How cute is this face?? We think Ali is adorable and are excited to share how she came to Bright Side. This story does in fact start with a Once Upon a Time because we need to go back a few years to when Devin and I were living in Northern Virginia, just south of Washington D.C. Alright, so maybe it was more than a few years ago, because it was a time before kids (so that definitely feels like a land far away).
Devin held his first full-time ministry position as a youth pastor at Methodist Church in Stafford, and I was a veterinary assistant at an equine clinic. While there, we met a spunky, awesome teen named Chelsea and got to know her family. As it turns out, she and her mom had a love for horses and spent many hours riding and showing their Arabian gelding. After our time in Stafford came to a close and through the next 14 years, we would remain friends and stay in contact (and are very grateful for social media as an easy way to do so). Chelsea and Cheryl are incredible horse-people, and I often look up to the choices they have made and continue to make in the care of their animals and property.
About a year ago, Cheryl reached out and told me that a dear friend had passed away. It was a tough loss, one felt by so many. Her friend, Cam, was “a champion for horses, also rescues, and always Arabians.” I was told that Cam affected so many lives, and so many of those precious memories have been shared with me. In an effort to honor Cam’s memory in a special and unique way, Cheryl, along with others who loved Cam, offered to help rescue or sponsor an Arab for Bright Side. However, the timing for the Ranch was a little off, and we were not able to act on the offer right away.
Just a few months later, though, we had to say good-bye to our sweet 30-year-old Lexi and were ready to bring on another horse. So we conferred with Cheryl and Cam’s Memorial Rescue Team to find an Arabian for Bright Side. I went to see three different horses and ended up really liking a young, striking bay gelding. He was beautiful and sweet, but he had a severe past injury that would not allow for even the light work that happens at the Ranch. So, we kept looking, and Cheryl reached out to the online Arabian/Part-Arabian community.
And, she received a surprise response from someone who used to ride and show at some of the same locations as she and Chelsea did. Cheryl remembered Amanda being a beautiful rider and wonderful horse-person. As it turned out, Amanda had a small chestnut mare who is also a well-bred Arabian. She shared the story of Ali and that the little mare was sound and kid-safe, and Amanda was willing to do a trial to make sure that the pony was a good fit. After many conversations, Ali came to Bright Side in January, just a few weeks ago (her name is pronounced as Allie and comes from her registered name Fine Ali Bey).
She is adorable and sweet and patient and kind, and I believe many of us have fallen in love with her already. She’s still on her trial period, just to make sure everyone is happy with the situation, including owner, Ranch, and (most importantly) horse.
The arrival of this sweet Arab mare is a combined effort of a dear friend honoring another friend’s memory, a steadfast community who were impacted by a generous and kind life, and an owner who is willing to let her pony go to a program to help kids and teens rather than make a sale. I’m blown away by all the threads that have come together to make this possible, and I have no doubt that God has been weaving this tapestry together from the very beginning.