I got a call one morning from a person wanting to give Acres for Life a horse. I shared that we were full and really didn’t need any more horses for the program right now, however, I was curious about his story and asked the caller to share more. She shared “I really need this horse to be gone! He was purchased about nine months ago for $20,000 to incorporate into her dressage program and to participate in dressage competitions… however, he just can’t turn left!” I could tell in her voice that she was frustrated as she indicated he can’t turn left and was just “not fitting” what they needed him to be.
I was curious to learn more, as I have never seen a horse that couldn’t turn left, and asked where she was located. She was just 2 miles down the road, so I drove over to go see the horse. She met me right away and said, “Yes he’s right over here.” We quickly moved to a small paddock where she pointed to this beautiful, red chestnut horse with a white blaze on his face. She said, “See, he can’t turn left.” I wasn’t seeing what she saw. Instead, I just saw this beautiful being and paused to watch. She said again, sounding agitated and frustrated, “He can’t turn left, so will you take him….he needs to go.” I asked if I could step into the paddock and spend a little time with him, to which she agreed. I opened the gate and went in, slowly approaching this beautiful chestnut, as the owner watched.
As I approached him and got close, he turned to the right. She said, “See, he turns right just fine.” I spent a few minutes as he let me put his hand on him and stroked his neck. I then approached him from the other side, and he turned left. I was curious. I moved again, and he turned left again. He seemed to be moving just fine. He moved forward, backward, to the right, and yes, he moved to the left. I paused and looked back at the woman. She said, “See, he can’t turn left.” I was confused and replied that he’s turning left, he just did it. She said, “He can’t turn left perfect enough. He needs to be sharper and tighter and crisper on his turn. IT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH.” She emphasized the last words – it’s not good enough. In that moment, I agreed this horse was going to join our program incorporating horses for mental health.
Over the years, DreamCatcher turned right, and he turned left, and he did amazing things working with people who have spent their lives not being able to live up to the expectations of others. They related with DreamCatcher and his story of others putting their expectations on him, saying he wasn’t worth enough, he wasn’t valuable enough, and he wasn’t wanted or needed because he didn’t fit their expectations. Rather, he was beautiful and capable. DreamCatcher inspired other people’s stories of finding their value and purpose,each with their own ways of turning left.