Hello Readers,

I’m writing to you from my home office, but in my heart, I’m at 13 Hands, in the first paddocks on Tuscan Way, where I spent the afternoon a few days ago. I want to tell you all about it, but first, please put up with my short introduction.

My name is Karen, and I’m a retired English teacher, writer, and animal lover. Up until now, I’ve known and admired 13 Hands through friends and occasional visits. But for those of you who have visited the farm, you know that leaving there is tough — much easier if you have a return date. Every time I visited, I planned to return.

This past December I had to say goodbye to my horse Ray, and I started to wonder if I could pay forward all that he’d given me in the nineteen years he’d been mine. In addition, I feel myself yearning for another equine connection. You know, the kind that sends you home with mud on your boots and horsehair all over your fleece.

A few weeks ago, I approached 13 Hands with an idea: Perhaps I could spend time with a rescue who might benefit from some regular TLC. And as a writer, I’d be eager to chronicle my experience and share it with other horse enthusiasts.

You probably already know this: the 13 Hands staff is centered. If an idea comes up that might help the rescues — ease their discomfort, increase their trust in humans, and lead them to their sponsors and/or adopters — it’s worth pursuing. We met, we talked, and one volunteer application later, I’ve got return dates on my calendar.

My initial plan was to connect with one horse, but I’m not sure that’s how it will go. When Buddy put his head in my hands and leaned in to me, I fell in love. And then it was Coach, a little more reserved, who walked by my side out into the center of the field. And across the driveway in the other paddock, Sprite, the yearling mule, melted me. And so did Rocky, who really had no interest in getting close to me, but who put up with a short visit over the fence. It’s hard to imagine connecting with just one rescue when my head is spinning with the images of all of them.

I hope you’ll stay tuned as I share my volunteer journey.

With mud on my boots and horsehair everywhere,