Creek visit boosts holiday spirit

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A friend had told me a lot about Christi South and her horse rescue project, but I was in for surprises when I went out for the interview.

I drove in to her rented barn at Rea Faire Farms in Montevallo and was warmly greeted by Christi, a pretty energetic blonde, and her three friendly dogs.

Asleep in a front carrier around Christi&8217;s neck was her new baby girl, Kendall &045; just four weeks old. In Christi&8217;s truck nearby was two-year-old Katy, watching a movie.

She waved at me.

After meeting the children and Tracy Curtiss, who gives riding lessons and helps out with feeding and exercising, we went on to meet the horses.

In the front stall was Pete, a 30-year-old who came to Christi 11-years-ago emaciated and in need of surgery.

When she adopted Pete, a veterinarian advised that she was wasting time and money, that the horse would not make it. In recalling this, Christi said &8220;He was my first and I realized then that when many horses require maintenance their owners throw them out, but there are still plenty of years of pleasure and joy left in these animals.&8221;

Every day she proves that point.

We continued on our tour and met Fancy, a little pony that had been severely abused. She came to the farm skittish and petrified, but plenty of TLC brought out her gentle nature. Her gift of thanks was a real shock, a beautiful baby they named &8220;Flash&8221; for &8220;Fancy&8217;s flashy surprise.&8221;

Next we met B.J. whose real name is Sunday&8217;s Monday.

He is a sleek fine stallion brought to the farm because he was mean, would bite and generally had a terrible reputation.

Again, with loving care and good training he became gentle and amiable.

In an adjacent stall there was a

special horse, Hey Jeanie, who has a notable history; she once raced at Churchill Downs. We met all of the fifteen horses.

Many of them had been abused, others given up as too old or too sick. Most are being treated now or have already been rehabilitated by Christi and her able staff.

The last stall we visited housed Jobe, a Sicilian miniature donkey. He was found walking down the street in Calera, injured in a dog attack where he lost most of one ear. He is obviously full of personality. Christi said that Jobe loves key lime pie and is first in line at the annual Christmas party. The story is told that on one very dark night some farm visitors were returning from the local bar.

Jobe greeted them at the gate with a loud &8220;hee-haw&8221; and scared the bejibbers out of them

Christi told us that she grew up with horses and has always had a love and concern for them.

That&8217;s reflected in her family, too.

Fourteen-year-old Alex plays polo and has his own polo pony.

Andrew, who is five, and Katy are learning to ride. No doubt baby Kendall will ride along with her mother long before she can walk. Husband Darren owns Alabama Brick Company and though he does not ride, he generously and enthusiastically supports Christi&8217;s passion for rescuing the horses.

We agree with Christi&8217;s mother who often said, &8220;She is a regular Pied Piper except that rather than leading the animals into the sea, she brings all of them home with her.&8221;

Catherine Legg can be reached by e-mail at