Memorial to Bunny

Memorial – Bunny (Smokin Bunny) – February 2, 2024

Today we said good-bye to Bunny, a Standardbred mare who was just turning 29 years old. Bunny and her companion Mister had only been with us for three months but during that time we got to know and appreciate this beautiful and sometimes complex mare. We took Bunny and Mister into our sanctuary after their owner sadly passed away and their farm was being sold. Both were in their late 20’s with serious leg and foot issues, which was why they were retired from racing and breeding many years ago, and were living in retirement together for almost 20 years.

When Bunny and Mister arrived here, we immediately did a thorough veterinary exam and discovered that Bunny was nearing the end of her life. Her chronic founder had caused serious bone damage over the years and Bunny was very painful. We called in a very special farrier who began working with her and between what he could do and pain medications, Bunny’s life became more comfortable and peaceful. But we knew that we could not turn back the clock for her. Our goal was simply to make life as good for her as we could, until we could no longer do so. And then our promise to her was, when it got to the point where we could no longer keep her comfortable, we’d help set her free. We had hoped to have more time with her, but we kept our promise on the day she let us know she’d had enough.

Animals come into our sanctuary for various reasons. But all of them receive a lifetime commitment of love and care from us. Some stay for many years. Some for months. Some for just days. And even some for just a few hours. Each of them is given the same love and care and treatment regardless of the length of their stay. And each of them is missed dearly when they leave.

Bunny was here for palliative care from day one.  And our wonderful team of caretakers, veterinarians, and farrier all worked in unison to help her be comfortable and peaceful and loved. That was what we could give to her in her final home stretch.

Bunny left this world gently and with dignity, completely surrounded in love. And we know she felt relief to know that her dear companion for so many years, Mister, would not be left alone. Mister diligently watched over his friend both in their old home and here. He’d stand beside her as she rested and would not leave her side for anything – not even food. He was devoted to her. We now switch our focus to helping him through his grief.

Bunny left knowing he’d be ok. And she was heading on out of a body that was no longer able to bring her peace and joy. Go run now girl. We know that spunk inside of you is rearing to go have a good run and a peaceful rest. We were honored to be part of the final leg of your journey.

Memorial to Waylon

It is with great sadness that we share the news that we lost our horse Waylon. Waylon was thought to be around 20 years old, but no one knew for sure his exact age. He came to us with his friend Mia after they were rescued from a horrific neglect situation. When Waylon walked in the door, we knew that it was even questionable if he’d be able to survive. His physical condition was extremely poor and his prognosis very guarded. Mia, was just a little bit better than he was. They always remained together here as they were obviously very bonded friends. Mia always watched over Waylon.

Waylon came through amazing odds and recovered. He was now the picture of health. Where once he was just a living skeleton, he now was thriving and gorgeous. He enjoyed going out to pasture with Mia every day and he loved and appreciated all the care that he received from his human caretakers. He was a gentle soul. Waylon was easy going, trusting, a partner to whomever he was working with. He loved his new life, and he made that obvious to all.

Waylon approached each day with joy and gratitude. For two years, we have been humbled to spend that healing time with him and watch him shine. We could walk out to the barn or look up at him grazing with Mia on the hillside and always be reminded of why we are here doing the work we do. He loved his life here. And he was deeply loved.

Due to bad weather on the 27th, the horses stayed in the barn. It was noticed that Waylon was not acting like his usual self. He was still eating but he seemed more tired. And then he began showing symptoms of digestive issues. Again, nothing was alarming and our veterinary team began treating him for his symptoms. He went out to pasture the morning of the 28th. He and Mia spent time on their favorite hillside pasture. He seemed better. But now we understand that there was something more serious going on than we realized. He came back in to the barn at the usual time. But when he was fed, it was noticed immediately that he wouldn’t eat. He quickly deteriorated within a few hours. And before we could even wrap our heads around things, it was obvious that whatever was wrong, we could not fix it. What we first thought was something simple, turned out to be something life-ending. We had to make the painful choice to help him out of his suffering.

Our hearts go out to Mia as she now adjusts to life without her best friend. She played a key role in his survival. She busted through a fence where they were to get him help. And she did great! She was Waylon’s true hero and she never left his side.

It is never easy saying good-bye and we had hoped to have him with us so much longer. But what we do know is that he had overcome great odds. And he left this lifetime knowing he was loved and cherished. Rest easy Waylon, we will continue to watch over Mia just as you asked us to do.

Memorial to Ziek

Today we had the incredibly difficult task to say goodbye to our Quarter Horse friend Ziek. Ziek was 24 years old, which is still young by Spring Farm CARES standards. He arrived here seven years ago, with a donkey we renamed Noah, after their owners could no longer care for them.

Ziek and Noah were very bonded because they only had each other. But once they arrived here at the farm, they each took up friendships with their own kind. Noah was overjoyed to be accepted into our donkey herd and became the wise mentor for our young donkey Murfee. While Ziek was thrilled to be in a herd of horses again.

Ziek had several medical issues that he was dealing with over the years. He had bad environmental allergies and Cushings Disease. More recently, Ziek started to show what we initially thought were lameness issues. However, these worsened and obviously showed themselves to be neurological in nature. Sadly, we discovered that Ziek most likely had a tumor that was affecting his spine. This past week, he deteriorated rapidly. And suddenly we woke up today to find that he could barely even walk around in his stall. Every movement became a monumental struggle as the messages just couldn’t get from his brain to his body, but his will was still so strong. Sheer will and determination were keeping him up and eating. But it was a challenge for him just to stand.

There was not a single thing anyone could do to help. Nothing we could offer but to help him leave this body behind. Ziek loved his life here. In fact, he loved it so much that he just didn’t want to leave. And while he knew and understood that he could not go on and he was only moments away from not even being able to stand up, he fought to stand and take in every last sight and sound that he could until his very last breath.

“I’m taking it all in,” he told Dawn. “Savoring every last taste of what you all mean to me. I thought I’d have so much longer, but I don’t. I trust you to help me now. But I need you to know I never would have wanted to go. So a part of me now will stay with you. Right in your heart. I need you to hold me there so that a part my energy will remain here safe with you. This farm is sacred to the heart of the horse. I think that you still don’t truly understand that. But we animals do. Every single day I spent here was a gift. From the minute the sun came up and the rooster began to crow and the donkeys announced the arrival of our human friends to feed us, I would face each day with knowing it was all going to be good. From the sounds of the birds and the breeze through the barn and the sound of the gentle creek flowing through the pastures. And oh how I love my horse friends. It is here that I found people who truly understood me. The first part of my life I couldn’t find that. I was never good enough to be what people wanted me to be. But here …. Here is where I learned that I only had to be me. I could breathe. And I could just be. I could spend lifetimes here with you and it would never be enough. But, and this is so important, as you help me to leave this body, I want you to know how grateful I am for it all. I will leave here filled with gratitude. My heart full. My body spent. And my spirit grateful to know the grace and love from all of you. No, I would never want to leave. But I know I must now go. Hold space for me. You’ll still feel me here. Of that I’m sure. Thank you for all you’ve done and for all you are. Now let’s be still and breathe together. Love. Gratitude. Peace.”

Ziek left us with dignity and grace, surrounded by love and all of his caretakers, as well as his horse companion Brandy. He left knowing he was treasured and that he would be missed as much as he’d miss being here.  He left with a flood of our tears. And the very last words he heard were of our Veterinarian Dr. Christine saying, “Good boy Ziek. Good boy!”

And a horse who walked into this farm feeling lost and uncertain of who he was, left here filled with the knowing of who he was, that he was loved and cherished just for being himself, and that he could rest on a job very well done. Indeed, he was a very good boy.

Graze easy in that big pasture with your friends now Ziek. We will always hold you here. Forever in our hearts and history. Until we see you again…..

Memorial to Lizzie – April 14, 2023

Today we sadly said good-bye to Lizzie, a dear soul, who came to us rather lost and lonely but who left surrounded by friends and with lots of love around her.

Lizzie was rather stoic and somewhat withdrawn. She came here in 2019 and in the four years we shared with her, we saw that shell start to crack a bit. When she came here she was depressed, had severe stomach ulcers, and (as we found out in short order) she had untreated Cushing’s Disease as well. We had to start addressing these issues one at a time. At first, Lizzie seemed like a fairly grumpy mare. But most of that was because she just didn’t feel good. As the medications began to make her feel better, and she realized she was being helped, Lizzie began to soften.

Although she was not a fan of being turned out with other horses, she did appreciate her equine family and settled in as part of the herd. She had very serious ligament and joint problems in her lower hind legs that sadly necessitated that she could only go out on flat land. For those of you familiar with Spring Farm CARES, everything here is on a hill. She also could not go out on grass due to her Cushing’s Disease and the threat of foundering. So we built Lizzie her own little paddock behind the barn where she could see all of her friends and still stand or roll out in the sun and fresh air.

Like all of the animals here, Lizzie found her way into people’s hearts and we watched her work magic every so often when she found a heart that needed mending. One day we watched as a young girl came to visit on a tour. Lizzie usually was not interested in participating in tours and letting people pet her. She generally preferred to stand back in her stall and observe. So it was striking on this day when the young girl approached Lizzie’s stall and Lizzie immediately walked over, stuck her head out, and began nuzzling the young girl’s shoulder. This gentle communion between these two hearts and souls lasted about 15 minutes. Those of us who knew Lizzie stood in wonder as we watched how gentle she was with this girl. And we could see that the girl was totally wrapped up in Lizzie’s energy as well. Two hearts melding in a very special moment. Later, we learned that the girl had just suffered a tragic loss in her family and her heart was hurting. Lizzie understood that pain and reached out to let her know she was not alone.

Lizzie was 28 years old. Recently, we discovered that she had a mass in her sinus area which was inoperable. None of us were prepared for how quickly it spread to her lungs. Today, she very rapidly progressed to having respiratory distress and we knew it was time to let her go. We know that Lizzie left us feeling loved and appreciated for who she was. We know she touched many hearts in her time here with us. And we know that Lizzie has now found the peace and rest she so deserves.

Thank you Lizzie for letting us in through the crack in the wall. We felt your heart expand and breathe and you will always be a part of this farm forever. Fly free.

Memorial – Whisper

Memorial to Whisper – August 7, 2022

Today we lost a giant soul in a horse body. Our dear Whisper left us unexpectedly. She was 30 years old. We had the honor of spending the last 10 years of Whisper’s life together. She was absolutely gorgeous. She was also not an easy horse. Whisper was a perfect blend of being a dignified lady with a clear mind of her own as well as being very stubborn and set in her ways. She could be ornery at times, especially if she felt she wasn’t being heard or understood. But Whisper was also a gentle soul deep within. Whisper often quietly just hung in the background. She preferred her own company rather than that of other horses. Although she loved one gelding named Buster when he was still alive and she liked sharing pasture time with him. Otherwise, she was mostly a loner, yet she never truly wanted to be alone. Her caretakers understood her and she was very loved here.

All of us will miss the special nicker when she saw us coming to the fence to see her. We will miss the gentle but excited whinny when she knew it was time for her food to arrive and the enthusiasm with which she greeted the deliverer of her meals. We will miss her cantankerous kicking in her shed – often for no understandable reason other than to make a fuss.

And oh how we will miss seeing her lying in her favorite spot outside of her shed on the hillside, flat on her side, sun bathing on even the hottest of days. She loved soaking in the heat and penetrating warmth of the sun.

Whisper had come to us with severe leg injuries from neglect. While her legs could never recover from the severity of those injuries, we kept her comfortable with medications and special foot trimming and lots of help from her veterinary team. But the deepest scars, we think, were to her heart. Whisper held that trauma deeply with a sense of betrayal that was difficult for her to heal. She carried a grudge and we understood why.

In what became her final months, Whisper became a favorite to visitors on tours. She decided to participate with visitors for the first time in 10 years. She surprised us all. She’d whinny and come plodding over to the fence and stand there and let children and adults alike pet and stroke her. She often even greeted them with that low nicker that all of her caretakers knew so well. It was the sound of a tender heart and we knew under all her gruffness, that tenderness was very much still in there.

Today, we found her not willing to eat her breakfast which was highly unusual. We quickly realized we had a sick horse and veterinary exam revealed a twist in her small intestine. She was not a surgical candidate and the only choice was to help her to go. Run free girl. And know that the love you left with is the greatest healer of all.

Celebrating O’Malley


Celebrating the Life of O’Malley

This week we lost one of the biggest characters in cat form that we have had here at Spring Farm CARES. O’Malley was larger than life and one of a kind. He had many nicknames over the years but most prominent was Mr. O’Malley or Professor O’Malley. He just had that sort of persona that deserved a title of respect.

O’Malley came to the farm when he was found as a stray in very poor condition. He hardly had any hair and was covered in open sores. It turned out that O’Malley was FIV positive and that autoimmune disease was causing or contributing to his skin condition. It took months and months of medications and daily baths to finally get him through it. Now this illustrates just how unique O’Malley was because he LOVED his baths. We had never seen a cat like baths as much as he did.

O’Malley’s trademark was his incredible purr and his incessant drooling when he was happy. He loved to be held and carried around and cuddled. And whoever did so, was sure to be soaked from his drool. He also loved to be dressed up in outfits. This all started when we had to put little shirts on him to protect his skin and keep him from licking himself. But out of that grew a whole line of customized O’Malley wardrobe. He even had some with his name embroidered on them.

O’Malley was as easy going as could be. He was an ambassador for peace and love. His energy was deeply appreciated and anyone who spent time with him ended up with the therapeutic benefits of being loved by him. He was an old soul in a cat body. And he was so loved.

One of the greatest things we witnessed through all the years that O’Malley shared with us, is how he made people feel. O’Malley had the greatest ability to connect deeply and embed himself deep within the hearts of those who chose to connect with him that way. And he had a way of letting each of them know that they were his absolute favorite person. Writing this from a Director’s chair, I can tell you that there are several people out there who know for sure that they were O’Malley’s cherished friend. His favorite. And he meant it! He was not just saying that. This was the very special gift that O’Malley had. It came from his soul, through his heart, and into the hearts of those he loved. This included veterinarians, caretakers, volunteers, and even visitors. To have felt this myself and watched him do this with others was something I have cherished about him. He had a magical way of making you feel incredibly special. And it was genuine.

In the end, his heart and lungs gave out to the disease he had kept at bay for so long. His body could no longer continue and it was time to help ease his transition. As we sat with him in those final moments, O’Malley continued to radiate that peace and love and compassion. It’s been an honor Mr. O’Malley! We say good-bye with tears but with profound gratitude for all that you brought to so many hearts.

In Memory of Izzy and Max

Two Memorials: In Memory of Izzy and Max

This has been a challenging week for all of us at Spring Farm CARES. We had two cats who passed away on the same day, just hours apart. One passing was expected as she was peacefully transitioning after 17 amazing years with us. The other was a complete shock. Normally, we would be doing two separate memorials as each of these beings was so different and brought so many different things to this farm. However, for some reason, it feels that they need to be written together so we will honor that for them.


Our beloved barn cat Izzy, age 17, peacefully left this farm and joined her littermate sister Bella in spirit. Izzy and Bella came here at just a few weeks old. They were born on a farm and it just so happened that we were looking for the right pair of barn cats for our barn. Because they already knew the ropes of barn life, we felt they were the right pair to try. However, Izzy had a severe eye infection that needed a lot of medical care and that is why the previous farm asked if we could take the two of them together. In the end, we couldn’t save Izzy’s eye and it had to be removed. But that never slowed her down a bit. Izzy and Bella were the head barn keepers for about 14 years together. We lost Bella two years ago to renal disease. Izzy insisted she’d be ok and stayed on in the barn. We had offered her a spot indoors if she wanted to retire but she was just not ready to do that. We know she missed her sister terribly. But she told Dawn that she now had to work for two of them and that is how she wanted to honor Bella most.

We watched as Izzy also started to age. She also had early signs of renal disease. Being a head barn cat is not an easy job. It’s a huge responsibility. Izzy and Bella did their jobs extraordinarily well. Many visitors to the farm hold incredibly warm memories of one or both of them as they showed visitors around the barn and made sure everyone was accounted for. Two years ago, our barn was visited by a mink who was determined to get our ducks, chickens, and goose. We had to evacuate the fowl from the barn until we could capture and relocate this mink who thought he found his free meal ticket. Izzy went inside. At first, she was not so thrilled with the idea. She’d sit in the window looking out over the farm and we could all feel how badly she wanted to get back to work. But the nights were getting cold and she ended up inside for a couple of weeks before the mink was caught and relocated. By then, Izzy decided that maybe it indeed was ok to retire and have a different life. She lived in our Library where we also hosted workshops and she still got to greet and visit with people. She loved her new life, helping in the office and sleeping in a nice soft bed in the sun.

Izzy had been slowly fading in the past couple of weeks. We knew she would be leaving us soon but she was comfortable and peaceful. Izzy passed in her favorite bed with the most amazing grace and peace and dignity. She quietly slipped away and joined Bella who we know was waiting for her. We are honored to have had Izzy with us for all these years. It was wonderful to see her enjoy every single aspect of her life. Bella was the same. They radiated joy and happiness and contentment. And what they gave to us and to so many other animals and humans over these years is more than we can even know or express.


Max left us completely unexpectedly. He was only 8 years old. While we were holding space and keeping watch over Izzy, Max was just feet away in his own area where he slept for the night.  We were shocked beyond words to go over to give him his breakfast only to find that he had passed. He gave us no indication at all that anything was wrong with him. Max had many medical issues, but nothing that seemed remotely indicative that he was ill at all. Max left without explanation or any way to say good-bye. But that was so like Max. He wouldn’t have wanted his special people to be sad. Yet, sad we are. Heartbroken for our loss, even though we know he is ok. Because of Max’s medical situation, there are numerous ways his life could have gotten difficult. He had been through a lot already. But Max was filled with life and with joy.

Some of you may remember when we featured stories of Max in the past year. He came to us in 2016 after he was hit by a car and lost the use of his bowel and bladder. We spent years expressing his bladder for him until one day something stopped working in his bladder altogether and we could no longer manually express it for him. Right there would have been the end of the line for Max. But his journey continued on with him riding each wave with joy. Thanks to our own on-staff veterinarian and Max’s best friend Dr. Christine, we found alternative options to help him. Many may have considered it radical and for many cats we would have too and would have never done it. But Max was clearly all in. He was amazing. A medical apparatus was surgically installed into his bladder that emptied out through an external port in his abdomen where we could attach a syringe and empty his bladder three times a day. Max took to this port very well. And his life improved dramatically. Max was Dr. Christine’s office mate and he adored her. We have photos and videos of him, even just in his last few days, where he was lounging on his bed on her desk and purring and kneading and clearly beyond overjoyed with his life. Max was a huge spirit. He literally filled a room when he was in it. And now, there is a huge hole in his absence. It is hard to understand from our perspective why this would happen and why now. He was at the top of his game. But for Max, when we really look at Max and understand who he is and how he moved through his life, it is actually not surprising. Max lived on his terms. He beat the odds so many times out of shear will and desire to be here. Max was also impulsive at times, bolting out a door when he knew he wasn’t supposed to. Leaving people exasperatingly shouting “ugh, Max got out again!” I think he loved to watch us scrambling after him. It was the game, the joy, the challenge. It was Max simply being Max. So when he bolted out that final door, he left us all scrambling. Trying to make sense of something we can’t make sense of. Yet, knowing in our hearts, that Max was simply being Max. Grateful for all we gave him. Grateful for every second. But now it was time to go.

We want to thank Dr. Marcus Hetzner and Dr. Paul Bookbinder for not just their surgical skills but for their willingness to step outside the box for Max. What you gave him by being brave enough to do so made a whole world of difference to one cat and you have a debt of gratitude from everyone who loved that one big soul in a gorgeous cat body.

Oh, and one last thing Max…. since you bolted out another door…. We will say what we always used to say to you when you did that.

Max, you’d better get back here!

Memorial to Belle

Today, Christmas Eve, we said good-bye to a most beautiful soul who graced this farm for nearly 30 years. Belle was a Morgan Horse mare who came here in 1993 at just three years old. She was a determined youngster who made it clear to many who tried working with her that she was not here to be ridden or trained. Belle was here to do her own thing. Spring Farm CARES was approached to give her sanctuary where she could do just that and where she’d be guaranteed a place to live out her days. Otherwise, she was destined to be euthanized because her free spirit just did not fit into a life of servitude to humans (and that is just how she looked at it.)

Belle ended up living with three other horses here where they shared a small barn/run-in shed and the run of a huge hillside pasture overlooking the entire farm. The four of them all grew old together in harmony with the farm and living the life they craftily had created for themselves. In many ways, they lived the best life, living the life the way a horse was intended to live. And they thrived together. One by one, over the past 5 years, Belle watched them all leave as time took it’s natural course. She was the last of that amazing little herd. And she also was the last of our original horses. Her passing truly marks the end of an era of this farm.

Belle would not be thrilled that I’ve written this much about her already. One sentence would suffice for her. Something like: “She arrived, lived, dreamed, connected and now she has left.” Yes, that is what Belle wanted me to say. But I need to share something more. Sorry Belle.

Belle being bathed by her caretakers in June 2021

Belle not only came and lived her life here, but she also gave a lot to this farm. She held a space. You see, Belle was not very handleable and that is how she wanted it. She wanted to experience living free and having things done “with” her but not “to” her. She participated when she chose to. Over the years, Belle chose specific people and situations to interact with. Sometimes they were her caretakers, sometimes students who came for workshops and left here with amazing heart connections with Belle. Sometimes it was her veterinarian when she needed help, or her beloved farrier who worked with her so incredibly patiently when in her final couple of years she really needed special help with her feet. Everyone who was chosen by Belle knows who they are. And we thank you for seeing her for who she was and not trying to make her who she never wanted to be. She was a free spirit and she lived her life that way here on this farm and left the same way.

As co-founder of SFC, I have known Belle since she stepped off the trailer here in 1993. We went through a lot together. Her little barn/pasture where she lived with her herd is right outside my window for the past 25 years. To wake up this morning and not see her standing there was painful. She was the first thing I looked for each morning. She also was known to come over to the fence closest to our yard when we had our dogs out late at night in the dark. I could hear the occasional gentle nicker or snort to let us know she was right there. Deep connection and relationship isn’t always about touching or owning anything. Belle taught me how to be together in the deepest sense. It wasn’t always an easy lesson for me to learn with her. But she was an amazing teacher.

Each time one of Belle’s pasture mates has died, she has done the same thing. We find her standing at alert staring up the hill to the big pasture where they once ran together and galloped in their younger days. In their elder years they could no longer do the big hill and had a smaller pasture that was easier on old bones. But as each of her friends passed, she would stand staring at high alert for hours just looking up the hill. When her last buddy Viva passed two years ago, we were worried for Belle as to how she would do by herself. For two days, she stood looking up that hill as if she were watching something moving.

“What are you looking at?” I asked her.

“Can’t you see them?” she replied. “They are all there. They are still all there.”

Chills ran down my spine. The ghost brigade. Her herd was letting her know she was not alone at all.

We brought up another mare to occupy the other part of her little barn so she wasn’t alone. Whisper was also kind of a loner but the two mares could visit over the stall door between them and they could visit over the fence of their pasture. And each morning and evening from our window, we’d watch the two mares stand where they could see one another. It reminded us of coffee time. They’d just stand and enjoy each other’s company.

Belle’s condition deteriorated more rapidly than we anticipated. She had a cancer that started filling her lungs. She didn’t respond to drugs to ease her breathing. She totally let us try to help her but nothing we had to offer brought her any peace. We knew it was time for our free spirit to fly free and join her herd. For the past two days, she spent a lot of time just staring up that hill and watching. I had a feeling they were here to get her and take her home. She knew something that we hadn’t yet discovered. Her time here with us was drawing to a close.

As we led her out of her barn one last time, Whisper gave her that soft nicker that mare friends give one another. She said good-bye and let Belle know she was there. Belle left this world facing up that hill, where she knew her friends were waiting and they could be reunited once again.

Fly free Belle. Say hello to all the others for us. And we will be watching for you all up there on that hill, lovingly standing watch over this farm forever.

Memorial to Flora

Flora – July 29, 2021

Today we lost our dear elderly goat Flora. Flora was 13 years old. She came to the farm at only a few months old with her mother Sage, her sister Fauna, and another young buck named Chip. Their lives didn’t start off well at all and they suffered a lot of trauma before landing here at Spring Farm CARES. Flora was not too sure of people for a long time. But, one by one, she lost her family until she was the sole survivor of their group. We could tell how much Flora really missed them. We paired her up with a sheep named Mary and the two of them became great friends. Mary was by her side when she passed. Flora blossomed in the last couple of years. In 2019 we thought we were going to lose her as she became ill and very frail. But she got a second wind and suddenly began interacting with her human friends more. She regained her health in an amazing way and enjoyed the last couple of years welcoming two new boy goats to her family and thriving with Mary sheep as well. We recently became aware of a medical problem that couldn’t be fixed for Flora and we knew she’d be leaving us soon. Although we are sad to say good-bye, we know that there was a group of her goat family ready to welcome her home. And the thought of that reunion makes us smile for Flora. She grew a lot in this lifetime and we are honored to have provided her with the space to live a life that was safe and secure and where she could find the growth that she needed for herself. Say hello to everyone for us Flora!

Fauna, Sage, Flora in 2009






In Memory of Laney

In Memory of Laney – April 2, 2021

It is with very heavy hearts that we have to announce the passing of our dear sweet Laney. For those of you who have been following her story, you know that she had been through a lot. Although she only graced this world for 14 weeks, she left a mark on a lot of hearts and on our organization as a whole. Laney represented everything about the SFC mission. Saying good-bye was so incredibly difficult. Her light shined bright and filled our world with her grace. The truth is that no amount of time would have felt like enough. But we also know that we gave her the very best that could be offered while she was here.

Laney was born without a rectum, a condition called Atresia Ani Type 3. She came to us when she was 7 weeks old and she weighed less than a pound. She was extremely tiny. The only hope she had for survival was a surgery where they would create a connection from colon to anus. But Laney also had other complications. We do not know if it was part of a birth defect or the result of an injury but when she came to us, she could not use her back legs properly. But it was clear from day one that Laney was full of life and not ready to leave this world quite yet. So, we set out to try and help her.

Surgery was done at Cornell University of Veterinary Medicine by Dr. Daniel Lopez. It was an extremely difficult surgery with an uncertain outcome. The only certainty was that an entire team of humans all gathered and focused their hearts and their skills on one little one pound kitten with a huge spirit. Surgery was a success. She not only survived, but she came home the day after and began to eat solid food for the first time in her life. She was not out of the woods by any means. Each day she crossed another hurdle. Two weeks into recovery, she even started to use her back legs and we saw great hope that she would also be able to walk again. We sat and watched her one evening, walk normally for several minutes. She played, chased toys, and she loved her meals served to her every few hours even through the middle of the night. More than anything, she fully understood how much she was loved.

Laney got to experience life in those few weeks in all of its blessings and exuberance. She was a calico and she had the calico spunk and attitude. Meaning when things didn’t go exactly her way, she was not shy to express herself.  In turn, she brought all of us great joy as we watched her heal and blossom. Her little body could barely contain the light within her. She would look us in the eyes intently and hold our gaze. It felt magical somehow.

In the past couple of days, suddenly things changed. While she had started to pass stool and things seemed to be progressing nicely, the reality was that she wasn’t passing enough. Sadly, more testing showed that her colon did not have the motility needed to move stool on through. Medication therapy was not successful. Her tiny little body wasn’t growing because she could not assimilate nutrients as she should have. We were losing her, and it became clear that there was nothing more we could do to fix this problem.

It is always our mission to listen to each animal for what they need and to understand when they’ve had enough. We had reached that sometimes fine but clear line of when we were doing something for her and when we’d be doing something to her just because we could. These are always very tough discussions here. But we listen to the animal and let them guide us. Laney was filled with love. She was overflowing with joy. She had also done all that she could in that body. No one ever wants to think it’s over when life barely began for her. But her journey in this body was finished. We put our heartbreak aside and we held her with love and gratitude in our hearts for all that she had brought to all of us. The team of people that rallied around her and loved her is huge. One big circle of cheerleaders who wanted nothing more than to see her grow up and even to face her opinionated side as we went along. But that was not her journey. The outcome didn’t look like we wanted it to look. But in the end, Laney’s courageous journey was a complete success. She found amazing love in this life. Short, but chocked full of total love focused completely on her day and night.

Yes, our hearts are breaking. But we can look at her photo and see those eyes and our hearts still fill with the mighty bright light that filled her every cell. We do not regret one decision we made with her on this journey. We do wish it could have been longer. And we all hope our paths will cross again.

There are so many people who we thank for all they gave and did for Laney. From the entire medical team at Cornell University, to every one of her caretakers here at SFC. And with special mention to our Co-Founder, Bonnie who got up with Laney through the night every single night since Laney arrived to be sure that she was fed and cleaned and loved around the clock, and to our own staff veterinarian and Director of Animal Welfare, Dr. Christine who put her entire heart and soul into Laney’s care.

We hold you in our hearts forever Laney. And we are grateful for all you brought to us.

Memorial for Mack

Mack – October 31, 2020

This memorial is difficult to write because there is so much to say. Today, we said good-bye to the last of our SFC dogs, Mack. Mack was a giant of a spirit. He was estimated to be at least 15 years old and he was with us for the past 12 years. Border Collies are dogs with special missions in life and Mack was no exception. So, if this memorial gets long, it is because his story is worthy of telling, and his life and the hearts he touched are immeasurable.

Mack was a complex dog. There was nothing easy or simple about him or his care. Yet, it is nearly a miracle that he lived and thrived with us for the past 12 years, given the complexity of his medical/health issues. And to be able to say that Mack literally died as a result of aging is an awesome accomplishment, on his part and on ours.

Mack did not live the normal life of a border collie. He was brought to our good friends at Glen Highland Farm Border Collie Rescue after he had been found running lost in the Adirondacks. Locals there said he had been seen for at least 6 months, but no one could catch him. Yet, the day he saw a car pull over near to where he was running, Mack understood intuitively that his ride was here to get him. A volunteer for the rescue was driving by and saw him and thought he looked lost. And after 6 months of running away from everyone, he decided to run to them. But Mack had great injuries from his life in the wilderness. Most likely hit by a car at one point, he had been rendered unable to use his back legs by the looks of the scars on his feet where he had been dragging them behind him for some time. But the fact was that he had a spinal fracture just at the base of his tail, and although he had use of his legs when found, he was totally bowel and bladder incontinent.

Mack was not a prospect for adoption. So, he came to live here at Spring Farm CARES. Thus embarked a 12 year career in teaching and touching hearts. Mack was strong willed. He was a true border collie in every way. He ran the show. In fact, to this day, our entire farm operation was based on Mack’s schedule. When the tractors could be driven, or the goats turned out, or when and where people were free to walk around where it wouldn’t interfere with Mack’s schedule. The whole farm ran on Mack time. Today, it is hitting all of us, just how much that was true.

Mack alerted us to every visitor. Some saw him as an annoying barking dog. Those people never saw Mack for who he was. And then, there were those, who truly understood this magnificent being with all of his interesting games in life. Mack’s mind never stopped. Because of his incontinence, he lived in a kennel that was set up in the main hall where he could have privacy yet be a part of everything. Because he insisted on being a part of it all. And he was. He had a beautiful dog yard where he could run free and play ball and frisbee and do all of the normal active things a young athletic border collie liked to do. From his yard, he could herd the tractor as it went by. He liked to herd the ducks out on walks. He was the man in charge.

And then, there were the people. HIS people. While many humans found Mack to be extremely difficult – and make no mistake he could be – there was a method to Mack’s entire being that took us a while to understand. But we finally did and we learned to move with Mack’s direction. In other words, he herded all of us too. You see, Mack picked his caretakers himself. There have been many animal caretakers here in the past 12 years. But only a select few became “Mack Walkers.” These were the people who Mack himself chose. It didn’t matter how much dog experience or lack of dog experience you had. We quickly learned that unless he was the one who chose them, he would not let anyone handle him or walk him. The Mack Walkers are like an exclusive club. And while they were all helping care for Mack, he was the one who actually was looking over them. Because Mack chose people not based on their work experience but based upon what he thought he could give to each of them. And while they took care of him, he was taking care of them.

There is no way we could list all of the Mack Walkers over the past 12 years and not be afraid we’d miss someone’s name. But many of you still follow us on the website and social media and are reading this now – you know who you are. On behalf of Mack, we thank each of you for all you gave to him. And we hope you treasure the gifts he left with each of you.

The silence in our big hall is deafening this morning. No border collie barking to let us know he’s there. He wasn’t there for his morning walk around with Bonnie as she did the early morning chores as they did together for 12 years. He wasn’t there to greet the staff as they arrived. But there is not a single one of us who couldn’t still feel him today in our hearts. His reach was massive. His mission was huge. His life was so well lived. Many looked at Mack and felt sorry for him that he lived in a kennel. But, none of us ever referred to that pen as a kennel. It was always called “Mack’s House.” And that is what it was. It was his safe place. His home. And his base of operations for all the work that he did. His happiness and contentment were palpable.

We knew he was failing these past few weeks. At 15, it was getting harder for him to get up and harder for him to walk. We all knew the time was coming to set him free. And all of us agonized over that pending day. This dog was so well loved. Deeply. Completely. Whole heartedly. And it was that love that helped guide us to listen to him one last time. Because it was clear that morning that Mack was tired. He was spent. He had eeked every ounce out of that body that he could have. But now, he needed to stand down and take a well-deserved rest. Mission accomplished. Job amazingly well done. What an amazing run. What an amazing spirit.

None of us wanted to say good-bye, but we all knew it was time. The light suddenly dimmed in his eyes. And it was our turn now to help him.

That’ll do Mack. That’ll do.

And with that, Mack ran free. Our hearts are breaking yet they are also filled with love and great memories. One border collie on a mission helped us to find our mission again too. And for that, we owe him a huge debt of gratitude.

We would like to give thanks to the three current Mack Walkers who we know have very heavy hearts right now. Thank you, Stephanie, Jordan, and Kellie. And to all of the current animal caretakers who were also touched by Mack and who loved him equally as much.

And from the Directors, Bonnie, Dawn, Margot, and Peggy….. thank you Mack. Thank you for all of it. And you know what we mean.

Memorial – James Bond – “JB”

James Bond – “JB”

Today we feel the shock of an enormous and unexpected loss, leaving us with the reminder of how fragile life can be, how precious each moment is, and why we are here. James Bond, lovingly known as JB, came to us in June of this year. We didn’t have him with us for long, but he instantly became a piece of all of our hearts and the soul of this farm. JB was a gentle giant. A 24-year-old Saddlebred gelding who was dearly loved his whole life and who simply came to retire with us and spend the rest of his days here. He did just that but we expected him to be with us for at least 10 years. JB lived with one person for 22 years and he was very grateful for his time with her. We only got to share the last 3 months of his life but we are all the richer for knowing him.

JB had a heart of gold. He was incredibly sweet and gentle and loving. He was kind to humans as well as fellow horses. He had just bonded with his new herd with Kernel and Cammie and was in the process of welcoming a new addition who just arrived in the past two days. He was dignified and graceful. He was careful and thoughtful of where his body was at all times. He fit in here instantly. There isn’t a person here who wasn’t smitten by his loving nature and gentle soul. He leaves behind what feels like a big hole right now, but in reality, he gave us all an incredible gift. For as much as it hurts to say good-bye, we are all the richer for having the opportunity to love him.

Today, JB spent a beautiful day out in his pasture with his two buddies. You couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. Sunny and cool and few flies to contend with. He grazed contentedly and thoroughly enjoyed his day. When we went to bring him in, he suddenly just laid down. But he got up again and was led back to his stall. But when he got in, he collapsed. Our veterinarian was only 10 minutes away. But it appears a valve in his heart may have ruptured or some other coronary event happened. He left us just a few short minutes later, leaving us all stunned.

Tonight, the horses in the barn are very somber. They hold his memory in their hearts. A huge part of their herd has departed. All of them held sacred space for him.

Life can seem so chaotic and challenging. Please take a moment, in honor of a heart who loved beyond the greatest capacity, to be thankful for the loved ones in your life. Let’s not forget what matters most to each of us. Let’s not forget to be kind when we can show kindness, to show love when we can, and to hold a space in this world for change and hope. That is what JB did. And now we must continue on as he would have hoped we would.

The End of an Era – Memorial to Ember


Ember – May 27, 2020

Today marks the end of an era at Spring Farm CARES. Today, we said good-bye to Ember who is the last remaining horse of our original herd. Ember was born here on the farm before we were actually an animal sanctuary. As a Thoroughbred, she was bred to be a race horse. But as fate had it, Ember and four other foals, pointed us in a different direction. Ember was not destined to be a race horse. But she ended up instead, living a life that most horses never get to have. Ember was not really a people horse. While she was friendly and kind and such, she was just not into working with people.

Ember was all about her horse herd. She was a horse’s horse. She was devoted to each and every one of her horse friends. It has been particularly sad to watch over the past 29 years as one by one she slowly lost every single one of them. While we have always had a barn full of horses, Ember really never truly bonded with anyone else outside of her herd.

While today is marked with sadness for the Founders who have watched the entire generation of founding horses leave, it is also filled with joy for Ember who got to be reunited with her herd once again. She lived a good life. She never left this farm until a few months ago when she got on a trailer for the first time in her life to go to a veterinary clinic where she had to have an eye removed due to a melanoma. It turned out the melanomas had spread all inside her head. Life became unbearable with headaches and blindness and Ember could no longer find comfort in her world. So, today, we set her free.

Spring Farm CARES has been guided, loved, and moved deeper into our mission by each and every one of the animals who have resided on this farm over the years. There have been about 120 horses who have lived and died here in the past almost 30 years. They have left their mark on all of our hearts.

Bonnie and Dawn watched Ember be born into this world, and today we stood with her as she left – the circle complete. Life is a precious thing and it goes by in such a blink of an eye. We hold these animals in our lives and say they belong to us. But, in reality, we are only borrowing them for a short time. They grace us with their gifts. They teach us and walk together with us on our journey. And then the time comes at the end of the day when we can no longer keep them in our possession. They must go back to their bigger journey, onward into Spirit from whence they came to be with us.  They remain in our hearts for always. And we are all the richer for having shared this brief time with them.

Ember got to go home today to her herd. We know how excited she was to leave a body that no longer was comfortable to live in. She was met by the herd who came running to get her as they always did when she left the barn. There was bucking and kicking and running and racing. And we’re sure now that we are being watched over by a most amazing ghost brigade of animals.

As the best tribute I could think of to Ember, I wanted to include what was indeed the most important part of her life. Below are the photos of the herd she called her own. May they all rejoice together now and enjoy the freedom they always have shared. Fly free dear Ember. Welcome back home.

Memorial to Horse Henry

Henry – May 23, 2020

Today our hearts are heavy as we said good-bye to our beloved horse friend Henry. Henry was estimated to be about 28-30 years old and he came to the farm in 2017 from a horse rescue who realized that Henry needed a sanctuary to retire and spend the rest of his days. We are honored to have been the place for Henry to take a much needed rest from a life we suspect was fairly difficult for him.

Henry was a horse who was very understated by his own doing. He preferred to blend into the background. But Henry was the epitome of a horse.  He was deep and grounded and had a heart the size of a mountain. Spending time with Henry, even for a short time, you could get the sense that there was something much deeper in there than he let on to. He was a horse who survived on common sense. He was solid. But he was like a gentle whisper in the background. You wanted to hear all he had to say, but you had to listen through all the other sounds around him to hear him and learn about who he was. You could best learn about Henry by how he made you feel inside when you were around him. Somehow, he brought comfort and peace and a sense that things are ok even when you are not so sure why they would be ok.

Henry was loving and gentle, yet there was a part of himself he guarded deeply and kept in reserve. If you stood with him quietly, you could feel that otherwise hidden part of him and he would fill you with the gratitude he carried for having helped him. Henry had endured great pain in his life. His physical body bore the scars as evidence, yet his heart still remained open to kindness. He had a little flame inside of him that gently flickered from deep within and periodically you could see that light shine out of his eyes with joy and appreciation when he let that protective guard down.

Henry was a soul who came here to find freedom from something he carried inside that burdened him. We watched him slowly and very carefully unfold like a delicate flower opening after a hard winter and growing stronger and stronger with the warmth of spring. He got to unwind, relax, take a breath, and set his heavy load down. It was as if he grew deeper roots from his feet as he healed and gained trust in who he really was.

Henry had many medical issues since he came to us. None of them were ever truly definitive and yet we knew that as a package they were symptoms of something much deeper going on in his body. In the past couple of weeks, diagnostic imaging showed us signs of major trauma earlier in his life. We have no clue about Henry’s history, but we do know that he carried a lot and never let on to the depth of what he went through. Henry just picked up and moved on.

Today, Henry’s body gave out in a way that we could no longer help him to stay. It was time to say good-bye. He understood. We understood. In his final minutes, we could see him take stock of where he was and how far he had come. He could let go now. A job well done. A life well lived. And loved. Armed with all of that, Henry did what Henry knew best how to do. He went deep into his heart, took a breath, and moved on.

Henry was the seeing-eye companion for our pony Molly. He is now the fourth friend that she has lost and our hearts go out to her. Henry was a perfect friend. He was solid and steadfast but he also could hold his ground with a pony mare who sometimes likes things just so in her own way.

We would like to thank Dr. Rachel Fraser for the outstanding medical care over the past three years and for keeping up with all that Henry presented to us in very strange ways. He made sure Dr. Rachel never got bored. And we also thank Dr. Christine Schneider who helped Henry with acupuncture and laser therapy treatments and enjoyed Henry’s unique character. Thank you, Dr. Christine, for making his final days more comfortable.

Fly free dear Henry. It’s your time now to be free.

Memorial Tribute – Lindy

Lindy – December 18, 2019

Today we had to say good-bye to our wonderful goat Lindy. Lindy had been with us since 2008 when she came with several other goats who were being sent to slaughter as they were being “liquidated” from a petting zoo. All of them lived out their lives here with us. Lindy was the last survivor of that group. Over the past few months, Lindy had been diagnosed with a mass in her bladder. She immediately received hospice care as we knew the placement of the mass unfortunately made it inoperable. Drugs helped reduce the obstruction temporarily and pain meds kept her comfortable. But the mass eventually grew to the point where Lindy could no longer urinate and we knew we had to let her go. Her last day here was spent enjoying all of her favorite treats from peppermints to Twinkies.  She was pampered and doted on by her caretakers. Our hearts go out to Lindy’s goat companion Flora who misses her very much.

We think it appropriate to let Lindy speak for herself in her memorial. Just days ago, Lindy was featured in our Animal Message of the Day, a tradition we do from Thanksgiving thru New Years Day. We ask the animals what they are grateful for in their lives. Lindy’s quote says it all.

From Lindy: “One of the things I have learned most in my life is to never take life for granted. My life was deemed over before I came here. Not by me, but by others. I am here because humans allow me to be alive. But in my home here, I am not only alive but I am loved for who I am. My fondest wish came true and here I am. This year, I nearly died again. But this time, it was because something went wrong in my body. However, I wasn’t ready to go yet and my human friends saw that and they stepped in and helped. And once again, here I am. I am grateful to have the space to be me because being me was what I came here to do.”

Mission accomplished Lindy. You were the most spectacular you that you could be. We miss you and hold you in our hearts always.

Memorial Tribute – Meloudee

Meloudee – December 10, 2019

On December 10th, we said an unexpected good-bye to a horse who was born on this farm 28 years ago. Meloudee only knew one farm as his home for his entire life. Our loss is huge. His story needs to be told because Meloudee stood for all this farm is about. In fact, he is one of the founding horses who helped shape the mission and birth of Spring Farm CARES. There is only one more of those original horses left.

Meloudee was a magnificent Arab gelding. He was stubborn. He was strong. And he thought he was invincible. But Meloudee’s story is not about his royal Arab blood lines. Nor is it about show ribbons or trophies or titles. Meloudee’s story is about character and humility and growth – both of his own and for what he taught all of us around him.

Meloudee was misunderstood and mislabeled for most of his life. He was mostly seen as difficult and obstinate, or even called “crazy”. Granted, he could be all of those things, but he landed there because he wasn’t really being heard or understood. For most of his life he was content to be in the background and just hang out with his brother TLC. The two of them were extremely bonded. They spent their entire lives together until TLC died very unexpectedly earlier this year.

But in the past two years, something amazing changed for Meloudee and his life took a different turn. Cushing’s Disease led to chronic foot problems which required special trimming and shoeing and nursing care. His human caretaking team stepped in and began working with him differently. They began working with him and not against him. They began teaching him new ways instead of forcing things on him. He developed a new kind of trust. He started to understand things in a different way and Meloudee blossomed before our eyes. It took a lot of work and consistency and people working together as a team. He taught us so much and he learned a lot himself. For the past year, Meloudee could be handled and led and medicated and treated by his entire human care team. They developed a relationship that was quite deep. Meloudee was doing very well.

So the shock came at the end of the day, while he was standing in his stall calmly eating one second and then on the ground in pain the next. Meloudee was very stoic. So to see him in this extreme pain, we knew something terrible had happened. We knew he had reached the end and we had to say good-bye. Nothing prepares us for that moment. No matter how many times we go through this, it is always hard.

Meloudee and brother TLC

We are comforted by the fact that Meloudee’s life was so well lived. He grew in ways that was profound for his soul. The little Arab gelding who often stayed in the background taught us all more than we can even express. His story is also about the humans who made this all possible. The people who cared for him day and night and who enriched his life beyond measure. We thank Robin for heading up the team and for her patience and compassion in working with him in the way that opened doors and changed his life dramatically. And we thank his caretakers, Taylor, Cate, and Rachel. And his professional care team, his veterinarian Dr. Rachel and his farrier Loren.

Memorial – Frankie

Frankie – October 9, 2019


Tonight, we were shocked by the loss of one of our younger residents. Frankie was born in 2009 and came to the farm in 2016. He was already blind when he arrived here and came to our sanctuary to live out his days. Although his time with us was much shorter than expected, we know that Frankie felt safe with us and was loved and adored by all of us.

Frankie was a pony with lots of personality and spunk. It is indeed what gave him great strength. This afternoon he suddenly had a colic episode. At first, we thought it was something mild, but as the hours went on, he did not respond to treatment. With our veterinarians we tried for several hours to pull him through, but it was not to be. The only help left to give him was to release him from the body that could no longer heal.

For those of you who may not know, Spring Farm CARES is co-founded by professional animal communicator Dawn Hayman.  We think it is fitting to let Frankie’s message to Dawn speak for itself. Because in the end, Frankie let us know that although we feel his life was cut short, he feels differently about that.

“I don’t want you all feeling sad for me now. It was time for me to go. When I lost my eyesight, my world drastically changed and became very challenging. Although you made my world safe for me, it became a world with too many limitations and my desire for running free became stronger than my will to stay. I was grateful for all that you did. But when my darkness began to dim my inner light, I knew I had done enough in this lifetime. Do not be sad for me. I lived to the fullest in this little pony body. But life became more questions than answers and I needed to find the answers somewhere else. Thank you for understanding and letting me go on. To be able to find the joy of running free again was delightful. I’m not afraid of moving forward anymore. Your love gave me strength and hope and I now carry that with me always. I’ve now graduated on to something so much bigger. You gave me the best of all you could and I’ve taken every ounce of that with me. I am grateful to call your hearts my home. And with that, I shall gallop off, no longer a prisoner to darkness, and running fully into the light.”

Happy journey Frankie. Thank you for all you taught us and for touching all of our hearts.

Memorial – Chance

Chance – 1995 – August 13, 2019

Today we unexpectedly said good-bye to Chance. Animals come to our sanctuary from various situations and for various reasons, some come to stay for many years and some for just a short time. Chance had only been here since November 2018.  He came here to live out his days as he was not doing well in the herd where he had been living. He arrived here thin and very difficult to put weight on. But over the past several months, Chance thrived here. He became the picture of health. So, today, we didn’t expect that we’d be having to make the decision to help him out of a body that suddenly failed.  While it was a shock to us, it actually was in keeping with how Chance wanted things to go. He didn’t want a big fuss made over him and he wouldn’t have been a fan of lots of nursing care.

Chance was his own man. He did things his way and had things the way he wanted them. We kept trying to buddy him up with several of our other horses but he wanted no part in that. He just really didn’t care for other horses. He liked being in a barn full of horses and clearly got comfort from that. But any kind of one on one activities with another horse was clearly not his thing. When we’d turn him out in our arena to walk around, he would cause trouble with each and every horse he could over their stall doors. He took a certain delight in doing that. There was this quiet side to Chance but he liked to stir up a little trouble when he could. Otherwise, he was a very nice horse and was good with people.

Chance suddenly had a colic this morning that at first seemed rather benign. We called our veterinarian anyway because Chance also had a cardiac issue and we wanted to be sure he was ok. But Chance actually was hiding from us the severity of what was happening inside of his body. He had a twisted gut and we couldn’t do anything to help him other than to help him out of his body. Moments before we said good-bye, Chance took one more walk around the arena to cause a little trouble with all of the horses just one last time.

We are blessed to have had the opportunity to know and love this one of a kind horse, even though it was for a short time. Chance needed a safe place to live out his final days and he found just that in our sanctuary. He made sure life was just the way he liked it and we are honored to have given him that final opportunity in his last months.

I’m sure as he passed into Spirit that things lined up for him just the way he wanted them to be. He left his body as quietly and unassumingly as he did when he walked in our door. While sad to see him go, we were honored to have given him a place to call his own.

Happy trails Chance.

Memorial – Viva

Today is a milestone in the history of Spring Farm CARES. Today we said good-bye to Viva, the horse responsible for starting this all. Viva was born March 20, 1985 after co-founder Bonnie bought her very first horse, Kazinka, only to find out later that she was pregnant. Viva arrived 3 weeks late as Bonnie slept beside Kazinka in the barn in sub-zero weather awaiting his arrival. His birth changed the course of Bonnie’s life and planted the seed that became Spring Farm CARES. Viva and Dawn arrived at the farm exactly at the same time. Destiny brought all of the ingredients together, and 34 years later it is amazing to see where we are and who we’ve become. And one stubborn, obstinate magnificent horse set the course and loved this farm as much as anyone ever could.

Viva lived his whole life here on this farm. He was loved since the day he was born. And he lived a life that very few horses get to live. By all accounts, Viva should have died two years ago when we discovered that he had a huge mass in his abdomen. He later had other medical complications on top of that. But, he made it clear it was not his time to go. He pulled through enormous odds and kept on trucking. Each winter, we thought it would be his last. But he lived for spring and the hope of green grass. In the end, it was his legs that gave out. He squeezed every ounce of usefulness out of the body he was born into.

It was clear that Viva never actually really wanted to go. He loved his life and this farm with all his heart and soul. From the hilltop on which he resided for the past 34 years, he could look over the entire farm. He watched enormous changes and growth over the years. He was proud of what we have become. He felt he was a part of it all and indeed he was.

Viva lived with three mares for over 20 years. Two of them, Story and Harriett, both passed in the last few years. That left Viva and Belle as the last of the hilltop herd. Sadly, Belle now finds herself the sole survivor. Our hearts ache for Belle today as she said good-bye to her last companion, the pesky gelding who the mares constantly had to keep in line, but who was her friend and companion nonetheless.

Just after Viva was euthanized, Belle came close to pay her last respects. As she fully understood that he was gone, she suddenly spun around and looked up the hill to the pasture on the hilltop. Ears perked, nostrils flaring, and watching with wonder at something we couldn’t see. It was then that we realized, the ghost herd had come to pick him up. She knew they were there. She could feel them. Belle herself is not in good health. We will find a new buddy to join her on the hillside. We know it won’t be the same. And we also know that Viva and friends will be watching over her, and the entire farm that he helped create.

He told Dawn before he left, “Look, it’s gonna have to be up to you now to carry this forward. Don’t drop the ball now. My energy will still be here forever with you. But don’t mess this up.”  No pressure there. The dream will continue. The mission will move on. And the stubborn gelding that always from day one did things in his own way on his own time, will always be a part of the very heart of this mission.

Memorial – TLC

TLCToday, most unexpectedly, we lost one of our beloved horse friends. TLC was born here on the farm in 1991, before Spring Farm CARES was officially founded. We consider him one of our founding horses. It is always hard to say good-bye, but to have him with us for all of his 28 years was an honor. He watched SFC be birthed and he knew he was a part of that process.

TLC or “T” as he was most often called was not an easy horse. But he was a horse who taught us much and who was a favorite among many of his caretakers over the years. TLC spent his whole life with another gelding named Meloudee. They were born just a couple of weeks apart and spent their time playing as foals together and were stall neighbors and pasture mates their entire life. Meloudee has had many health problems and TLC always stuck by his side. Any time that TLC had any issues or concerns, Meloudee stood watch over him. They were half-brothers by breeding and best friends without question. The two of them lived in their own little world together. In the pasture they would go off together from the rest of the herd and do their own thing. They stayed out of trouble that way. But they also didn’t really connect with people all that much. They weren’t mean or nasty. But they had no particular interest in buddying up with people either.

In the past couple of years, both of them started allowing themselves to work more with their caretakers. And both of them became more connected and participated more with grooming and handling. As a result, they developed stronger and more meaningful relationships with their human friends. It was great to watch them grow and expand their worlds.

Our hearts go out to Meloudee today who lost his best friend and herd mate. We understand that no one can replace the love he had for TLC. As TLC took suddenly ill this morning, Meloudee stood in his stall with his head hanging over to his friend trying to let him know he was there. TLC had a twisted intestine and nothing more could be done for him. He was not a surgical candidate for many reasons.

TLC was not one for mushiness. He was generally more reserved and matter of fact. But he was also very grateful for his life here at SFC and for the love he received from his caretakers. And mostly, he would like to thank his friend Meloudee for all the years of friendship and companionship. He will run ahead now, but he will wait for his friend to one day join him and once again they will run off through the fields and do their own thing – together.

Rest easy T and thank you for all you taught us and shared with us over the years. You will forever be a part of the miracle of Spring Farm CARES.

Animal Memorial – Jake

We lost our beloved dog Jake on November 1st. We write memorials for our animals to share with you, not the sadness of our loss, but the celebration of their lives.

Today ended a nearly 14-year journey with a dog who was found at 8 months old sitting on our manure pile and who came into our lives and made a tremendous impact on so many people. Jake was a lab/chow mix with the most fantastic heart. I’m not going to go into all the reasons Jake ended up spending is life here with us.  Many people would have labeled him a “problem” dog. But to us, Jake was just a dog who had a problem. And it wasn’t really a “problem” to Jake. For good reason, Jake did not like men in uniforms of any kind and he would grab and bite them whenever he could. For that reason, he could not be adopted out. But for us, it just meant being vigilant to keep him away from men in uniforms. Because with everyone else, Jake was a most kind-hearted and loving soul.

To be loved by Jake was a gift. And there are many people out there in the world who received that gift. Jake was special to all of his caretakers, and, they were special to him. He loved unconditionally. He expressed his love freely. And he had that special knack of knowing when someone needed a little more of his love and support than the normal day’s worth. For those of us who were loved by Jake, our hearts are filled today with that love and the many memories we shared over the years, but our bodies are missing the ability to reach out and touch him.

In recent months, Jake’s health started to decline. We watched him start to fade and we all knew this day was drawing near. But Jake just kept on loving. He appreciated every effort by his caretakers to make his life more comfortable. Our hearts ached to watch him slow and have trouble walking. But the light in his eyes never dimmed. The love in his heart only grew stronger. And Jake walked all of us through the process of saying good-bye.

You see, that was Jake’s message in life. It was his lesson that he taught often. He taught us that one should never close their heart to loving someone even if it means it would hurt to say good-bye. He believed that love came for a reason and when it blessed your life, it was a gift that was to be opened and not stored away or pushed aside for fear that it would one day be gone. Because Jake understood that love indeed never is wrong. And that love never dies. He understood that when two hearts connect there is a powerful force that is formed, grows, and lives eternally. Jake spent 13 years teaching us that we really never needed to say good-bye at all. And he left us knowing that it was far better to have loved and lost him then to never have loved him at all. Thank you, Jake. You touched more hearts than you will ever know. And we shall miss you.