I believe paths cross for a reason. Paths lead to connections, to choices. Paths lead to new directions, new beginnings. Paths lead to home. It is my pleasure to have recently crossed “paths” with Jim and Melanie Bowles of Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary – a getting acquainted path with two amazing people that I am extremely proud to share with you. I had so many questions.
How did Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary get started? “Proud Spirit began in 1991 with just one horse in need on five acres of land,” Melanie says. “Over the years we have grown to 175 acres and evolved into one of the most successful, longest existing facilities for horses in the United States.”
Who is Proud Spirit? Tell me about the name’s origin. “Way back in the early ’90’s, when the sanctuary was still new, we had only been taking in horses for a few months and still had not named our facility. We had just rescued a severely emaciated gelding and we weren’t sure he was going to recover, but shortly after he had arrived I noticed a spark in his eyes and a certain pride about his movements. I recall saying to my husband Jim, ‘No matter what happens to them, it seems as though their spirit always remains proud.’ And that’s when it hit me, the name of our ranch: Proud Spirit!”
What is the mission of Proud Spirit? “Our mission is to provide a genuine sanctuary for rescued horses where just as much emphasis is placed on their emotional well-being as their physical needs. A place where they can function in the peace and security of a herd (but no breeding) and roam free 24/7 – where bonded mates are never separated, dams wean their own babies naturally in their own time, and no horse is ever in service to man.”
What is your average day like at the Sanctuary? “Because the horses are never stalled unless they are injured or ill, the first thing we do every morning is walk the property to check on the herd. And then we do basic chores like fill water troughs, fill mineral buckets and so on. During the winter months we supplement the herd with hay. That’s a big job; getting hay out to 50 plus horses every day.”
What are your hopes and dreams? “I dream of the day when we make a true and genuine commitment to our horses, rather than shuffling them around from home to home when they no longer “serve” our purpose. The entire equestrian community is in crisis. We are not taking care of the horses that are already here, and the rescue organizations are in overload. We must develop an honest gratitude to the horses who are here; they have given and given and given. Our callous disregard for the bonds they form and the comfort they feel in familiar surroundings must end. When it’s time for your horse to retire, shouldn’t his final memories be of “home” and shouldn’t the last voice he hears be yours? We owe it to them, and then some. As you seek balance in your own life, seek it for your horse as well. Our responsibility to them is as equally important in the darkness of their lives, perhaps even more so, as it is in the light.”
I marvel at your dedication. How many horses have you helped? “We have intervened on behalf of well over 500 horses. We’ve worked with law enforcement all across the country, and helped out on numerous large seizure operations. Not all of the horses have come to the sanctuary. We are currently caring for 52.”
Is there any horse in particular that you want to talk about? “The very first horse I ever brought home was an off the track Thoroughbred mare. I named her Cody. She had not been treated well prior to coming to Proud Spirit. She had been beaten down by life, shuffled around, never really cared for, never treated kindly. She was afraid of humans. She didn’t trust them. She became my equine soul-mate and she’s gone now, but she taught me more about communicating with horses than I could ever express. Her remarkable story is chronicled in my first book, The Horses of Proud Spirit.”
How are you funded? “Proud Spirit is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. We received tax deductible contributions from various supporters who strongly believe in what we’re doing. Also, I’m the author of three nonfiction books about the sanctuary; proceeds from book sales help us continue our rescue work. And…a lot of it comes out of our own pocket.”
Do you host events? Is there one coming up? “We do not host events at the sanctuary, but we do occasionally conduct fundraisers at various outside venues. For instance, a few years ago Nashville recording artist, singer/songwriter Templeton Thompson and her husband Sam Gay came to town and did a benefit concert for us on the large patio of a local restaurant. We had a blast! We don’t have any fundraisers planned at this time.”
What would be the perfect day for you tomorrow at Proud Sprit? How would it start? How would it end? “As long as the herd is healthy and happy, it’s ALWAYS a perfect day!”
I so agree!
For more information about Proud Spirit go to: http://www.horsesofproudspirit.com/
Amazon.com link: http://www.amazon.com/Melanie-Sue-Bowles/e/B001JRZYB8/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1