Theresa is a courageous and compassionate woman who has had to overcome many obstacles throughout her lifetime. She was an active wife and mother of two children when she began experiencing neurological issues due to the presence of a tumor which nearly severed her spinal cord. The ensuing surgery to remove the tumor resulted in nerve damage which left Theresa quadriplegic and she suddenly had to face the grim reality that she would never again walk. As Theresa embarked upon this very dark period in her life trying to adjust to her physical limitations, she happened upon an abused Arabian filly that was fearful and untrusting of humans, humans who had starved and repeatedly beaten her. A connection was immediately forged and it became abundantly clear that the filly needed Theresa as much as Theresa needed the filly. Miraculously, through sheer will, determination, faith and an arduous physical therapy program, Theresa did regain use of her limbs, albeit she remains an incomplete quadriplegic, with no feeling or awareness below her neck. The unwavering bond between this remarkable woman and an abused Arabian filly, now lovingly called Beauty, coupled with the fruits of their relationship, led to the creation of Beauty’s Haven Farm and Equine Rescue.
Theresa’s physical challenges have made her stronger - she never gives up but, rather, finds ways to work around her limitations. She truly believes that regaining the use of her limbs was due to the intervention of a higher power which enabled her to fulfill her lifelong dream of helping equines, specifically those that other rescue organizations refuse, due to the time consuming and/or immense costs of rehabilitation. Theresa has devoted her life to the rehabilitation of more than 350 equines with birth defects, broken bones, mutilations, blindness, and a host of other maladies, as well as those who were starved, emaciated and near death. Equines that have been neglected, abused, and/or abandoned, babies as young as two hours old, pregnant mares, senior horses and most recently, a beautiful filly who was brutally shot multiple times while innocently grazing, are each an integral part of the Beauty’s Haven herd. Beauty’s Haven is a safe haven where equines find love, care and protection; it is also a place that provides sanctuary to volunteers and visitors alike, some of whom have special needs and/or PTSD, who find peace and healing through their joyous interaction with the horses.
There are countless stories that can be told about Theresa’s remarkable work, but there is one that particularly, exemplifies true courage, dedication, inspiration, and heroism by both humans and an equine. It is the story of Betsy Rose, a pony who was discovered on the ground, discarded like trash, nearing death. Betsy’s odds for survival were near zero and although the veterinarian recommended that she be euthanized, Theresa sensed that Betsy had strong determination and a powerful will to survive. Theresa opted to give her a chance as she promised to make all of Betsy’s tomorrows everything her past should have been. Betsy was too weak to stand and required 24/7 hands-on care while she lived in a sling that became her lifeline. Her heart rate, temperature, breathing, appetite, waste elimination, and overall demeanor were constantly monitored and her care protocol was adjusted accordingly. Bedsores were treated and when ready, Betsy began an intense physical therapy program to build strength and muscle so she could walk again. It took two months before she could function outside the sling without assistance. Betsy’s determination and love for life inspired people throughout the world to believe and to never give up. She defied all odds and today, this beautiful pony with the flaxen mane has a huge fan club that loves her very much!
Theresa has a natural, unspoken connection with equines. These magnificent, powerful beings intuitively sense that she is fragile and ‘different’ and relate to her on a higher level of understanding. Theresa also has a natural connection to special needs individuals who arrive at Beauty’s Haven seeking peace and healing. She has an innate awareness as to which horse would best serve the needs of the individual and pairs them accordingly; through this interaction between horse and human, Theresa has witnessed many miracles; a young child utter his first words after having never spoken, a veteran with PTSD calmly emerging from his shell and individuals with debilitating illness finding peace and comfort. Just as Beauty has healed Theresa, and Theresa in turn, has healed countless equines that suffered the most horrific abuse, her beloved horses are now, healing others by providing solace and hope to those in need. It is truly, the great Circle of Life. Theresa’s own story is nothing short of a miracle. The depth of her determination to overcome is rare. She is an inspiration and a hero, to those who have met her both personally and through social media. Theresa is truly the embodiment of Beauty’s Haven Farm and Equine Rescue, ‘Where Life Begins, Again!’
Beauty’s Haven is currently located in a rural area which makes it extremely difficult to attract volunteers. The responsibility of caring for 32+ horses (many with special needs) thereby falls upon Theresa and her husband, Bob, who work tirelessly, every day, from the break of dawn until midnight preparing meals, dispensing supplements and medications, tending to wounds, filling water troughs, blanketing during cooler months and applying fly sheets in summer. The donation would help the rescue relocate to a more urban area, preferably within close proximity to the University of Florida where an abundance of volunteers would be readily available, thereby alleviating the work load and allowing Theresa to further pursue her hopes and dreams. Theresa would love to form a partnership with UF whereby veterinary students could complete their internship at the rescue which would truly be a most valuable benefit for both students and horses alike. Theresa has forever dreamed of starting a Miniature Horse Therapy program with little Lily, to help bring joy and comfort to the elderly and infirmed. Lastly, Theresa would like to make a greater impact in the community by assisting more individuals with special needs. Being in an urban setting would most assuredly, allow her to do so on a much grander scale. Should Theresa have the great fortune of being awarded the grand prize, not only would her dreams be fulfilled, but she would enrich the lives of so many others as well, by offering them a promise of a better tomorrow; that “Life is about determination. Don’t give up just because of the obstacles. Regardless of what obstacles face you, just keep going! Go through, go around, or go over - but never give up!”
Although the life of a rescuer is oftentimes, fraught with heartbreak, it too, brings immeasurable joy. Beauty’s Haven is truly, a labor of love. Theresa’s knowledge, experience, excellence in care, and commitment to making the quality of life for each equine the best that it can be, is truly commendable. Theresa receives no salary; her reward is watching equines recover from the horrors inflicted upon them by mankind and seeing smiles on the faces of humans as they interact with these magnificent animals. She has high standards but manages on a small budget which operates solely, from donations and fundraisers. She is recognized and respected throughout the rescue community for her hard work, determination, strong beliefs, integrity, transparency and dedication. I am truly honored to nominate Theresa Batchelor for the Living a Rare Life Award for Heroism.