Written by John Halley
Photography by Brown’s Woodbees Photography
The horse’s leg was so badly broken that the leg was just hanging – and yet someone had sent him in to be auctioned off anyway. This was the sight that stopped me in my tracks eight years ago at an auction in De Deur.
I’ve been involved in animal rescue for about 40 years, and, as I held the suffering horse and waited for the vet to come and humanely euthenise him, I promised him that I would do my utmost to help as many horses as it was possible for me to do.
And that’s how Spirit and Soul came into being about eight years ago.
What is Spirit and Soul Stables?
Horses are individuals to be treated with respect and kindness. At Spirit and Soul Stables, we believe in working with the spirit, the mind and the emotions of horses. We provide a sanctuary for equines in need – those that no one wants, those that were destined for the abattoir, and those that were left to die. We’re also home to seven special needs dogs.
We rescue and rehabilitate where possible, and provide a permanent home to those who have retired and a tranquil place for injured horses to recover. Some of them even become therapy horses. Apart from rescuing equines, we also work with so-called “problem” horses and offer retirement facilities to older horses, as well as a livery service.
We are fortunate to have met and worked with some wonderful equines. These are some of our stars…
Spirit and Soul (the stables’ namesake) is a magnificent dark-brown gelding who had been diagnosed with arthritis and was about to be put down. I was called in to check him over and, although I don’t know why, I decided at the last minute to take the horsebox along. Well, I decided then and there that he was coming back with me. His owner signed him over and, four years later, he’s still with me – with absolutely no sign of arthritis. He’s proving to be a great therapy horse too.
Claire, a beautiful chestnut racehorse whose original name was “I Can See Clearly Now”, came to me because she had somehow fallen into a swimming pool; the trainer needed help to get her out. Once out, Claire stood with me until she was 100% over her ordeal and was then returned to the trainer. He was absolutely disgusted as she “no longer had the temperament of a racehorse” as she was very calm and laid back. I was then told I could keep her. Claire has also lost her left eye – not just blind, but the whole eye had to be removed.
Raggerty Anne (aka Rags) is a lovely bay mare who was given to me sight unseen. When this sweet girl was offloaded, I discovered why. To my horror, I saw that her withers (the ridge between the shoulder blades) were smashed, she was thin, and covered with bald spots. Two days after she arrived, Rags went down; for the next four days, I slept by her side. On the fourth day, I opened my eyes to find this huge animal standing over me – she’d managed to stand by herself and it was like she was now looking after me.
Danny (Oceanic) was living at a stable yard when I was called to do a reading on him as he was “uncontrollable”. When I arrived, I found him alone in a dark stable – he was just a bag of bones. Because they couldn’t handle him, he’d just been put into a stable and forgotten. He was so weak that he had to be strapped up to keep him on his feet.
Bibi is a pretty little brown-and-white pony whom I rescued. When I found her, this gentle thing had been beaten to within an inch of her life and we rushed her to Dr Dave at Central Vet, where she was immediately put onto a drip and treated for shock and pain. Within a week, she’d begun improving and today is a fat, healthy, happy pony.
Milo and her foal, Coco, became “famous” when they were removed from the Bunny Park in Benoni by Ban Animal Trading (BAT) due to neglect. The owners were taken to court and, after winning the case, they were awarded to me by the Supreme Court.
These precious animals are only a small portion of the many equines who have passed through the Rescue Centre. Today, they’re therapeutic horses who work with children and adults from all walks of life, with all sorts of needs. Each one is incredibly kind and gentle.
Taking into account the cruelty they endured before I was lucky enough to acquire them, I marvel at their nature, which is so calm and so forgiving. It is a wonder and a privilege to be able to work with them every day of my life, and I will continue to do so until the day I die.
For more information about Spirit and Soul, call 063 011 4771, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Spirit-and-Soul-Stables-Livery-Rescue-Rehab-Retirement-394551184085671/
We are always grateful for financial donations to help us continue our work with horses like Spirit and Bibi. Our banking details are:
First National Bank
Acc. no.: 62676621701
Branch no.: 250-655
Enjoy this video that was recently produced by Brown’s Woodbees Photography Spirit and Soul Stables Go light your world Chris Rice