On to Greener PasturesOct 01, 2015 ● By Frisco STYLE
Founded in 1997, in Marlin, Texas, Becky’s Hope was initiated after a horse was found wandering around an abandoned, dry and trashed pasture with severe hair loss and numerous open wounds. After alerting the authorities about the poor horse’s condition, no action was taken. Sue Chapman, her son Joe and her team decided to fight to legally win custody of the horse. When the Chapmans found the horse, they named her “Becky’s Hope,” in honor of the future relief of abused animals they would become devoted to fighting for. After months of intensive care and nutritional supplements, as well as several surgeries at Texas A&M University, the brave and gentle Becky’s Hope was restored to health. The team committed themselves to rescuing other animals with similar stories. Today, Becky’s Hope is 20 years old and resides at the rescue center as the happy matriarch of the stables.
Besides the heartwarming stories of horses that have been rescued by the staff at Becky’s Hope, you can also hear the life stories of the people who love the horses when you visit the rescue center. Sue Chapman, the owner of Becky’s Hope, has always loved animals and has been rescuing dogs since she was young. After getting a degree in journalism and starting her own business, The J Paul Company, Ms. Chapman saw a need in the community. She saw no advocate for horses in the U.S. and the Humane Society told her they could not take care of horses, so she decided to do something about the problem. Lari McConegly, the trainer at the rescue facility, had some training with horses earlier in life. Since then, she has done research on her own and learned exponentially more about horse communication through trial and error. “It is like being a mother,” she said. “You learn through experience.” Veterinarian and friend, Bailey White, takes care of the horses’ medical needs and serves as another member to the ever-growing family at Becky’s Hope.
One of the most beautiful things about Becky’s Hope is the feeling that often overcomes visitors as they step out onto the property. An overwhelming sense of peace permeates the air around the steadfast, calm horses, and the workers on the grounds feel like family. Not only do the volunteers here save horses, but they also allow horses to heal the people who come to visit them. In a conversation with Ms. Chapman, she said, “Animals know when someone is afraid or hurting. They can give people what they need in the moment.” One project in the works that utilizes the horses’ natural skills is a program for veterans returning from traumatic experiences during time in service overseas. Veterans spend time around the horses and often feel peace for the first time in a long time. Anyone in need of a healing touch or a deep breath of fresh air away from the craziness of suburban life can soak up the sun in the wide-open pastures.
Every animal at the rescue center is considered a miracle. Most of the 40 horses were rescued from a horrible environment, whether it was a truck taking them off to be slaughtered or seclusion in a field with no one to feed them. Together, the group of horses form a sort of Island of Misfit Toys and they respect each other’s darker pasts in anticipation of a brighter future. Ms. McConegly said, “Horses suffer in silence. They will starve to death and not make a sound.” Samson and Pumpkin, two of the miniature ponies at Becky’s Hope, were found living in a junkyard eating dirty water bottles. Pumpkin was pregnant at the time, but lost her foal because of her poor living conditions. Another rescue horse, Sweet Pea, was saved from a slaughterhouse while she was pregnant. She later gave birth to the adorable Aria at the rescue center. A dog rescue group found another horse that was later named “Spirit.” Spirit had been impaled by a fence during a storm and needed immediate care. Luckily, she was taken care of by Dana Freeman, a volunteer with Becky’s Hope. Like some of the other rescued animals, she has been able to heal in the company of the other horses in the pasture. Horse meat is a delicacy in other countries around the world, so many of these beautiful creatures are sold for slaughter to foreign companies. The team at this organization is dedicated to saving animals from such a fate.
The process of rehabilitation is a gradual one. Healing takes time, especially after living in horrible conditions, and the workers at the rescue center know not to expect big results overnight. First, the vet and trainer identify the problem as well as possible sources of the problem. Then, they brainstorm strategies for how to alleviate the issue. “The difference you can make here is phenomenal. The horse is what built human civilization. We owe them a debt,” Ms. McConegly said. She dedicates her life to these horses, without receiving any salary. Everyone at the rescue center is a volunteer, even Ms. Chapman, making donations from the community that much more influential. No dollar that is donated is given to anyone but the animals.
One particularly beautiful story is that of a Becky’s Hope supporter, Barbara, who owns a mustang at the rescue center, but has never been able to visit the horse due to illness. Soon, the workers at Becky’s Hope are taking the mustang in a trailer to her home so that she can see it in real life for the first time. “It is not just about saving the animals,” Ms. Chapman said repeatedly. “This is about the volunteers and the people healing. People come to see the horses, but they meet survivors.”
The relatively new location in Frisco sits on more than 100 acres and has seven box stalls as well as a tack room and feeding room. There is a whole separate pasture designated for horses that have experienced trauma and need further rehabilitation or need to be quarantined due to illness. Generous members of the community donated the construction materials that were used to build the structures. Ms. Chapman said, “In a society of immediate gratification and many self-centered people, the team was not prepared for the outpouring of selfless support.”
Becky’s Hope also encourages the collaboration of nonprofits instead of competition. “Our voices are stronger together than they are apart,” Ms. Chapman said. Together they attempt to provide a voice for the voiceless. The team chose Frisco because of its larger population and the way the land sits right next to a rapidly growing residential area. “Frisco is growing with purpose and forethought,” Ms. Chapman said. “Here, we have the best of both worlds.”
Not only do they have mustangs like Muffit, miracle horses like Spirit and draft horses like Freedom, but they also have several dogs, donkeys and Herbie the pig. Most of the time, the horses can be found grazing the wide open pastures or meeting the visitors who come to see them. Healing horses in the recovery process are also taken outside regularly to soak up some sun and get some exercise. Becky’s Hope provides instruction on how to know if buying a horse is the right choice for you. They dedicate themselves to educating the public about proper horse and animal care.
Funding animal surgeries and simply feeding them gets very expensive, so this 501(C)(3) organization is always looking for anyone who wants to financially support their cause. Besides giving money, anyone interested in the cause can volunteer at the facility, call and report a situation where an animal is being harmed, visit the animals on Wednesday through Sunday or start fundraisers with a group to raise additional awareness. A little boy named Thomas makes bracelets and sells them to make money for the animals while 10-year-old Bella Miller boards her horse at the rescue center and has raised more than $3,000 for the organization through lemonade stands, Facebook videos and washing dogs. Her mother, Andrea Lei, said, “It is so peaceful here and all the money goes to the horses.” The mother and daughter love spending evenings here working with the horses and getting to know each other better. You can sponsor an animal for as little as $5 a month. Every bit helps, so never be afraid to give.
For more information or to see how you can get involved and help at Becky’s Hope, go to beckyshope.net.