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Brighter Days Lie Ahead
... A Story of Hope & Inspiration

Horses at "Brighter Days Horse Refuge" are given a second chance for the good life.

I have a special place in my heart for organizations like Brighter Days. My first horse was rescued by a local stable, and from the moment I looked into her big brown eyes, I knew I had to be in her life. Beauty had been left alone in a dusty pasture with little or no food and had almost starved to death. She was no more than a walking skeleton, but within six months she filled out beautifully. Those sad, sullen eyes soon sparkled with delight every time I showed up with a bag of carrots. Whereas previously Beauty had walked around with a lowered head and defeated look, today she is content and perky and I could swear, usually has a slight smile on her face.

A quote by Saint Francis of Assissi tops the Home Page of the Brighter Day's website: "If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of Compassion and Pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow man." Ironically, in the equine world, horses have found two saints of their very own, Jeannie and Bill Weatherholtz, founders of Brighter Days Horse Refuge, in Pipe Creek Texas.

At Brighter Days, there are 65 residents with stories similar to Beauty's. Just 40 miles from San Antonio, Brighter Days is a non-profit organization that caters to the Texas Hill Country and surrounding counties. The refuge is a placement facility used by law enforcement for seized horses in animal cruelty cases. Where horses were historically destroyed, they can now be rehabilitated and placed for adoption.

Extraordinary care is given to these fortunate equines by Jeannie, Bill, and an array of Volunteers who make sure all the horses are well cared for, comfortable and loved. In addition, the refuge has also educated many horse owners in the care and feeding of older horses to avoid and prevent the need for seizure. The refuge relies on the kindness of strangers. Tax-deductible donations, and benefits given by renowned horsemen like Monty Roberts' (who donated a portion of his San Antonio appearance) support the daily care of Brighter Days' horses.

Brighter Days' Adoption Program is for horses that have been rehabilitated and are ready to go to their new homes. When horses become available for adoption, Brighter Days tries to find homes within the surrounding counties. Those who wish to adopt a horse must pay a fee and sign an adoption contract. A screening process allows the facility to check on the horses and strict requirements ensure that the horses will be well cared for and wanted. Part of this contract also requires that any adoptive horse must be brought back to the Refuge if it is no longer wanted. The contract specifically states that the horse cannot be sold or given away. This assures that any horse rescued by Brighter Days will always be protected for the remainder of his or her life. The refuge's goal is to find the best possible homes for their residents, where the horses will be cared for and loved for rest of their lives.

Brighter Days has a wonderful Sponsorship Program that allows the horses to have a "special friend." $25 will sponsor a pony and $50 will sponsor a horse. For this monthly fee, the sponsored horse/pony lives at Brighter Days and the sponsor can visit their new friend and spoil them with treats and attention. This program is ideal for families that love horses but cannot keep them, city dwellers, or animal lovers that want to make a difference and help from other states or countries.

Committed to maintaining this safe haven for horses, the Refuge depends on contributions from individuals. All donations are used for feed, shelter and vet care. The average cost for grain and hay is about $3,500.00 a month, and in a drought year, considerably higher. Donating to Brighter Days or other horse refuges is a way to give back to an animal that has brought most of us an abundance of joy and happiness.

Visitors are welcome at the Refuge to meet the horses and learn more about the non-profit organization. Admission is a bag of apples or carrots! I brought 2 large bags of carrots, and a bag of apples and had no trouble giving them away. In fact, I was followed around by 3 or 4 loose horses, including a 34 year old gentleman who kept nudging me for another carrot. If you can't visit in person, you can also visit their web site at www.Brighterdayshorserefuge.org.

The "Happy Ending Stories" promise to make you smile. And by the way, according to Jeannie, Pop Tarts are also a welcome commodity!


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