At the ranch, our horses impact the patients we work with on a daily basis; whether it is teaching them to experience the feelings of acceptance, joy, sadness, fear, trust, or connection, each encounter is different for every patient. Each time a patient comes to the barn to introduce herself to the herd, a new friendship is formed or an old one is rekindled. As a facilitator of this interaction, I am always touched by the special meaning each patient hold for the horses, and mutually, how much each horse means to the patient.

Our beloved Sandy was that special horse for several of our patients; helping them process the driving forces of their addiction to being that trusting partner on the trails, as they blazed across Arizona’s Sonoran desert.  One of the patients who worked with Sandy on a regular basis had been struggling with past traumas in her life and found sanctuary at the barn working with him each week. Throughout every session, the patient was able to explore how to use the new techniques and skills she was learning during her treatment while spending time with Sandy. During processing, she often shared how the work with him helped her through each day. When she heard that Sandy was no longer with us, she processed her grief by sculpting a set of clay horseshoes with angel wings to symbolize the love and peace he brought to her life. Moments like these remind us that angels don’t always have wings, sometimes they wear horseshoes.

By Elaine Coller, Equine Director, The Meadows Ranch

Written in Memory of Sandy 1994-2017