It is in the shelter of each other that the people live
Irish proverb

Dear friends of ours gifted us recently with a lovely book called Shelter by poet Margaret Hasse and artist Sharon DeMark. Our friends kindly dedicated the book with the following inscription:

To Rebecca and Mark, who know and give shelter so generously.

The concept of shelter is close to our hearts: shelter for horses, for dogs, for humans — and often the damaged, the broken, the unloved — those beings who need the security and healing power of shelter the most. This lovely book, Shelter, encompasses that spirit of sanctuary, security, safety — and a sense of belonging: all things we strive for at Wilderwood.

Two poems stood out for us in this book, for their relevance to our mission at Wilderwood did not go unnoticed! The first is called “Pathway” and the second is “Bivouac.” We would like to share them here.


Trust a route that
people and animals make.
Many have walked here
where plants dwindle
to bare ground.
Whether it’s slim or wide,
sandy or earthen,
brick, pebbled, or plain,
choose a footpath through
the remote or the tame.
Avoid slashing
brush and bramble.
Let a path take you
somewhere gently, perhaps
to a new view of things.
A silver river in the valley
is also on its way.


In the dream he’s once again
a boy in the forest
encircled by tall trees
alone to fend for himself,
forage for kindling, start
a fire, unpack his survival kit,
prepare for the night
by building a cone-shaped
shelter with long tree limbs.
Tips of evergreen branches
and dry leaves make a bed.
All his life he’ll love the smell
of crushed pine needles.
As he falls asleep he remembers
to thank the trees.

To celebrate Christmas and the concept of new life, we placed a precious little statue-being at what we call “the bow” of Wilderwood. When he arrived in his cardboard box we discovered, to our deep dismay, that both his front legs had been broken during his journey here. Damaged, he may well have been thrown aside as somehow not worthy of love and belonging. This was the story for Odie. This is the story for so many of us.

We took his little broken legs and lovingly glued them back together. Then, we carried him out to Wilderwood’s bow and laid him proudly on the wall in front of Wilderwood’s sign as a symbol of our program. This little foal represents new beginnings, growth and change, and the welcome and wonder of discovery, no matter the imperfections or broken past. He will watch over all who come here, remind us of the simplicity of innocence, and help protect this place of sanctuary, this place of safety, and this place of shelter.