Henry’s Home History

In 1994 the genesis of this sanctuary was revealed to Donna.  She walked away from what she believed was a ‘conversation with God’, in shock.  There was no question in her mind that she had been shown her primary purpose for being on this earth.  She will tell you that this ‘conversation’ showed her a future that would be the culmination of all of her life experiences and everything she believed in and dreamed of.

What she was shown was a retreat center on a large piece of land with big barns filled with all sorts of animals, beautiful gardens and flowers everywhere.  She found herself walking through a trail in the woods to a large lake.  She felt a healing, enveloping sense of peace.  As she looked around. She saw trails with color-coordinated flowers indicating the length of the trails.  Yellow flowers for a one mile trail, purple flowers for a two mile trail, etc.

A big rustic lodge had a centerpiece kitchen with dining tables and chairs scattered throughout the main floor.  Massive stone fireplaces, high timbered ceilings, comfy  but simple bedrooms, and bathrooms with big soaking tubs reflected an eclectic theme of comfort and simplicity.  Nestled about the grounds were fire pits and cozy seating arrangements.  Included in the main lodge was a uniquely square auditorium with large descending sections going down to a stage.  These sections of wide floors were filled with comfortable, obviously donated, couches, lounge chairs and recliners.  The intimate design was meant to feel like the speakers or performers were in a warm and inviting home.

More sleeping arrangements were nestled into creative yet functional buildings, all reflecting the unspoiled nature around them.  A bunkhouse, connected to one of the barns; a greenhouse creatively incorporated more bedrooms next to a greenhouse; a boathouse which housed more bedrooms next to the canoe storage.

There were no electronics in the bedrooms. Guests had an opportunity to disconnect from the world and step back into the peace of nature.  Incumbent upon visitors was the expectation of an extended quiet time while there – be that in a canoe, with a horse, on a walk, with a book, in the gardens, or whatever was healing and calming for that person. The main messages that she got during this ‘conversation’ was that folks would come here to heal their souls, that if she just kept seeking Him that when the time was right He would bring together all the money, land and people needed to build this place.

This was the vision that she was shown in 1994.

Over the next twenty-some years, while she raised her family and continued to grow in life experiences, that original vision of a retreat never left Donna’s mind. She knew it to be a sanctuary – a refuge from the stresses of life.  She took as many human footsteps as she could to prepare for this, including becoming a Master Gardener and Master Naturalist, but after a few years of waiting, rather impatiently, she put it on the back burner and worked on building her faith in all that is good, love and life.  Never forgetting.

Unbeknownst to her, this ‘purpose for her life’ started to take shape as a sanctuary for donated and rescued horses in February of 2012 with the adoption of her first two rescued horses, Henry and Lexi.  It became apparent to her, and those who rode with her, that spending time with these horses and out in nature heals people.  A three year period transpired during which the sanctuary grew with more adopted horses and more people coming to spend time with them. She opened a small trail riding business she named Just Us Gals to help pay for the costs of the horses.

Finally, in the fall of 2014 while sitting around a campfire with some of her regular riders, “it” clicked in her mind.  This was the vision she had been waiting for.  He was in the process of building it, even if in a completely unexpected way.  A sanctuary for horses, yes, but even more important, a sanctuary, a place for healing, for people.  So she incorporated it into a 501c3 non-profit and named it Henry’s Home Horse and Human Sanctuary after her beloved horse Henry who had been such a loving soul to all who met him, rescued from the brink of death for an obviously very important purpose.

In July, 2015, the Houston Chronicle ran an article about a neighborhood dispute that was occurring due to this non-profit in their neighborhood.  One of the leaders of a large development company, Johnson Development, saw that article and Donna was asked if she would like to move the sanctuary to the land that they had just purchased, soon to be called Grand Central Park.  It had been Camp Strake boy scout property, and was located just a few miles away from where they kept the horses.  After almost a year of keeping the horses at the private home of one of their executives, the horses were moved in October, 2016, onto their new land with only a perimeter fence, a hay shed, a couple of old sleeping pavilions as shelters for the horses, and a working bathroom.  It was very primitive, in fact Donna was sleeping in a small tent under the hay shed for months, but it was in the middle of 1,200 acres of woods and very peaceful. There was no question in Donna’s mind that this was a God thing.

Since that move, Donna would tell you that it is obvious that God is growing this sanctuary.  Leadership Montgomery County, another 501c3, chose it as their project for the Class of 2017.  They built out the arena, got a large portable office building donated, got plumbing and electrical put in throughout, helped with marketing and put on the ribbon cutting for the whole community, getting over $120,000 in in-kind donations.  Numerous local corporations contributed both time, work and money to help grow the sanctuary, along with a number of boy scouts doing their Eagle Scout projects, and other non-profits who supported this group with grants and donations.  And Johnson Development continued to support the sanctuary with everything, as needs arose.

Henry’s Home has taken in a half dozen more horses/mules/donkey’s since this move, as well as two pigs, a dog, a half dozen cats, and a family of ducks, all of whom make it feel more like a family home.  And all of whom have been surrenders from rescue or unwanted situations. Besides the horse sanctuary program, a Herdmate Program continues to offer anyone who needs healing time with the horses and other animals an opportunity to volunteer at the sanctuary. And since it’s move in 2016, the sanctuary has been offering EAGALA equine psychotherapy for veterans and their family members, always at no cost to them, in a program called Horses & Heroes Equine Therapy Program. In 2019 another program was added called Horses & Heroes R & R Program that offers as much time at the sanctuary for veterans and first responders and their families as they want, helping to care for the horses and the property, including therapeutic riding and training lessons, and when they are ready, joining the herdmates in trail riding. This program continues to expand in taking a larger step towards caring for everything at Henry’s Home as it cares for our local veterans and first responders.

 

The chosen land at Grand Central Park was partially cleared with a number of sleeping pavilions that had sat doormat for several years so was pretty overgrown.

There was an old but working bathroom which felt like pure luxury to us after the porta potty we had used for years. And there was another bathroom on the far side of the property, but it would not be used till later.

Each pavilion had a water pump close to it.  Ours worked, although they leaked even with some repairs.  We were happy to have water.

Johnson Development donated the hundreds of sleeping pallets to us if we wanted to pull the boards off them for fence boards.

It took a grueling month to pull all those boards off in the hundred degree days of August, but we felt blessed to be able to re-use the original boy scout wood for our fences and building sidings.

Next all the huge bay and hardwood trees had to be pruned to make them perfect shade trees for the horses.  That work, as well as starting to cut the brush out, took the month of September.

Post holes dug for the perimeter fence of the pastures.  That and the hay shed were the prerequisites for moving the horses here.

Thank God that Johnson Development was willing to help with so much of the land clearing and brush removal for us.

Their equipment and the staff who were used to doing work like this were invaluable. And everything they did was a donation. Sigh!

All our herdmates pitched in with all the jobs. They were invaluable.

Completely exhausted! But invaluable.

Each 9′ board was filled with about 16 old rusted nails or screws that had to be removed and then both ends cut off to fit into an 8′ post space.  We didn’t get far before we figured out that this was going to take us months to get done.  We needed help.

The land manger at GCP, just happened to have a son who needed to complete his Eagle Scout project.

Over two long weekends, they got all the boards up for us.

Thank God for boy scouts!

The other thing we had to have up was a place to store hay.

We have noticed dads are the hardest working members of the Eagle Scout team. Every time.

It took this scout and his dad just a couple weekends to get up the primary structure of our shed.

Then our hard working herdmates got it ready for the hay.

How is that for smart sweat control?

Our herdmates completed the siding of the hay shed enough to get our first load of hay delivered.  We were ready for the horses!

OK, first we have to set up a tent for our crazy leader Donna to sleep in every night out here, before we can bring the horses out.

Horses moved in October, 2016. They are so happy!

Donna ended up getting a much smaller tent to sleep in, which made it a lot easier for us to get out the hay every day.

Next project for the herdmates were building feeding stalls.  Taking screws and nails out of every board was painstaking work.

You go girl . . . show him how it’s done! But we must admit most of us would not have a clue how to get done what we envisioned. Thank God for the guys who do.

Of course there has to be a supervisor on every job.  Willie Nelson was happy to volunteer for this one cause it meant food for him.

We were so grateful for a covered area to keep our tack and supplies.  But boy did we need some type of building to keep stuff in.

Our dear friends, Bob and Susan Graves, asked us what our greatest need was.  We said a tack shed.  They wrote us a check.

So much room!

We ordered the tack shed in October, 2016, and got it delivered and set up in December, 2016. Starting to feel like a real place.

Same day we got our tack shed, the Montgomery County Constables dropped off a mini mule they had found along the side of Highway 105 in Conroe earlier.

The constable’s deputy told us that he also brought her roommate [in jail for the last six weeks] who she would be unhappy without.  Augustus McRae!  We knew absolutely nothing about pigs.  But we all fell in love with him that first day.  He was the perfect meet and greet pig!  So ugly that he was adorable.

Say what?!!!

“This one we get . . . small but more like us.”

It was on December 14, 2016, that we got the email from Johnson Development giving us permission to have our herdmates take the horses off our sanctuary grounds for trail rides around the Grand Lake. It would be so great to get them out again, for their mental health as well as their physical health. Here we are taking them out just for a walk to start getting them familiar with the area in a really relaxed way.

The trails around the Grand Lake were very overgrown in parts, so we enjoyed taking our clippers and hand saws out with us to help cut back those trails while we rode out. It was so peaceful and therapeutic.

Even though it was very nice to be back out giving the horses some real exercise, with all that was going on with the build-out, and trying to grow our EAGALA project, we did not have much time for riding. So these trail rides and our work on maintaining the trails around the Grand Lake pretty much got put on hold after just a few months in 2017.

We had put in our application to Leadership Montgomery County’s Class of 2017 non-profit project in July, 2016. We were one of the three finalist and came in to do a 10 min presentation for the whole class on September 1st. We were chosen the next day almost unanimously. 44 out of the class of 45. They spent the next couple months planning and getting local in-kind donations to help us with our build out. This was their first one . . . a 12’x55′ office trailer, donated by ARCH -CON Corporation and Mobile Modular Management Corp for $1 for a 5 year lease, to be extended or sold to us after that time. Here it comes . . .

It was not easy to get this huge trailer into this tight spot. We had chosen one with no bathroom since we already had a bathroom and felt that we could use the extra office/living space instead.

The fact that the one they had available was brown and fit into our sanctuary was an amazing surprise. In the four years before our move here to Grand Central Park, we had never had air conditioning, or heating in the winter. And thanks to a great donation from Consolidated Communication, we also had a fiber-optics internet line now. So spoiled.

Next step for the LMC Class of 2017 was to get the office trailer hooked up to electricity. They brought out the best who not only connected the trailer, but also installed everything we needed into our box in the bathroom to basically run electricity throughout this whole side of the sanctuary.

GJ Boring Services donated the work and equipment to get lines laid underground to the trailer and across the road to the feeding stall pavilion, working with Miam Electric Co.

It would have taken us days just to bury the lines, and it would definitely not been done so professionally. With the electricity set up in the trailer, in moved Donna. Out of a tent and into an actual bedroom, kind of. Spoiled. She felt so spoiled to be able to get dressed standing up.

Gus was in desperate need of his own pen. We had tried everything, including tying telephone poles to his corral panels so that he could not just push them out. And he needed a shelter of his own. It was beginning February and he needed a warm nest since pigs can’t warm themselves by shivering like the rest of us. And shade for the hot summer cause he also doesn’t sweat.

Knowing that he loved his role as Meet and Greet Pig, we decided to put his home as the first thing you see when you walk in. That way he is always in the middle of the action.

We buried the hog panels about two feet in the ground cause we know he is an expert digger. Gave him a nice shaded spot.

And built him a perfectly comfortable covered shed to sleep in. That’s one spoiled pig. Should have called him Wilbur.

Time for some sleeping mates, now that Donna had an actual bed. Miss Tessa came to us through a friend whose husband had found her scared and crying in a Walmart parking lot during a thunderstorm. Yes, we will take her.

Miss Tilly was found by a friend of that friend. Yes, we’ll take her too.

Greenbean’s mama died of cancer, but before she did she asked her friend to find a loving home for her baby. Yep, we’ll take her. A house is not a home without cats, so having these guys hanging with us started to make this sanctuary feel more like a home in the country.

Later in February, as a donation through our LMC Class of 2017, JM Smith Construction came in to grade our arena and round pen area. Their equipment and transport was donated by Son-Way Agri Products.

It was quite a job that took a long weekend. Even though it looked already pretty good with the stumps already ground down by Johnson Development, the crew really got into getting every single thing out that could hurt our horses if stepped on. They went way above what they had originally come in to do, getting every tree root out, digging eight to ten feet down to totally remove the stumps.

Such great workmanship as they went above and beyond. Our horses will be so safe.

Time to build the arena fencing. Without taking out any large trees, we managed to get a 120’x150′ perfectly shaped riding area. Donated by Texas Fence thru LMC. Digging the post holes was easy work with the grading and sand that were already in place.

These guys, again, did an outstanding job, working with us on just where to put the gates and how to size the fences.

“So interesting to see what is happening with our pasture . . . hmmmm, wonder when we can get in there for a good romp and roll.”

Early March, Berkeley Services donated an entire sprinkler system that watered our arena and surrounding pasture. With the heat and sand, dust on dry days was a real problem. Solved!

They took the time to explain everything to us . . . so easy to use.

A perfect way to keep the horses cool in the hot summer. They can stand under the sprinklers and get a shower any time during the afternoons when it’s set to go off.

Right before the arena fence and sprinkler went in, Conroe Wood Products brought us over four light poles.

Right afterwards, Entergy donated the labor to install those light poles so eventually we could have a lit arena.

Another wonderful donation thru the LMC Class of 2017.

Now to build out a couple regular stalls in the other half of the feeding pavilion. It would be nice to have a seperate place for horses that needed some extra quiet time or safe separation.

We are so very grateful for the skilled carpenters who are part of our Herdmate team. They not only bring needed muscle and tools, but the know-how to figure out how to build anything.

We just tell them what we want and they figure out how to do it.

Even though we had plumbing in our old bathroom, Bradbury Brothers/Thornton Plumbing came and replaced it all so that it would be updated and in much better working order. A new water heater that actually worked, new toilets and sinks, and new working sink in the tool room, and updated plumbing throughout. WooHoo! Warm water now for showers.

They were like a swarm of bees that just came in and redid our whole bathroom, working hard for the whole day. What a great family who gives back!

We will have a choice of two bathrooms, a nice working shower, and a functional break room. We are so spoiled!

We needed to transform an old multi-shower room into a break room and tool storage room. We believe it was the DL Meacham Company the came and spent the day taking out the old walls and repairing the damage, and building new doors onto that building. Another donation that happened so fast we did not really get their info.

These couple months that the LMC Class of 2017 basically took over transforming our sanctuary into a working business happened so fast and so efficiently, with most of the work done behind the scenes in planning and scheduling meetings. They also put on strategy planning meetings with our board of directors every month, and basically helped us learn more about how to be a non-profit.

We were ready to move in our refrigerator and shelves and tables and turn this into a working room.

Another donation through the LMC Class of 2017, a handicap ramp for our office trailer. A couple weekends of work and thousands of dollars of supplies donated by Martinez Construction.

This foreman basically came and asked us what our dream deck and ramp would look like. We knew working with disabled veterans might mean we would need access by a wheelchair some day. Not knowing anything about how to build something like this, we asked him to use his imagination and build it anyway he could envision.

We could not have done a better job if we were professional architects, engineers and contractors.

We had the LMC Class of 2017 break up into two work days with us to get some of the last minute projects done. The first one was on March 25th, and one project was these portable pens connecting to the stalls.

Posts had to be put in to start the process of fences.

Stacks of the old sleeping pallet fence boards had to have the rusted nails and screws removed so that they could be used for these projects.

This terrible-looking pump right in front of our office trailer really needed to be hidden, but what to do? We decided a natural looking fence might be just the right thing. Future signage area?

These folks did it right, taking no short cuts.

And the trailer and deck being sided would make it look so much better. But this took some real engineering.

In the meantime, the bathroom was getting a good coating of stain which it desperately needed.

Wow! That does look so much better.

Well done gang. Part of the Best Class Ever!

Day two for the LMC Class of 2017 on April 2nd. That new deck sure does need a good coat of stain.

Another perfect day for this great group of gals.

So many last minute details with the ribbon cutting coming up in less than two weeks.

On this second day, pen fences needed to be completed for our two side stalls.

More nails to be removed for these boards. No one is going to have to go to the gym today.

Getting those fences and gates just right. Maybe even perfect.

Taking the portable corral panels that we used for the pen down to make a portable round pen.

We are so glad we have enough room on the well-graded area to make a 60′ round pen to work on training and exercising the horses.

Another part of the Best Class Ever! You all really got er done!

Another wonderful donation from Johnson Development . . . the use of their Hydroax and operator for the day to help us grind out all the stumps and the rest of the brush in front of our bathroom area. What an amazing machine.

When we asked Johnson Development if we could get a load of mulch, little did we know they were gonna donate a semi-truck full. That was the good news. The bad news was that it was dropped off five days before our ribbon cutting. You can just imagine how quickly we had to work on getting this spread.

We were tickled to get three of these hay feeders for out in our pen. Another wonderfully useful Eagle Scout project.

The class got almost everything done in time to put on an incredible ribbon-cutting ceremony for us on April 19, 2017.

So so so many generous people and companies to thank for providing over $120,000 of in-kind donations, including computers and marketing materials and an incredible video helping us to spread the word of our equine therapy program for veterans.

Not to mention all the incredible sponsors in support of this incredible Class of 2017.

The Woodlands Chamber of Commerce came out to help with our ribbon-cutting. So much support!

And the Conroe/Lake Conroe Chamber of Commerce came out to help as well. Teamwork at it’s best.

But there is no doubt that this year, and the unbelievable growth of this sanctuary, has been made possible primarily with the combination of all the hard work of the Henry’s Home’s herdmates, the LMC Class of 2017, and Johnson Development.

The graduating Class of 2017 for Leadership Montgomery County . . . no question, the Bessssssst Class Ever!!!!!

Four of us volunteers had gotten certified as Equine Specialists through the EAGALA [Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association] back in March of 2016. Knowing that as a young non-profit we had to stay focused on one thing to get started with, we decided that we were gonna use that training to help veterans with PTSD since two of us had direct family members who were veterans. With most of our build-out completed, now was the time to really start building that program which had been in the works for about a year.

And now with the videos and brochures that the LMC Class of 2017 had made for us, it was time for a real push spreading the word among the veteran community of this opportunity. So off to work we went networking and continuing to find funding. All with the goal in mind of really helping as many veterans as we could.

Cause the one thing for certain we all knew from hanging out with these horses was that time with them was therapeutic. It was healing for all of our souls.

We really love it when we have an engineering firm like BGE ask if we have any volunteer opportunities for their local [in this case, The Woodlands] offices. We always pick the harder one cause we know we are gonna get the experts. In this case, we chose to have them build an awning on our hay shed.

Another job where we suggest what we want and then sit back and watch them perform thier magic. Materials and everything.

In just a couple of weekends they got this incredible job finished.

In our hot summers, shade is so very important. Every bit of it we can get is so appreciated. Thanks for a job well done BGE The Woodlands. With the work you guys put into this we know it will withstand anything, including horses and hurricanes.

Miam Electric came back to finish this job, even after the LMC class had graduated and they had no further obligation for their donation. They put up the arena lights which took two days cause they got the big truck stuck in the sand and had to spend hours getting it out the first day.

But they got the job done.

And we are thrilled to have a lit arena.

Then they put up wiring throughout our feeding pavilion for lights and fans.

And while they were working on getting the arena lights up, they were also getting an electrical box, lights, switches, and everything we needed up in our feeding pavilion. Ready to plug in the fans for the summer. They went way over what they had been asked to do by the class. Just like every company who made in-kind donations.

And we are thrilled to be able to work after dark now with the horses.

Another wonderful group of mostly engineers to build out our round pen. CB&I . . . we were lucky to have them out at the beginning of June, 2017. They brought a few of their kids and turned this day of volunteering into a fun family event.

Starting to warm up, but still a beautiful day.

Using boards that were 16’long made it perfect for forming a circle.

But it took a lot of pushing and pulling to get those boards to bend just right.

In the meantime, another group of the volunteers moved sand into the feeding stalls. Not an easy job.

Some of our herdmates enjoyed working with the kids . . . showing them some horse care skills.

A great job accomplished with some real teamwork.

As well as a lot of fun had by all!

The horses always get super excited when anyone new shows up at their home, especially if they come in a horse trailer.

This day on July 2nd, they got two new family members. This little girl was named Nell at TMR Rescue, but she got renamed Patsy Nell Kline when she was adopted into our mini family.

Awwwwww, what an adorable little girl!

And this beautiful big boy was named Tyson, but we wanted to name him after the founder and dad at TMR, so we renamed him Johnny Tyson Cash, or Big John.

Just so exciting to make a new friend.

For the horses and the herdmates. Welcome home Big John and Patsy Kline.

August 28th we had been going through Hurricane Harvey for several days, coming and going and staying. With the rising water, they finally decided to open the Lake Conroe Dam. We had been told by the land manager that our land would not flood, but we had set up a portable pasture with some hay for a few days on some higher ground just down the road from our sanctuary, just in case. These were the photos Donna took at 7 a.m. when she stepped out of the trailer.

The horses were acting very nervous. She did not have a phone because hers had died in the rain the day before. So she had no way to call anyone to ask for help. But she did still have working internet, so she sent out a couple posts on FB asking if anyone could come help move animals out as she could see the water rising by the minute. She then turned off all the breakers and electrical stuff, put all the cats in the trailer with food and water for a few days just in case, and started putting halters on all the horses.

By 9 a.m. this is how high the water had gotten . . . in two hours. Donna left to go walk up the road to the portable pasture to see how high that water was. When she walked to the pasture, she walked through water that was just past her shoulders. She knew she wasn’t gonna get the horses out the way she had planned unless she swam them through. Fortunately, when she got up to the portable pasture, a couple of the herdmates had already gotten there, with the help of the land manager, and they had the fire department. It was a good thing because a large tree had come down blocking the backup road that they needed to bring the horses up. Very quickly more herdmates showed up with trucks high enough to get through the roads. Donna originally wanted to bring all the horses up to the pasture, keeping them here, but a couple of the folks thought it wise to move them to a totally new location, just in case. The Executive Director of Panther Creek Inspiration Ranch had called [flood pros. and friends of HH] and they agreed to bring over enough trailers to transport all the horses to one of their employees homes in Magnolia.

So the horses started getting walked out one at a time, taking them the back way, up to the portable pasture.

Thank God we had set up this portable pasture, just in case. It was next to the Lake House just down the road from us. With our last trip out before it was getting too dangerous with the water rising and flowing, all the animals were secure except Gus, our pig. We had been able to lure him down the road with food, but not far enough. We had had to leave without him and our hearts were broken.

This was the view from the porch of the Lake House as they left. They had no idea how high the water was going to go.

When we drove back a couple days later, after the water allowed us through the roads, guess who was waiting at the gate for us? Donna will tell you that other than giving birth to her kids, this was one of the happiest days of her life.

Because it was rising water, not flowing, we were so blessed that most of the fencing was still in place, as well as the buildings. We had no idea what we would find when we could get back in. The water had just gone up over the deck, but not into the trailer, and the cats were all fine. We were unbelievably relieved.

We lost all our hay and grain and supplements, but most of our supplies and tack were salvageable.

Flood water had gotten into all the buildings [other than the office trailer] about 3-5 feet.

Our first day back the crew from Panther Creek Inspiration Ranch came out to teach us how to recover from a flood. They showed us how to clean everything out, remove all the spoiled hay and feed, figure out what is salvageable and what needs to be thrown away and how to clean and then bleach everything to make it safe for all our family again.

We felt so blessed that most of our stuff was still here.

We had a wonderful veteran friend bring over his tractor to donate a couple days of work for us. That made it go so much faster.

They helped us move all the portable panels back from our emergency evacuation pasture, which was a big job.

The friends from PCIR kept coming back until they got this whole tack shed cleaned out and bleached. Now our volunteers were gonna need to make new shelving boards cause these were too rotted to keep on the bottom two shelves. But we got it cleaned out and fans set up to dry fast enough to keep the shed.

On the third or fourth day after we got started on the clean up we continued to have wonderful volunteers show up from within the community to help. Cleaning out the moldy [by now] hay shed was a terrible job, but they did it anyways.

Every surface, including the wood boards, had to be sprayed with a half bleach solution. Poor Gus ended up with a bacterial pneumonia and was pretty sick for a couple days after the flood, but he healed up beautifully.

A week or so after we got back a bunch of the LMC Class of 2017 came out and helped to clean out our bathroom and breakroom which had had about four feet of flood water throughout.

Our tractor had not started during the hurricane so we were unable to move it to higher ground. It had been totally under water and appeared to be totaled. So sad cause we loved our Little Blue. Donna’s truck also had to be left, but it was pretty much at the end of it’s life anyways so no big deal and it ended up still running which was great.

Well another miracle happened for us. The same folks who donated our tack shed asked what we really needed the most after our flood and we said a pickup truck so that we can have it available all the time for everything. We had counted on our volunteers for help with moving supplies, trailers, etc. So he wrote us out a check for $10,000 towards a pickup on September 4th. We asked one of our herdmates for help because her son owned the Mercedes Benz of The Woodlands dealership. We figured he might have some contacts or ideas for what to do with this down-payment. He called back the next day and said he had a truck on his lot, a 2013 Dodge Ram with a towing package. He said he would make up the difference personally, and we came home with this miracle the next day. We will never be able to say thank you enough to our friend Joe Agresti.

One of our problems was that we needed hay for the horses when we brought them back but had no place to store it until we got the hay shed totally cleaned and aired out. So we got a load of 250 bales put up in the building at our high ground area, and just drove up every day to bring some back.

Shortly after we came back and got ready, we had a new arrival. A good friend of Henry’s Home asked if we would take this gelding who’s mama had died and he had promised her he would always make sure Dusty had a good home. We get calls every week from someone who wants to donate a horse or several to us, but we say no because we have to be careful not to take on more than we can take excellent care of. We could not say no to this friend.

We had to keep him in a separate pen away from the other horses until he had a vet visit to get his blood pulled for a Coggins test as well as vaccinations.

And along with Dusty came his friend Frank. Donna had always felt we would eventually get a dog for the sanctuary and trusted that God would bring us the perfect one. When we went to get Dusty the man who had him told us they did not want this two year old Black Mouth Cur. So when we asked if he wanted to come home with us, he jumped in the truck. We got a dog!

As a side note, Miss Bella had come to live in our herd a couple of weeks before at the request of our dear friends who had adopted her while we had our horses on their property waiting to move to GCP. They asked if we would take her because the grass in their pastures was making her metabolic syndrome and her foundered feet worse. It broke their hearts to send her to us, but they were good enough parents to want what was best for her. You can see her video on our home page.

This is what Miss Bella looked like when our friends first brought her home.

A couple weeks later Mr. Dusty got to join the herd. Everyone was interested in him, but they had had the chance to talk to him from across the road, so it was no big deal.

Dusty and Bella became a couple right away. They were inseparable from the start.

Poor Frank had some complications after he pulled off his bandage and pulled out the stitches after he was castrated. The vets office renamed him Houdini after he got out of everything. So he had to have another surgery and this time everything was removed and a pressure bandage put on. They decided he would be much happier recovering at home as he was miserable being away from home.

Frank and Dusty settled into being a part of this family very quickly.

Around the same time, and knowing that we desperately needed a working tractor, Investment Advisory Services donated this beauty to our sanctuary. It arrived on December 12, 2017. The perfect Christmas present, right?

Another obvious God thing. With every attachment we didn’t even know we needed.

A stranger named Lewis Walker who owned a marina repair business in East Houston, and who rebuilds old tractors as a hobby found out about our loss of Little Blue after the flood. He called volunteering his services to try to fix her and came to pick her up a couple weeks afterwards. Here he is bringing her home, fixed enough to run.

Honestly we thought she was a goner, so this was a wonderful surprise to have a backup for our new tractor. WooHoo! Thanks so much Lewis.

Another creative boy scout project . . . a chicken coop.

We would love love love some day to have some healthy happy egg-laying chickens to run around and eat bugs and entertain us. Thanks guys for the job very well done. Enough laying boxes for about 30 chickens.

These three four-week-old kittens were next in line at the shelter to be euthanized, after there mama went. But in the nick of time a rescue got there and Donna’s daughter agreed to foster them. She told her that if she could keep them alive for a couple months that Henry’s Home would adopt them.

Miss Silly, Miss Sally and Mr. Sam-I-Am came to live with us and became beloved members of our family immediately. Now you can’t sit down for a minute around here without having a cat on your lap.

On December 30th, 2017, Miss Cookie joined our family. Her mama, who was one of our beloved herdmates six months of the year [six months living in New Jersey], thought she would be much happier with this family than living in a paddock by herself. She was right. And fortunately her mama could still come spend time with her when she was in town.

She made friends right away.

But somehow, she and Big John found each other right away, and became a couple within weeks. How do they know they look alike?

On March 9, 2018, DaVita Corporation brought out about 70 of their employees from all over the country as part of the Veterans to Village Program.

These veterans knew how to work, and work as a team to get the job done.

They had split into three groups: one was working on reinforcing our perimeter fence line, one was moving sand into the stalls, and one was spending time with the horses, learning all about their language and leadership. And they moved to another location every hour or so, that way everyone got to do it all.

They got a lot of our hard work done in just hours.

They started out this morning not knowing each other, but ended the day friends and colleagues.

After a delicious dinner catered by Cody Spence of All Star Catering, one of the graduates of the LMC Class of 2017, everyone relaxed around campfires. If it’s not too hot out, we believe bonding happens in a special way around a campfire. We got letters from this group after this day saying they wished they had a place like ours in their neck of the woods. We agree . . . it is special. Healing. Happy.

We bought a small camper with a cover for Donna and/or other volunteers to sleep in, tucked back into the woods, so that we could use the other office which she had been sleeping in. It was time.

June, 2018, another Eagle Scout project was born . . . an awning on our feeding pavilion with a water collection system put up on the whole pavilion. We are starting on our journey of being totally off the grid someday.

WooHoo! Our horses prefer rain water in their troughs over city water any day. Now every time it rains, they get all filled up with deliciousness. And more shade? Well, you know how we feel about that during our hot summers.

This little kitten showed up on our deck crying and crying at 9 pm on June 28, 2018. We tried to go near him with a food bowl but he was too afraid of us and ran away. It took a couple weeks of wooing him to get close enough to find out he was a little boy. One of our volunteers said that a week or so prior to his arrival she had seen a small black kitten near a cardboard box by the side of the feeder road off I-45. She had tried to catch it but it had run into the woods. We think this little guy must have been from the throw-away box, and somehow made it a mile or so back to us.

We named him Hank Williams, and he became a best friend to our boy Frank.

August, 2018 . . . our infinity track [or paddock paradise] was finally ready to move the horses onto. It had only taken us two years to build, but we had had the vision for it from the beginning, using the land we were given.

It looped around about 3/4ths of our property. The horses spent most of their time out on it with the goal in mind to keep them walking more as they moved from feed area to water area to napping and shelter areas. More like what it would be if they were out in the wild.

We don’t have a large property, less than ten acres, so this took some real creativity and a lot of hard work cutting back brush and stumps to make it safe for the horses. It provides feeding stations scattered throughout, water on two ends, a small pond to splash and lay down in to cool off, and room to play and nap. It’s enough.

October 9, 2018. You know that chicken coop the boy scouts built for us? Well, we got baby ducks donated, so at least for now, it’s gonna be a duck coop. Gotta be a flexible people, right?

Didn’t take long for them to grow up. So beautiful. Muscovy Ducks, full of color, and they have the ability to balance in trees and on fences with their clawed feet. We are having so much fun being entertained by them as they get used to people and other animals being around.

We started out with 16 babies. After just a couple months they learned to fly and three of them flew away. Eventually four more found the Deer Lake next door and live their happily. The rest mostly stay with us, enjoying all the deliciousness to be found in horse manure, as well as regular meals. They started laying eggs in the spring of 2019, and we collect and eat them cause we don’t want to end up with hundreds of ducks. Nothing personal feathered folks.

On October 12, 2018, our beloved Frank disappeared. Later one of our volunteers said they had seen a car in our close-by parking lot with all four doors open and folks milling around. We figure those folks took him home. He was so friendly and loved loved loved his job as the Meet and Greet Dog for Grand Central Park. And being a young black mouth cur, he needed to run and explore. If we would have kept him in he would have been miserable. We looked for weeks in all the shelters and posted him everywhere. Our hope is that whoever has him is giving him a happy life. He sure added to ours.

The weeks before he left Frank had brought this stray that he had befriended to our sanctuary a couple times. But every time this dog saw a person he would run away. After Frank left, this dog came around a couple times looking for his friend. We started putting out food and slowly moved it in closer until he would not run away as quickly. After a few weeks of this, he started to hang around. But November he was an official part of the HH family. Our vet found that he was chipped [had no success reaching his family] and that he was age 12 and named Bo. Welcome home, Bo! We are tickled you came to spend your last years with us. We miss him as much as you do . . . 🙁

December 2, 2018, we got a new family member, Miss Lucy. We adopted this two year old pot belly pig from a vet tech at our veterinary’s office. She was moving so had to rehome her . . . not an easy task. But since she was close to the size and type as Gus we thought it was time to get him a wife. OK, so it’s an arranged marriage since we assume he is a much older husband, but since we don’t know his age, that a guess Being the two newest family members, she and Bo bonded immediately.

Within a few days she was sleeping in Gus’s house with him and they were hanging out together. So glad that went so smooth.

They remain close friends. She has the deformed front legs that apparently are typical with pot bellies, so she can’t walk very fast without landing on her face. But Bo is very patient with her and goes on explorations around the sanctuary every day.

We got the approval of Johnson Development to let the Sheriff’s Department Mounted Patrol and Constable’s Posse come to start doing their training in Grand Central Park. Knowing that sooner or later we would incorporate a couple of the horses from the Sheriff’s Dept into our herd, we decided that it was time to finish out six more feeding stalls where the larger stalls had been. So with the help of Dr. Dan, our very own incredible carpenter herdmate, we got those built during the weekend of January 5, 2019. Ask and you shall receive around here.

Our veterans just love working with Dan, our carpenter. He comes up with the best solutions to our needs. Everyone who works with this quiet kind veteran learn so much from him. And working with our horses is giving him a real sense of accomplishment and connection . . . he has another family here and is an encourager for those who spend time with him.

Cory brings out his daughter to ride and work with our horses. We usually have a project going and he is always the first one to jump in and ask how he can help. Working as an architect during the long days, being a dad and husband, HH is a place where he gets to work with his hands and spend time with his kids.

There is something very special about spending time with horses. Their honesty and immediate feedback, and their example of respect and limitations and patience teaches us so much. But one of the best things about spending time here at HH is how much fun being around all these animals is. Throw in some creative building projects or spending time out in the woods, and bonding as a family just happens. With yours and ours.

As we have experienced disappointment with how many veterans we had joining our equine psychotherapy program, we started noticing how many simply wanted to come join our volunteer family. They started telling us about how healing time with the horses and the people was for them and their families. Got us thinking.

Maybe there is another way to serve those who have served us.

Maybe we should be thinking of starting another program which might help more veterans as they help us care for our beloved horses and help with the constant work around the sanctuary. Maybe there is a symbiotic relationship growing here at HH.

Maybe there is another way to serve those who have served us.

We have had a growing number of wonderful volunteers days with Exxon out at HH. Thanks for all the work done today gang.

On February 6, 2019, we all had so much fun when this group of Lifestyle Directors and Directors of Fun came for a team building experience from NFC Amenity Management. Everyone got some quality horse time, learning and sharing.

March 2nd, 2019, another great group from Exxon Mobil. We always have so much fun when a new group comes out to spend time with us, helping on building projects and giving the horses a spa day.

We have had a growing number of wonderful volunteers days with Exxon out at HH. Thanks for all the work done today gang.

On February 6, 2019, we all had so much fun when this group of Lifestyle Directors and Directors of Fun came for a team building experience from NFC Amenity Management. Everyone got some quality horse time, learning and sharing.

March 2nd, 2019, another great group from Exxon Mobil. We always have so much fun when a new group comes out to spend time with us, helping on building projects and giving the horses a spa day.

We have had a growing number of wonderful volunteers days with Exxon out at HH. Thanks for all the work done today gang.

On February 6, 2019, we all had so much fun when this group of Lifestyle Directors and Directors of Fun came for a team building experience from NFC Amenity Management. Everyone got some quality horse time, learning and sharing.

March 2nd, 2019, another great group from Exxon Mobil. We always have so much fun when a new group comes out to spend time with us, helping on building projects and giving the horses a spa day.

We held a team building afternoon for HP on March 6, 2019. It was our first time doing an event that was not just a volunteer day.

This was a group of 30 leaders from within the company, coming from all over the world. For most, it was the first time they had ever spent time with a horse.

We used a bit of EAGALA equine learning, worked on teamwork not just leadership which was a goal.

There were several opportunities for discussion and dissection.

Everyone had fun, and there was no question new friendships were seeded.

We all learned a lot about how to put on a team building day, and we look forward to doing it a lot better next time. We think doing it like we do the Exxon days will be more effective and meaningful.

March 30th, a great group of veterans came for a volunteer day from Exxon.

Cutting out brush, helping to clear an expansion to our infinity track, takes a lot of effort.

And a lot of work. What a fun way to get a good work-out in, right?

See . . . he is having fun and working hard. It can be done.

And they all took turns building us some jumps for our obstacle course. The Sheriff and Constable’s mounted riders will appreciate having them as part of their training with us.

Precision . . . perfection . . . all the things we try to leave behind when you come to work here at HH. We believe Good Enough is good enough.

And we always make sure everyone gets plenty of horse care and learning time.

Making a connection with an animal that is 1,500 pounds is a powerful confidence builder. We are delighted for the opportunity to put these days on for such deserving folks.

It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting. - Paulo Coelho