The Horse That Calmed Their Crisis
The Horse That Calmed Their Crisis
For this farm couple, a small paint horse proved to be one of their guardian angels.
For four generations my husband Robert’s family has run our dairy farm in Albany, Ohio–ever since Dr. Wade Jeffers quit medicine for farming in the 1930s.
I looked out the window at the hills where our small herd of horses grazed. All these years... Was it worth it? I wondered now.
Our troubles had started with what sounded like a stroke of luck. The state and federal government put money aside to improve the land along our creek. That meant improvements to our farm and the rest of our land as well. The government was even going to help us build new facilities.
Unfortunately, the government work couldn’t begin until we had a plan to move the dairy operation 100 yards away from its present location. Naturally, Dr. Jeffers didn’t have future government regulations in mind when he decided where to build it.
Our plans had to be rubber stamped by several different agencies. Endless specifications, countless inspections–what a headache. And the work was mandatory. We couldn’t decline the improvements.
What had seemed like a gift turned into a curse as our family tried to force a farm built in the 1930s to fit the demands of the twenty-first century. It put us deep into debt.
In four years we’d cashed in everything we had, including my state teachers’ retirement account, and we still weren’t out of the hole. Sometimes I felt like I never even wanted to look at our beloved farm again.
I went into the living room where Robert sat on the couch. The stress had taken its toll on both of us, but Robert especially. His blood pressure was soaring and medications didn’t seem to help.
“You can’t farm in this condition,” the doctor told Robert on his last visit. “If you push yourself, I don’t think you’ll live.”
That didn’t stop the creditors from calling. Or stop government representatives and lawyers coming on a daily basis. I was exhausted and nervous all the time. I combed the library for books about dealing with stress, but I needed more than books to ease my troubled mind.
I needed someone with more strength than Robert or I had left. I needed God.
“Let’s go for a walk,” I said one afternoon, reaching for Robert’s hand. “We won’t go far. I want to show you some breathing exercises I learned. They really help.”
Robert sighed and followed me outside. Even with all our problems I couldn’t help but be struck by the beauty around me. Our farm sits atop the highest ridge in the county, with rolling hills spread out below us. I steered us away from the dairy operation and toward the horse pasture.
“This is far enough,” Robert said as we reached the other side of the first hill. In the distance our horses grazed. How mighty and powerful they looked. If only they could give us some of their strength!
“Sit cross-legged,” I instructed Robert, spreading a blanket on the cool grass. “And close your eyes.”
Robert settled himself on the grass, and I knelt behind him. I massaged his shoulders, tense as could be. I rubbed his temples.
“Breathe in slowly to the sound of my voice,” I said. “Breathe all the way in, so your stomach expands, not just your chest.” God, he needs your healing , I prayed. We both do .
We hadn’t been there long when I noticed the horses making their way toward us over the hill. Cheyenne, one of the paint horses, was in the lead. We’ll have to get up if they get too close , I thought.
Horses often kicked suddenly if startled, so it wasn’t safe to sit at their feet. It was easy for a horse to injure a person with his hooves without meaning to. But I didn’t want to interrupt Robert until I had to. I breathed with him, willing myself to relax.