Miracles do happen!!

In september something very strange happened. Do you have time? Can I tell you the story?

My oldest horse, 44 years old and called Nonnina (means Little Granny) has been having little attacks of “alzheimers” lately. She acts very confused and lost sometimes. So Monday my Vet/Osteopath came and was going to take some blood out, enrich it with ozone and then IV it back into her. Hoping to bring oxygen supply to the brain. Well, Monday morning, Nonnina who had spend the Sunday in the barn, was behaving like a 3 year old when I took her out to the paddock to her friends in the morning.

She was bucking and cantering and full of energies. When the Vet arrived we decided that Nonnina was not in need of this treatment …yet. He looked after a few other horses and at around 3pm I asked him to still do a little check up on her, just to be save (heart, lungs etc.) Her pulse was a bit slow but it always is slower then the one of the other horses. She looked kind of tired so I put her in the barn and in she went without complaining. But then…she did not want to eat and started symptoms of colic.

Now I got worried. I took her out to walk around a bit because she was full of gas. A few minutes later Nonnina decided to lay down because she was soooo very tired. (Nonni had never done this before).

We ran for blankets, covered her all up and stayed with her. She seeked the hand that stroked her and layed very still. After another 2 hours (by then its dark,cold and humid) she pees herself, her gums are going pale and her eyes are getting very glazy. This it – it we thought. What do we do? Considering her age… it was time for her to go, it was getting colder and I didn’t want for her to be cold or suffer in any way. We decided …it would be a miracle for her to snap out of that and miricals just don’t happen. All I wanted for her to go peacefully with no pain or discomfort, so the Vet went to his car to prepare the finally shoots. Not five minutes after he left, Daffy, Nonninas companion, calls out to her. She got up, answered his call and took a major pee. MIRACLES DO HAPPEN !!!

She has been Daffys shadow for the following 3 days and has been getting stronger and stronger. Today she is back to her usual self, eating normal and being more independent from Daffy. She needed his energie… but now she has her own back.

Now I always know when Nonnina is not feeling well. Whenever she is glued to her friend Daffy and he walks around looking like a horse with 8 legs. The better she feels, the more she disattaches from him.

Evelyne Zedan

Noelle Scala, Why I Volunteer

What is it that is so special about a little piece of Italy nestled at the bottom of the Italian Alps and surrounded by lush green farm land?
What is it about this place that keeps me coming back again and again? The answer to those two questions is simple.

Unconditional love.

You see it may appear that I’m the one giving all the love and attention, but it’s really the other way around.
For four hours a week I’m not judged on how fast I can meet a deadline, how quickly I can come up with the right answer, or how courteous I was or was not to a customer. I am simply shown love.

How you may ask does a horse show love, it’s not like they can hug you or just come right out and say I love you.
It’s really nothing more than looking deep into there eyes all the way down to their soul or feeling that gentle nuzzle they are so good at giving.
If you are even lucky enough you just might get a kiss. Yes I said a kiss, well more like a lick on the arm or a hand, but a kiss is still a kiss.
If you have ever spent any time around a horse you will know exactly what I am talking about.

Zedan Ranch is my little piece of heaven, my quiet corner in an oh so noisy word. Once I am through the gate and the welcoming committee comes to greet me with wagging tails and dogie smiles my problems melt away. Even if some times those pesky problems do follow me through the gate, around just about every corner there is a friendly furry face to say hello and so eager to make me forget the bad day or week I may have just had. I enjoy every minute of the time I spend brushing, cleaning pens, or what ever may need to be done. Even if it’s just for a little while I can clear my mind and put my thoughts in order.

When I moved to Italy I never thought I would be lucky enough to find a place where I can give back even a little of the joy and comfort I have been given by so many animals who have touched my heart. So in the end that’s all it really comes down to, the beauty of unconditional love.

Mary Bandiera


Well, early retirement wasn’t going as planned. Caring for my 94 year old mom, my crazy 90 year old aunt, running mind numbing errands, having numerous aperitifs with friends, and dealing with the Italian bureaucracy wasn’t cutting it.

What to do? While employed in San Francisco I had always volunteered at Animal Care and Control as a cat socializer, dog walker, and small animal caretaker (guinea pigs, reptiles, chickens, whatever).

One Sunday morning I was having a cafe and reading the newspaper at Al Cret when I spotted an ariticle about Evelyn and Zedan Ranch.

Hmm… horses, large scary creatures that I had only come in contact with as a 7 year old at the Erie County Fair (I’m a native Buffalonian). Pony rides ring a bell?
OK, maybe I could be of some use.
I phoned Evelyn, explained I knew squat about horses but would like to volunteer. She said “come on down” and she patiently showed me how to groom horses and feed them tasty treats. She wisely assigned me to an ancient 35 year old, Reica, and a gimpy but gorgeous little blue eyed pony, Angel. What a joy.
I soon became comfortable around the beautiful, intelligent, and amusing beasts and met tons of wonderful, caring people. A truely international mix. Beware, Evelyn is charming but does have a manipulative streak.

I was recently suckered into adopting a geriatric hound whose 88 year old guardian had recently died.
Apparently family members didn’t want him and were making “POUND” noises.
By word of mouth he came to Evelyn’s attention and ended up at Zedan Ranch. After a feeble “no” I agreed to adopt Kim who has cataracts and can’t hear much, ergo his many aliases: Tommy, the deaf dumb and blind dog (any WHO fans out there?) Sparky, Sport, and Mr. Tippy Toes.
He is now a most delightful addition to and the senior member of our menagerie of abandoned and spoiled rotten pets (Samantha, aka Princess, Isabella, aka Kitty NO, Lillo, aka Sir Robert Barksalot and of course Kim). Evelyn and Zedan Ranch are special. Volunteer, donate, come visit. Your spirit will be rewarded…

Mary Bandiera

My “Big Berta” moment….how it all began

My life with horses started when I was about 6 years old. We lived in the country with lots of horses and cows all around us. One afternoon I saw a huge draft horse (TPR) galloping across a big field – beautiful, graceful, (yes even draft horses can be graceful), and thats when I decided I have to get on her back and ride her.
First, I gave her a name “Dicke Berta” (Big Berta). In only a few days, with the help of apples and carrots, Berta learned to come to the fence and stand still for me to climb on her back. We wandered around in the walk and trot. But with her first gallop, I lost my heart and soul to all horses. It was wonderful. It was trust, peace and freedom all at once. Berta looked after me, and as soon as I lost my balance, she would stand for me to regroup. Her gift to me was incredible. It was my “Berta Moment”.
With Berta, I started volting, dressage and competition. I entered into the world of horses that lived most of their lives in boxes and were expected to perform and behave like robots.

One of my teachers, my best teacher was retired cavalry. “During a war, the life of the soldier depends on his horse; depends on the trust between the two; depends on the well being of the animal. The horse is more important than its rider, therefore YOU need to take care of your horse.” These were his favorite words. After a lesson, noone was allowed to drink or eat anything until the horse was taken care of. Taken care meant, NO saddle marks; meant cleaning the nose, eyes and ears, picking feet and checking under the tail if the butt was clean and pisello or udders were sweat-free and clean as well. “Horses cannot concentrate with an itchy butt…can you???”

He was right, but usually when you go to a barn for a lesson, an already-saddled horse is brought to you, and after your lesson the next student is waiting to get on this very same horse. WE HAVE FORGOTTEN THE WELLBEING OF THE HORSE – FOR THE SAKE OF MONEY!!!

Anyway, in all these years of dressage and shows, I never found this “Berta Moment” again. At 22 years old, I left the scene, to live in the city and study. At 25, I was married and had my son. Yes, every now and then I would go with friends to some barn, rent a few horses to go on a trail… but something was always missing.

At 30 years old , I moved to England. To be precise, to Newmarket, the city of horse races. Not my scene and when we left England two years later to go to Italy,I was very ready to leave.
In Italy, I created a little English/Italian Newspaper. It talked about the different customs and traditions between Italy and America and payed for itself thru advertisements sold to pizzerias, restaurants, town fest etc.. One day, I saw a poster for an upcoming rodeo in the village. I went there hoping to sell an advertisement spot in the paper and found a very small barn. They had just started a riding stable with 8 horses. “Sorry, not enough funds,” the owner said “but stay a bit and look around, maybe you will want to write an article about us…for free?” Well, I did. I stayed around, I wrote the article and I went back to that little barn. Because there was this horse called “Coda Lunga” from Argentina. He had been bought off the boat and still had a clip attached in his ear that clearly stated BUTCHER. “He won’t let anybody touch him, he is a bit wild…but I’ll get him straight soon. He’s to participate in the rodeo,” the barn owner told me.

This horse had looked at me and touched my heart. All the sadness in this world seemed to be in his eyes, pain and suffering, but there was also a spark, a light that said…I am here, can you see me?
I kept going back to see Coda, bringing carrots or an apple and trying to earn his trust. I started to put a halter on and took him out in the fields for grass. One day I asked his permission to get on his back, bareback with no bridle free to do as he wished. He took me around like Berta, looked after me in a very gentle way.

Now, no one else at the barn could ride him. He bucked everybody off and the owner was very jealous of our relationship. He should have been the ‘tamer of the beast’, not me. I asked him to sell Coda to me, but out of pure evilness he said no. He made the horse pay for the friendship we had. He was harsh and cruel to him in front of me, and I decided I had to leave. I could not stay and make things worse for Coda. I needed to go.

It was hard and I cried, but I went away hoping Coda would forgive me.

A few month before, I had met an old man who was a horse-dealer. He bought horses to fatten them up and then butcher them. He treated them well, left them on a large pasture, but when they were ready …
We made a deal: If I could ride the horse, it would be sold as a riding horse, not a butcher horse. I got very busy. I rode them all. I met horses of all breeds and sizes. Horses with their shoes grown into their feet, with manure (shit) attached to their bellies, with nonexistent manes and tails, horses that were starved, half blind, scared, aggressive, disturbed and dangerous…but I tried to ride them all. Not always did I win a horse away from the butcher, but often I did.

There I learned to watch horses, how they talk between each other, how they fight and how they make friends. When you don’t know the name of the horse you are about to mount, when you don’t know if they had ever seen a saddle or pulled a cart, you learn to watch and LISTEN .

Maybe a year later the old man told me “A new horse is coming in. You know him, its Coda Lunga, but…he is in terrible condition. We don’t know if he can make it.”
In my life, I shall never forget the look of Coda when he got of the truck. He had lost at least 200kg. His left side was an open sore from laying down and not being able to get up. He was too weak to stand straight and was leaning with his butt against the side of the truck. I called his name and he looked at me with tired eyes. But there was a light in them that said…I am here, can you see me? I begged the old man to let me try to save him. He agreed. We called the vet. The vet had very little hope but I insisted. “Please let me try, he can do it, he is a very strong horse”. I kept pleading for Coda’s life and they gave in.

It took six month for Coda to recover, to put on weight and for all the open sores to heal. For six months he let me apply all the necessary medication and treatments and never hurt me in any way. As if he knew what I was doing. (Working at the Shelter, I have noticed that even aggressive or difficult horses understand when you are trying to help them and therefore will cooperate). He would nicker at me when I came to do his daily treatments and there it was…my “Berta Moment”. It was back. It was not the riding, the shows or the competitions that gave me that feeling. It was knowing that I had made a difference, I had helped a horse in need and I had succeeded in making life better for him.

In the meantime, I had rented an ex rabbit farm that I changed into a little riding stable. I had bought Filippo, a 10 month old stallion who was supposed to go to the butcher (what else is there to do with a young horse with crucked legs?).

On June 22nd 1995, my 40th birthday, I had a opening party with my friends. My little barn was ready and I had brought Filippo and Coda Lunga home!!!

Coda turned out to be a wonderful horse, especially with children. He even took my mother on a little trail ride for her 69th birthday. (Mom has never been on a horse in all her life). He gave back to me everything that I had ever done for him and much more…
Coda died in 2003. He had cancer and we had to put him to sleep. I held his head until the end and I still miss him.

That’s how the Shelter was born. I wanted more of those “Berta Moments”. I would go out trying to find a good riding horse and come home with the worse ‘cadaver’ possible. . .and there are so many of them in Italy. But then the horses started to find me. Lucky came from Trieste, a hole in his eye and puss coming out from under his jaw. His owner didn’t want to spent the money for a vet. So all the ladies at his barn put money together, bought him and brought him to me. One year of everyday treatment, three operations and blind in one eye, Lucky is now a very happy horse. He is the adopted “uncle” of one of my foals. A month after Lucky had his third operation, I watched him play with Zuli, my foal. There it was again…my “Berta Moment”. Seeing him healthy and happy was more then any show or competition could ever give me.

I have had many “Berta Moments” since. I could write volumes about the horses that have gone thru my hands – and the stories these horses told me. Some are on my web site, you can read their stories at www.zedanrach.de. Take the time to listen to your horses and look into their eyes – there might be fewer horses with sad stories in this world.

Evelyne Zedan

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