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Cindy Marsh Launches Non-Profit at Winterpast Farm


Display of information about Scarlett’s Promise

Horse in the barn at Winterpast Farm

October holiday display at Winterpast Farm

Chino Bustos, valuable assistant at Winterpast Farm

Cindy Marsh tells the story of Scarlett and explains the organization Scarlett’s Promise

Charlotte Morris, secretary and event planner for Scarlett’s Promise

Lauren & Scarlett MTPC 2017
Article & photos by Nancy Brannon

Saturday October 16, 2021 was an emotional evening for Cindy Marsh at her new barn and covered arena at Winterpast Farm, Oakland, Tenn., as she launched Scarlett’s Promise, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping folks experience horses who can’t afford them. It was a busy weekend for Marsh, who hosted a dressage and jumping clinic with Hilda Donahue on Saturday and Sunday, followed by her birthday on Monday.

Cindy served guests a barbeque dinner catered by Loven Fresh in Oakland, Tenn., followed by some incredibly delicious desserts of peach cobbler, strawberry cake, and chocolate fudge pie.

Cindy’s family attended the inaugural event, including her 89-year-old mother who came in from Maryland, her daughter and son-in law, her son and daughter-in-law, and four grandchildren. Cindy’s mom revealed moments from Cindy’s childhood: her second word was “ ‘orse,” indicating horse. That foretold Cindy’s lifelong love and passion for horses.

Cindy had much praise for Chino Bustos for all his help around the barn. “I couldn’t have done it without his help,” she said.  And she praised her secretary and party planner, Charlotte Morris, who made the arrangements and oversaw the event.

The celebration began with Cindy reading her favorite scripture, Song of Solomon 2:11-12, from which she gleaned the name of her farm.

“For lo, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of singing has come,
And the voice of the turtledove
Is heard in our land.”

Cindy’s inspiration for the foundation came from her own experiences. She explained, “As a young adult, I wasn’t able to afford a horse of my own, but still wanted to ride and compete. I would ride whatever horse was available, which was typically one that no one else wanted to ride. I even made my own jacket to wear in competitions.”  

She related the story of an incredible horse for whom the charity is named and with whom she had amazing experiences: Scarlett.

“In March, 2017 I answered a facebook post about an aged chestnut mare in Crossville, Tenn. I was looking for a horse to use in lessons that was also nice enough to show. Something in my gut said that I should check her out and take a trailer with me; so I did.

“Scarlett turned out to be one of those special horses that we all hope to own or ride sometime in our lives. Confident and ready to face whatever challenge we threw at her, she did everything we ever asked of her with lots of enthusiasm. We nicknamed her ‘The Fabulous Scarlett.’

“She helped riders overcome fear, build their confidence, and progress in their abilities. I could always count on her to get her riders to the finish line, whether it was in the dressage ring, out on cross county, or in the show jumping ring.

“She loved to be pampered and would stand for as long as you wanted to groom or bathe her. She also had some funny quirks that gave us great amusement. She came to me as a weaver, and not only did she weave, she also added some hilarious sound effects to the rhythm of the weaving.

“Back in her day, before I knew her, she was quite the jumper, and it was obvious she had had some good dressage training at one time. She was good at cross country jumping and never batted an eye at ditches, water, banks, etc. Lauren Kloek took her to two recognized horse trials, bringing home a second at MTPC in 2017 and a first at Pine Top in the spring, 2018.

“I am still reeling about what happened that ended it all. Sometimes no matter how hard you try to manage horses properly and protect them from injuries, illnesses, and that dreaded word colic, events happen and can leave you in shock. On a Friday evening I got a call from the barn that Scarlett was acting colicky, which was very unusual for her to show any signs of discomfort. After my veterinarian examined her, it was determined that she needed to go to Mississippi State immediately; so I loaded her up and headed out. After her examination at Mississippi State, it was concluded that surgery was the only way to possibly save her. Once the surgeon fully discussed her chances of surviving the surgery, and her recovery at only about 50%, I decided I had to let her go. That just about killed me! They gave her more pain meds so she wouldn’t be suffering and I loved on her, told her how much she was loved, how much we would all miss her, kissed her and hugged her head, straightened her mane, and said goodbye. One of the options offered at Mississippi State is to do a necropsy at no expense since they are a teaching hospital; they speculated her condition was a strangulating lymphoma.

The foundation Scarlett’s Promise will offer financial assistance to:

·       Individuals of any age, physical ability, or skill level for the purpose of participating in equine activities, including, but not limited to, equine-assisted therapy sessions, therapeutic riding lessons, regular riding lessons, horse camps, competitions, clinics, etc.
·       Riding programs seeking assistance with facility improvements and equipment.
·       Licensure and continuing education for instructors, trainers, managers and other equine professionals who are unable to afford it.
·       Training and/or reeducation of horses to be used for the purpose of integrated programming, such as therapeutic riding, mental health and chemical dependency therapy, and PTSD therapy

The charity will partner with Southern Reins and help pay for equine therapy for those who can’t afford it. Southern Reins’ Jill Haag and her husband were there to join the celebration. Other guests included Cindy Haverty, former Tenn. State Senator Dolores Gresham, and board member Molly McCarley, as well as other horse enthusiasts. Dee Pellegrini stopped by with a vase of flowers.

In addition to regular tax-exempt donations, the foundation will purchase horses and provide for their needs as resale projects, with all sale proceeds going to the foundation. The foundation is currently securing property to build a cross country course, which will raise funds for the foundation through rental fees, competitions, clinics, etc. The course will provide a much needed resource to the area, while providing funds for the foundation to continue its mission.

To contact Cindy Marsh, visit the Winterpast Farm website: visit Winterpast Farm on facebook.
Photo cutlines:
DSC_0436: Display of information about Scarlett’s Promise
DSC_0442: Horse in the barn at Winterpast Farm
DSC_0445: October holiday display at Winterpast Farm
DSC_0476: Chino Bustos, valuable assistant at Winterpast Farm
DSC_0479: Cindy Marsh tells the story of Scarlett and explains the organization Scarlett’s Promise
DSC_0488: Charlotte Morris, secretary and event planner for Scarlett’s Promise

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