Kim Meeder runs Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, the “Ranch of Rescued Dreams,” with her husband Troy. It’s a ministry for hurting children and rescued horses located in Bend, OR that has also mentored other such ministries throughout Canada and the USA. I am a huge fan of Kim's horse books: Hope Rising and A Bridge Called Hope and was thrilled when the opportunity arose for me to interview her. She never runs out of horse stories to share and the following one is my favorite.
“As the sole survivor of a once hellish existence, a little horse named Mateo came to us with many troubles,” Meeder recalled, “the most difficult being the worst equine under-bite that I had ever seen. With his head in a downward position, his lower teeth jut nearly an inch beyond his upper teeth. That's not a good thing for a creature that needs incisors to line up so they can graze.”
She was sure Mateo belonged at the ranch but not sure exactly why. Then six-year-old Gillian came to visit. She shyly told Meeder she really wanted to ride a horse. When the little girl heard she could, she grinned broadly in excitement.
“This was a smile that I had seen before,” said Meeder. “Baby lower teeth jutted out beyond baby upper teeth." Like Mateo, Gillian also had an under-bite. I said to her, ‘What a beautiful smile you have! Did you know that you are the only little girl to come to this ranch with such a special smile? Hmmm, there’s another special smile on this ranch and I’m pretty sure that he’d like to meet you.’”
Meeder took Gillian to see Mateo. She warned Gillian the horse would be shy and had been through a hard time before ending up at the ranch.
“To my great surprise, he did not step away from her, he stepped toward her,” Meeder smiled. “As he reached out to her, she reached out to him. Two mirrored halves of a bridge came together. They had found each other. Then Gillian looked up at me with a brilliant reverse-order grin!”
Meeder reached down to carefully spread Mateo’s lips apart and revealed his lower teeth were firmly in front of his upper teeth. Gillian was shocked.
“He DOES smile like me!” she beamed.
After that instantaneous bonding experience, Gillian continued to visit the ranch to ride Mateo. One day her mother told Meeder about a recent trip to the dentist. Throughout previous dental appointments Gillian had been very sad and self-consciousness, but this time as she got into the chair she proudly announced, “It’s okay that I have an under-bite. The horse I ride has an one just like me. He loves me and I love him. It’s really okay that we have an under-bite. That’s what makes us special. That’s what makes us friends.”
For information on how you can be a part of improving lives and rescuing dreams, check Crystal Peaks out at:
-Photo courtesy of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch