Melissa Pletcher has a bucket list and one of the things on it was her desire to overcome her fear of horses.
Pletcher, an impact business analyst for IBM lender process services, moved to Concord from Clayton in August of 2007 and now lives near Carolinas Medical Center-NorthEast. She has always liked horses, but from a distance. "My interest in horses was always on my bucket list. I have always liked them and was a friend to them even though I had a fear. So in order to overcome it I decided to take riding lessons for my 40th birthday."
She took lessons in Clayton in 2002 and was a pit crew chief for friends whose horses were barrel racing. "I did all the things that needed to be done, things like hair and makeup, which is the same as grooming, getting ready, walking the horses, basically whatever was needed," Pletcher said. "However, when I moved to Concord, I no longer had that connection."
In January 2008, her friend Mary Walter introduced her to the Horse Protection Society of North Carolina. The organization cares for abused and abandoned animals and has rehabilitation, adoption and sponsorship programs. Through the Angel Sponsorship program, volunteers can contribute to the care of a particular horse.
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Pletcher's special horse is named Freedom, a quarter horse. "I contribute to his upkeep," she said. "And I can go and love on him anytime I want, too." When Freedom first arrived, according to Pletcher, the horse was so starved he couldn't even walk. With the help of the organization's volunteers, he is now fat and happy, she said.
"We always need more sponsors, we have about 46 horses right now, but that changes depending on what is coming in."
The organization's adoption program differs. When a horse comes in, the group determines if the animal can be adopted out to another owner. There are some horses that will remain at the Horse Protection Society.
Pletcher spends as much time as she can among them. She said it is a great stress reliever and has been scheduled for horse feeds, which can take just a few hours to several. The weather, number of horses and how many volunteers are there can determine the amount of time she spends on any day. She takes it all in stride.
"I can leave work in a really bad mood, stressed out and totally over people and get to the barn and in a very few minutes the wrinkles in my forehead are gone."