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    Stories and Pictures
    Hearts4Horses has been fortunate to be a part of the lives of so many wonderful people. You may submit your story and/or photos to: stories@hearts4horses.com. Here are some stories that show how important the love of an animal can be to all of us:
    Peggy and Big JoeThe Horse That Rescued Me

    You read all the stories about these wonderful people who rescue horses, sometimes saving them from death or starvation. This is the true story of a horse that rescued me from a broken heart.

    His name is 'BIG JOE', but I just call him Joe. He is called Big Joe for a reason. Joe is huge and stands about 17 hands tall and weighs about 1700 pounds. He is 28 years old, his back is swayed and he's my best friend. Now, I was somewhat freighted of horses, because about 20 years ago, I was thrown from a horse and the horse was about to fall over on top of me, when thanks to some strong men and some quick actions, they were able to keep the horse from falling on me and crushing me. I can still see that image in my mind. Me laying on the ground and this massive horse getting ready to land on me. So after that, I have always had a fear of them but also always amazed by their beauty and grace and freedom of watching them run in an open pasture. There is something magical about them.

    In March of 2006, my husband and I moved to south Texas. We had been living in California and because of our jobs we decided to make the move back to Texas. We left behind our friends and family, and one precious little girl named Hailey who was three years old. We had taken care of Hailey since she was four months old, and even though she is not our "biological" grandchild in our heart she is. She is the center of Nana and Papa's universe. So saying goodbye was the hardest thing we have ever had to do. Then, adjusting to a new area and new home was challenging. My husband and I were so homesick, I cried every day. I thought my heart had surely broken it hurt so bad.

    My oldest granddaughter, Kelsey, came to visit us for spring break and she said "Grandma you need to get a horse. You live in Texas now; you have to have a horse." Kelsey has always loved horses and has about 100 Breyer Horses. She has always wanted a horse and since I love horses, we agreed to buy her a horse and she could ride it when she came to visit us. Kelsey lives in Ohio. So we start to search for a horse for her. We knew that we wanted a kid safe horse and a gentle and older horse. Bill and I started asking around the tack shops if they knew of any one who had a horse fitting our description for sale. One salesman at the horse trailer sales department said that we should go to the local rodeo that they have going on every Friday night, so off to the rodeo we went. We started asking around if any one they knew was selling their horse and that the horse was for our granddaughter and so the horse had to be gentle. They told us about a guy that was in the rodeo that had a horse for sale and to go talk to him. We found him and told him what we were looking for and he said that he had a gelding that was about 22 or 23 years old and would probably be a good match. This horse was a working cattle ranch horse in his prime and had been his daughter's Play Days horse since she was 8 years old. Play Days is an event that is held on the weekends for children of all ages to bring their horse and play on your horse and a chance to win ribbons for different events held that day. His daughter is now 16 and was looking for a faster horse.

    Bill and I made an appointment to see this horse the following day. We arrived at Rick's ranch and Rick had several horses there, all in great shape and healthy looking. So Rick's daughter brings over Big Joe and she jumps up on him bare back and rides him around the arena. You could tell that horse was everything we were looking for. The minute that I walked up to him, I had no fear, and touched his head and looked into his big brown eyes, I knew he was going home with us. I called Kelsey right away and asked her some questions about this horse. Kelsey was only 12 at that time, but she knows a lot about horses. I asked her, "Kelsey, how do you know so much about horses when you don't even have one yet?" She said "Grandma I go to the library and check out every book there is on horses and I read every one of them." I asked Kelsey if she thought this was a good horse for her and she said yes. Bill and I made arrangements to have Joe delivered to the boarding stables on Saturday. The following day Bill and I went to the feed and tack store and bought every thing we needed, including horse cookies.

    We meet Rick at the gas station so he could follow us to the stables and as I sat there in our truck I looked over at Big Joe and he seamed so sad. I was thinking to myself, I know how you feel Joe. You are being taken from your home of 10 years and the people you know and love and going to a strange place with new people. This is how I felt leaving my family in California and moving to Texas. I think that is the moment that I bonded with Joe. I truly understood how he felt and the pain and the sadness of leaving his family. I also realized that Joe was going to be my horse and not Kelsey's. When we reached the stables to unload Joe, I looked into Joe's big brown eyes and told him that I would love and take care of him and I would help him thru the pain of leaving his family. At that point I truly felt a connection with that horse. After Joe was unloaded, Bill and I stood there and shook Rick's hand and as we did that we noticed that Rick had a tear in his eye. Rick said, "I'm sorry I guess I make a better horse buyer than a horse seller."
    I told Rick that Joe was going to a loving home and would be spoiled with hugs and cookies. Again, I knew how he felt. My own heart was still broken over leaving every one that I loved and being in a new place and not knowing any one. I was still so homesick and was crying every day. So I put Joe in his stall and tried to give him a treat and he wanted nothing to do with that or me. I guess his heart was breaking too.

    Every evening after work, Bill and I would go out to the stables and talk to Joe and exercise him and try to give him treats. He would not eat the treats and would not respond to us. This went on for two weeks. I kept telling Joe every day that I loved him and that I understood how he felt. You see Joe, I feel the same way. I know how sad your are because you miss your home and your family. I would look into his big brown eyes and talk to him about how sad I was and how much I missed every one, especially little Hailey. Sometimes the pain was unbearable to me. Some times I didn't think I could go on. I think people really can die from loneliness. The good thing was that I had Joe to go see and take care of every night. Bill and I looked forward to going to see Joe. He was my therapy and he didn't even know it. I felt like some times when I was talking to Joe that he would look at me as if to say, I wish I had arms so I could give you a hug.

    Finally after three weeks of going to see Joe every night and talking to him and trying to get him to accept us and take treats from us, it happened. Bill and I were so excited that Joe finally was warming up to us and I think he was actually glad to see us. We were like two kids on Christmas morning. " He likes us, he likes us." Soon, it's summer and Kelsey has come to spend the summer with us and to see Joe. Kelsey likes Joe and thinks he is a good horse for Grandma. She rides him bare back and has no fear of him. She is amazed to see me ride Joe with no fear and I really like riding him. Kelsey would like a younger horse and faster horse so she can go to Play Days, so I told her that we would try to find her a younger horse. It's amazing to see a child that loves horses so much and now I truly understand that bond between a human and a horse. A few weeks later Hailey and her Mom came to see us. Hailey weighs about 30 # and is almost 4. She is so tiny that Joe standing next to her looks like David and Goliath. Hailey runs out to Joe and wants to ride him. " Can I Nana, Can I?' "Of course you can sweetie." I said. Hailey says "I'm not afraid Nana, I love Joe." the sight of this tiny child on this massive horse and her long curly hair blowing in the breeze is a picture that is priceless. We all had lots of fun, and spent all day, every day, out at the barn.

    Hailey returns to California a week later and we promise to see here in a few months. Kelsey leaves for the summer and promises to come back for Christmas vacation. So now I am really sad because every one is gone back home and the loneliness becomes overwhelming again. But now I have Joe to help me get though it and he does just that. I know that without the love of this incredible horse I would not have been able to survive the transition. But even having Joe, after a few months and I am still missing everyone back home, I make Joe a promise to have a place where he can be a horse and not be confined to a paddock. I would go to see Joe every day and would look in those big brown eyes of his and say "Joe, I am going to buy a place where you can have your own barn and your own pasture." I think he believed me, because he would look at me as if to say, "Okay, I trust you. I would love that."

    Six months later I made his wish come true. We bought a ranch house with acres of pasture and had a new 4 stall barn built. Why 4 stalls? You guessed it, more horses. We bought a horse for Kelsey, just liked I promised and we bought Bill a horse. The funny thing is that two people didn't have horses and one that was even afraid of them ended up having a barnyard full of horses, loving them and respecting them for the wonderful animals that they are. Joe is so happy now. He has a family that loves him, 5 acres to roam, and all the treats that he could possibly eat. As for me, I don't cry so much any more. I am so glad that I have Joe. Being able to watch him run and graze and ride him when ever I want is a dream. He has become my best friend and faithful companion. Joe is the horse that rescued me.

    Meredith and AbbeyGod Lives in the Post Office

    This is one of the kindest things I've ever experienced. I have no way to know who sent it, but there is a beautiful soul working in the "dead letter office file" of the US Postal Service.

    Our 14-year-old dog, Abbey, died last month. The day after she died, my 4-year-old daughter Meredith was crying and talking about how much she missed Abbey. She asked if we could write a letter to God so that when Abbey got to heaven, God would recognize her. I told her that I thought we could so she dictated these words:

    "Dear God,
    Will you please take care of my dog? She died yesterday and is with you in heaven. I miss her very much. I am happy that you let me have her as my dog even though she got sick. I hope you will play with her. She likes to play with balls and to swim. I am sending a picture of her so when you see her, You will know that she is my dog. I really miss her.

    We put the letter in an envelope with a picture of Abbey and Meredith and addressed it to God/Heaven. We put our return address on it. Then Meredith pasted several stamps on the front of the envelope because she said it would take lots of stamps to get the letter all the way to heaven. That afternoon she dropped it into the letter box at the post office. A few days later, she asked if God had gotten the letter yet. I told her that I thought He had.

    Yesterday, there was a package wrapped in gold paper on our front porch addressed, 'To Meredith,' in an unfamiliar hand. Meredith opened it. Inside was a book by Mr. Rogers called, 'When a Pet Dies.' Taped to the inside front cover was the letter we had written to God in its opened envelope. On the opposite page was the picture of Abbey & Meredith and this note:

    "Dear Meredith,
    Abbey arrived safely in heaven. Having the picture was a big help. I recognized Abbey right away. Abbey isn't sick anymore. Her spirit is here with me just like it stays in your heart. Abbey loved being your dog. Since we don't need our bodies in heaven, I don't have any pockets to keep your picture in, so I am sending it back to you in this little book for you to keep and have something to remember Abbey by.
    Thank you for the beautiful letter and thank your mother for helping you write it and sending it to me. What a wonderful mother you have. I picked her especially for you. I send my blessings every day and remember that I love you very much. By the way, I'm easy to find. I am wherever there is love.

    Sir LancelotSir Lancelot

    (This story is from Dancing Cloud Farms Rescue in Ochlocknee, Georgia. Special thanks to Anita Meisen for allowing us to share the inspiration.)
    The courage and spirit 'Lance' showed will inspire and endure always. Here is his story:

    After searching for weeks for a walking horse, a friend of ours contacted an Alabama horse trader who arrived with six horses for us to look at crammed in a stock trailer. The first three horses he unloaded were "already sold," he explained, but he wanted us to look at horses #4 and #6. But when he unloaded horse #5, we were shocked to the innermost. A frightened, emaciated skeleton of a walking horse stepped off the trailer, its beauty, dignity, and majestic step intact. While the other horses stood tied to the trailer, heads down, eyes lifeless, and the horse trader spoke about the qualities of horses #4 and #6, our eyes were locked on that poor horse #5 and he stared at us. Something in his eyes locked into something deep within us, pleading with us for help. We don't even remember what the horse trader said about the other horses; we just stared in disbelief that anyone could abuse and neglect a horse like they had horse #5. It wasn't the horse trader's fault -- he had just picked up the horse that morning and was taking it to auction to sell for dog food. To the total surprise and dismay of the horse trader, we bought that skeleton of a walking horse and never regretted that decision. We named the horse "Sir Lancelot," giving him a knight's name befitting his courage and spirit. "Lance" came to us with thick, heavy walking shoes and scars on his legs where chains had rubbed him raw; every rib showed; his chest was maybe 10 inches wide; every vertebrae showed. It took months of feeding and care to get even a little weight on him, and it took two years to restore him to the sleek black majestic animal he should have been all along. Sir Lancelot served us faithfully, patiently teaching adults and children how to ride. Our hearts broke the day seven years later he had to be put down because of colic. Because of his courage, his faithfulness, and the many hours of service he gave to us, Sir Lancelot stands as the standard of what a horse rescue is all about. Rest in peace, our good and faithful friend, and thank you for showing us the way.

    Dancing Cloud Farm Horse Rescue, Inc.