My Highway to Heaven ~Tanya Hanson

Every Tuesday afternoon I drive the highway to heaven–the country road that takes me to the horse rescue 20 miles into the hills. And I come home three hours later tired, dusty, but in love more than ever with the beautiful horses there.

You see, I’m a feeder! (Well, also a mucker–what goes in must come out LOL.)

This beautiful little corner of the world is all donation, all volunteer. Even the acres of our little ranchette were a gift. All of our horses have a story; some have experienced abuse, neglect and abandonment. Others have no place else to go when owners can’t care for them anymore. Two came as newborn foals, rescued with their mothers from a slaughterhouse. (One of the mamas has been lovingly adopted. The other mare didn’t make it, having given her all to nurse her baby.)

But here, now, they experience hope, love, compassion and care until they find a forever home or cross the Rainbow Bridge. All have a covered stall, and there’s also plenty of grass pasture for romping and exercise! There’s also two fine training arenas.

Back to feeding. Before I knew anything, I assumed one just dumped a load of “hay” in a feed trough. Not so. Each horse has a specified diet. Some have allergies; some need to gain weight, others lose it. Some need specific vitamins or medications. Each horse has his/her “menu” posted on a white board that you check first thing.

Three kinds of hay–oat, grass and alfalfa. And many different tubs of pellets, varying from alfalfa pellets (like big rabbit food) to mixtures for senior horses, healthy living, or rice bran for weight gain. My first few weeks as a feeder, I attached little post-it notes with a horse’s name onto the various buckets so I didn’t get mixed up. Now, I’ve gotten so comfy I don’t need to. Our Cheyenne gets a pellet mix that actually smells like you’re doing your Christmas baking.

And here is Chey, above, our gorgeous paint Saddlebred. When he first got here, he was so terrified of humans (especially men) that he’d run to the farthest corner of his stall when anybody approached. A few trainers deemed him “incorrigible.” But he’s gotten a lot of specialized TLC here. A few weeks ago, when a bunch of high schoolers came for a service project, he rested his head on a boy’s shoulder. I still get teary-eyed! He’s come so far.

I love Bridge’s elf ears and how about those  bangs! This handsome Arabian spent his first nine years isolated in the confines of a breeding stall! Now this beautiful boy (gelded) has assimilated to his herdmates and gets to play outside!

Jay-Jay is a real sweetheart. This glorious chestnut Thoroughbred is a former (neglected) racehorse. Well, he’s not neglected anymore!

Heart, an Egyptian Arabian, sparkles in the sun. He came to the rescue with his owner just couldn’t keep him. He’s a real social guy with a sense of humor and a terrific intelligence. He’s our Houdini and Einstein mix.

In addition to my new feeder status LOL, I also teach the once-a-month orientation class for new volunteers. And for the recent annual fundraiser picnic, I made a herd of these little guys. They went for a $10 donation each!

Well, I hope you enjoyed visiting this piece of Paradise with me today. I can’t wait for Tuesday!

How about you? Anybody have horse stories? Volunteer experiences?

Midnight Bride is already up on Amazon as e-book but will officially release in July with print copy.
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18 thoughts on “My Highway to Heaven ~Tanya Hanson”

  1. What a beautiful and inspirational story. I’m a horse lover grew up w/ them. Recently my parents adopted a horse that was being abused and starved. Her name is Pearl and she was going to die. Her owner had her and goats, he couldn’t afford to feed both so he chose to feed the goats and neglect Pearl. Just thinking about it infuriates me. But Pearl is eating and is in a safe place at my parent recovering and I’m pray she makes a full recovery. She has a heart of gold and is so loving. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

    • Tonya, your comment so warms my heart! Thank you from horse lovers everywhere. Yes, we have had some starving beauties–including a family who fell on hard times and decided it was cheaper to starve Mariah to death than find her a new home. And she was a long-time family pet?. She had many years of health and live when she came to us. I can’t even imagine such cruelty.

      I so thank you for your post today! A great start to the day.

  2. I help an animal rescue by doing online auctions. We just wrapped one up earlier this week. There are some horses in the rescue, as well as dogs, cats, reptiles and lots of birds. It does feel very rewarding being able to help out.

    • Hi Janine, yes indeed, it’s a wonderful feeling. Our rescue with our local animal shelter has seen 600 horses successfully adopted in our 16 years! We had a big fundraiser a weekend ago and had so much community support. God bless your rescue work.

    • Thanks, Susan! It’s been great for me, making new human friends too. Oh, and Chey talks to me. It is true. He has given me advice. I see myself in his eyes. Thanks for the comment today!

    • Hi Kim, indeed, it is very peaceful petting them and talking to them. I don’t ride much but have enjoyed the times I do. Thanks for posting today.

  3. What a wonderful thing you do. Thanks for telling us about it. I loved the pictures and individual horse stories.

    • Eliza, thanks for the kind words. It’s amazing, especially for a newbie around horses, how unique each horse’s personality is. We have an older boy, Jamboree, who is well-described as not the sharpest tool in the box, but he actually has a sense of humor and thinks April, one of the mares we nearly lost as a foal (she’s now about 9), is in love be with him. When she changes stalls or goes out for exercise with somebody, he really yowls. It’s a super-crazy neigh he makes!

  4. Oh what a great thing you are doing here. I think I would enjoy doing something like this. It would be hard not to get attached to the animals.

    • Hi Quilt Lady, how right you are! We both rejoice and cry when one gets adopted. Jonny, my city-boy grandson’s favorite, is going to a new home…I met his new “mom” at our fundraiser and he’s very lucky, but wow, will he be missed! Thanks so much for commenting!

  5. Lots of volunteer service, but not any that counts with horses. The only time I have helped with horses ahas when I was traveling the interstate and a horse trailer was in an accident in front of me. The trailer flipped on its side. It took some doing for the young woman to get the horses out. Luckily they didn’t appear to be injured. They handed me the reins and asked me to hold and walk them in the median. Thinking back, it was probably one of the dumber things I have done. I was afraid of horses and had no idea how to deal with them. With cars driving by at 65+mph and the horses already upset by the accident, we are lucky they didn’t bolt and get seriously injured or killed.
    They are beautiful animals and I have always loved them. I could very easily do the type of volunteering you are doing. We have raised or taken care of just about everything else. Thank you for introducing us to your charges.

  6. May I give a deep and sincere thank you to all who do this work. It is often hard to define which animal rescues are for real and not just taking the donated money and not using for it’s intended purpose. I have not checked Charity Navigator yet but I definitely will.
    I want to help these splendid beasts. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you, Whitney. It does take many dedicated volunteers to keep our rescue up and running. I am pleased to have found this wonderful charity thru our county fair.

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