Happy New Year, Friends.
As the calendar drifts into the deepest part of winter, for me, the urge to find stuff to look forward to grows strong. I’m grateful to be able to say it’s not that hard. My oldest daughter and son-in-law will soon welcome their little boy. I have a front row seat as I witness my son and daughter-in-law parenting like pros and soaking up every minute of my granddaughter, already six months old. And my youngest daughter and soon-to-be son-in-law are planning their wedding. Our family’s excitement for them is hard to contain.
In rare moments when I’m not thinking of our family’s blessings, I’m also so deeply appreciative of the opportunity for newness in other areas of my life. The newness of the year, for example. (Like many of you, I’m resolved to bump up my exercise.) The newness of our little ones at the farm. (Have you met Dunkin? Please come meet him.) And the newness of relationships with rescues who need some extra love.
Angela, the incredible Adoption Liaison and Communications Assistant at 13 Hands, took me to meet a herd of mini horses and mini donkeys she thinks might benefit from human attention. Ahead of our meeting, she sent me photos of several of the mares, one of whom she captioned, “She’s the toughest one in the bunch.” Hmmmm.
Full transparency: I have very little experience with minis. Always excited to learn, though, I was so happy to be granted this new experience.
On the day I met Angela, I got to the barn a little early and hung out with Dunkin and his mom Martina. Both are curious, friendly, and confident. But this is not the case with the minis in the new herd.
When I entered the paddock, the mini mares scattered like a flock of birds, led by Lorelei, a stunning little black-and-white pinto whose wide eyes revealed her fear. They bolted in circles until they found a comfortable spot far away from me.
Once they settled, a bold mini donkey named Brownie marched over. What Brownie lacks in size, he more than makes up for in confidence and personality. He’s the guy who wants to crawl into your lap and stay with you all day. He didn’t leave my side.
I believe I have Brownie to thank for Nutmeg mustering up the courage to approach me. A babyfaced red and white mini mare, she eyed him carefully, and finally she snuck over. She watched me snuggle him, and then she let me pet her nose.
In the two years I’ve been volunteering at 13 Hands, I’ve seen this a few times: a confident rescue paves the way to human contact for their shy paddock mates. Brownie, Ambassador of the Herd, and a few other curious donkeys have the potential to play a significant role as they model confidence and trust. For their reticent buddies who, no doubt, are watching them, they just might inspire the bravery that leads to important new connections. I can’t wait to see how this unfolds.
In the meantime, here’s to our New Year — to new experiences, new opportunities, new connections.
There’s so much to look forward to.