‘While working on the Saddle Of Hope in my barn, it became apparent to me that it was very special. It had no beauty, but it was beautiful. It had no voice, yet it spoke loud and clear , especially to the animals.
When I would go out and uncover the saddle to work on it my horses, who would normally be spending their day outside in the pasture grazing, would file into the barn one by one and stand silently in a semi circle facing the saddle in what I call reverence. When I would finish a session and cover the saddle, they would exit the barn and go back out to their grazing,
I've always felt that they were somehow paying their respects , maybe to the past of the saddle, maybe to the future of the saddle, possibly knowing that the saddle would someday speak the message of hope for all horses. Even the barn cat and her kittens were attracted to the saddle, although they had soft comfortable beds and hay to play in, I would always find them curled up sleeping and or playing on the saddle.
There are messages and signs everywhere around us embedded in objects from the past if only we could all hear these messages like the animals do. We must continue to listen and learn from them.’
~ Jennifer Thomas
Being a person who sees value and worth of old things and the stories they contain , I was instantly drawn to an old beat up saddle sitting silently draped over a log behind the memorial fence. I wondered about the saddle and the places it had been, the joy it had once brought, the hard work it had done and what wonderful stories it held deep inside its rough , weathered exterior.
At that point I asked Neta if I could try to somehow give life back to the saddle. It wasn't ready to end its life, there was still hope, it still had much to offer, a story to tell and joy to bring, much like the countless horses going to slaughter. And she agreed.
The saddle began a journey to my humble little barn in Kentucky where a story began to unfold. Although many saddles and tack had been restored in this barn, there was something different this time. I opened the shipping box and placed the saddle on a stand in the middle of the barn. At this point my three horses watched in silence in a sort of reverent way smelling it with much curiosity, and every day after that they would stand peacefully in the barn with me watching the entire process. I knew we had something special as they had told me so with their actions.
I began to work on the saddle one half at a time. Upon a visit from Neta to see how the progress was coming along, I uncovered the saddle and both of us almost at the same time said : " What a message this has ". To be able to see that what once looked to be worthless, unusable and disposable was completely false. It was then that we decided that this message needed to be shared. That message is.. The saddle is much like the way our horses are viewed as worthless, unusable and disposable, when in reality they offer hope, joy and many years of pleasure, if we take the time to see.
The saddle remains unfinished to bring awareness to the slaughter bound horses, that hopefully we can see their worth and beauty and realize all they still have to offer.
When the slaughter of our horses and mules is brought to an end by awareness and legislation the saddle will be completed fully as a celebration to victory.'