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Horse Deemed Useless, Now Priceless

Young horse with special needs saves family with special needs children.

Sandman is a Belgian gelding that was destined to be slaughtered for human consumption. Young, healthy, not rideable and tasty to some cultures. Though the United States has no horse slaughter plants today, approximately 138,000 American horses were sent to a horrific death in Canada or Mexico last year to be eaten by humans. 

Sandman came from an auction in Tennessee. Some caring horse lovers donated Sandman to help us save his life. He stayed in SaveTheHorses.org care for over a year. The right person would come along if we were patient. I truly believe horses are sent to us or come into our care for a reason. Then it happened, questions were answered. A call for a family that has six adopted special needs children explained how they would love to adopt Sandman. It was a struggle in the beginning finding the right place to keep Sandman since he was afraid of humans and with good reason. He wasn't treated kindly and had no reason to trust. You can read his story in this December 2012 blog. It is about Sandman's past and his journey. As it continues, more things unfold.

We all had the idea Sandman was sent for Laura, the mom of all the kids. She needed someone to call her own and spend time with, to help her deal with six adopted special children. Laura was making progress with trust issues and showing Sandman the love he so badly wanted and needed. As time went on, Sandman showed us why he was meant for the Chapman family. "It is amazing what happens when we are truly open to it," said Laura about Sandman and the horse's draw to one of her special needs children, a young girl named Gabby.

Horse Therapy I am finding horse therapy is not limited to riding to meet the physical and mental improvements in the rider. A few months ago I saw the picture of a draft horse waiting at a rescue to be adopted. I was drawn to this horse, but pushed all thoughts of horse ownership out of my mind. We had only moved to Georgia a few months prior and felt it was just not the right time. I kept being drawn to the picture and every time I saw it, I began to cry. I had no reason to; I just did which I thought was absolutely strange. It got to a point I felt a need to have him. We set up a visit for me to meet Sandman and that's when the magic started.

We went to visit and having six kids and a friend in tow it was a little chaotic. I asked everyone to stay back so I could get to know him, but Gabby came over and the next thing I knew Sandman was looking at her with his ears pricked up and alert. She was the only other person he would allow near the fence while I was in with him without backing off. That night, Gabby and I were talking about Sandman's trust issues and why he's so scared. The next thing I knew, she was sobbing - deep, whole body shaking sobs. She didn't know why she was crying, but I had a clue and it all had to do with the kindred spirits between her and Sandman. Gabby may have come to us as a baby, but with her terrible past, trust has never been something that comes easy to her.

The first boarding situation did not work out, but we found a place where Sandman is respected and loved for who he is - with people that understand that he has worth even though he cannot be ridden and deserves to just be pampered and loved. We are able to have daily access to him where we can really work on his own trust issues since this big, beautiful boy was starved and, as well as I can tell, beat since I'm finding scars now that he can be groomed.

From that first visit, Sandman has looked at Gabby differently than anyone else. He unnerves her and yet she is drawn to him. She would not approach him the first few times and then she got his "blessing" when he approached her and allowed her to reach up and touch his blaze. Since he is food driven, the only time anyone can do this is if they have food in their hand or a bucket. Not with Gabby. She had no food, she was nowhere near a bucket, and yet he did this for her.

Today she wanted to pet him on his side, but was too scared to do it. Gabby had to finally put her whole trust in me to succeed, which is just as scary as petting a horse that has hooves as big as her head. At first Gabby just stood there and looked at me petting him. I coaxed her into holding my hand while I pet him. Then finally, very timidly, she reached out to touch Sandman and he flinched and drew back. I told her he's very scared and if anyone could understand what it's like to be afraid of trusting, it was she. At that moment, Sandman lowered his head to her height and stared at her and she stared right back. Eye contact is not her strong suit, but there was something mesmerizing between the two of them. It only lasted a few seconds, but whatever passed between the two was more than any human words could ever mean. She reached out hesitantly to touch him again and he didn't move. She stroked him and he stood there. I dropped her hand and she kept petting him, neither backing away from each other.

Tonight she has struggled dealing with old, scary feelings. I never thought just a few minutes of petting a horse could reach her so deeply, but it most definitely has. It has left her emotions raw, but finally in a way that they can heal. Sandman may have started out as a horse no one wanted and felt was worthless but his purpose was greater than anyone could ever know - he is saving a child.

Imagine if Sandman was sent to slaughter - none of these positive things could have happened. It was meant to be. Divine intervention and angels abound. It all went as planned.

Thank you to everyone who so generously gives their time, love, donations, care and love to SaveTheHorses.org. We are all part of God's puzzle of life and each piece has a place, each as important as the other, big or small. We need each of you to keep it complete and make it work. 

How lucky we all are to intertwine and make the world a better place for horses and humans.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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