Dec 2, 2022

Horse Rescuer’s Children’s Book Leaves It All To “Chance”

Beverly Barad’s illustrated story is about adopting—and adapting

By Ed Goldman

If Beverly Barad were a horse whisperer, this is probably what you’d hear her murmur to one: “Come with me.”

Barad is a serial horse rescuer who brings rejected, wounded or simply past-their-prime equines to live with her and her husband, orthopedic surgeon Steve Barad, on their 40-acre ranch in El Dorado Hills. At the moment, she says she has four horses in residence; also a number of dogs and cats.

Edgy Cartoon

Beverly Barad and Friend in Barcelona, Spain. Photo by Nate Barad.

“The horses aren’t in stalls,” she says. “They have pastures to roam in. I can see how much calmer they seem when I feed or just visit with them.”

An advocate for horse rescuing, fostering and adopting, Barad has now written a sweet (but far-from-cloying) children’s book, “Second Chance,” which I think would be an ideal holiday or birthday present for any animal lover in your family, from four years old and up.

The book is beautifully illustrated by Philippine painter Kathrina Iris and has a glowing back-cover blurb by Dr. Mary Temple Grandin, a revered professor of animal science at the University of Colorado and tireless advocate for individuals with autism (she’s one of them).

The story tells how a horse named Chance gets a second and even third life as he begins to age, contracts pneumonia and upon his return to his home is ostracized by his fellow (and former) four-legged friends. But by the end of the book, he’s befriended a blind horse and becomes its guide. He’s found his new purpose.

The two best parts of this for readers—the kids themselves and those who read it to and with them—are that it not only has a happy and hopeful ending but also is a true story, not a fanciful concoction with moral lessons embedded in each paragraph. What may delight kids the most is that without using quotation marks to indicate dialogue, Barad shows the animals communicating with each other, something she firmly believes occurs. 

“I watched one of my horses, though not the one in the story, lead a blind one around, to the point of opening the gate for him and letting him know it was ready for him to walk through,” she says. (As you know, this is better behavior than that of some doormen and valets.)

Barad and her husband have three grown sons. She met her husband 37 years ago in the cafeteria at Eden Hospital in Castro Valley. She was a nurse for many years—and it can be argued that she’s still administering her profession’s vaunted TLC on a daily basis, though her patients are now considerably heavier and rarely complain, though most are neigh-sayers. (I sincerely apologize for that.)

All of the proceeds from the sale of “Second Chance,” Barad writes in a brief “Meet the Author” note toward the end of the book, “will be used to save horses that have run out of options.”

The first-time author already has a follow-up book in mind, the lighthearted tale (also true) about a forever-famished Connemara pony named Krikey. (While considered an Australian breed, the Connemara originally hails from Ireland.) “Ponies are notorious for wanting to eat all the time,” she explains over a recent lunch at Zinfandel Grill, a neighborhood bistro in East Sacramento.

“Well, Krikey knew there was food in a loft that was up 17 steps in a hay barn,” she continues. “It was Christmas Eve and his eyes were probably bigger than his stomach.” The pony managed to climb up the steps, eat himself full “kind of quickly” and then face the dilemma of climbing back down.

“The owners had to call the fire department rescue squad, animal control, a veterinarian and finally, a construction company,” Barad says. To get the well-fed but skittish pony back to ground zero, the vet gave Krikey a sedative shot; then, the construction team, which had brought a scissors lift (similar to a cherry picker), attached a hooked girdle to the pony and slowly lowered him to the ground. 

“It was all over the news,” Barad recalls. The very memory of it still tickles her—and when she laughs, it’s definitely above a whisper.

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Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).