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GRACE FARM TOO  AT CHERYL’S PLACE OFFERS SANCTUARY FOR HORSES, WILDLIFE

BY AMY BARTLETT | PHOTOS BY MADISON ELROD

If you take a drive down May River Road, Highway 46, past the roundabout heading toward Savannah, just before the famous Bubba Crosby tomato stand, there’s a plot of land where horses, raccoons and other wildlife have been loved to life for years without much fanfare.

That’s the way Cheryl Crosby Phillips of Cheryl’s Place prefers to work because she’s humble and protective of animals.

Now, the beautiful exchange you can see in the eye contact between horses and humans is about to get better.

Grace Farm Animal Rescue and Sanctuary, a nonprofit based in Colleton County that cares for neglected animals, has taken Cheryl and company under its wing.

The partnership gives Cheryl’s rescue a new name: Grace Farm Too at Cheryl’s Place.

“God put it on my heart, and now it’s happening,” said Robin Boeke, who started Grace Farm Animal Rescue.

Boeke refers to Phillips as “the gal I call before the vet,” and Phillips returns the sentiment saying, “without her, we’d be nothing,” or at least not what Cheryl’s Place can become as “an official part of Grace Farm.”

“I wasn’t great at asking for donations, but now that we’re a part of an official charity, it’s easier to communicate what they need and how we can help them,” Phillips said.

When Boeke and Phillips realized their work was a perfect yin and yang, they decided to work together to make horses whole.

“I’m an hour away, and you can’t throw a horse in a car — Cheryl’s in Bluffton, so we said, ‘What if I get them well, and you train the horse, get them better?’

“They come to Grace Farm neglected, scared, sick, abused, abandoned. I give them a place to heal physically, and Cheryl takes it a step further,” Boeke said.

Said Phillips: “I take them from now ‘well’ horses and make them human again – a horse that can handle humans. Horses come to me with no trust. I build trust until they end up in a good place.”

Cheryl’s Place is the good place for a couple mini horses, a donkey, 30-year-old “Horses for Heroes” retired vet equines, and untouched stallions.

“The stallions I’ve been working with, I’ve gotten saddles on and set a goal to ride them by August 27,” Phillips said.

The significance of the date? It’s her mother Joyce’s birthday – who helped her fall in love with horses and who passed away recently. Her memory resonates within the fences on the farm where the horses are healing.

Bringing levity to the pack are the minis, Fiona and Patches, recently rescued and ready for their closeups.

“They’re pocket sized,” Phillips says, “My daughter’s golden retriever is bigger,” making them perfect for Phillips to bring to Lowcountry outings like farmers markets and community events.

Need a mini? Call Cheryl’s Place. Or engage with all the horses on site.

“I like people to come visit,” says Phillips. “People come out, make donations, kids get pony rides. I put people on horses for the horses’ sake. It helps to train them.”

Especially for a rescue, there’s a stunning set of horses on this farm: A former racehorse saved from a kill pen. A native paint horse named Dare.

There are a couple of glorious golden mares, one of whom (Sage) just had a baby who’s as “amber waves of grain” as her mama. She’s beautiful, sweet, loves people. She’s a girl on fire running the fences and full of heart.

That’s why they named her Grace.

There’s also Fiona, who was formerly feral; Patches, with those glowing blue eyes; the cow up in Islandton who comes from divorce and a lovely man whose wife got the ranch and left him the bovine.

Grace Farm (the original) was there for both of them, providing a safe landing, and that’s what Grace Farm Too is now more equipped to do.

The farm, according to a visitor, is “a great example of the impact that love, generosity and diligence can make in this world when faced with cruelty and neglect.”