Hopkinton’s Dawn-Mar Ranch provides healing with horses

 Marcia Evans at her  at Dawn-Mar Ranch in Hopkinton on Friday, May 10, 2024. From the earliest days she can remember, Marcia Evans has been enchanted by horses.

Marcia Evans at her at Dawn-Mar Ranch in Hopkinton on Friday, May 10, 2024. From the earliest days she can remember, Marcia Evans has been enchanted by horses. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

The saddles and reins at the  Dawn-Mar Ranch in Hopkinton.

The saddles and reins at the Dawn-Mar Ranch in Hopkinton. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Volunteer rider Beth Adams gets a hourse ready for a ride in the main indoor arena at the  Dawn-Mar Ranch in Hopkinton on Friday, May 10, 2024.

Volunteer rider Beth Adams gets a hourse ready for a ride in the main indoor arena at the Dawn-Mar Ranch in Hopkinton on Friday, May 10, 2024. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Volunteer and instructor Allison Moskow greets one of the horses at at Dawn-Mar Ranch in Hopkinton on May 10, 2024.

Volunteer and instructor Allison Moskow greets one of the horses at at Dawn-Mar Ranch in Hopkinton on May 10, 2024. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Marcia Evans feeds apple sauce to some of her miniture horses at her  at Dawn-Mar Ranch in Hopkinton on Friday, May 10, 2024. From the earliest days she can remember, Marcia Evans has been enchanted by horses.

Marcia Evans feeds apple sauce to some of her miniture horses at her at Dawn-Mar Ranch in Hopkinton on Friday, May 10, 2024. From the earliest days she can remember, Marcia Evans has been enchanted by horses. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Marcia Evans feeds apple sauce to some of her miniture horses at her  at Dawn-Mar Ranch in Hopkinton on Friday, May 10, 2024. From the earliest days she can remember, Marcia Evans has been enchanted by horses.

Marcia Evans feeds apple sauce to some of her miniture horses at her at Dawn-Mar Ranch in Hopkinton on Friday, May 10, 2024. From the earliest days she can remember, Marcia Evans has been enchanted by horses. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Volunteer and instructor Allison Moskow gets ready to ride one of the horses at at Dawn-Mar Ranch in Hopkinton on Friday, May 10, 2024.

Volunteer and instructor Allison Moskow gets ready to ride one of the horses at at Dawn-Mar Ranch in Hopkinton on Friday, May 10, 2024. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Volunteer rider Beth Adams rides one of the horses in the main indoor arena at the  Dawn-Mar Ranch in Hopkinton on Friday, May 10, 2024.

Volunteer rider Beth Adams rides one of the horses in the main indoor arena at the Dawn-Mar Ranch in Hopkinton on Friday, May 10, 2024. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

By SRUTHI GOPALAKRISHNAN

Monitor staff

Published: 05-22-2024 2:43 PM

From the earliest days she can remember, Marcia Evans has been enchanted by horses.

As a child, she dreamed of riding, but her father had a different vision for their family farm, focusing on cows for milking.

Despite this, Marcia’s passion for riding persisted, leading her to an unconventional start — riding a cow until she finally got her first horse.

Today, Evans’ life revolves around her passion for these majestic animals, beginning her day at 6:30 a.m. at Dawn-Mar Ranch in Hopkinton, where she is greeted by the chorus of neighing horses, the sound of their trots and the earthy, musky scent from the stables.

“I love seeing the horses,” Evans said with a smile, her eyes following the graceful movements of the horses trotting around the property.“These animals don’t lie to you, they’re very forgiving.”

Dawn-Mar Ranch is a haven for 15 rescued horses, each with a unique story of how they came to find refuge under Evans’ care. These horses play a role in equine therapy programs designed for children, veterans, and participants in the Special Olympics.

Every time a new horse comes to the ranch, the volunteers work with the animals to see if they would suit the different programs. Many arrive terrified of humans due to past abuse, and the team works patiently to help them overcome their fears. One horse, for example, bore strap marks on its back when it arrived.

“It’s terrible when you see an abused animal and how they get worried about people working around them,” said Evans. “They check us out and ensure that we’re going to be kind to them.”

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The ranch is home to three non-profits – Merrimack Valley Special Olympics, Changing Lives Equine Center, and Easy Riders 4-H. All these programs utilize the retired and rescued horses that Evans has on the ranch.

Allison Moskow, a dedicated volunteer, specializes in therapeutic unmounted equine therapy. This unique approach fosters a bond between horse and human, allowing individuals to connect with the horses. Participants learn about equine care, build trust, and engage in activities like grooming, feeding, and leading the horses.

Children who work with the horses often leave with the horses’ tails braided, a sign of the connection they’ve made.

“When people say if you’re stressed do box breathing, I’m like if I’m stressed, I just go to the barn. Hands down horses are just great,” said Moskow.

In addition to therapeutic work, Evans offers riding lessons.

Many horses come to the ranch because their owners can no longer care for them due to financial constraints or illnesses.

“If they can’t feed hay, they have to go to a pellet feed which is a lot more expensive,” explained Evans.

Two miniature horses, Tiffany and Prize, arrived with five cats after their owner could no longer care for them due to a brain tumor. Tiffany, one of the minis, is being cared for at the ranch as she battles Lyme disease. Their previous owner had taught them to enjoy applesauce.

Approaching them with a cup of applesauce, Evans finds them eagerly accepting spoonfuls from her, happily indulging in the treat she offers with affection.

At Dawn-Mar Ranch, every horse has a story, and Evans ensures that each one finds a new chapter filled with love, care, and purpose. Her dedication transforms the lives of both horses and humans, proving that even the most broken spirits can find healing in the bond they share.

“We tell a lot of owners, if they’re trying to put them down we’ll take them on, as rescues to be used for our therapeutics – to feed them or to brush them or do anything,” said Evans.