I’ve previously shared stories of the Brave Sky horses that have moved on to other homes, but now I’d love for you to learn about the two horses that have remained with us. Atlas and Cash are the only ones God has allowed to remain involved in Brave Sky operations and our own daily lives...
Johnny Cash (formerly “Skooter”)
Johnny “Cash” is the oldest horse we have ever taken in, and he just turned 27 years old as of writing this blog. I love this horse and how gentle he is with others. He will follow anyone around for a nibble of a carrot or a bit of grain. He loves to be brushed and get a scratch or two, especially in springtime - his winter coat begins to shed and he follows us around in hopes of being brushed and scratched. He’s a patient and gentle people-lover.
Skooter, a palomino colt, was born to a family in our area, later sold to another family, and years later his family moved with him to Utah. After our family moved to Idaho Falls, a neighbor asked if we would like to foster a horse. I got the information and agreed to take him in short-term, which eventually became permanent. He endured many ups and downs throughout his 27 years, but life’s roller coasters have proven the personality, resilience and grace of this incredible horse. Some horses successfully navigate and survive life’s curveballs, while others struggle greatly for years.
We have never kept a horse’s original name, because we’ve learned that since God is the one who has brought each and every horse to us, He decides what each horse should be named as they begin a new life.
We have since renamed Skooter “Johnny Cash.” Johnny Cash’s hard life and redemption reminded us of the redemption and rollercoasters we have seen in the life of the horse we had fallen in love with and were finally able to purchase. And again God provided the money needed (down to the penny) to bring Cash permanently to Brave Sky.
Cash has been a huge success in helping others coming to Brave Sky Ranch. He loves kids, and especially anyone that will give him attention. He is a smaller-sized horse but he’s amazingly strong in spirit. God has an even bigger plan for this horse - I just know it.
Atlas (formerly “Brocman”)
Atlas is a strong, very tall Dapple Grey quarter horse. He stands 66 inches tall to his withers, which means he is even taller if you measure to the top of his head. He was bred for racing but he clearly wasn’t interested in that pursuit - God knew what He was doing when He brought this horse out of the racing world. Born 12 years ago near Idaho Falls, his registered name was Brocman and as a great-grandson of Seattle Slew, he was trained for the racing circuit. He was eventually sold to a very nice family who lived in the local area but due to unforeseen circumstances, his owner began looking to find him a new home. God had a beautiful plan for this horse.
I am truly amazed as I recall major events that led us to gaining each of our horses, especially Atlas, and how each event was orchestrated by Someone who planned it all out, down to the day….
The story began with me moving to Idaho Falls (just months before the opportunity arose to buy Brocman). God led a nice lady with a mare and new foal to contact us about our empty pastureland, and after we built a relationship with this new friend, I told her one day I was looking for a big horse - she happened to have just spoken with her friend who needed to move and couldn’t take her horse with her. I had very little money at the time because I had just changed the location of my job and had taken a hefty pay cut. I began asking God whether I should buy this horse or not… not only did God bring us the money we needed through my new job, but He also showed me how important this horse would be as we formed Brave Sky Ranch. Furthermore, God showed me that this horse will be very powerful in Brave Sky’s ministry for many years to come - his new name would be “Atlas” because he would be a map to helping people all over the world.
When playing with Atlas, it wasn't always fun and games! When we began training, he knew that I was inexperienced (as every strong and smart horse does) and he took every opportunity to push me around. I made many mistakes in playtime and training with Atlas, but he is very patient and resilient, and he bounces back from my training mistakes quickly. Atlas and his individuality took a while for me to learn well, compared to other horses I had worked with. Because of his size, Atlas dwarfed me when I was near - my 5’5” body needs a fence or helping hand to sit on his back, whether saddled or bareback. This horse picks up things incredibly quickly, and he is also very sensitive sometimes so I needed to learn to relate to him while maintaining his confidence… and learning naturally followed.
God used my lessons with Atlas to teach me to have more patience and to be more sensitive to others around me. I am so grateful to God for how He built a bond between myself and Atlas. Growing up, I originally watched others, including my uncle, training horses by a stiff hand of anger, but wow! How wrong they were. My uncle had it all wrong! He taught me that I should take what I wanted from the horse, demanding respect - forcing it if I had to - and that horses are simply machines that should listen and not talk back or put up a fuss. And God has retrained me - everything in my mind has been changed on how I work with horses. I bought many videos and books and watched countless trainers online and in person, and God used all my research to help me understand horse behavior more than ever.
I became interested in learning dressage riding, and later I pursued training for Hunter/Jumper. I love riding saddled or bareback, and I thrive when I’m around horses. How I now relate to horses really works - horses are very powerful and have the potential to hurt and even kill humans if we aren’t paying attention, but they are most often extremely gentle giants and the most spiritually-balanced creature you’ll ever meet.
Atlas would follow me around the paddock as I maintenanced the pasture. When I was pulling weeds in our round pen, he’d come in from the pasture and nudge me with his nose to get my attention, but I couldn’t say no and had to give him some love. I eventually had to close the gate so I could finish weeding. I can’t thank God enough for bringing Atlas into my life. I have spent 4 years getting to know him and we have built a bond to a life-long partnership. In the earliest part of our partnership, I began to see his demeanor change. I would try to herd another horse to follow a certain path, or a horse would get pushy with me in the pasture, and I would respond as a human to a human, but Atlas would step in and “translate” for me, helping me guide the horse back into line. He would take command and do for me what I’d been trying to do myself, but in a calmer manner. Atlas would help often when we were trying to get a horse back in line or in control.
I love this horse and I love God, and I can’t wait to see how He plans to use us as a pair in the future of Brave Sky. I imagined being the “cowboy preacher” as I rode up on Atlas, my faithful steed (though he is a gelding), wearing my 10-gallon hat, delivering a message about how God changed my life with just this one horse. Oh, this man I can dream and hope and pray that God would bring about His perfect plan for both of us and change hearts and minds forever. I long to spread the healing love of God through a partnership of one horse and one man.
As we wait for God to show us to next step and direction He has planned for us to go, we are caring for and working with Atlas and Cash, the two horses God has given us to keep. I am absolutely sure this is just the beginning of bringing horses and people together so they can heal from the pain of their pasts. From a dozen horses, Atlas and Cash are the special ones that God will be using from this point on.
As we sit and wait patiently and flexibly for this Coronavirus cloud to lift, we wait for God to provide the funds to move us to our next destination, where many others are waiting for our arrival and this ministry to help them. Brave Sky is not just about horses; we and our horses show others how much God loves them and wants them to heal to find joy in their lives.
Brave Sky will soon be a traveling ministry - we haven’t had property to call home for the past year, since selling our 20-acre property. We have lived in an RV, moving from place to place, helping others when and where God calls us to go. We know without a shadow of a doubt that God will use us and our two horses in beyond-extraordinary ways.
I have no idea how God will accomplish any of these things in the near future, but I definitely know that HE’S GOT THIS! All of this is in his hands: the breaking-down RV we live in, the lack of equipment to get where we need to go, the bills we still need to pay so that we are able to go when and where He calls us to go next…. We still don’t have any of the things we currently need to go mobile with this ministry, but God is saying, “not yet.” He continues to move in our lives and has kept us safe and fed with a roof over our heads, electricity to live, and warmth in the cold, but He has got this taken care of, and I will trust Him to provide what we need when we need it.
God has called us take Brave Sky Ranch on the road to reach those who are unable to travel to us. We are so excited to have the opportunity to reach out. I personally wanted to make this happen long ago, but God asked us to wait on Him. While waiting, I have learned to be patient and remain flexible, and this has taught me much more about who God is and His character. We are ready, our horses have had time to get ready and now we wait for the time that God opens the doors to the next place, where people are longing for our horses and our family to come alongside them and help.
I am continually blown away at God’s love and how He works in our lives. I want to bring glory to Him and never want to fail Him as I serve. This is His ministry, His hand-picked horses, and every single thing in my possession belongs to Him. Even my family is not mine - He has blessed me with their presence and love! - and lastly, my very life belongs to Him! My desire is to spend the rest of my life in service to my God, the Creator of everything; I want nothing else but to Live Lidless, feeling His love flow in and through me to those I come across - from today’s grocery trip to tomorrow’s fuel stop - and every next adventure we face as we soon hit the road to bring God’s love wherever He brings us.