Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary Founder Reflects On 30 Years Of Horse Rescue

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Melanie Sue Bowles—founder and director of Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary, who alongside her husband, Jim, has shepherded the sanctuary through nearly 30 years of challenges, changes, and relocations, in service of rescuing horses and providing them refuge—recalled, in a return appearance on Talking Animals, helping her very first horse, when they were decidedly not horse people.

Although she didn’t grow up riding, or even spending time with horses, Bowles observed that she believes everyone has a “superpower”—the tricky part is discovering what yours is—and realized, by horse #2, that her superpower is “helping horses who are hurting.” She described how one of those earliest horses, Tuxedo, had been a racehorse whose training and overall existence involved concrete, and upon arriving at Proud Spirit, was so unfamiliar with grass that he was initially bothered by walking on it. (The good news: Tuxedo became accustomed to grass, otherwise healed, and is a current member of the Proud Spirit herd.)

Bowles charted the Sanctuary’s evolution, and movement: Five acres in Myakka, FL, then 50 acres there, then 320 in Mena, AR, 180 in Lincolnton, GA, and finally, mere weeks ago, landing on 50 acres in Wilkesboro, NC. She explained that she and Jim always hoped to wind up in North Carolina, and with the herd being its smallest (20 horses) in years, it was now practical to settle in once when they found that parcel of land in Wilkesboro.