‘Feel Good Sunday’ Video: Bride’s Horse Stole the Spotlight by Grinning

“It’s time to recharge our batteries and validate why we do what we do and this Sunday we have the recipe to bring just such a feeling of warmth into your day.  There’s more to the story, below, than just a smile; it is a tale of honor, respect and love with a special twist of joy that only an equine companion can bring.  It is truly an honor and blessing to be a guardian for such majestic beings.  They humble me.” ~ R.T.

by Sabrina Rojas Weiss on Yahoo News

When you’re in a wedding party, you absolutely don’t want to upstage the bride — especially not in her photos. Someone forgot to tell this to Cricket, who was grinning ear-to-ear as she posed with bride Patti Womer before her ceremony in September.

“I honestly don’t mind having attention on her instead of me. Dutch and Cricket are such a big part of me, and I will always have a special place in my heart for them,” Womer tells Yahoo Lifestyle. She’s not speaking indulgently of her bridesmaids, of course, but of her two horses, who escorted her up to the ceremony in a field of sunflowers at Mt. Pleasant Mills in Pennsylvania.

Dutch, a sorrel gelding, and Cricket, a paint mare, were the first horses she and her dad bought together when Womer was 8 years old. Though her father passed away in May 2016, she found a way to represent him in her wedding. As she rode Cricket, she walked Dutch, her father’s horse, with an empty saddle next to her.

“This just showed that my father was there with me through the whole thing,” says Womer, an agriculture science major at Penn State University.

Photographing a horse at a wedding wasn’t anything new for photographer Tony Bendele, who has done his share of wildlife photography too. “I’m very used to working with animals, but I’ve never seen a horse doing the smile like that,” Bendele tells Yahoo. “It actually caught my eye initially when we first started doing the photographs. As the bride was smiling the horse would look up and put its teeth just like that.”

Womer isn’t entirely convinced Cricket was grinning for the camera. “Honestly, the horse is just shaking her head trying to get a fly off or something but with her showing her teeth, it looks like she is smiling.”

Bendele has posted Cricket and Womer’s photo to his Facebook page a few times since the wedding, finding his followers love the horse’s expression as much as he does. A photo like that may encourage others to try to incorporate their animals, big and small, into their ceremonies. This is something he recommends only if you’re certain of how the animals will react to noise and large crowds.

“We had an experience back in 2016 where we had a bride come down in a carriage and they were going to walk it down the aisle,” he recalls. “As soon as one of the horses got close to the people, somebody had their back turned to it and then turned around and scared it, so it took off and actually flipped the carriage.”

Luckily, the bride emerged unscathed in that case. Overall, Bendele says horses are better behaved than another mainstay of wedding photographs: “Sometimes the kids are a lot harder to handle than the animals.”

Greatest Wedding Photo EVER ~ Photo: Tony Bendele Photography

Feel Good Sunday: Photobombed by Horses

by R.T. Fitch

“Last week a reader dressed me down, just a bit, for deviating off the course of equine advocacy with our traditional “Feel Good Sundays” and a part of me is in full agreement, BUT we will continue to attempt to bring a smile to your lips and an uplift to your heart on this day of rest.  Granted, we may slam an article of concern down on the table later in the day but at least we can start the day with a little bit of equine sunshine.  Have faith and please be safe, my friends.” ~ R.T.

If you are fortunate enough to live with horses and donkeys, or at least visit them often, you are well aware of the multiple and different personalities that each of them poses.  Every one of them is as unique as a snowflake and twice as special and with that singularity often runs a strain of comedy, every pasture has a class comedian or village idiot; that’s what makes life so very special.

Just a few quick glimpses to share with you, today, to reinforce the opinion that when it comes to horses a comedy show is not far behind.



First up is a young woman who thought she was taking a happy picture standing in front of her horse when just as the shutter clicked, or iPhone, the horse broke out into his own happy smile that, if you look closely, appears to match that of his human buddy.  Remarkable.






Another one of my personal favorites is a big ole Drafty who decides to add a little extra to a family photo taken of a little girl who is standing in front of him.  As a guardian of a big ole Belgian/TB cross I can tell you that there is a funny, and gentle, gene that resides in their great big, giant hearts.  One of the most remarkable things I have observed about horses is how they react and become so very gentle around human children.  It is stunning.



A camera is a sure fire way to ensure that the “Hey, look at ME!” syndrome is quickly awakened in any equine as comically demonstrated in the video below.

And in conclusion, I offer firm evidence that I know of what I speak as Terry and I were continually interrupted by one of our equine children as we attempted to tape an outreach segment, at our home, for Wild Horse Freedom Federation.  I share this video with a heavy heart as the antagonist is our Harley, a former racing TB who suffered a slab fracture to his left front knee and was on his way to the Kaufman, TX slaughterhouse until his owner intervened and entrusted us to give him a new life.  We did just that for almost 20 years until his bad TB feet could no longer bear him.  Drugs, abuse and greed surround horse racing but I digress.  He gave us years of wonderful companionship and comic relief because he always was the big “Sh*tstirrer” in the pasture.  We all miss him greatly.

This video is long but Harley owns the beginning and he most certainly is in charge of the finish.  Thank you Harley.

To ALL Mothers Great or Small: We Love and Honor You This Day!

“It is my most sincere hope that no Mother visits this blog, today, but instead is with her family celebrating this day of life and hope.  But should some stray, animal loving mom stray a bit and visit us we would like to dedicate the blog to you and all mothers regardless off number of legs, wings or fins.

Today is yours, we love you all!!!” ~ R.T.

Feel Good Sunday: Rescued Donkey Acts Like A Puppy

“Okay, time out, folks.  It’s Sunday and all of us deserve a few moments of quiet reflection, a hug, a smile and perhaps even a big smooch.  We can ramp back up for the fight tomorrow morning but for now hug each other and above all, scratch the forehead or backside of your four legged kids and thank the good Lord that you are lucky enough to be able share your lives with them.  They are our motivators and forever friends.  Keep the faith and be safe!” ~ R.T.

Feel Good Sunday: “Just Like Them Horses”

Story by By Laura McClellan, forward by R.T. Fitch

“It’s Feel Good Sunday and time to lift ourselves up in preparation for another week of intensive warfare, be it fighting to survive on the job, struggling for ways to keep horses and burros on the range and free of slaughter or just getting through the evening news…we need strength.

Often, here, we laugh and slap each other on the back in an effort to bolster ourselves up and prepare for that slide out of the bed on Monday morning but it is also important to remember that many times it is necessary to look deep within prior to looking forward and out upon the horizon of life, and today we do just that.

The link to this video was sent to me by someone who works quietly behind the scenes, here, at Straight from the Horses Heart as many do because this is a community and not a one man show.  During the week she sends me various links to newsworthy stories and always throws in a few FGS (Feel Good Sunday) stories for good measure.  Her assistance has freed up much of my early morning time and allowed me to write more frequently versus searching for the latest and greatest to share…today is a case in point and after watching this video, I am both moved and anxious to step out the door of the house with my little boarder collie assistant and get to cooking breakfast for the horses, our equine children.  I am blessed to, now, spend each and every daybreak with our horses, Roxy my canine keeper, the Koi and even our little monarch butterfly community where we are on our 4th batch of baby caterpillars this season.  The quiet beauty, the deep feeling of connection and retrospective look back gives me strength, centers my soul and propels me forward into the harsh daylight of the intense and often times stressful day.

Sit back, breath deeply, wrap the lyrics of show business’s most delightful woman around you and claim this day to be your own, you most assuredly deserve it.  Peace to you, my friends.” ~ R.T.

Reba McEntire‘s “Just Like Them Horses” video is an emotional tribute to her late father, Clark McEntire, who passed away in 2014. The black-and-white scenes begin with a somber monologue from McEntire herself, asking tough questions in the wake of her father’s death: “How do you say goodbye? How do you say goodbye to somebody who made you, raised you, taught you, disciplined you, loved you? How do you say goodbye?” she says before the music comes in.

The ballad begins with just piano and McEntire’s powerful, emotive vocals as the video shows the artist walking through farm land alone reflecting, alternating with scenes of beautiful horses as well as McEntire’s own real-life mom driving a truck to meet her daughter.

“Mama had to be in the video. She was and still is the glue to our family,” McEntire said of the decision to include her mom. The scenes even took place on the McEntire family farm. “We shot the entire video in Chockie, Okla. on the McEntire home-place. Those old hills mean a lot to me. I lived there 21 years and they still call me back time after time.”

Written by Tommy Lee James and Liz Hengber, McEntire heard the song when choosing tracks for her Love Somebody album and decided to have it played at her father’s funeral.

“The minute I heard it, I knew I wanted it played at Daddy’s funeral. When my producer Tony Brown heard it, he loved it so much, that he insisted on putting it on the album,” she said.

McEntire says she dedicates the music video to her father, as well. It ends with several images of majestic horses running on the farm and the artist riding away on the back of the truck from earlier in the song. A photo memorial of her father appears over the last scene as a dedication.

Love Somebody is McEntire’s 27th studio album, released in April 2015. It debuted at No. 1 and has since sold more than 180,000 copies. “Just Like Them Horses” is the third single from the record, following “Going Out Like That” and “Until They Don’t Love You.”

Read More: Reba McEntire Honors Late Father with Video for “Just Like Them Horses” | http://tasteofcountry.com/reba-mcentire-just-like-them-horses-video/?trackback=tsmclip

Feel Good Sunday: Horse And Dog Have Been Best Friends Since The Moment They Met

By caitlinnjill as published on The Dodo

“They built this amazing trust and knowledge of each other and this has only grown over the years,”

Leslie grew up always having multiple dogs around, and so when she moved out on her own, there was never any question about who her housemates would be.


Currently, Leslie has four Dobermans: Boss, Kyra, Gaia and Zeus.

All the dogs love each other very much, and are always following each other around …

… and getting into mischief together, of course.

Leslie also grew up around horses, and her horse Contino is just as much a part of the pack as the dogs — especially with Boss.

“The pack just knows how to deal and live around horses,” Leslie told The Dodo. “They’ve been around horses since they were allowed to go outside. However, the case of Boss is a different one.”

From the very first time Boss wandered around Contino’s stables, the pair were simply drawn to one another. Neither has ever been afraid of the other, and their bond is truly unlike any other.

“Boss was always fearless around him and was even curious to come close to lick or smell him,” Leslie said. “Contino accepted him amazingly since day one, so that’s about time when I realized their relationship was something special.”

Boss and Contino love spending time together, giving each other kisses and cuddles. Despite being much bigger than him, Contino is always very gentle with Boss, and seems to know exactly what he needs.

“They built this amazing trust and knowledge of each other and this has only grown over the years,” Leslie said.


Dying Vietnam Vet Asks for Final Meeting with Beloved Horses Outside Hospital


“When the horse came up to him he actually opened his eyes…”

Photo: (Lupe Hernandez, South Texas Veterans Health Care System)

Photo: (Lupe Hernandez, South Texas Veterans Health Care System)

Vietnam veteran Roberto Gonzalez’s final wish was granted Saturday when he was reunited with his beloved horses — Ringo and Sugar — outside of a Texas VA hospital.

Gonzalez, of Premont, Texas, who was shot and paralyzed during the war, was wheeled outside the front doors of Audie Murphy Veterans Hospital in San Antonio where he was greeted by the horses he had raised for decades, mySA.com reported.

Gonzalez, who was one of the hospital’s first patients when it opened in 1974, had asked his family to see his horses one last time. The family passed along the request to hospital staff who gladly obliged. Ringo and Sugar then made the 150-mile trip to the hospital to see him.

“Horses are his life,” his wife, Rosario Gonzalez, told KABB. “We’ve been training and raising horses for 30, 40 years.”

The South Texas Veterans Health Care System posted a photo of the meeting on its Facebook page on Sunday, calling Gonzalez a great American and identifying him as one of the first patients at the hospital.

“A heartfelt Thank you, to all at Audie L. Murphy V A Hospital,” Rosario Gonzalez posted in response. “A special thank you to the spinal cord staff, all of you became a part of our family.

“The care you have been giving my husband and to me goes above and beyond,” she wrote. “You are our angels God Bless you all.”

Gonzalez reportedly learned that his kidneys and liver were failing when he recently visited the hospital for a back wound.

“He never let his injuries slow him down. He loved horses, he loved cattle, he loved ranching and farming. He was proud to serve his country,” Rosario Gonzalez told ABC affiliate KSAT.

Gonzalez’s May 21 visit with the horses came 46 years to the day after he was wounded in Vietnam. His wife told local media stations that her husband was one of the only licensed, handicapped horse trainers in Texas.

“When the horse came up to him he actually opened his eyes. They came up to him and I think they were actually kissing him,” Gonzalez told News4SA.com.


Feel Good Sunday: This Year’s Best Animal Mothers

By Ameena Schelling as published on The Dodo

“Today we celebrate our mom’s and the unchallenged love that they have showered upon us over the years.  But the love of a mother is not a human exclusive trait as portrayed in the article, below.  Happy Mother’s Day to all you special individuals out there, whatever your species, be safe and always know that you are loved back many, many times over.” ~ R.T.

The cow who hid her baby from rescuers

Rescued from life as a dairy cow, Clarabelle had lost countless calves to the cruel hands of the dairy farmer. When she gave birth shortly after being rescued by a farm sanctuary, she hid her newborn calf so she couldn’t be taken away.

Edgar’s Mission

The octopus mom who protected her babies — for 4 years

Like any good mom, this octopus carefully guarded her eggs until they hatched. Only it took them four and a half years to do so, and the mother octopus stayed on her brood the entire time.

Robinson et al.

The mother elephant who spent 11 hours saving her baby

This mother elephant’s baby fell into a well, and she refused to leave. After a night spent frantically trying to save her little calf, some friendly villagers came to the rescue.

YouTube/Caters TV

The quick-thinking dog who saved her puppies from a fire

With a forest fire raging through her home, this mother dog dug a hole to shield her babies from the blaze.


The mother goose who wouldn’t leave her eggs

When someone very cruel set fire to this mother goose’s nest, she refused to abandon her eggs. Her rescuer found her, singed but alive, hunkered down on her nest even as the flames rose around her.

Tim White

This mother squirrel who saved her fallen baby

When this tiny squirrel infant fell from his nest, his mother sprang into action. Lovingly gathering him up in her arms, she carried him right back up where he belonged.

Facebook/Brian McMahon

This touching mother-baby elephant reunion

Mae Yui lost her baby Me-Bai when she was torn away to be sold into Thailand’s tourism industry. Years later Me-Bai was rescued, and her caretakers took her to meet her mother. Mae Yui’s joy at having her long-lost baby returned was overwhelming — simple proof that maternal love is common to us all.

Facebook/Lek Chailert

Tribute: Rosie, Cowboy and the Woman They Left Behind

by R.T. Fitch

I am without words, I just do not know what to say.  I had seen the headlines, I had read the words, but nothing registered.  Someone’s beloved dog and horse had died from eating poisoned laced cookies…but I moved on, elected not to share that news as it was sad and perhaps too painful to read.  Instead I moved on searching for stories about entire wild herds, corrupt government and changes in the law.  For several days those headlines haunted be but I did not relent, I did not read a one of them:

Beloved horse and dog die after eating poisoned cookies

Sebastopol-area horse, dog die after eating poisoned cookies

Horse and Dog Die After Eating Poisoned Cookies | FOX40

California dog and horse die after eating cookies laced with …

‘Just Despicable’: Sebastopol Woman’s Horse, Dog Die After …

Horse and dog killed with poisoned cookies in Sonoma …

California dog, horse possibly poisoned to death by tainted …

A Horse And Dog Were Poisoned To Death With Laced …

…until Debbie Coffey sent me an email and said “I think this is Leslie Anne Webb“.  My heart stopped.

Leslie Anne Webb, an old friend of ours whose paintings of our horses adorn the walls of our home was in pain and I ignored it for days, I am forever sorry, Leslie Anne, I did not know

But this day, instead of repeating and reprinting the words of sadness and human depravity I would rather celebrate the kind and tender spirit of the woman in mourning and highlight the joy that she brings to the animals and people she shares her life with.  There is great goodness in the heart of this artist and an insight into the soul of those who are voiceless like no other other.

Today I share with you a story of a magical weekend Terry and I spent at Leslie’s ranch with her and her critter family; a time that touched me so very deeply and now lives on in our book Straight from the Horse’s Heart.

I give you The Valley of Laughter

Leslie Anne Webb

Leslie Anne Webb

It’s rare to find one’s self in another land, a different world, without even remembering how, when, or where you passed a boundary. Granted the journey is a long one: up and down California mountain roads past many gorgeous vistas. First, the roads are paved and spread out in multiple lanes. Then, they twist and wind about until they are only two lanes; then one; next gravel; then dirt; and, as you pull up to the mystical entrance gate, only one vehicle could make it’s way through at a time.

Perhaps it is when you step out of your earthbound vehicle, at the gate, that you know you are getting close to a place that is truly different, unique, and very special. Maybe it is the wooden fence rails that run beside you bound together, by hand, with rope. Perhaps it is the vibrant hand-painted welcome sign that reads, in a brilliant blue, “Circle 7”; or, perchance, it is the whispering in the leaves of the trees. Yes, perhaps that is it. From over head and far away the leaves in the trees whisper a distant laugh, a barely audible giggle, a sigh of happiness. Yes, that is when you first are aware that you have arrived.

As you drive through the narrow gate and up the path, you pass a series of barns on your right. There, several free roaming horses, many very large, look your way, smile, and nod. The whisper of laughter is heavy in the air. As you make a sharp turn to the left and descend into the valley you may pick up several companions: dogs, running beside you with mouths in an open smile while tongues bounce to and fro as they keep pace with your motorized decent. More sounds of happiness seep in through your vehicle’s ventilation system. A smile breaks across your face.

Terry and Leslie

Terry and Leslie

As you slowly and carefully make your way down to the valley floor, you feel that perhaps you have truly passed into another time or dimension as, off to the right in the distance, two Native American Teepee’s stand majestically in a clearing under ancient oak trees. Then, after you pass through another gate into the main yard, there is a quaint turn-of-the-century bath house to your right. Nestled into the mountain side, on your left, is a clean-cut two story building that reminds you of a school house from years gone by, right down to the cupola atop the shinning metal roof. From its ample porch, your hostess, the sole human inhabitant of this valley, waves and smiles a big welcome.

You have arrived at a very special place and, within seconds, you are blessed with the sound of laughter ringing from the sides of the mountain and across the valley floor. This is an incredibly extraordinary residence that has been carved out of the wilderness by one of America’s last, true, pioneer woman. Over the years, living first in a tent, then in the Teepees and finally in the gallery/home, this woman has made this unique plot of land a place for her to work; a place for her to live; and, a place for her to love and be loved by the animal companions that fill her life with joy. This is the home of equine artist, Leslie Anne Webb.

015One feels privileged to walk upon this sacred ground. Many years of toil and tears went into making it the place of sharing that it is today. The original intent was to create an environment conducive for working with oils and telling the individual stories of horses by immortalizing their likenesses in paintings. The painting turned out to be the easy portion of this long and incredible journey. Along the way, horses were rescued; wells were dug; dogs were saved; and buildings were built. All accomplished through the hands of this artist and the spirit that makes this country great.

One can easily get lost in hearing the stories of challenge, triumph, and ultimate victory. In fact, before you realize it, an entire day can slip through your fingers as quickly as if you had fallen over a waterfall. Listening to Leslie, while rubbing down the horses and petting the dogs, causes a shift in the normal time continuum and you soon find yourself longing to go back to the beginning and start all over again. Sadly, much to your chagrin, even in this magical valley the earth will not spin in reverse. Therefore, you must relent; say your good-night’s; and, if you are lucky enough, you head off to the Teepees to refresh and recharge both body and soul.

018During the night, you can still hear the gentle giggling amongst the leaves in the trees. In fact, you can see the limbs shiver and quake above your head through the opening in the Teepee’s peak. The trees dance with the wind to some ancient melody as your energy circulates around the teepee; around and upward, until in your dreams you too are dancing to a very far away but persistent tribal song. You sleep very, very well.

Upon awakening, you question your dreams of dancing with nature only to discover that you have been blessed and covered with a delicate blanket of oak leaves that was added to your man-made blanket during the night. Perhaps it was not a dream, after all.

Over a mug of coffee, more stories are shared; laughter rings anew; paintings are admired; and, plans to save even more horses are made. You nurse the coffee for, when it is gone, you must leave; so, the sharing of life’s tall tales continues. But, time moves quickly in the valley; soon the bottom of your coffee mug comes into view and you must journey back into the world from whence you came.

025You say your good-byes to the rescued horses; you pet the dogs that have been saved; you stroke the cat whose life has been salvaged; and embrace the pioneer woman, one last time, before departing. In that last fleeting moment, you steal a departing glance at the art that she has created and gaze, again, at the land that she has transformed into art. From one heart, so much living beauty has been fashioned that you find a tear slowly creeping down your cheek as you reluctantly turn the key in the ignition.

A wave of the hand, the bark of a dog, and the crunch of tires on gravel signal that you are on a journey forward into time; back to the contemporary world where technology is king and where man has forgotten his roots. As you ascend out of the valley, an emptiness begins to grow inside your heart; or, perhaps it is only returning. Nevertheless, you desperately fight the urge to turn around.

Once through the gate, up high on the mountain, you exit your vehicle to close and latch it ensuring the safety of the horses. Above you, the leaves whisper a farewell. You linger for a moment and hold onto one of the hand-lashed fence rails while you take in the music of the trees. There, in the nearest rope lashing, you see something: a delicate object twisting in the gentle breeze. Carefully, you pluck it from between the lashings of the binding rope and, to your delight, you realize it is the ornate and delicate tail feather of a native hawk. And, as you twirl it before your eyes and absorb its beauty, you hear from very far away, echoing softly from the valley below, the cry of its owner wishing you well as you reluctantly depart the Valley of Laughter.

Feel Good Sunday: Hoof Prints on our Hearts

by R.T. Fitch ~ President/Co-founder of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

"Terry and Apache" ~ photo by R.T. Fitch

“Terry and Apache” ~ photo by R.T. Fitch

“The other day I caught a glimpse of a little video that was circulating around the web and put a bookmark on it to share with ya’all today. It is short, sweet and speaks, I hope, to many of us at several different levels but I don’t want to give the main point away in a preamble but instead let you experience it for yourself as most of us would be guilty of responding in a like matter.

Please be advised that we are not promoting any product, here, simply sharing a message that many of us relate to.

Included to the right is a still shot of someone else that would fit into that category if he could; Terry’s equine soul mate Apache. We flew him out of Brazil 16 years ago and to date, no one has ever told him that he is a horse. Keep the faith my very special and dear friends.” ~ R.T.