Where are we going?
We know a couple of things for sure . . . we love these horses and all the other animals who have joined our family, we have learned a lot over the past six years about what we don’t want to do for them, what we do want to do for them, and that we all benefit by sharing time and space with them. And we know for sure that many people who are attracted to this sanctuary have been through a lot in life already and recognize the healing energy of these animals . . . physical, mental and spiritual . . . as well as being involved with this family.
Here is our dream.
Our retreat center will have a main lodge that houses the offices, kitchen, meeting rooms and an auditorium, simple shared sleeping accommodations for about 50 people, and dining facilities for 100 people. All of our buildings will have large covered outdoor porches and be very rustic and simple. This whole facility will be very much in tune to the natural forests surrounding it, primarily catering to adults to give them a place of quiet escape. It will never be a zoo or playground. There are plenty of those.
There will be large real-wood stone fireplaces throughout, including in the bedrooms. We will use wood-burning stoves where necessary for extra heat. Our hope is to provide as much of the electricity as possible with easily renewable energy, particularly solar panels. We would like to collect rainwater throughout the property to water our gardens and our animals. Outdoor fire pits will be scattered in seating arrangements throughout the property.
This retreat center will be inundated by nature and animals. We hope to have several Pasture Tracts surrounding the retreat center and barns. “Pasture Tracts of “Paddock Paradise” is a revolutionary model and guide for safe, natural horsekeeping, hoof care, and the healing and rehabilitation of lame horses. The premise of “Paddock Paradise” is to stimulate horses to behave and move naturally according to their instincts.”
There will be an outdoor riding arena and smaller round pens for training. There will be a large covered arena/training center with portable open-air stalls lining a couple sides used for feeding and grooming the horses. Under this shelter will also be secure, air conditioned tack rooms and horse treatment stalls. Several small areas with sheds will accommodate horses that are being rehabilitated or need simply to be separated from the herds for a period of time.
In a building connected to one of the barns, we will have a bunk house, with sleeping for another 20 people. A greenhouse, connected to our gardening barn/greenhouse, will have bedrooms and bathrooms for another 20 people. And lastly, there will be a boat house with sleeping for another 20 people connected to the boat supply building by/on the lake. The boathouse will hold donated canoes, paddle boats and kayaks. Even though everything else will be simple and rustic, probably donated, the only splurges will be good comfortable mattresses and soothing reclined private bathtubs for soaking and reading.
There will be gardens everywhere. Beautiful flowerbeds scattered throughout, as well as community organic vegetable gardens and fruit orchards, working with the local Master Gardener programs and Texas A&M for maintenance and research. We will have chickens for fresh eggs and insect control. Ducks and geese will make their homes on our nearby lake and we will enjoy being entertained by them. We are excited about what other animals will be coming to join our family. We would love to have a building on our property for taking in rescued and rehabilitated wildlife, working with an existing non-profit wildlife group to run that program.
People will come here for shared and honest companionship and fellowship with our staff, volunteers and our animals. There will be groups that come in for periods of time to use our retreat facilities, bringing their own linen and preparing their own food. We envision groups of up to 100 people staying with us for corporate retreats, church retreats,veteran, school and family retreats – you envision it and we will consider it.
When we are not using our facilities for retreats we would like to open them up for community functions including fundraisers for churches and local organizations, meetings like BSF, AA, etc., for the community. We will provide workshop areas for groups that need local meeting facilities, art and cooking classes. Since we are a horse and human sanctuary, we plan to bring in experts to put on horsemanship workshops as well as every type of human workshop. We envision speakers and musicians coming to perform with us as part of our fundraising.
There will be no upscale amenities at our sanctuary. There will be no spa, no three star dining. Our sleeping rooms will not have TV’s or telephones. We will have audio/video equipment for our auditorium and meeting rooms with big TV’s. And we will have a nice big library of books and videos on nature, horse and spiritual subjects which we will be happy to share. But our goal here is for everyone to disconnect from the hurry and worry of our fast-passed world.
Our dream for this retreat and sanctuary is to reconnect our volunteers and visitors to the truth and peace of their souls. We want to set up an environment for our guests to remember who they really are – what’s important in life – finding rest and renewal. Healing.
We want to be a part of the local community in a way that will benefit all. But it is first and foremost our job to keep our animals safe, so we will be careful who we invite to spend time with us. We can’t imagine anything better than sharing our sanctuary with humans and animals in such healing, simple and natural ways. For them and for us.