I shared about PEACE Ranch at our local Kiwanis Club recently. It was a wonderful opportunity to tell about the amazing things that are happening at the ranch and how healing comes through our animal assisted therapeutic environment.
One thing I shared about was “Hug and Groom”, a weekly community oriented event when people can come out to the ranch and brush a horse, weed the garden or just sit in the alpaca pen. I shared stories about how people were finding help and healing through this simple therapeutic opportunity.
Afterward, as several people came up to ask questions or get more information about the ranch, I noticed an older gentleman waiting quietly in the periphery. As the group dwindled, the gentleman approached me. He was a soft spoken man, probably in his 70’s. He was tall, slim and tastefully but modestly dressed. He thanked me for coming and for sharing about the work we were doing on the ranch for the community and the horses. The following is my best recollection of the conversation as it continued.
“I grew up during the depression” he said. ” We had a farm and we had work horses that my father used to plow the fields. Us kids were always asking for a pony but my father said we couldn’t afford to feed something that couldn’t earn it’s keep. We asked year after year but the answer was always the same.” He went on, but his tone changed as the emotion in his voice deepened. “I thought about something today that I haven’t thought of for a long time. I remember my father going out to curry the horses. In fact, my father went out every day to curry those horses, even Saturday and Sunday!” He proclaimed this, as if it were a revelation. ” Today, it occurred to me that the daily curry was not just for the horses, but that my father may have gotten something out of it. The currying was like his therapy. I remember he would go out every night no matter what happened that day to curry the horses and when he came in, they were fine and he was fine.” The emotion was apparent by the dampness in his eyes.
Though I don’t know the details surrounding his relationship with his father or why this meant so much to him, the depth of what he was feeling and that it had meaning for him was apparent. I was honored to share this healing moment, inspired by horses, with a man who had gained a new vision of his father.