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Story published: 03-05-2014 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Rescued horses are heroes in the lives of those in need


By Paula Walter

There are times in your life when you meet someone and you can literally see the goodness in their hearts. Just a few minutes with Dawn Emerson, and you can immediately understand not only her calling to rescue abused horses but also her work with people from all walks of life who need encouragement. Emerson, along with her husband, Seth, owns Rocking 777s Horseback Ministry.  

Although Dawn originally hails from Montana, the Emersons have recently moved to Johnson County after living in Ashe County, North Carolina for several years. Approximately four years ago, Dawn’s dream of finding a place to open her ministry became a reality.  “I wanted a place that would be an encouragement to ride through life’s storms,” Emerson said. “God gives us encouragement to encourage others.” Rocking 777s Horseback Ministry has offered a place of peace, comfort and acceptance to dozens who have been sexually abused, to those who come from battered women shelters and for those seeking a place of relaxation for the many who are fighting the battle against cancer.  They may be recently diagnosed or are now in remission.  “They want to feel like they have gotten away,” said Emerson.  The goal of the ministry is to offer a place where people can come and be revitalized and then be ready to go back out into the world.

According to Emerson, she can easily relate to those coming to Rocking 777s Horseback Ministry to seek comfort and solace as she saw and experienced far too many things throughout her young life that no one should ever experience.  Adopted by her grandparents, she learned to love and trust when her grandmother bought her an Arab Paint mare.  This opened the door to her love for horses. Encouraged by her grandmother, she went to college and studied equine management, light horse husbandry and stable management.

Growing up in essentially an atheist household, a friend talked to her about God’s love at what she describes as the one of the lowest points of her life. Emerson ended up attending a church service that changed her life forever.  “Something happened that day,” Emerson said. “For the first time in my life, I got a sense of what love was, that it was unconditional.  All of that weight I carried around, it was like God said I’m going to carry that weight for you.”

According to Emerson, Rocking 777s Horseback Ministry is not a therapy program. “We’re an encouragement ministry. We give encouragement to ride through storms,” Emerson said. “It’s a place for people seeking encouragement and to detox from the world.  I believe God has called me to do this.” She recalled a young girl, timid, frightened and shaking who stood in a corner and avoided all eye contact.  “On the fifth visit, that little girl was on a horse,” Emerson said with a huge grin that lit up her entire face. “Her fears were gone.”

Three of the four horses at Rocking 777s Ministry are rescue horses.  “I don’t own the horses,” Emerson explained.  “I get to be a steward of the horses.” Copper Girl is all Quarter Horse and a two- time Texas reigning champion. Approximately 23 years old, Copper Girl came to Rocking 777s Horseback Ministry from a home where she had been abused. “She was about bred to death,” Emerson said.  The horse still carries the scars from hundreds of welt marks from her previous owners.  “She came with a surprise,” said Emerson.  Copper Girl delivered a foal into Emerson’s arms.  She named her Tetelestai, pronounced tuh-tell-uh-sty.  According to Emerson, It is a Greek word meaning “it is finished,” the last words Jesus said before he died.  Tetelestai is a Gypsy Sport, a half Quarter house and half Gypsy Vanner.

Stormy, a black and white Gypsy Vanner arrived at the same time Copper Girl arrived.  She had

been given only a 30 percent chance of survival.  She was approximately 600 pounds underweight and had been housed in a six-by-six-foot area. Her drinking water was full of filth that caused her to become very sick.  After recovering at the vet’s, she arrived at her new home with the Emersons. Sweet Lady Jane is also a Gypsy Vanner horse that was donated to Rocking 777s Horseback Ministry.  She suffers from a lung disease.

The Emersons’ ministry has grown through word of mouth and a lot of outreach online through their website and Facebook.  Rocking 777s Horseback Ministry is open for individuals, as well as both youth and church groups. There are no fees involved. More information can be found at www.rocking777shorsebackministry.org or you may contact Dawn at 828-964-5873 to make an appointment.