Our story begins with Midnight Sun, a beautiful rescue mare who had been so terribly abused she bore deep psychological scars that prevented her from finding comfort and safety in a herd. Untrusting and unbondable, she spent her days in her stall never venturing out to graze. Deborah Baker, our founder, never knew what trauma Midnight had experienced to cause this but had heard from someone involved in Midnight’s case that it had been a game among neighborhood boys to shoot a pellet gun or throw rocks at her to watch her run at her previous home.
Deborah began to work with Midnight helping her to feel secure to go further and further from her stall for longer and longer periods of time for months. She placed a loose lead over Midnight’s neck, stroked her, talked softly to her then when the time felt right and without placing any pressure on the lead she asked Midnight to step outside the stall for the few moments in which Midnight felt comfortable. It all began with a step. Eventually they made it to the large round hay bales where Deborah would stand by Midnight while she ate. When Midnight took a notion that danger was lurking near, she would race back to the safety of her stall to nervously crib. Deborah would join her, pat her and they would do it all over again the next day.
Over time Midnight would spend more time outside her stall and began to nibble grass on the near side of the pond or if there weren’t too many horses at the hay bales she would find a spot there. Deborah continued to work with her to go farther and farther across the pasture hoping to one day make a complete circuit around the pond, past the dark scary woods (as Midnight thought of them) and back to the barn. She never fought Midnight, never forced her to stay out longer or to go farther than she felt comfortable and let her run freely to where she felt safe when she’d had all she could bear.
One evening just before sunset, Deborah placed the loose lead over Midnight’s neck as she had always done but Midnight rejected it. She scratched Midnight’s sweet spot behind her ears and whispered “it’s okay, we don’t have to use the rope today.” In that quiet moment, Midnight stepped forward to walk alongside Deborah free from any rope affirming the bond they shared. She and Midnight walked side by side across the pasture, around the far side of the pond, past the spooky dark woods, along the narrow dam and back to where they had begun.
Their journey together continued. Deborah employed the same gentle, thoughtful techniques when placing Midnight back under saddle again starting in the place where Midnight felt comfortable in the barn only sitting on her bare back for a few seconds. Midnight never accepted any rider other than Deborah. This could be because to gain her trust one would have to move incredibly patiently with her and few had the time to invest in her.
Midnight bonded briefly with a few special horses the charming Jelly Bean, gentle old soul Amigo and the wise Maverick that were in her life for a short time but never learned to trust other herd members. Her distrust caused her to have several accidents and injure herself severely so she was no longer rideable.
And after almost a decade at the sanctuary, it became time for Deborah to move on to bring her own vision for helping horses to life. However, Deborah had promised Midnight in the beginning that she would always be there for her, would care for her, keep her safe and never abandon her so she adopted her. This promise to Midnight is our inspiration for Midnight’s Promise.