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Nalani Horse Rescue: Who Rescued Whom?

Written by Mark Rivest

Retiring from any sort of emergency responder or military service career is a challenging experience. Embedded in the transition to civilian life is an adjustment not only to the difficult loss of a strong teamwork environment, but also the adjustment away from a personal calling in which you play a key role in supporting a critical and worthwhile mission. After a childhood of frequent family moves and a career full of constant moves, I always knew that when I retired, I’d settle into a real home, place deep roots into an adopted community, and find a way to put my skills to good use in support of a worthwhile mission centering on doing good works.

My wife, Susan, grew up on a small farm in upstate New York, where she enjoyed time with her treasured horses. But, over the years, relatives grew older, transitioned out of farming, and sold off their land. To Susan, it seemed that her time with horses would just join the collection of things we treasure as a child, but with reluctance, leave behind as we enter adulthood. After realizing the personal dream of building a new forever home in Aldie, Virginia, I tried to help make one of Susan’s dreams come true by encouraging her to reach out to Cherry Tapley at Nalani Horse Rescue. As I explained it to Susan, it would not only be worthwhile work to help rescue and rehabilitate endangered horses, but it would also be a means of reconnection to the legacy of the cherished horses she knew as a child. It could be the opening of a new chapter in which she could, once again, direct her love and compassion to horses like the ones that had provided her with so much emotional and spiritual comfort when she was a young girl. With that in mind, we joined the Nalani Team as volunteers in 2017, and I joined the Nalani Board of Directors in 2018. I’ve always been a firm believer that when you make a choice in life that aligns with the path we’re destined to be on, you can immediately feel the rightness of the fit. We treasure that sense every day and we’ve never looked back.

I remember reading long ago that humans are the only living things that are born with a piece of ourselves missing, and we spend our lifetimes searching for that piece. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to believe that there is a plan and a purpose destined for ourselves – the challenge is in finding it. I’ve also come to be an absolute believer in Guardian Angels. I know they exist and they are embodied in all the good people and creatures around us. We are all part of the web of life and we share the same short time together on this planet. We are here to help each other, and a gift to one is returned to us tenfold. For Susan and I, the Nalani rescue horses and the Nalani mission was our missing piece.

While people are in search of their “missing piece” and are disconnected from nature, horses are born complete and they enjoy a connection to nature that humans will never know. Yet, humans have not always treated our equine companions fairly. Humans have taken their land, taken their freedom, used them for labor, abused them, and then discarded them as worthless when they were deemed no longer “useful.” There is so much reward in saving these amazing spirits and enabling them to spend their lives on the land and in the sun and seasonal breezes as nature intended. Free from pain, free from fear, and free from hunger and want. All while being properly cared for and supported with the love, respect, and admiration they deserve. That is the mission of Nalani Horse Rescue. During our time with Nalani, we’ve learned that when we give of ourselves, and as Susan always says – “Listen” with our whole heart, the rewards are immeasurable not only for these fabulous spiritual creatures, but for ourselves as well. Cherry Tapley has not only made Nalani home for this small herd of rescue horses, but it is our “missing piece,” and is a loving home for us as well. We thank Cherry and the Nalani herd for this blessing daily. I encourage you to join us on our mission to save these beautiful creatures. I can promise it is an experience you won’t want to miss. We look forward to meeting you and working with you.

“For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings. They are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.” – Henry Beston

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