Life in our Foothills August 2023 – Good To Be Missed – A story of a timid horse and a dedicated volunteer

Published 12:47 pm Wednesday, August 30, 2023

A story of a timid horse and a dedicated volunteer


It is a blessing to be missed. 

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You may ask me, “Pebbles, why do you say this?” Because to be missed, someone must think of you fondly and often. That individual is attached to you emotionally and cares about how you are feeling. Are you sad, are you lonely, are you soaking wet from the rain or too hot in the baking August sun? They fret over your daily well-being, or how you are eating in their absence. 

There is the gnawing concern that you might just miss them back in equal measure. 

Such is the case with our dedicated volunteer Celeste Chaput and our rescue horse, Heather’s Mist. For Mist, it is good to be missed. Celeste checks in from afar to see how this sweet buckskin mare is faring during her summer vacation from HERD rescue. 

Mist and Bambi after many months of good feed and grass

Celeste has a camp in Maine. She heads north for the cooler lakeside temperatures and to savor special times with her boisterous and wonderful family members. She rides out the summer temperatures with loons, flowering lupine and local lobster. Away from the heat but sadly a very long distance away from the doe-eyed, docile Mist. 

Let me set the record straight. Mist is not an easy horse. Her flight instinct is so strong it overrules common sense. She arrived at our rescue scared and shut down about people. She cowered in the back of her pasture with her young, equally suspicious foal, Bambi, at her side. It took months before any of us could communicate with her. She did not want friends, even ones in high places.  

Mist experiencing a saddle

Fast forward a year later, an here comes Celeste. Through mutual friends in Maine, she learned about the work HERD was doing and came out to volunteer with us. Celeste has incredibly powerful yet easygoing energy. She is a gentle leader. Her professional career has been devoted to working with children that have special needs. Celeste is truly an answer to a prayer for us.  Our Mist took to her as a loon takes to a cold-water lake in Maine.  There was an immediate attraction and instant comfort. 

The connection was equally as strong for Celeste. As a young girl, Celeste’s mother had painted an oil on canvas for her representing a galloping, free-spirited buckskin horse. It is a treasured piece that has remained in the family house in Maine, untitled but admired. Celeste, the young, horse-crazy girl never owned a horse as a child. Her mother supported her passion with riding lessons and frequent trips to the local barn every Saturday. It seems only Celeste was bitten by the horse bug. Her four siblings had no interest. She would grow up to spend a lifetime riding and owning horses while raising her own family. A buckskin with a flowing mane and dappled coat never entered her realm until she met Mist. Like her mother, Celeste has a talent for drawing. Horses are a favorite subject matter for her art portfolio.     

the buckskin mare painting created for Celeste Chaput by her mother

Heather’s Mist was saved from a situation in Georgia. A woman had 20 mares and a stallion that roamed freely over a hundred-acre farm. The first group of horses she owned were halter broke and tame. However, as the years passed, the horses multiplied, and the woman aged. She was not able to visit them, and they became a feral herd. When she died, her husband had them rounded up and sold at auction, slaughter-bound for Mexico. Mist delivered her foal, a beautiful chestnut with white stockings, and a blaze in the livestock yard. Had we not saved her, Mist would have faced a three-day journey, with no food or water, and a painful trip to meet a terrible end.  She would be forced to leave newborn Bambi behind, who would have been disposed of quickly. No one would have ever missed either of them at this point.  

With consistent groundwork and confidence-building exercises, Celeste moved the needle for Mist. The mare can be caught more easily. She will accept a saddle, and load calmly into a horse trailer. Mist will walk under blowing tarps and across bridges in the obstacle playground. The timid horse even allows the farrier to handle her and trim her feet. This is a major milestone. However, Mist has experienced some setbacks.  

Mist with Celeste Chaput on the playground bridge

When her pasture mate, Willow, entered their shared pasture in a new fly sheet, a terrible thing happened. The wind caught and lifted the sheet slightly making Willow appear to be a ghostly apparition, and Mist panicked and bolted to the back fence. She tried to jump out and instead flipped over it, succeeding in landing on the other side. She luckily was not badly injured, but it let us all know she is not ready for the next step yet. Riding lessons are still off in the distant future.  

The peculiar thing is all the horses that are in pastures next to Mist wear fly sheets. She has never expressed any concern about their flowing garments. Mist is also very suspicious if more than one person approaches her. Flight mode kicks in instantly again. All these challenges are things that Celeste addresses with patience while she is here working at the rescue. It is just going to take more time to help Mist build trust.  

Mist getting her feet trimmed for the first time, trusting Celeste

When Celeste left us a few months ago, Mist was crushed. How do I know you ask? She comes to the gate looking for her best friend. Mist likes Bill McClelland as he has always been kind to her. She respects Valerie Lowe, who is keeping up with some training while Celeste is away. She appreciates my mistress, Heather Freeman, who feeds and brushes her daily. However, not one of these caring people is a substitute or an emotional replacement for Celeste. 

Call it love, karmic attraction or pure destiny meant to be fulfilled in this lifetime. Mist is now the name of the treasured painting of the buckskin mare in Maine. Today, for both Celeste and Mist, it is good to be missed.  

Mist and her newborn foal, Bambi, at the livestock lot