Posted on Aug 16, 2023
By Ellie Laks, Founder of The Gentle Barn
Jay and I were contacted by a lovely couple in Colorado Springs who asked us to take in their horse. Marley had a back injury that rendered him unrideable, and he needed the sort of rehabilitation that we offer here at The Gentle Barn. He was being bullied by the other horses he boarded with and kept from accessing food, water, and shelter. With his weight loss, short coat, and thin frame, the coming winter would have proven life-threatening. Once we heard his story and saw those kind, soft eyes, Jay and I were hooked and bound for Colorado.
The drive to Colorado took us two days with an overnight stop the first night. After arriving late in Denver and getting some much-needed rest, we woke early the next morning to meet Marley. He was everything that we had hoped for and more. Acting more like a giant puppy than a horse, he walked around nibbling grass, came when called, and exuded gentleness from every pore. During the many hours in the car, I spoke to Marley and let him know that we were coming, sending him mental pictures of what we looked like, so he would expect our arrival. When we finally met him in person, he seemed comfortable with us right from the start.
The journey homeward was a bit more stressful, as Jay and I were ever mindful of the toll the ride was taking on Marley, being in the trailer for so long. While Jay and I were happy to drive as long as needed, singing, sharing snacks, and admiring the breathtaking heights of The Rockies, the grassy plains of Utah, and the pink rocks of Arizona, we had a horse in the trailer and wanted to get him out of there fast. As concerned as we were, however, each time we stopped for gas or the restroom, Marley seemed just fine, putting his head out the window, looking around with curiosity, and enjoying the sweet apples we brought out for him each time we stopped. It was clear from the start that regardless of what he had gone through previously, Marley maintained an easy going, carefree, and chilled-out attitude to pretty much everything.
The first night traveling home, we stopped at a ranch in Utah that allowed Marley to rest until morning. Marley was grateful to hop off the trailer to an awaiting stall with fresh water, a sumptuous pile of grass hay, soft bed of shavings, and other horses for company. While Marley drank, ate, traded stories with new friends, and rested, Jay and I headed to the motel and were asleep before our heads hit the pillows.
The next morning was our last and final drive home. That day we were driving through Utah, Nevada, and into California. It was going to be hot! Concerned for Marley’s comfort, we woke early, while it was still dark, to get Marley loaded and on the road to beat the midday heat. Marley was only too happy to jump aboard with many promises of how wonderful his life would be at The Gentle Barn. With only two gas and restroom breaks, we made it home by noon. Thankfully, the heavens were smiling down upon us that day, as it was unusually cool for August and remained no higher than the 80s the entire trip.
Now home at The Gentle Barn, Marley is settling in beautifully. Marley will spend the next several weeks in the barn next to each horse and donkey in the herd. Once comfortable with each member, Marley will spend time in the pasture with each horse and donkey. Once they are all okay with each other, they will become a family and will then be inside the soft barn during the day, and outside at night for cool summer evenings to play and socialize. This process can take only a few weeks, or it can take several months, depending on the dynamics within the herd. So far, our equine matriarch, Bonnie, adores him and so does our Arabian mare, Danara. Ruby is quite impressed by the new, dreamy gelding, which is upsetting Ruby’s partner, Thor. Showing Thor that Marley poses no threat might be the hardest hurdle we face, and we will keep you posted each step of the way.
There are many firsts that Marley will get to experience at The Gentle Barn. We have already given him his very first bath and he enjoyed the cool water. We took him on his first walk around the property and he very calmly admired the pigs, sheep, goats, llamas, and birds in our barnyard, completely unfazed, even though our dogs were barking from the front yard. Marley even romped around the pasture with Bonnie already, rolling in the sand, pushing around the giant bouncy ball, and splashing with his nose in the giant tub of water just for fun. Marley is off to a great start! Please come meet him when you can, follow his journey on our social media, and you can even sponsor him and be an intimate part of his life. Thank you for supporting us so that we can say yes to animals like Marley and give them the rehabilitation, care, love, and life that they deserve!