I grew up with a horse, she was my best friend and confidant. Whenever I was feeling down, she would pick me up. When I was happy about something, she was happy with me. She had the biggest, most soulful brown eyes, a soft muzzle to lovingly touch you with and she always tolerated hugs. She was unconditional love. Her name was Doll and she was my Dad’s 4-H horse from when he was a youngster. I was fortunate that she was a mainstay on the farm, and that I had her in my young life too. Doll lived to be 34(this is ancient in horse years), Dad always said it was her easy lifestyle that kept her so young, I would agree. Unfortunately, not all horses have the luxurious life like Doll did, but there are people out there that are trying to make horse’s lives better, one horse at a time.
(Zack and Walter)
Bella Run Equine in Athens Ohio is a quiet little slice of Heaven on Earth, and Zack and Rachel Bendler along with Trisken Emmert are truly angels. After a mentor took Rachel to a slaughter sale, she set out to be an advocate and trusted voice in rescuing and rehabbing horses whose fates were grim, and horrific at best. Rachel and Zack, by using their own money, started with 1 horse, then they rescued, rehabbed and adopted out a few more, and then a few more, until they grew into the 501(c)3 non-profit organization that they currently are.
When I arrived at Bella Run, I was greeted by Zack and a few dogs(of their larger pack) that are rescues too. To say that I felt at ease is an understatement. I could tell right away that Zack, Rachel and Trisken were very kind people who are super passionate about their animals. Zack regaled me with stories about every animal that I came in contact with, and not just a brief history, he and Rachel know the back story and deep history of the majority, if not all of the horses that they rescue. Sadly, they may see horses at the kill auctions a few times, but intervene to rescue these big beauties as much as they possibly can.
(Rachel, Gandalf and Trisken-don’t overlook the cute puppy!)
Often times, in cases of neglect, authorities will reach out to Bella Run Equine asking for assistance in either rehabbing an animal, or to rescue the animals to be rehabbed and rehomed. This guy, Gandalf, was tied under a tree his whole life, he came in with his hooves all a mess and a little sad, but Rachel saw the diamond under the rough exterior, and the sweet, gentlemanly disposition he possessed. If you’d like to read about his glow-up, click HERE, it made me happy. Along with neglect and abuse, some horses suffer from people’s circumstances changing.
Zack’s man Hollywood is impressive. This horse is like the LeBron of horses, he is athletic, motivated and all in all a winner. Zack was utterly shocked when this horse came up at auction. He has an impressive pedigree and a work rate like no other. This horse loves a good challenge and is always eager to prove his worth. Watching Hollywood and Zack be of one mind was what you like to see, what you crave to see as competitors, simply awe-inspiring.
Not every horse is geared the same way, or for the same thing. At Bella Run, they heed that, and work with the horses to their strong suites, while overcoming past abuse and challenges. As I stood in the field and watched Zack working with Banjo, it was evident there was some fear. Zack knew of the abuse Banjo had endured and he was mindful of that, he spoke softly to Banjo encouraging him with words and confidence, at that moment, I saw and felt a shift. Banjo saw that the strike to his flesh was not coming, he relaxed and settled in to his routine much to his and Zack’s delight.
Zack was going about business as usual, not because I was witnessing and documenting with my camera, but because that is just how it is done at Bella Run Equine. They are undoing what others maliciously, or ignorantly have done. They are building trust and solid relationships with these animals so that they may go out and have fearless, safe, perhaps even luxurious lives.
(As with anything that is good, teamwork gets it done! Look at these beautiful, healthy horses!)
Remember how I mentioned my love for Doll(still do)? Well, my heart was galloping to a similar beat when I met Mary. She is amazing. She is so clever and smart and graceful and in tune…I heart her. This horse speaks to me. She has soul. She is intricate. Every horse has its standout characteristics, but with Mary, that is all I could see.
Zack endured me gushing over her, going on and on about how much I love her and about how amazing she is. I asked him point-blank why she hasn’t been snatched up yet, and he told me that sadly, because her tail is sparse in the hair department, people see that as a mark against her. WHAT?!? This animal is MAGNIFICENT. I am a wholly and completely biased, I won’t lie. But when you see something you know is special right in front of you, you overlook a minor detail like hair. I did message ahead to inform my husband I would be bringing a horse and dog home with me, he may have laughed at that. I might have cried because I couldn’t fit her in my car when it was time for me to come home
(Hollywood wanted a drink during his cool down with Rachel, she happily obliged!)
While I don’t have the right place for a horse, I can admit something even bigger. I don’t have the skills to have a horse as amazing as Mary. She needs to be with people who will utilize her mind, that have the same goals and desires as her, the same interests and drive. All of these horses deserve that, in their own regards. Now, if a horse needs pastured to live out its life in peace, and I ever get a place to accommodate that while knowing that I can maintain all of the horses needs, I will be first in line at Bella Run Equine asking them to match me with someone amazing like Mary(maybe in her later, retirement years).
There are things and people you believe in, and I believe in Bella Run Equine,(Rachel, Zack and Trisken) with every fiber of my body and being, my whole heart. THESE are amazing people, doing amazing work, with amazing animals and all with amazing intellect, acumen and heart. I saw horses and dogs(they have sheep too!) at every level of rehab, the way everyone is in sync and working as a unit for the betterment of each individual. It is simply inspiring. It is moving. It is love. We should all wish to be a part of something as noble as Bella Run Equine, and in our own way, we can.
To learn more about Bella Run and the outstanding people of BRE, you can follow them on their FB page, Instagram, or by visiting their web page(link at top of page). While you are at it, make a donation to this very worthwhile cause, THEY are worth it!!!