Sharing Horses and Fostering Wellness
by Catherine Madera
Wellness is a surprisingly complex term. Whether discussing people, horses or a community, it can be hard to define what true wellness means and what it includes. The dictionary defines it simply: the state or condition of being in good physical and mental health. Kate DeMarco, owner of Kalypso Bay Farm in Deming, WA has an extraordinary appreciation for the state of wellness. In 2003, she was given a 30% chance of surviving stage 4 melanoma cancer and was busy planning for her funeral. She nearly lost a leg, endured painful reconstructive surgery, skin grafting and a full year of chemotherapy. After surviving cancer DeMarco encouraged her own health and wellness by purchasing an Andalusian mare named Kalypso Bay and says this about horses.
“Horses are therapeutic; they seem to know how to comfort you.”
No one predicted DeMarco would live, much less live to purchase a picturesque farm near Mount Baker where she lives with a herd of Gypsy Vanner horses. Born with a passion for equines, DeMarco always had a special love for draft horses. This eventually germinated into a goal of breeding some of the finest Gypsy Vanners in the country. Originally bred in the United Kingdom to be the perfect small draft horse, the Gypsy Vanner includes blood of the Shire, Friesian, Clydesdale and Dales Pony. Available in a rainbow of colors, they are horses that naturally fuel the imagination with their lush hair, feathered legs and gentle temperament. Now enjoying personal wellness and the horses of her dreams, DeMarco is not content with simply breeding and selling. Instead, she is reaching out to her local community, fostering wellness for people and horses by sharing her passion.
It all began last year when two cancer survivors contacted the farm and asked for a tour. One woman spent the entire day at the farm, at one point weeping and describing the experience as “heaven.” Moved with compassion, DeMarco understands this reaction completely.
“For someone who has been at death’s door, the horses really give them something to smile about and an opportunity to feel hopeful.”
Last June the farm inspired more smiles when a local elementary school inquired about a tour. Though unsure about how to entertain 60+ children, DeMarco was enthusiastic about sharing her horses with the community. The farm organized learning blocks for groups of 3rd and 6th graders. These included topics such as grooming, stall cleaning and equine health care. The children were even able to interact with Gypsy Vanner mares and foals. Says DeMarco, “The kids loved petting the babies and the babies loved it, too!”
Many people over the years, including Winston Churchill, have echoed this famous line: There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. Kate DeMarco understands this personally and plans on creating more opportunities in the future to share Kalypso Bay Farm with the public. And, of course, she is busy producing lovely horses that promote wellness in others.
“Everyone is impressed by how my horses respond to people. They are so gentle, sweet and beautiful.”
Kalypso Bay Farm is currently open to the public for tours (by appointment) and stud service, including collection of outside stallions for artificial insemination. Select horses are also offered for sale and a bed and breakfast service is available for those traveling from a distance. The farm recently welcomed inspectors from The Gypsy Vanner Horse Society and several of the farm’s horses received high 4’s and even 5 star ratings, the highest possible. For more information visit kalypsobayfarm.com; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or call 360-599-1261.