2 years ago I discovered that the land and water on our new little farm had been heavily polluted.
Today I am calling for your help to clean our land and water, and heal my horses!
Together with my small herd of 3 ponies – Merlin, Taku and Kitty – I offer group and one-to-one sessions in social skills, confidence building, empathy, community building and self-development – all through connection with the horses and with Nature. The horses really are the teachers, and I facilitate, coordinate and translate the messages they want to bring to people to help them grow and heal.
I can't tell you how much I love my work, I have seen amazing results time and time again throughout the years. Every moment with the horses is a moment of grace for the person they are working with.
My goal is to be able to reach out to those who need it most, and give as many people as possible the opportunity to experience the benefit of this work. Over those 11 years the horses and I have had some fantastic experiences and testimonials in the positive change we can bring to the world, and the Horse & Heart venture has grown strong.
When the horses and myself finally moved to our own little farm 2 years ago, it was a dream come true.
With our own premises I would now be able to host courses and develop better facilities to ensure that we reached out to everyone – including the most vulnerable people, too.
But soon after moving in, I discovered that the farm I had bought had been heavily polluted, and that both the land and the water were contaminated.
The horses and I started to feel unwell, and the horses got very ill before I could find out what the issue was. The venture had to be put on hold whilst I worked on restoring our health and cleaning our land.
We started off with enthusiastic volunteers come to lend a hand in digging out plastic, rusty metal and shards of glass. But I soon realised that the scope of the problem was beyond what "little hands" could achieve.
I had to bring in the muscles in the shape of local contractors with their machinery.
The task turned out to be a titanic one even so, with weeks and months of work needed to purge the land of hazardous waste half buried in the fields for the last 25 years, whilst bringing water in as we couldn't drink our own.
Of course, I set about looking for help from local and national official bodies. But in the end, the UK law is such that none were able to do anything for us: the responsibility of pollution falls upon the owner of the land, and that was that. It was up to me to roll up my sleeves and do what I could to save my horses and rehabilitate my land.
Whilst all of that was happening, I was also facing a race against time to figure out a cure for the horses as their health deteriorated to a critical state and vets were at a loss as to how to help.
Their condition – labelled as "metabolic failure" from severe poisoning – requires them to be kept locked in a very small space, on artificial feed and in-hand exercise. The horse care alone now took up to 6 hours per day, and their specialist diet and treatments cost more and more money every day, with no sign of relenting.
It has taken me the best part of those 2 years, tending to the horses every single day without a break, in trials and errors with feed and various treatments to finally work out a regime that worked for them. And they recovered – at least as long as they are kept on this routine and diet.
We are a small family the horses and I, giving our lives and time to a social project that I run as a not-for-profit enterprise, committed to creating a better world. We had never needed much and never minded if finances were low, as a simple life is the life we love best.
Of course, I knew that taking on a farm comes with unforseen issues, but this was beyond the scope of anything anyone could have anticipated.
I am very proud of how much has been achieved. There were times when I thought we would never make it, but we kept going and giving the challenge more Love and sweat and hope every day.
And now finally, the horses' health is stable, the land is safe and clean – and we are very close to being able to have a normal life again! And to gradually being able to offer our services again, too.
Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic has struck us hard as well, as it has meant a dramatic loss of both income and volunteers, and we fell through the Government's net of financial support – another blow when we already needed help!
All in all, the cost of this "Land Rehabilitation Challenge" has been enormous, and now, 2 years on, as I am able to raise my head above the water of all the work that has been done I am calling for help to meet it.
The bills are shared between contractors' work (which, at a rate of £200 to £800 per day very quickly adds up) and cost of material, vet bills, and the horses' specialist diet and treatments, and the loss of basic income during the pandemic.
You can read our full story, see more pictures and find out what we're about on our website
In order to meet the bills and finish creating a viable setup both for the horses and for the project to run, I am hoping to gather the money by this Summer.
A year into the pandemic, the collateral damage of lockdown has been a massive increase in social distress and mental health issues. Our work is urgently needed now more than ever, we can help bring relief and healing and for that we need your help.
ANY amount of support is welcome and very gratefully received, each penny will go straight to our hearts, not only bringing practical relief but also the amazing loving feeling of knowing that we are supported – that people out there care.
There are bills that are ongoing at the moment, too, and undoubtedly unforseen expenses still to come – so any donations in surplus of the target will be helpful in the same way.
Your donation will benefit hundreds, maybe thousands of people in enabling Horse & Heart to get back afloat and bring education and healing to the community.
And any amount above that will go towards the funding of social projects for vulnerable people to have access to the beautiful work the horses do.
So THANK YOU for your gift, and please do pass on this campaign to your friends – why not ask them to match fund your donation, and keep the ball rolling?!
With Love & hope,
Marie, Kitty, Taku and Merlin. ☀️