Josephine Demott Robinson once said, “Horses and children, I often think, have a lot of the good sense there is in the world.”
Moncks Corner single mom of two, Tracey Sawyer, would definitely agree. After a successful career in real estate, she decided to take a summer off to spend more time with her two daughters, Shelby, 18, and Savannah, 14. Once she returned to work part-time as an executive assistant to the president of an investment management firm in downtown Charleston, she realized that she now had the time to follow her two passions... being a mom and rescuing horses.
Q: How did all of this get started?
A: What is dearest to my heart is my children, without question. But as they grow and prepare to begin their adult lives I have also grown. At some point in our adult lives, I believe we all experience an inner struggle with a job or career that may pay the bills, but doesn’t fulfill us as individuals. I know I have. After some pretty intense soul searching and prayers, it hit me! I have always had animals in my life, as far back as I can remember, but until recently had never owned a horse. One day on my way to work in Charleston, the image I saw, as if it was right in front of me in the middle of Meeting Street, was so clear. The most vivid picture of horses and stables came to me. They were my calling, my future. That day, I began my research and forever changed the course of my life. Within a few months, H.O.P.E. (Helping Our Precious Equines) Acres Rescue was “born.”
Q: Tell me more about H.O.P.E Acres Rescue. How many horses do you have?
A: At the present moment, we have eight horses on the farm in Moncks Corner. We have had as many as 11. We started with one. Ideally, we try to keep no more than 10 due to space at the farm. We often work in conjunction with various County Animal Control offices across South Carolina, other neighboring rescue facilities and occasionally via owner surrenders.
Q: How are your daughters helping?
A: My daughter’s have been an amazing support team during this endeavor. They have been most understanding about the hours that I commit to the rescue. The girls have spent countless hours with me at the farm. It’s not uncommon to see either of them help with feeding, grooming, worming, cleaning water troughs, mowing grass and more. We spend a good bit of time also raising awareness of the rescue to the community and raising funds, as we are a federally recognized 501(c)(3) organization. Shelby talks about the rescue quite often with friends at school, which I believe is wonderful and speaks volumes regarding support.
Q: Tell me about your daughters.
A: My oldest daughter, Shelby, graduated from Goose Creek High School this year. She is an extremely self-disciplined, academic student who loves and lives music, art and drama. She has an incredible knack for creating and sustaining life-long friendships. She will soon head to Clemson University to begin school this fall. And Savannah is my baby. She has a very special place in her heart for music that she displays through her saxophone, guitar and piano. She possesses a quite comical disposition and regularly participates in dance at school. Savannah will soon begin school at Berkeley Center for the Arts in Goose Creek.
Q: What’s the best part of being a mom? What’s the most challenging?
A: To me, the best part of being a mom is having the opportunity on a daily basis to nurture and guide my children, to truly be in a position to make a difference in their lives. To feel a love like no other and also share that most special bond between a mother and her children. My greatest challenge in raising two daughters alone is that life doesn’t come with a handbook. Every day there is something new, some uncharted waters that present new trials, new dilemmas and how do I make the ‘right’ decision? There never seems to be a right or wrong way. It’s all trial and error. But no matter what, if it’s handled with love, I believe I’ve done the best I can for my girls.
Q: What do horses mean to you? And to your family?
A: They’ve become our lives. Every rescue that comes in has a story, a history and brings to us a feeling. Sometimes the emotions are sadness, anger, frustration, but ultimately joy, love, respect and an undeniable bond, a unique friendship. The first horse I ever owned was actually not so long ago. Although I had taken quite a few trail rides in my younger days, the lifestyle of my then ‘single mother and her only daughter’ were not conducive to owning a horse and all the responsibility it entails. In June 2010, as a 35-year-old parent, I purchased a pony for Savannah, who was taking English riding lessons at the time in Summerville. These animals are some of God’s most incredible creatures from their pure beauty to that undeniable stature and unforgettable, ever-loving, forgiving, eager-to-please disposition.
Q: Any advice for parents? A: As a good friend once told me, when they are 12 or so, you know nothing, but when they are 25, you are suddenly the one they call who knows everything.
Q: Anything else? A: When life hands you struggles, and reason and logic don’t seem to fit, keep tuned in to that little voice within. For more on H.O.P.E Acres Rescue, visit www.hopeacresrescue.org
Ryan Nelson is a freelance writer. Follow her on Twitter @Ryan_NelsonSC or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.