My childhood was populated by a race of imaginary, winged cats that rivaled horses in their size. One gigantic white cat in particular, Cottonpuff, accompanied me on my various adventures, and I narrowly escaped from the evil clutches of my enemies by taking to the sky on her enormous, furry back. Real horses, however, were a bit too intimidating for me…. and I never had a desire to own or ride one.
Perhaps it was their reputation for throwing riders and kicking people. My cousin lost a couple teeth from being thrown at horseback-riding camp… and she was lucky. Riding a horse is not comparable to riding a bicycle, obviously. Horses are animals. They have their own set of behaviours, temperament, and mood-swings.
They can experience emotions such as fear, annoyance, anger, rebelliousness, and even defiance. You are at their mercy.
Ironically, despite my own reservations (or perhaps because of them), a reoccurring theme in my friendships has been: Scorpios and horse-people. My two closest friends were both.
The bond between a human and a horse is an awesome thing to witness; horses are incredibly loyal and loving towards their people. I was also surprised to find how docile they can be around children… as a mom, watching my kids reach out to grab the face and fur of a beast large enough to chomp their arms off and devour them whole..
(yes, I know they are vegetarians)… is a bit unsettling. My two daughters are fascinated by horses, and not in the least bit afraid.
I’ve taken my children to Bellasana Stables, in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, and chased after Mia, as she ran straight into the field to get up close and personal with them.
The stables are owned and operated by Carolyn Cabral and her partner, Jason. She and I were best friends in school… together we formed the Ghost of the Pot Roast, an inside joke that survived long after graduation, and enjoyed an online presence for over six years.
Born on October 28th, the Scorpion Carolyn (who almost became a pumpkin pot roast) has owned and raised horses since I’ve known her. She attended Wilson College, an all-female, private college in Chambersburg, PA, primarily for their equine studies… they even allowed students to board a horse on campus. She graduated with degrees in Psychology, Sociology, Equine Facilitated Therapeutics, and Peace and Conflict Studies.
Since graduating, Carolyn has worked in a variety of fields in search of her calling. She’s assisted her vet as a tech, worked with people who have developmental disabilities and as a corrections counselor for youth at risk. She’s been a trail guide, run summer riding camps, and most recently served as a substitute teacher and college professor.
She opened Bellasana Stables in 2005 to incorporate her multiple college degrees, with a deep desire to rescue horses from unfavorable situations, providing them with a chance to grow and thrive in a caring environment. Although not every horse residing at the stables is “a rescue”, many are. They include ex-racehorses, as well as abused and starved animals.
She says, “I wanted to create a place where both horses and people could heal. We rescue and rehabilitate horses and work with people who have physical, mental, and/or emotional disabilities.” Some of the horses she currently keeps have made amazing physical and emotional progress since being in her care.
One such horse is Fury, the star of my winged unicorn photo-manipulation. He was recovered from a terminally ill owner who couldn’t care for him any longer. When he arrived at Carolyn’s farm, he was undernourished and had suffered injuries from other horses trampling him when he got caught in a fence.
Unfortunately, Carolyn has recently experienced some medical issues of her own, has been hospitalized and is now on bed rest. We spoke about the future of her farm, as I know she worked long hours to keep things running smoothly.
“We have to pay for everything out of pocket. We have moved several times due to the land we rented being bought for development.” she says. I was aware that she was attempting to gain non-profit status… however becoming a non-profit apparently “is a long process and requires a sizable fee to the government. We have not yet obtained status because we need to raise the necessary funds so we are currently funding the whole operation ourselves.”
After spending a lovely, sunny day with Jacob and Mia at the stables, and taking some awesome photographs (for later photo-manip projects).. I decided to offer my horse-related pieces for sale, beginning with “SkyDancer”, with all profits going back to Bellasana. The majority of her funding comes from her and Jason’s “real” jobs… that is, until her doctor put her on bed rest. They also board horses for a fee, give horseback-riding lessons and train horses, as well as hold fundraisers.
Lydia and I had a neat opportunity to participate in a Equiessance musical performance last October: horse dancing choreographed to music. She rode in the children’s group to some basic routines, and I dressed up as the story’s narrator.
She has a great team of volunteers, including her friends and family… but is always looking for more helping hands!
If you’re interested in volunteering, making a donation, or visiting Bellasana stables: you can contact her via firstname.lastname@example.org. And don’t forget to check out my animal fundraising section on Etsy for “SkyDancer” and any future additions to the series.