Where do wine and horses meet? At Cherry Wood Bed, Breakfast and Barn near Zillah, WA! Here, two exceptional women — mother, Pepper, and daughter, Tiffany Fewel — are the local champions of horse rescue. Theirs is a story both inspirational and heartwarming.
Pepper has always loved horses. And, like any horse lover, she was bothered by the number of good, good horses abandoned, neglected and headed to the slaughter house. More than ten years ago, she took action and began her rescue program.
Currently, Cherry Wood has thirty such rescues. In order to give these beautiful creatures a second chance, the Fewels must buy these animals and pay for their care and expense out of their own pocket.
When Tiffany and I spoke recently, I asked about how much each horse costs per year. “A lot,” Tiffany replied. “An example: the farrier cost of shoeing one horse is $85.00 and they must be shoed every five weeks”. Add to that hay, vet bills, transport, rehabilitation and more. $$$
Last year, sixty Shetland ponies came to Cherry Wood from a bad situation. With hard work and fortitude, Pepper found homes for fifty-nine. One cutie found a soft spot in Pepper’s heart and gets the run of the farm, for life.
Tiffany, a Washington State certified teacher, began studying Feldenkrais. Taken from their website, “The Feldenkrais Method is a form of somatic education that uses gentle movement and directed attention to improve movement and enhance human functioning. Through this Method, you can increase your ease and range of motion, improve your flexibility and coordination, and rediscover your innate capacity for graceful, efficient movement. These improvements will often generalize to enhance functioning in other aspects of your life.”
Tiffany saw its advantages in the animal world as well; she is now a certified Feldenkrais Practitioner with an equine specialty. With her Natural Connections classes, Tiffany helps riders and mounts communicate better. Plus, she is able to work some magic with sore, stiff and lonely horses. (Or dogs. Milly has some arthritis in her back, making it difficult, at times, to get in and out of vehicles. Tiffany gave her a little pressure relief rubdown, which made me jealous, and had Milly doing the don’t stop plead with her eyes).
Flyboy is Tiffany’s current project. This big, beautiful quarterhorse was on his way to the slaughter house – except he couldn’t make it there. Thought to be about 9 years old, Flyboy had a career as a Wrangler/Roping horse. An injury to his spine, during an event, left him unable to stand for long periods. Since it is illegal to slaughter a horse in the U.S.A., the unfortunates are shipped to either Canada or Mexico. Flyboy couldn’t make the trip, because he couldn’t stand that long. He was in agony.
Feldenkrais has helped this guy. Tiffany went to the far end of a pasture and brought me a horse that seemed a bit shaky, but was walking, standing and enjoying, pain free, the attention that was showered on him. It is hoped Flyboy will eventually be a trail horse – wine wranglers at Cherry Wood – but that is still to be determined. Since arriving at Cherry Wood, no one has yet climbed aboard him. Flyboy is just not ready for that. He is ready for attention, carrots, brushing and more attention, however. In time, a good home, somewhere, will open up for him.
Also there, when Milly and I visited, was new wrangler, Jess. A very polite and polished young man from Texas, (I just love the sweetness of being called “M’am” every few minutes. Chivalry still exists somewhere.) Jess is the son of famed horse trainer Joe Wolter. Dad Joe runs annual clinics at Cherry Wood, for any horseperson out there that needs help.
Ok, did your ears perk up at wine wranglers? When you live in wine country and have an abundance of horses needing exercise, what do you do? Pepper and Tiffany started wine tours by horseback.
All year, weather permitting, Pepper and Tiffany lead groups through vineyards and down quiet country lanes to select wineries. This all day event (approximately 11am to 4 pm) showcases the best of the local wine scene. The lunch stop is always at Cultura Winery, owned by Pepper’s son and daughter-in-law, Tad and Sarah. (Cultura is a destination by any means. This reds-only winery produces premium hand crafted wines in classic French styles.)
When the ride and tasting is over, head back to Cherry Wood for the night. Pepper began a unique bed and breakfast program some years ago. The bed part is in 20’ high teepees with private outdoor fireplaces and patios. Scattered among the pastures and horses, these places have forever views of the immense sky and landscape. Nature at its best.
Am I the only one who feels inspired? Apparently not. Several years ago, the Travel Channel named Cherry Wood’s tours with Cultura as one of the five top wine “must-do’s” in a piece titled Pacific Northwest Wine Experiences.”
In November 2012, Pepper Fewel was honored at the annual Women of Courage: Braving New Horizons gala by the University of Washington Women’s Center. Those chosen are women in Washington State who have addressed a need, forged their own destiny and made a lasting impact in their communities. It would be hard to find someone more deserving of such an honor.
If you need more information on these remarkable women, their activities, want to make a donation, or to look at incredible photography visit www.cherrywoodbbandb.com or www.tiffanyfewel.com. They have a great thing going.
As always, drink and ride responsibly. At least, hang on to the pommel tightly!