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Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

By Jesse Utz 

Horse rescue operation bound to grow

Jess Shut Up


Chris Holeman, left, and other workers by their rescue subjects in Delano.

A horse's story can be hard to tell and even harder to listen to. These horses have horrible stories of abuse, neglect, abandonment and starvation. But that is all changing for a few of them. Buddy, Silver, Snickers, Baby and Reme all have very different tails of how they got to Delano, Wash., and fell into the hands of Chris Holeman and his group of dedicated, passionate, hand picked helpers at "Nourishing Hands."

The horse rescue operation held a thank-you barbecue for volunteers and supporters last Saturday at the Ridge Riders club- house, where they talked about their equine passions.

For instance, Buddy, the group's first rescue: Buddy "spurred the idea" of doing a horse rescue here in the Coulee. When Buddy arrived, he was skin and bones. He came from a racetrack that used him as a pace horse until he wasn't needed any more. Buddy is a big horse, the biggest some have ever worked with. The sad thing about Buddy is he has no gallop and that makes him very hard to ride.

There is also Silver's story of being just a few hundred yards from a slaughter house most of his life. Silver was a mistake from a thoroughbred breeder, an accident that was not wanted. Very little human contact and never having been ridden has made Silver spooky and skittish toward people. But he is getting better.

Snickers, the oldest of the bunch at 30 years, has eyes of two different colors and one pupil in the shape of a heart. Reme came from a drug addict who simply didn't want the horses anymore.

And then there is Baby, a 13-year-old mare who was part of a wild horse roundup, skinny and in shock when she arrived. But Baby is not that way anymore. As a matter of fact, she is fed well, by looking at her. She is wanted, too. Chris and his wife Jamie were going to adopt her, but now a family from Wilbur will be taking her and expanding the rescue program up the hill.

Three kids from the Wilbur school district are participating in the program and have fallen in love with Baby. Logan, 12; Colby, 11; and Truly, 8; have only been to the rescue a few times, but you can see the twinkle in their eyes whenever they talk about the horses or all the hard work that goes into all this.

My buddy Mike Williams has also benefited from the program, and is so excited that he brought his buddy D.J. to the benefit dinner. Both are excited to try something new.

But here is what excites me the most about what I saw: Chris Holman's passion for seeing this need and going "all in." This is just the beginning of this program. The ACH, Wilbur and Nespelem school districts are already on board, while the GCD district is still working out legalities.

Kids are getting to love on animals that need love. Wounded Warriors from Fairchild are interested in what's going on down here. If you just listen to Chris for a little while, you will feel his passion and want to jump on board too. I have a feeling that this is going to be a success.

It's going to get bigger too. Chris, Jamie, Heather, TJ, Gary, Judah, and many others have done a lot of work - I mean, more work than we will ever know - to get this horse rescue where it is today. But the work is not done. With more horses expected to show up at any time and more horses out there that need a good home, I don't see this going away anytime soon.

For one thing, Chris wont let it. Neither will the kids that are getting hands-on experience. Neither will the wounded warriors that will show up later. Neither will the horses, horses that now know what love and responsibility looks and feels like.

These horses fell into good hands, nourishing hands. And this program will help many. Kids, adults and horses in need all serving each other to heal each other.

There is more work to be done. Hay is a big need. I challenge you to drop off some at the rescue site, when you are passing through with your load. Youth saddles are also needed. Even if you just give an hour out of your day to help groom a horse, or just go up and talk to them.

So, Coulee, get ready to saddle up, 'cause this program is going big time and we need to support it. All of us have scars inside and out, horses included. Let's help each other.

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