Summer was good but getting through the winter is a challenge … a Christmas story

It was almost two years ago that I last wrote for the Dutch website”WanttoKnow.nl” (English version here) and it’s time for an update about my experiences with the rescued horses.

The reactions to the previous article about the care of abused horses were encouraging and heart-warming, and around a thousand euros were donated. Everything was spent on the necessary costs to keep the horses healthy and nourished.

Meanwhile, two years later, the number of horses has grown from two to five, and I want to share with you how Flame, Maya, Divina, Lucky Luciano, the orphan foal Rocky and I are faring.

Flame and Maya

Flame and Maya have been together for two years and form an inseparable couple. They know each other inside and out and from head to toe. It is not possible to go for a walk with one of the two because after 10 minutes the other one is running. And how they get over the fence is still a mystery to me. So Flame and Maya are well-matched, and the roles seemed familiar. Flame was the dominant but sweet macho, and Maya, she adapted to his grievances. But not for long …

Horse Alarm

At the end of May 2019, I heard from Femke (Algarve Horse Alarm) about a beautiful white mare that was left behind by gypsies on their journey to the north of Portugal. After all, with her broken leg, she could no longer pull their fully loaded cart. Normally they let a horse with a broken leg, go. A horse has to move in order not to get colic, an extremely painful intestinal obstruction that can become fatal to them.

The mother and her fragile son

This mare was different; it turned out to be pregnant and at an advanced stage. It was decided to splint her leg so that she could complete the wearing period. She was kept up with many painkillers and antibiotics and after two weeks her foal was born three weeks early. The mother and her fragile son were able to stay together for nearly two weeks until it was decided that it was no longer justified to keep the mother alive longer because the wound worsened every day and her pain.

https://youtu.be/CmAKWC33fAI Vacaria’s last days and Rocky’s first.

The orphaned Rocky

Rocky was suddenly an orphan foal. And foals need a lot of attention and milk. No less than every three hours. Warm. And from a bottle. Femke already had twenty-two abused horses and a few foals to look after and really didn’t have time to get into the car every two and a half hours to wean Rocky. And when I heard that, I thought of the phone call I received from her two years earlier; if I wanted to take in a heavily emaciated mare with a foal of two days old.

The horses were standing by a farmer in a polluted stable, and the best man had no money to look after them. And I had to think about that for a while. I didn’t really have the financial room to get another horse in the meadow, let alone a mare with a newborn foal, although I would like it for Flame if he had company. A horse is a herd of animals and should not be alone on the pasture.

After three days, I received another phone call from Femke; the foal had died of malnutrition. Shit. It was hard for me. And I wondered if I shouldn’t have said yes right away, even though I wasn’t totally ready for it. Now it was too late for me, and after a few days, I had to go and see the mare, Maya, at her new place at Femke. I drove there on Flame’s back, and when they saw each other, it was a joke back and forth. It seemed as if she was sharing her grief and that he lived with her. And then it was immediately apparent; Maya is coming home, and we are going to give her a beautiful life with Flame.

Maya with her foal.

As if I were his mother

After having experienced all this, the decision to take in the orphaned foal Rocky was made within a second. I would look after him as if I were his mother and give him a fair chance in life. But there was a condition attached to it. I was allowed to take him with me, but only if I took the mare Divina and her foal, Lucky Luciano, who was two months older than Rocky, aswell.

Rocky the Orhan foal

This is because Rocky should ideally be raised by a horse and not by a human. In the beginning, it all seems cute and sweet when such a small foal comes to sit on your lap and jumps up against you, but as soon as it weighs 200 kilos, it is less funny. He should learn to be a horse, with everything that comes with it, and not a person. So I didn’t have to think about that for long and said yes to this new situation.

This is because Rocky should ideally be raised by a horse and not by a human. In the beginning, it all seems cute and sweet when such a small foal comes to sit on your lap and jumps up against you, but as soon as it weighs 200 kilos, it is less funny. He should learn to be a horse, with everything that comes with it, and not a person. So I didn’t have to think about that for long and said yes to this new situation.

During the walk with Divina and the foals home, the fear came over me if I would manage. Whether I could do it. After all, I had never seen a foal up close, let alone have taken care of it. What do they need, how much care and time are involved, and more questions and doubts of that kind come over me, but we walked on. Slowly and doubtfully, the group went up the hill to their new home.

You could feel the excitement

At home, we set the group apart from Flame and Maya. They could see, hear, and smell each other from a distance. The excitement from both sides could be felt and heard. My partner thought we should keep them apart for a week until everyone had calmed down. But I was not, and after one day, I decided to go to Flame and Maya with Rocky. I was so looking forward to their responses.

The greeting lasted about 10 minutes. To everyone’s surprise, the acquaintance went pretty well, and that gave me more confidence in the future. The next day it was the turn of the mare Divina and her son Luciano, and that also went quite smoothly. That same afternoon I decided on my own to put them all together in the meadow, and then the spectacle only started.

In the beginning, it was Flame who chased everyone. Tail and head up, neck bent, and chest forward. The little foals did not know where to look. And neither do we. They galloped back and forth across the 200-meter field and tried to kick and bite each other. Flame kept running after everyone and stirring things up … until Maya had had enough. She stood proudly and firmly between Flame and the rest.

Flame chasing the herd

And every time Flame got close to the foals or even started to come their way, Maya stood in his way and or cut him off. We have never seen Flame so embarrassed. Like a little boy, the big horse suddenly stood in the corner of the field, and he was not allowed to leave. Maya had clearly become the leader of the new herd, and Flame had it checked.

Everyone dived aside

But of course, that didn’t last too long; he would not just let himself be driven into a corner by that lady. So he started to push things up again until they all made a wild gallop to get them away. Until Maya came back to her senses, and the herds began to defend against that brute. And so it went on for about ten days. A spectacle of yes.

To greet the new horses, we had organized a sort of picnic for friends, sympathizers, and donators on the edge of the field where they stood. And when the herd rushed by again, everyone ducked aside. It is also not a surprise if 5 horses come running hysterically past you in a wild gallop. And sometimes I had to put a baton, or an arm, for that.

Image © Charlotte Kropholler Photography

To jump in front of a herd of runaway horses never seemed like a good idea to me. However, because Rocky was still so small and was constantly getting caught and toppled over, I sometimes had to jump in between. And I’ll tell you; if they come rushing towards you, the heart rate will increase considerably. But as soon as you stand there, trying to be the hero, there is no turning back.

Feeling secure

A horse feels whether I’m scared or not. Whether I mean it or not. If in doubt I would be lost in the hectic pace and the horses would run over me like that. And the more I noticed that my attitude determined their response, the more I started to like it. I jumped several times before them as they ran through the meadow in full flight, and the more confident I felt, the sooner they stopped and turned around. A great experience that I can recommend to everyone.

But it is not for everyone. Several people from the picnic table also wanted to force the herd to stop but jumped aside when they saw the twenty hard galloping hooves approaching. But I am sure that if they were to stay here a little longer than just the picnic, they too could invoke the power within themselves to stop the herds with a simple move.

Rocky the orphan foal (L) and Lucky Luciano (R) Image © Charlotte Kropholler Photography

Learning from horses

And that’s how I learned everything I do with horses, By observing, watching and just by doing it. Being in my own strength. Decide what I want and then stand behind it, with full conviction. And horses taught me that. They don’t doubt. It is yes or no. And that brings clarity. A horse needs that from you if you want to work with it, but you will first have to manifest it in yourself. And as I always say, as you do one thing, you do everything.

https://youtu.be/l8do_7HNAQ4 Rocky the foal

Solving your shit by shoveling shit

I always let people who come here as volunteers clear manure from the field first. For days. Do they leave that one bit that fell off the fork, or do they still pick it up? Do they want to scoop the fork too much so that half of it falls off, or do they prefer to walk towards the wheelbarrow twice?

One of the shitpiles. Great compost.

Are they going to ask me for the umpteenth time on which mountain it can be deposited, or have they already understood it after one time? And by mirroring this, these simple actions can bring enormous insight into their own behavior. Solving your shit by shoveling shit. Under the sun in the Algarve.

Horse resistant

So the decision to include the foals and Divina was made quickly. But then … the peace returned after ten days. In those ten days, we replaced the wooden fences which seemed not wholly horse-proof at night. They just kicked them to pieces, so that the horses broke loose and ran after each other like a dollar man.

Broken beams

That really was no longer possible with that little Rocky in the middle of it, so I spent an entire night with the horses on a rope in my hand, with me, and kept apart. And every time I dozed off for a while, they noticed that and tried to work themselves out of my not so firm grip. Even thicker beams were the solution for the small fence that we then held.

Scare from electric fence

The larger field had a fence. And electric fence apparently does not do much with small foals. The foals were “everywhere in the morning except on the field itself. I thought it was because not enough wires were stretched so that they could pass underneath, so then we provided the two-kilometer fence with a third wire.

That in itself was a mega job. But they were still “everywhere in the morning, except on the field itself. Then I bought a stronger electric fence charger in the hope … But no. The greasy hoofs of the foals provide insulation, so the current does not pass through, into the ground, so they feel nothing about it. I hadn’t foreseen that … And there are so many things that I had not anticipated or thought about during my firmly convinced decision.

Clearing the land

The fields where the horses are on are not mine. And also not (yet) from the foundation to be established. They are fields that surround the site and were abandoned 7 years ago by the farmer who grew organic vegetables. He left behind thousands of kilos of plastic, all flapping in the wind and slowly crumbling in the sun. The people in the neighborhood told me that the owner would be furious if you set foot on his land and immediately called in the police. And with that in mind, I left it for what it was. But at one point I was fed up …

Plastic mountain.

An ecological plastic disaster was taking place under my eyes, and wouldn’t it do anything about it? No, so we entered the land and started removing all the plastic above the ground and later under the ground.

Restoring Nature

The heap of plastic, water hoses, steel wire, and junk turned into a huge mountain. We laid it on the owner’s neighboring piece of land, hoping it would be picked up by the municipality. After several requests for this, I was told that only the owner of the property can order this, and he refuses to do so. So now we have covered it with green cloths in the hope that it will still be removed, one day.

So we not only take care of abused horses here, but we clean up land as well. The owner already knows about it, but we don’t hear from him anymore. This place became the home of the “State of Being” until we can get a more significant area of our own. Where we can establish the official “State of Being – Sanctuary” Foundation.

Stand in your power

And that makes life so unique; that we can continuously make decisions that we fully support at that moment, but which in turn have consequences that we did not see coming. They force you to be flexible and adapt to allow you to make new decisions. And if that decision feels right, then it is right, whatever the consequences may be. Then you stand for it, and then you are strong. Then you stand in your power. Just like you can stand galloping horses in front of a herd. Magnificent.

While I was in my power when I made the decision to give Rocky a good life, I hadn’t thought about the consequences. The inadequate fence, for example, or the super expensive foal of milk, or getting up every three hours to make his warm milk. But those things have brought me so much. They reinforced the power of the decision.

I was convinced that everything would be fine, provided that I kept faith in the good feeling of the decision. And that the finances to be able to do it all would also manifest. But that turned out to be disappointing. Every penny that I earn goes to the care of the horses, but that was not enough. The donations for the adoption of Rocky and the crew did bring some money. Still, after a month, it was already burned through by all the necessary adjustments.

Walking with horses

A while later, I came up with the bright idea of organizing a walk with horses and offering it on Airbnb. And that turned out to be a golden hold. Although we started the hikes late in the tourist season, they are very successful, and we only receive 5-star reviews. The reviews are positive, and several participants want to come walking again according to year.

Walking with horses is so much different than climbing on their backs and taking a trip. You are on the ground floor with them. You look at them, and they look at you. They respond to you. On how you feel. They do not react to kicking in their stomachs and painfully pulling their mouths, but to how you feel and act as a person.

If a person is full of thoughts and expectations, he wants to communicate with a horse that has the size of a walnut. He has no plan, hopes, or wishes. He is just a horse. And it mirrors the person who can suddenly realize that all his ideas about what something should be like can go completely overboard.

Confronting and enlightening

Horses have, it seems, been on this planet for 6 million years and has been able to survive all this time. Precisely because they are so accurate with the sense and feel of others, especially predators such as humans, they have been able to survive all this time.

It is, therefore, no wonder that they take a walk with you if you are in doubt, if you are afraid or if you just do not know. Or when you think you know, but the horse does not respond as you would like. Then it suddenly turns out that this is also how it goes into daily life. That you want things from others, who have no message at all about what you want. And that can be quite confronting and enlightening.

Smiling faces

During the “HorseWalks,” it is not only the horses that mirror you, but I sometimes help the horses to convey the message more clearly, in human language. I ask questions, sometimes. I sometimes tell what I see, and sometimes I don’t. Every HorseWalk is unique, just like the guests who walk along.

The one thing that’s always the same is the guests shining faces at the end of the hour and a half Horsewalk. And the fact that the horses earned their own hay in this way is a bonus.

Still resonating days later. This was a very meaningful walk with powerful creatures whom I have a deep respect for. Sakshin is a generous, playful and intuitive guide and host who made this occasion or being with horses and learning a little about yourself a special one. What made the most profound impression on me was how deeply relaxed, calm and grounded I felt afterwards, there is something therapeutic and healing about the connection between human and horse. I am truly grateful to have found this, thank-you. Also a wonderful cause and sanctuary to support. – Marita. September 6, 2019

A unique way of support

We want to offer you part of the proceeds from the HorseWalks. In the coming summer of 2020, we will be walking twice a day with horses and guests. We are prominently mentioned at the animal department of Airbnb experiences in the Algarve (https://www.airbnb.co.uk/experiences/351614). We walk early in the morning and at the end of the afternoon, with sunset ending.

Help a horse through the winter

I am a person who acts on the basis of idealism rather than realism. But now realism is knocking at the door because it is going to be winter. No more tourists or guests. The income from the HorseWalks has stopped but the monthly costs continue.

To continue my efforts, I currently need money. Money for hay, feed and water (supplied by the fire department). Money to reinforce the electric fence. Money for the medicines against the different types of life-threatening worms and fly larvae that cling to the stomach wall and intestines.

For Rocky, a veterinarian had to come from Albufeira, 80 km away, in the middle of the night, because he almost succumbed to colic because of the many worms and parasites in his body. Costs: € 180 excluding the medicines. I sat with Rocky all night to keep an eye on him.
And money for new feed troughs, money for the new thousand-liter water tank, money for the hoof captain, money for a roof against the heavy rain and wind here on the mountain.

The vet visit at night

Idealistic investing

The HorseWalks were an absolute success in the past season. And although we only started very late in the season with the HorseWalks, we have had many bookings. Everyone was wildly enthusiastic and many want to come back and experience the unforgettable walk again. We are therefore confident about the future. The problem is, however, in the winter months when there are no tourists. That is why I came up with a special adoption construction.

Happy and healthy horses as a profit

Maintaining a horse costs € 200 per month. If you are willing to adopt a horse in whole or in part, yes funny, and put in an amount between 10 and 200 euros for 6 months, then you will receive the entire investment back from the proceeds of the HorseWalks after one year. An investment that generates happy and healthy horses. And as a thank you to the people who put in 200 euros; a 5-day stay on the terrain among the horses. Now, that’s a nice thing to do for Christmas. Please contact us before you decide to adopt a horse via contact@stateofbeing.nl or +31645198894 or +351 968752357.

Every bit helps

If the 5 horses are already fully adopted, you can, however, donate for a bale of hay, feed, drinking water or something else, if you mention this when paying. I am very grateful for every donation. A bag of food costs € 9.50, a bale of hay costs € 3.50 and 3000 liters of water costs € 30. You can also support the horses by booking a stay in the self-sufficient caravan on the land, among the horses. Payments can be made via the bank in the Netherlands or via Paypal or Bitcoin.

ING Bank: NL10INGB0007634613 (All figures are zeros) BIC/Swift: INGBNL2A in the name of J.B.E. de Groot.
Paypal: https://www.paypal.me/deStaatVanZijn
Bitcoin: 1DMNwUicVFvRf6ULWQtBKZDxJm6f8N65hA

I hope that I have been able to inspire you to stand in your own power by sharing this story with you and hope that you support me and the horses, if only with a warm heart or a like on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/lusitaniahorsesanctuary/.

Sakshin de Groot.
State Of Being

Sakshin & Rocky

Would you also like to experience what it is like to be mirrored by horses while staying in the sunny Algarve? Then contact us.

http://stateofbeing.nl
https://www.instagram.com/stateofbeing.sanctuary/

Most images ©Charlotte Kropholler Photography

Book your HorseWalk here

We are pleased to allow you to be close to our rescued horses on a HorseWalk, like we have been for quite a few years now. In recent years we took in quite a few horses who became very healthy and happy beings.

Enjoy some time in the field with our rescued horses and me before we take a walk. The walk will be in the area of Barão de São João and will last for about an hour.
The three mature horses walk on a leach, and the two foals, Rocky (born in May 2019) and Lucky (born in March 2019) walk free with us.
Come, be, and play with these fantastic animals in the field and during the walk. Being together with horses can be a real eye-opening experience and a joy you will never forget.

Keep sending your donations

Keep supporting us

Through PayPal

PayPal

If Paypal is no option for you, you can donate in the following ways;

In Portugal you can send your support to bank account J.B.E. de Groot – IBAN: PT50 004571934031130787926 – SWIFT: CCCMPTPL
In Nederland kun je doneren naar: J.B.E. de groot – IBAN: NL10INGB0007634613 – SWIFT: INGBNL2A

Your support is deeply appreciated and we warm-heartedly hope that you will stop by one day to be together with these amazing beings, for an hour, a day, or longer.