By Kim Meeder
The winter night was cold. Alone, a broken, discarded thoroughbred mare lay down in a frozen field and gave birth to a filly. Stars were the only witness. There was no celebration. There was no herald. No one even knew. Without notice, a new life entered the realm of men.
Yet, whether glorious or humble, the purpose of a life is not determined by its beginnings.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Eph. 2:10, NLT, emphasis added).
The first time I saw the young mare, she was four years old. She had been fully saddled and was trotting circles in a round pen. Her ordinary bay coloring could not diminish her extraordinary spirit and elegant movement. With a nod to her thoroughbred mother and Arabian Sire, she appeared to float in the air more than trod on the earth. Although dressed in burlap, she moved like royalty.
Soon after, while volunteering at the ranch where she lived, I saw something that changed my life forever.
Her owner was “training her to be soft on the bite” and had tied her jaw down so tightly that her chin was buried into her own chest. Agonizing, she laid down—fully tacked—to escape the pain. Her owner was infuriated by her torture evading decision. I walked onto the scene to see him violently kicking her in the face to make her stand up. Before I could stop him, he split her forehead open—eight inches between her eyes—with the toe of his boot.
Through a hail of profanity, he called a vet to come and sew up her permanently altered face. Once the vet arrived, I heard a complete fabrication of how the mare received such a vicious wound: “She reared up and hit her head on the rafters.” He said. The vet nodded, then smirked and muttered, “She probably deserved it.”
Feeling hot tears stream down my face, I walked away into the gathering darkness. My prayer was simple, “Jesus . . . show me what to do.”
Make no mistake, when we ask God to show us, He will. And once He does, we need to be ready to follow Him where HE wants to go.
Not long after, finances were donated by a family of three to buy the abused mares freedom. Knowing beforehand that her price was 30,000 dollars—I prayed—and then knocked on the door. The owner invited me in to discuss the purchase of his prized future polo horse. While listening to his passionate dialogue of why this horse was so valuable, I sat on his couch and continued to silently pray. Over the next hour, her price went from 30,000 dollars, to 15,000 dollars, to 10,000 dollars. I said nothing and kept praying. After thirty more minutes of chatter, he finally settled on 1,250 dollars . . . the exact amount I had gathered.
I shook his hand, gave him the money and proceeded straight out into the corral where she was being held. Realizing I didn’t yet own a halter, I knocked on his door again and asked if I could borrow one for the walk home. He retreated back into his house to search for one. Between him receiving the cash and producing a halter, his heart changed. I could hear him swearing as he came toward the door. He opened it and hurled the halter at my face, calling the horse and me names I will never forget. Through a hail of profanity, I walked the beautiful mare past his porch as he screamed, “You and that piece of —- horse trash, GET OFF MY RANCH!”
Together, we walked side by side in the twilight toward home. I prayed. I cried. I worshipped. I wondered what it all meant. While leading this mare away from her pain and into freedom, I could not possibly have known what Jesus was about to do.
And so it began . . . the beginning of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch.
“C.L.C’s Freedom” walked out of her abuse and became the equine leader for the abused.
“Ele” was the tip of the sword. She taught me through her unique equine voice how to press in and work hard. She exampled how beautiful perseverance can be. She became an elite athlete. She was passionate, funny and joyful. She lived a life that reflected unrivaled hope—His hope—through every circumstance.
More horses followed. The battered, broken, neglected, unseen and homeless streamed like a needy flood behind her. Dozens turned into hundreds. Tracing their combined hoof prints came the children—thousands and thousands of children—who often reflected the same pain as the horses they came to know and love.
As we learned to trust in the presence of God, His love alone that became the healing agent for all.
Not only did the horses and children find purpose in the power of God’s transforming love—others with a similar dream came to the Ranch. From all over the world, individuals arrived with the raw, selfless hope of helping kids through horses find the healing redemption that Jesus offers to all.
Through the years, Crystal Peaks has served tens of thousands free of charge. Hundreds of horses were moved from their suffering into freedom and a rising tide of new ranches has poured into existence to release His living water into their communities. Time has flown by. Years have turned into decades. Then, at two and a half decades—for a brief moment—time stopped.
On July 9th, 2020 at 1:00pm, Ele, the equine founder of 25 years of this ministry—laid down and died.
She passed quickly and quietly, the answered prayer for mercy of all who love horses. We wept as Heaven roared . . . for another warrior had finished her race.
Years ago, the Lord gave me a picture that I have since drawn much comfort from. Revelation 19:11-16 speaks of Jesus returning on a white horse with King of kings and Lord of lords written on His thigh. He is followed by the countless armies of heaven—who are also all riding horses—all white horses.
On a beautiful day in July, “Curt-Lindsey-Cindy’s Freedom” once again, walked away from her pain and into freedom. An ordinary bay colored horse laid down in this life and rose into the next, striding through the veil of this realm and into the courts of Heaven. And with every step, her once common exterior transforms, turning snowy white as she approaches the King of kings.
Her humble beginnings, former abuse and ordinary appearance were the bedrock upon which her purpose was built. She was a masterpiece. She was created to do the good things He planned for her long ago. And so she did, and became the figurehead of all that was to follow.
Because of Jesus’ love, a single ordinary horse became the equine leader of an extraordinary global ministry. Indeed, Jesus’ love is good like that.
We rejoice with Heaven’s host at Ele’s “graduation” and look forward to the next new generation of ministry.
Zechariah 4:10a is correct when it speaks of not despising small beginnings because the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.
Beloved—within your life—never despise what feels small, painful or common. Forged through your humble beginnings, the pain of your past and your ordinary life . . . what extraordinary purpose might He be “beginning” in you?
By Sarah Robinett
“Sometimes I feel like I want to be brave.”
I stood in silence as I let the words sink in. The girl who sat across from me during our Harvest Day class was painting the word “Brave” in large, bold letters across the wooden board in front of her. I remembered how just the day before, I’d been looking at what seemed to be a completely different child.
This same shy 10 year-old, who we’ll call “Hannah,” stood off to the side as our Greeter paired kids with their session leaders. Her name was called and she came my way. I noticed that she was very tall for her age and walked nervously and somewhat awkwardly as she followed me to start our session.
When I asked her what she wanted to do, she wrung her hands and responded, “I guess maybe . . . we could . . . ride a horse.”
“You guess maybe we could?” I countered with a big smile.
“Oh… um… sorry. Let’s ride a horse.”
At that moment, I had an odd thought. It was more like a deep knowing than a thought. This girl needed to ride Phoenix, more commonly known here as, Phoebe.
Phoebe came as a three-year-old mare from the most extreme rescue the ranch has ever been a part of . . . a backyard breeding program of over 300 starving, emaciated and dead horses. Dogs roamed everywhere too, living and breeding in piles of junk. The dogs were also starved to the point of attacking and eating the carcasses of the horses who’d died. Amazingly, Phoebe survived the rescue and transportation to the ranch and the staff here at Crystal Peaks lovingly nourished Phoebe back to health. Still, however, she sometimes struggles with fear and trust. To be successful during a session, she needs a strong, confident leader.
And Hannah was anything but confident.
Unsure of the combination, but trusting the Lords urging, we set out to halter Phoebe. Hannah listened intently as I told her Phoebe’s horrific story of survival and her current need of a confident rider. I also explained to Hannah that once someone earns Phoebe’s trust, she becomes one of the most loyal horses I’ve ever met.
Once in the arena and atop Phoebe’s back, I was amazed at the transformation I saw in Hannah. She quietly and confidently directed Phoebe around cones and through obstacles. Each time Phoebe acted a bit nervous, Hannah calmly regained her focus. My new, young friend rode like a champion. While riding, she started to talk—and tell me stories—and laugh! She came to life! I stood amazed at the miracle unfolding before my eyes. . .a timid, little girl teaching out to a timid, rescued horse. . . and showing her how to be brave.
“Sometimes I want to be brave.”
I jolted back to the present. “Hannah, yesterday with Phoebe . . . you were brave. It was incredible to watch you work with her so well. It takes a pretty special person to be able to do what you did for such a broken and kind horse.”
She smiled up at me and quietly went back to work. At the end of the class, I looked again at her board. Behind the word “Brave,” was a painted horse silhouette running into the wild colors of a sunset. I couldn’t help but think that horse must have been Phoebe.