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Green pastures: Equine expert Cynthia Elliott opens an ‘elder horse-stal’ for San Juans’ horses
Cynthia Elliott is pleased with her husband’s joke.
“He calls it my “elder-horse-stal,” she smiles.
Sitting in her living room, tucked up upon the sofa, Elliott exudes the cheerful determination of someone in the process of changing dreams to reality.
“I’ve wanted to do this since I was a kid ... I didn’t have a horse, but I would help out with my friends’ horses. I would feed and care for them.”
It is this caregiver role that Elliott is seeking to resume professionally with her new equine sanctuary.
The facility, named “Crescent Moon Equine Sanctuary,” is primarily a place for the older, tired horse. “It’s about giving them a place, whether they are injured and need rehabilitation or just living out the last years of their life in a happy, relaxed place.”
Situated on the 40-acre “Briarwood” property off Mitchell Bay Road, it seems ideal for just that. However, Elliott plans to make it much more than a mere retirement home, or "horse-stal.” A student of natural horsemanship and the various perspectives it provides, Elliott wants to create an environment that more closely aligns horses with their natural habitat. She wants to do more than simply put the horses out to pasture.
“I wanted to provide as close to a natural environment as I could,” Elliott says.
Take a closer look, then, at the Briarwood pastures and some structural differences are evident. For one thing, the fields have tracks that circle the inside of the enclosures. Elliott puts hay along these paths, creating, as she says, “a setting in which they move more.”
“It’s like it is in nature, and far better than just dumping the hay in one place.”
Indeed, this use of motion, accompanied with natural remedies, has already seen the healing of resident horse Brownie’s previously damaged hoof.
The journey that saw Elliott transition from horse-loving child to sanctuary keeper has been a long and varied one. However, throughout her incarnations as massage therapist, energy worker and property caretaker, the common denominator has been that original love of the equine. There is a pleasant inevitability, then, about Elliott sitting on her couch discussing sanctuary names.
“The crescent moon is the moon that is not quite finished yet,” she smiles, enjoying the comparison to the horses for which she seeks to provide. Additionally, the first horse to join Elliott after she had made the decision to proceed with the sanctuary, was named Crescent.
Elliott, however, is careful to mix the poetic with the realistic. Although gentle respect is the primary currency of Crescent Moon, this is no charity. Each horse must be supported financially by its family or kept by a sponsor. The facility may be founded on ideals and passion, but it has been built to incorporate pro-active, economically viable solutions.
For example, instead of being a place where horses come to merely fade away, Elliott hopes to host educational and therapeutic programs.
“A retired horse is not an idle horse,” she says. “They still have a usefulness that contributes to their well-being because they are very social.”
Elliott takes delight in the reaction of children to horses and would like to provide equine education programs for them. Additionally, since she received so much help and teaching as an adult (crediting, among many, Sus Kellogg and those at Plumb Pond), she wants to provide opportunity for adults — those previously intimidated by horses, or who lacked the time to learn.
This combination of passion and business viability lends Elliott a good chance at ensuring that her “elder horse-tal” will continue through many crescent moons.
— Online: www.crescentmoonequinesanctuary.com