For Sonny, the Lost Horse.
From Cheryl, Tomten's Very First TAdopter
For many of us, memories of younger years are flooded with once loved animals whose presence forever changed our lives. Back then, in childhood innocence,
there was no awareness of auction, no thoughts of slaughter, no understanding that best friends could ever be left behind. It was beautiful —an honest love, a
pure connection between two beings and it didn't matter that we didn't share the same language, we simply created our own. But somehow as life took hold
and little by little we began to make our way toward the adult we were destined to be, decisions were made that left indelible marks on our souls.
Decisions like mine and perhaps yours that somehow changed the course of our beliefs today.
For Cheryl C. it was not much different. At 6 years old, she went on her first trail
ride and that was all it took… she fell in love. Soon she was being dropped at a nearby farm, riding a big buckskin mare for an hour each week. Do you
remember those days, where every day, every hour was a countdown until we could be with the horses, until we could sit on their backs becoming one in their glory? It wasn't just about the riding
though, as children we loved everything about them, the scent of the barn, the warmth of their coats, the tickle of their whiskers and the feel of their breath as we took one another in.
At 10, Cheryl began to take serious lessons and at 13, her parents bought her a horse, a 6-year old Morgan/Quarter Horse
named Sonny. As is often the case with a child's first horse, he was not the bombproof school horse that one would
expect (and hope for). Sonny was complicated and spooky, a horse I might have called "a bit tricky." Sometimes though,
children—with their lack of intention, their unwavering acceptance and their unlimited patience— are a gift to these
untrusting horses. I suspect Cheryl did as much for Sonny as he did for her.
Together, "Sonny and Cher" spent years exploring the rural area where they lived, wandering together for hours at a time,
best friends and companions, exploring and growing. In my imagination I can see them together, a girl and her horse, just
being, as seasons and time sped past. Years went by and they helped one another grow, learning all that they could
about hunt seat, saddle seat, western pleasure, dressage and even competitive trail. Sonny became unflappable, a far cry
from the horse he had been years ago and somehow, somewhere, these two individuals had joined together to become a team, a partnership of one.
Over a decade later, Cheryl was not making much money and, as can sometimes happen as we grow up, her parents
stopped paying the bills for Sonny's care. As she said, "we all have to make practical choices and hard decisions" and, as
happens to many of us, we must turn our backs on one area to walk toward another. We all know the heartbreaking
choices she was forced to make and my heart hurts just thinking of them; my heart hurts as I am reminded of my own
past choices. Luckily for Cheryl, a girl with another horse at the small farm where Sonny was boarded, wanted him. And
so, while he lost his beloved Cheryl, his friend of years and years, he was gifted the opportunity to remain where he was,
in a place that he knew, with horses he had befriended. It is a gift few horses receive when transferring from owner to owner and a blessing beyond words to have a place to be.
Since she couldn't afford to keep him, the heartbroken Cheryl did not keep in touch. I understand the logic, the inability to
keep tabs on what you reluctantly let go of. I understand the sadness and heartbreaking weight of goodbye. In her words,
"I had no awareness of auctions or slaughterhouses. Now that I know, I think about him a lot.
I feel a sense of guilt today that I did not make an effort to keep tabs on him,
but there would have been little I could do, and I didn't know how bad it could be.
Sonny was the wonderful creature that gave me the best times of my life,
and I still daydream about riding today."
I cannot read those words clearly, my eyes blur with sadness for her and for Sonny and so many horses that get left
behind by owners who love them. What must they think when we suddenly just disappear?
Today, however, we celebrate tomorrow and another lost soul now found and forever safe. One of our horses, our
beautiful 16-year old, Taabe, surrendered by HER family and rescued by Tomten, mother of 8 foals, who has been
transferred through at least half as many homes, is gifted something we were unable to offer her alone. Thanks to Cheryl,
her love of Sonny, her love of horses and her beautiful compassion, Taabe Summer Storm is gifted the opportunity to
remain here at Tomten Farm and Sanctuary with her new friend Pipppilottaspotslongstocking for the rest of her days. It is
together we make dreams come true for animals in need and today, in honor of Sonny, Cheryl becomes the first person to ever TAdopt a horse at Tomten Farm and Sanctuary. When I asked her why, she said,
"I want to ensure Taabe's peace, protection and possibility for life."
After all, isn't that what every horse deserves? I think it is.
Perhaps Cheryl's selfless and generous act will inspire others to reach out and help animals in need as well. There are so
many lost and alone. Perhaps Taabe's presence here will help educate others to do more and be more and it is her
presence that will inspire. But for sure, this contribution makes an impact beyond what my words can describe for a mare
who deserves to spend the rest of her days surrounded by love and friendship and family in a place she can call home. Together we created that place and together we welcome her.
The simple words, "thank you," are nowhere near enough to demonstrate the gratitude we feel in this gesture but we say
them deeply, with heartfelt gratitude and we know as Sonny stands above, proudly looking down on this mare that Cheryl
chose to help, he is nickering that soft muffled nicker of love he reserved for the child who loved him years ago. Thank you, Cheryl.
TAdoption: This is the Face
of Peace, Protection and Possibility
Have you always dreamed of having an animal (or two!) of your own but for one or several reasons, it just wasn't possible? Our TAdoption
program might be just the thing to help make dreams come true… for both you AND an animal in need, an animal like Taabe Summer Storm.
Taabe arrived at Tomten Farm and Sanctuary with her filly Tindra by her side. Both were owner surrenders. What surely could have been
a tragic situation has turned into a joyful one, thanks to Tomten Supporter and our first TAdopter Cheryl C.
Cheryl TAdopted our beautiful mare Taabe Summer Storm. And following a period of natural weaning (where mother and foal stay
together through weaning vs being separated before they are ready), Taabe's filly Tindra was
Off-Farm Adopted by Jeni B.
Our Tomten Animal Dream Adoption, TAdoption, is perfect for those who have always wished they could have a farm animal
of their own (in this case, a horse) but are unable to have one due to all kinds of reasons: missed opportunities, life changes, lack of
pasture, barn, time, parental approval or other resources. TAdoption makes it possible for a candidate like Taabe Summer Storm to live her
dream life, remaining right here, at Tomten Farm and Sanctuary beside her best friend and fellow rescue, Pippilottaspotslongstocking. And you, the kind TAdopter,
finally get to realize your dream. Best of all, your heart will overflow with the oh-so gratifying feeling of gifting an animal with peace, protection, possibility and
lifetime sanctuary here at our farm.
Here's how TAdoption works: Thanks to your one-time gift of 50% of an animal's estimated
lifetime care and sanctuary you, the TAdopter, (or a group of TAdopters -- several friends or family members joining together) will be
eligible for a tax deduction of 50% of that animal's total estimated lifetime expenses. More importantly, you will experience the indescribable feeling of knowing that you are
providing peace, protection and possibility to an animal in need, whose life will be forever transformed for the better. By you.
Thanks to Cheryl's compassion, soul mates
and bonded pair, Taabe Summer Storm
will now be forever together.