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Copper has helped many over the years

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By John Barnhart

“How much do you think of this horse?”

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    Lauri Bach, of Many Blessings Farm, braced herself for some bad news when a veterinarian asked her this question last month. The horse in question is named Copper – he got his name due to his color. He means a great deal to Bach for several reasons.

    To begin with, he was an 8-year-old girl’s dream. He was 2 years old when they bought him for their daughter, Lindsay, who had just turned 8.

    “He and Lindsay bonded right away,” she recalled.

    Another reason is that they’ve had him for a long time. The 8-year-old girl is now a 21-year-old woman, a pre-med student at Liberty University.

    “My long term goal is to be a medical missionary in India,” she said.

    Copper also means a lot to Bach because he began their hippotherapy program, therapeutic horseback riding that benefits disabled people both physically and emotionally. He was their first therapy horse.

    Furthermore, Copper is the only horse they have who has been trained to pull a cart. The cart is important because some people who will benefit from hippotherapy are a bit intimidated by the idea of being in the saddle. Riding in the cart can help them work up to this stage.

    Copper has also been a great hit with girls from the Bedford County Group Home. Lindsay Bach, who works at the girls’ home portion of the group home, brings some of the girls over.

    “He makes fans easily,” she said.

    Bach said that this is beneficial for these girls, who have had a lot of chaos in their lives.

    Bach tells the story of what was wrong with Copper on a page of her ministry’s Web site www.manyblessingsfarm.org/Copper.html.

    “When we found Copper lying in the barn Saturday morning, March 28, one look at his eyes told us that not only was he in pain, but there was something seriously wrong.  An exam by a local veterinarian confirmed the seriousness of his condition and we were on our way to the Virginia Tech Vet School in Blacksburg.  As our family surrounded Copper in the exam room the doctor made his diagnosis; a lipoma had surrounded and killed a portion of his small intestine causing pain and resulting in the shutdown of his digestive system. 

    “There is no fore-warning for this condition and the onset is fast and severe.  His heart-rate which had been comfortingly low when he was first examined had already doubled and we could see signs of increased stress.  A decision had to be made quickly.  As Dr. Cissell laid out the details of the surgery that could save Copper’s life we prayed for direction in this life or death choice for this great horse that had served us so faithfully for so many years.  It was clear to us that we needed to do what we could so that this beautiful, golden horse could continue to be a part of our ministry team to help more people. 

    “As the surgery team was called in, a group of tearful friends prayed in the parking lot for the doctors involved and the success of his surgery.  God is faithful and, after 4 ½ hours in surgery and a long 2 hour recovery, Copper was on his feet.”

    Bach said that had it not been for the proximity of the Tech Veterinary School, Copper would have died. Once these symptoms show, there is little time for action.

    The good part is that Copper is convalescing well. For one thing, he lost very little weight even with the loss of 27 feet of intestine. Bach said that he always had a good appetite and he still eats like... well, like a horse.

    “They are pretty resilient,” said Lindsay Bach.

    During his first month of recovery, he had to be kept in a 12- by 12-foot stall. Now, he’s in a 20- by 20-foot stall where he must stay for a month. After that, they will be able to put him in a small paddock with no other horses for a month. Finally, he can spend a month with other horses and, then, it’s back to work.

    “He will be ready for hippotherapy in the fall,” Lauri Bach said.

    “God designed these animals is such a special way,” she commented. “They have so many unique qualities.”

    The bad part is that the surgery cost $6,300. Many Blessings Farm is a small ministry and this is a big expense. By the beginning of the month, they had raised half of this, but they still need contributions to pay it all off. Gifts can be sent to Many Blessings Farm, 1059 Wilson Church Rd., Bedford, Virginia, 24523. They may also be made through Copper’s page on the Web site. Many Blessings Farm is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization.