I have been struggling to write something that I feel could accurately put into words those amazing last twenty-two days in La Peñita, Nayarit, Mexico. I ended Part 1 with an excitement of new friendships, animals and humans alike, how could I wrap up the last portion of my trip with words?

I kept my promise to Freckles (I later found out her real name is Sedona), I saw her every day of my trip, and spent as much time with her as I could. Riding, walking, talking, laughing, singing, crying, we did it all together. I made more than a new friend, I discovered a kindred spirit, a familiar, a soul that I feel has traveled in multiple lifetimes with me in different physical forms. Now, no matter what your views on life, death, reincarnation, one thing is undeniable, and that is the bond that I made with that little filly.

As I sit here and try and recall each moment spent with her, deciding which moment to write about, which moments to share with readers, it’s hard to decide which is more worthy to be written about. Do I focus on the life lessons learned from George and Loretta and Jaltemba Equine Education Project (J.E.E.P.) and caring for such incredible animals, or do I write about the intense bond I now share with a horse that is almost 4,000 miles away.

Lindsey Kato JEEP 2  Lindsey Kateo JEEP 4
(left) Stopped for kisses while getting everyone ready for the cabalgata. (right) Traffic stops when 400 horses cross the road.

My adventures with George, Loretta, and J.E.E.P. lead me to ride in a cabalgata with around 400 other horses and riders. Although I didn’t ride Sedona (Freckles) in the parade, I did however keep an eye on her the entire time as she rode with a more experienced rider among so many other horses. She did beautifully. As the cabalgata was held towards the end of my journey, it was incredible to see her growing confidence and character as she trotted from El Monteón to La Peñita and as I reflected on her immense progress in my short trip.

When I first came to La Penita, I didn’t quite know what I was coming for, I only knew it was something that I had to do. I strongly believe now that it was something stronger than curiosity that had me travel so far and so unprepared. A calling that was deeper into my soul than I had ever originally even thought. This magnet that brought me to the J.E.E.P. doorstep and turned two incredible humans and 10 horses into a family that I will have forever, and gave me the opportunity to connect with one very special filly who will have my heart until the end of time.

I could have written about her, how special she is to me; it’s hard for me not to go all Dr. Doolittle when talking about her, because I do feel I can communicate with her and understand the things that she says. But until you experience it for yourself, or witness her and I together in our own little world, taking selfies, singing or just leaning on one another, you probably would just think I am crazy.

So I leave you with this. Get up to that hill, and if you have trouble getting through the canine guards, tell them Lindsey Kato sent you. Learn the names of everyone up there, learn their stories and about the J.E.E.P. project and their Hilltop Refugio. I guarantee there is something for everyone on top of that hill, and just like in my case, you might find things you didn’t even know you were looking for.

Lindsey Kato JEEP 3
Tears rolling out of both of our eyes in this moment (our last early morning walk before heading to the airport)

I woke at 6am on my last morning in Mexico to get up the hill and spend my last bit of time with my Freckles. I told her how much she means to me, how incredible she is, and how proud I am that she’s doing so well. I explained to her how much I would miss her and whether or not it was me who cried first, or if it was her who shed the first tear, the two of us sat together the rest of the morning, embracing and crying, but knowing that one day we would be together again.

A special thank you to George and Loretta for the endless laughs, life lessons, and the opportunity to help out with the project (and for so many other things, I would have to make a Part 3 to list them all), and to Allyson for letting me spill my words all over her newsletter.

by Lindsey Kato (Juneau, Alaska)

About Jaltemba Equine Education Project (J.E.E.P.): Jaltemba Equine Education Project was established in December 2012 by George & Loretta Leavitt to help large animals like horses, donkeys and mules who are ill, malnourished or being mistreated in Jaltemba Bay, Nayarit, Mexico. To learn more or to make a one-time gift or recurring donation, visit Jaltemba Equine Education Project (J.E.E.P.)

Your donations will help J.E.E.P. buy food, shelter, medication and the equipment necessary to care for the rescue horses, as well as complete the Hilltop Refugio. Remember, donations of tack and gear, both new and used are always needed and much appreciated.