A big heart and simple beginnings turned into one woman's biggest wish.... / by sarah waters

Horse rescue facilities normally have modest beginnings...For Big Hearts Horse Rescue (“BHHR”), a nonprofit organization in Salem, OR, it all started after Teri Silva rescued her first horse, Cat, and began discovering other horses in need. Her next rescue, Moonshadow, of Monmouth, OR, turned out to be the biggest challenge, but one who desperately needed help.

Moonshadow was a Stallion for about 14 years, rescued from a neglectful situation. He was emaciated and a very sad case. After about 7 months of eating very well he put on enough weight to finally be gelded. Moonshadow was a real handful and to most he was dangerous and disrespectful. It would take a lot of love, fearlessness and consistency to get him back on track….

Courageous, Valerie Carkhuff at BHHR decided to continue on with the challenge. Moon was the horse she wanted and he was the horse she refused to give up on. Everyone thought she was out of her mind, but hard work with at least 1 hour of training a day for four years and now he is a gentle teddy bear. Moonshadow has opened so many doors for BHHR. Thru all of the training and learning required of him, he is now Valerie's main horse to guide the beginner rescue horse training program.

Valerie Carkhuff doing ground work with Moonshadow at the BHHR Riding and Training arena.

Valerie Carkhuff doing ground work with Moonshadow at the BHHR Riding and Training arena.

Horses arrive at Big Hearts for many different reasons. There is Trump who just refuses to wear a saddle. He is challenging and has quite a buck, so he will take a bigger cowboy to train him and move him out.

Then there is Dylan...wow what a story this is. Dylan was given to BHHR after a life of difficulty and neglect. When his original owner could no longer care for him, he was given to the owner’s son, but he had no prior experience with horses. After contacting BHHR to get help, unfortunately, no one could get out to Dylan for a few days to transport him, so BHHR had hay delivered and made certain with daily phone calls that someone would get the feed to Dylan, because they were in fear that without food, he would not make it. He was fighting for his life at this point. After a few days, BHHR was able to get poor Dylan transportation away from his life of neglect last October. When I visited BHHR last month in January, Dylan was looking mighty fine. He has filled out beautifully and in just 4 short months has put on 100 pounds or more of the weight he needs. This is very unusual, as normally it can take up to a year for a horse to be back to their healthy weight. It will take awhile for him to build the muscle back up to 100 percent. Blind in his left eye, I had to take care not to be squashed against the stall or stepped on. He will make a wonderful trail or companion horse for someone someday soon.

Dylan looking so great with all the weight and muscle he is building after severe neglect.

Dylan looking so great with all the weight and muscle he is building after severe neglect.

I also had perfect timing to see a brand new horse come into BHHR the other day. Jazzy from Lake Oswego arrived. She came from a Hunter/Jumper barn and was a training horse, but Jazzy is extremely hard to handle. They are beginning to assess her and when I was there she was running and pacing back and forth constantly, snorting and extremely vocal. Teri explained she has seen horses often with this behavior and it could be several things. Being herd bound, she has severe separation anxiety which could be one cause, or it could be a case of being barn sour. Teri is hopeful that an equine bodywork therapist could give some relief  if she is any pain due to need of adjustments. A beautiful thoroughbred, I am hopeful BHHR will find the answers and have another wonderful adoptable horse.

Teri giving Jazzy some essential oils to sniff, in hopes of calming her down.

Teri giving Jazzy some essential oils to sniff, in hopes of calming her down.

Natural Horsemanship is the method BHHR uses to train all incoming rescues. With Teri's experience and amazing 5 acre facility with 4 large pastures, barn with 12 stalls and a full size covered riding arena, and Val and Moonshadow at the helm of training, new rescue horse owners have an exceptional place to go. From all the years it took to turn Moon around using methodology from seasoned horse trainers such as Clinton Anderson and Tom Eichorn, BHHR has the facility and tools to make a huge impact.

From humble beginnings, Teri saw the need to grow. Putting her house up for sale she just knew it was the right thing to find a larger place to be able to take in more beautiful beings. Within a week her house sold and the current location of BHHR just outside of Salem, OR became available just in time. When things are truly meant to be, they just happen...   

You can learn more about Big Hearts Horse rescue here:

http://www.bigheartshorserescue.org

If you would like to have your facility photographed or have a special rescue or therapy story to tell, please contact me at sarah@sarahwatersphotography.com.