Family Gives Everything To Retired Horses
ALACHUA - It's heaven on earth for horses. On a non-profit farm in Alachua, former abused and working horses are no longer ridden and are allowed to finally run free. One family in North Central Florida has given their heart and soul to these animals for close to three decades.
When you come to Mill Creek Farm, land seems infinite and you come across about 130 horses all living a peaceful life of retirement.
There are hundreds of live oak trees at the Mill Creek Farm in Alachua. Each tree symbolizes the memory of a horse that passed away after being cared for here. "I love the tranquility, I love the trees, the flowers, the horses, the dogs and that is my life… I've always wanted to do that and that's what I am doing," Mary Gregory said.
It was a project that started in 1988 by peter and Mary Gregory, originally from London. "We sold an oceanfront hotel in Pompano Beach and the money went into buying the land. We sold an oceanfront condominium and we decided this is what we wanted to do,” Mary said.
They'd always dreamt of creating a retirement home for horses. Ever since the couple had watched horse-drawn carriages pass by in England. "And we both always loved animals, it's probably the English in us because the animals always come first," Mary said.
The Gregory's have been working on what they call a little piece of paradise for 32 years now. Recently, Mary's husband-- Peter passed away at 85 years old. That’s when their son, Paul Gregory had to step in. "I had told my dad if anything ever happened to him that I would always take care of the horses and my mom. And I don't regret it at all… it is the most life-changing experience I've ever had in my life," Paul said.
Paul a former realtor in South Florida, left everything behind to support his parent's dreams. They take in abused and abandoned horses or retired law enforcement horses and offer them a sanctuary. He told us about one particular situation involving an abused horse. "We're working on putting weight on him. He might never put any weight on. He was starved so much that every bone in his body was sticking out; I mean it was just horrendous. He was rescued from South Florida… they couldn't believe he actually had survived," Paul said.
Admission price to get into the farm is two carrots and it's open to the public on Saturdays from 11am to 3pm.
Shane Willis the farm manager said, "Cause you give these horses a life they never knew and they absolutely deserve. It's just like anything; when you give you feel so much better about what you do."
One promise the Gregory's make to each horse here is that this will be their forever home. And they mean it. The field of dreams is where they bury each animal that has died at the ranch. And the same place peter's ashes have been scattered. “I said when I came up here that I hoped to really change an animal's life or change a person's life but really what's happened is that these animals have changed my life," Paul said.
For more information on donations or how to get involved and volunteer, go ahead and click here.
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