Everyone has wounds, unique emotional scrapes and scars. Childhood and growing up, family and friends can sometimes beat you up and leave sore spots that we try to ignore or cover up.
I have a running joke that I cheerfully keep all my emotional skeletons locked in a closest and that’s where I want them to stay.
If we are lucky in life, we find salves and ointments, activities, places and people who make us feel better as humans. There are things that can smooth the rough corners and edges of life.
This year I discovered a place, right down the road, whose sole mission is exactly that. The Loco Bonita Ranch has some horses, a lot of them: and these animals have magical gifts. They make people feel better.
Seven years ago John and Sonja McCaleb opened their ranch and their hearts to folks who need them. Kids who have to live in “children’s homes” , stroke victims, students with emotional struggles and adults with unnamed, but very real pain have a place and some horses who understand. It’s one of the craziest most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
Sonja, John and their horses are quiet and kind, patient and encouraging. I watched as ten year old girls, twenty year old men and middle age ladies suddenly found peace as they brushed a 2,000 pound horse and talked. Years of physical and emotional pain dissolved as the horses nuzzled on them and tried to nibble the buttons on their shirts.
A lovely woman I know had a stroke a few years ago. She hadn’t been near a horse in forty years and all she wanted to do was ride, one more time. Sonja and John made that happen and it was beautiful. There were tears and laughter and horse poop and the world was right for an hour. Despite her disability she left empowered, knowing she could still do anything she set her mind to.
High strung, anxious, angry teens slow down as they figure out how to brush a horse. The look into those big dark eyes and breath in the peace of Loco Bonita. Sometimes as John or Sonja shows them how to take care of a horse they tell their stories….for the first time.
Kids who have been abandoned at home and bullied at school discover they have the ability to brush, saddle, bridle and lead an enormous, beautiful horse. And they can ride that huge animal without threats or abuse but with understanding and strength.
John and Sonja refuse to charge for any of their services. They just won’t do it.
The eighteen horses at Loco Bonita along with the Llama, goats, pigs and dogs do wondrous good in the world. The ranch is a place of peace and power, of grace and beauty.
Over the past 7 years Sonja estimated they’ve had at least 5,000 folks come through Loco Bonita and every one has been touched and helped by a horse. Both John and Sonja work full time. They help people because it is their passion and God’s plan. If you would like to visit or make a donation to help feed a horse (they eat a lot) let me know and we’ll make it happen.
Peace be with you,