “robot” with none of her true personality on show – only defensiveness. However, I knew there was a sweetheart beneath the tough exterior and after many rejections, injuries and arguments with her she has responded to constant love and radical kindness. Sugar is a wonderful teacher for children and adults needing to learn about boundaries, safety and leadership.
In 2011, Anna became in foal and on the night her son, Santana-Kalif was born, she would not give birth without me at her side. She has shared him with me every step of the way. Santana is intelligent, spirited and very intuitive. He demands nothing less than an authentic self connection from his human friends. He is pure heart, energy, power and soul – everything a horse (and human) child can and should be in a perfect world. He has not had any negative or traumatic experiences and being around him is being with a horse exactly as nature intended them to be.
Leah (Miss Li Lou)
Leah is Dakota’s best friend. She is spirited, confident and strong willed and loved by every child who meets her! Miss Leah loves to play and is afraid of nothing! For children and adults who have lost their joie de vive, she has the power to reignite the spark of life.