A Time to Retreat
Back in April, I was offered the privilege of being sponsored to attend a three-day Women’s Equine Assisted Empowerment Retreat hosted by The Medicine Horse Project. Founded by Jill Starr (founder and former Executive Director of Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue), The Medicine Horse Project’s mission is dedicated to the rehabilitation of rescued horses and the healing of mind, body and spirit these horses impart to humankind. Glamp, Pamp and Re-vamp is their first retreat to be offered at the rescue’s most tranquil location in the countryside of Caliente, CA. It was here that we were each able to disconnect from the outside world, free of reception and wi-fi, and reconnect with the life in the way God intended for us to enjoy.
On Friday afternoon, the “glampers” began arriving to the ranch and were met with the warmest hospitality (not to mention the incredible weather). Having not seen Jill in almost ten years, we shared a long, overdue hug before she showed me to the campground and gave me the choice of which tent I would like to stay in for the weekend. Naturally, I chose the tent closest to the pond and the trickling sound of water coming from a beautiful multi-barrel water feature. Inside the tent were two beautifully arranged small bed frames, complete with mattresses and warm, inviting blankets. We were also provided with small lanterns for when we needed to travel to and from our tent after dark. After I finished placing my belongings inside my new home for the weekend, I found Jill watering a few of the horses and offered to help her finish up while she greeted the incoming glampers. This gave me a chance to meet the first three (of nine!) horses: Rocky, G, and Biggie.
When we finished taking care of the horses, we made our way up toward the barn and on the way met Beanie and Panama, two of the three Medicine Hat Paint horses The Medicine Horse Project first rescued from a kill pen in Texas. Since I have been following their story from the beginning, I had a soft spot for Beanie and was so excited to finally meet the beautiful gelding. As I stroked his sculptured head, I silently hoped in my heart that I would be paired up with him the following morning as my weekend partner. I hurried to catch up with the others at the barn and sat down to a delicious dinner of tomato soup with quinoa and fresh basil; yum! The chef for the retreat, Morgan Nichols, was so wonderful as to put forth the extra effort of having vegan options available. Our breakfasts, lunches, and dinners were most definitely a highlight of the retreat!
As we all settled around the table with our meal, we learn a little of one another’s backgrounds; what our stories and experiences were with our past and present horses, what led us to this retreat, how we were connected to one another, and our hopes for what we would take away from this weekend. With the past couple of months being a whirlwind of last-minute, life-changing decisions, sitting at this table full of friends, new and old alike, I took a deep breath, exhaled all of the stress and worries I had been carrying for weeks, and felt relief from the pressures of the outside world. In that moment, for the first time in years, I finally felt at peace.
After dinner, we began making our way down to the pond for a campfire and to discuss the weekend’s activities. There was still one horse that I had really wanted to meet… Perseus, a little Mustang yearling that was rescued after he was captured at three months old and taken away from band on the Fort Polk Army Base in Louisiana. I pulled aside Chris Nichols of Resilient Life Horsemanship, another long-time friend I met at Lifesavers and the clinician for the weekend’s retreat, and asked if I could quickly go see him at his corral. “Of course!” she said, and off I went to meet him. Perseus is the same age Eternity was when I adopted her and I couldn’t contain my smile as memories of Eternity’s and my early start began flooding my mind. In my short life’s experience of working with horses, I have to say that working with yearlings is quite possibly my absolute favorite. It’s a thrill to watch their personalities unfold and to see their reaction to many firsts at a young and inexperienced age.
After a few minutes with Perseus, I said goodnight to him and hurried down to meet the others at the pond. As we walked around to gather wood for the fire, excitement bubbled forth within me. I couldn’t wait to find out who I would be paired up with and to start working with my new partner, as it had been nearly four years since I’d connected with a horse on the ground to work with through various activities. We each settled into a chair after we had filled and lit the fire pit. Next, Chris handed each of us a small “resilience” journal to document our journey, to create a mission statement we wanted to share at the closing ceremony on Sunday, and to fill with everything that reminded us of what it means to be resilient. As I held my new resilience journal in my hands, I could feel the buzz of excitement of a new beginning rushing through my fingertips.
This post is part of a series from my experience of attending the Glamp, Pamp and Revamp retreat at The Medicine Horse Project in Caliente, CA.