Dixie Ayala is one of So Cal Mini’s invaluable volunteers and supporters. She puts in a tremendous amount of time working at the Sanctuary and with our minis.

As an avid writer, Dixie’s Mini Musings will be featured here on So Cal Mini’s website.

Dixie and Ace

Turning onto the dirt road, a feeling of quiet comes over me. I am on my way to spend time with Maddie.Following is the story of how I came to meet her.

A tradition before the New Year begins is to write down my goals for the coming year and to also choose a phrase to concentrate on. My phrase this year…Make a difference in 2018.

Another tradition is to watch the Rose Parade. To my surprise the theme was…Making a Difference.

In between the beautiful floats and bands, were horses, among them miniature ones that had been rescued from abuse or neglect.My heart went out to the small animals.There was a feeling of admiration for the people who rescued and provided a safe haven for them.

After the parade was over, my thoughts continued to wander back to the minis. Sadness and anger washed over me when thinking of the cruelty some of them have endured. Thank goodness for people who are willing to love, care for, rehabilitate and give them a safe environment in which to heal and rest.

Days later when throwing the local paper away I noticed an article*about the mini horses that were in the parade.While reading the write-up it was surprising to learn the sanctuary is located right here in Hemet.

I looked up information (socalminihorse.org.)and found sponsoring a horse would be possible. After looking at all the photos and reading their stories, I would have loved to sponsor them all. I chose a horse named, Rose. After sending an email to the sanctuary asking for an opportunity to meet Rose, I found out they had already received a sponsorship for her. They asked if I would be willing to choose another horse. I went through the list and read about Maddie who had been saved from an auction. Her story also said she was afraid of humans.

Having selected Maddie to sponsor, I went to the sanctuary to meet her. Jeanne, the founder, gave me a tour and told me about each of the minis.She knows every one of them and their stories (some have been starved, one had been kept under a porch and fed clippings once a week by the gardener, others have been whipped, some have been saved from kill lots.) My heart hurt for them. How can some humans be so cruel?

I met Maddie at a distance because of her fear.I suspect she has been beaten in the past. There is no way of knowing that, it is just a feeling I have.

Jeanne encouraged me to come out, put a chair in the corral and sit with Maddie.I haven’t had any experience in working with horses, however, I am willing to learn, to try.

For the last several weeks I’ve been going out twice a week to be with Maddie. In the corral are two other horses, Princess and Puzzle who are also afraid. Puzzle is especially fearful. They are in an area where humans are walking around, cleaning up their poop, feeding them and filling their water. They are exposed to people who are not going to harm them. There are other volunteers who come to spend time with them during the week.

When I go out to be with the girls, I talk with them, listen, sit in a chair or walk around the corral. Sometimes cleaning up their horsey manure.

One day while sitting in the chair, Maddie came up to me and sniffed my hand. It was very brief, but it was a beginning. I came home feeling very honored.

At the first visit, I brought large, long carrots, not realizing the miniature horses might choke on them. Fortunately, Jeanne came to their rescue before I caused any harm. It was an important lesson. Now I only bring small carrots and horse cookies.

Maddie and Princess will come up to me and take treats out of my hand.They don’t stay long but it is a step forward. Puzzle is still very frightened and if I move, she moves. She watches me constantly. Perhaps someday she will come for a treat. Until she does, I toss her carrots so she won’t be left out.

It can take weeks, months, years for the abused to trust again. Some never do. They have been treated so badly by humans that trust is beyond reach. Too many scars have been left on their spirit.

After my first visit, I came home and sobbed. Some of the minis have lived through so much.I feel grateful to Jeanne and Carlos Candelario who founded the sanctuary, (So Cal Mini Horse Sanctuary) and for all the volunteers who help care for the small horses.

This story will unfold a day at a time, perhaps a carrot at a time.

I don’t know if I am making a difference in Maddie, Princess or Puzzles life, but they are making a difference in mine.

*The Valley Chronicle  January 4-10, 2018