When it comes to animals, Keri Bedeaux has a special place in her heart when it comes to saving them and giving them the compassion they deserve.

Webster’s Keri Bedeaux poses for a photo with one of her favorite rescue horses: Elita. Horses have been a huge part of her life since Bedeaux was 4 years old. She also has a special place in her heart for saving animals and giving them compassion. (Michelle Vlasak / southernminn.com)

Although she started an animal rescue called Protecting Paws Animal Rescue in 2012, the former Lakeville resident of Webster began rescuing horses in 2016. Over the years, with the help of others, she has rescued over 3,500 dogs and cats, rescued horses from kill buyers and auctions, and has accepted owner deliveries.

Her newest venture, Healing Hearts & Hooves, started last February after she and her husband Randy bought a 40 acre horse farm. Formerly used as a well-known thoroughbred farm, Bedeaux found it perfectly set up for his horses. In one year alone they saved over 30 horses.

Blind pen

Pictured with Anna Franck and Keri Bedeaux are blind horses: Gertrude, Finn, Maddie and Ella. (Michelle Vlasak / southernminn.com)

Horses have been a huge part of her life since Bedeaux was 4 years old. Although she didn’t have her own until later in life, she grew up showing the horse to her friend “Fluffer”. She showed the horse until she was 16 and begged to go on local rides at every opportunity. Every vacation she took had to include horse riding.

She says that salvation is her life and she has got used to the outsiders for whom no one has a “use”. When she was younger, she remembers bringing home any injured animal like a rabbit or squirrel to bring it back to life.

“I just want to give them a soft landing and a retirement home – for however long that may be,” Bedeaux said of her horse rescue.

Bedeaux has been depressed for a long time and knows veterans with PTSD. She knows firsthand how therapeutic horses can be, whether they are riding, cleaning or just being within reach. Bedeaux explains that they have a calming presence and make them forget about life for a while.

Of course, she felt the need to incorporate a therapy program into her rescue to not only help animals but also people, hence the name Healing Hearts & Hooves. Although they are still in the early stages of implementing the therapy program, Bedeaux anticipates it will come soon. According to Bedeaux, several people have already offered to help brush and / or feed horses to help them cope.

Volunteers are always welcome to spend some time with the horses or to help with various fundraising drives. Recently, volunteers and staff at Twins Games have started concessions where all of the money earned goes to the rescue. Other events that typically take place include an autumn horse show, saddlery sales in the spring and participation in Give to the Max Day.

Amber Johnson of Savage has been friends with Bedeaux for a number of years. Throughout their friendship, Johnson has helped Bedeaux with their dog / cat rescue and now with their horses. She has her own horse. Although she has worked primarily with dogs and cats, she says she has always had a special place in her heart for horses. Johnson feels that there is something very special about them and that they bring peace and healing around them.

Bernstein & Anna

In the picture from the left, Amber Johnson and Anna Franck stand next to one of several pastures on the Keri & Randy Bedeaux Farm. (Michelle Vlasak / southernminn.com)

Anna Franck and her son Austin von Elko are frequent visitors and volunteers on the farm. Anna says they stop for several hours at least once a week to help out with chores such as stable cleaning and grain / hay feeding. Austin often brings some of his neighborhood friends with him when extra help is needed throwing hay. Anna first found out about the horse rescue from her sister-in-law, who is good friends with Bedeaux. She donated money to sponsor a horse and fell in love with the rescue after touring. It was an easy decision for Anna and Austin to help out when they visited the rescue.

“These animals just want love and attention,” said Anna. “They are pretty incredible creatures and it’s great to be able to give them a second chance.”

Prior Lake’s mother-daughter duo Ali and Lucy Johnson mount two of their horses on the farm. One of the horses, Bob, was her first horse rescue. For Lucy, Bob is her unicorn. Ali and Lucy, like Bedeaux, are animal lovers and enjoy spending time on the farm.

Ali & Lucy

Ali and Lucy Johnson from Prior Lake stand next to their first rescue horse: Bob the unicorn. (Michelle Vlasak / southernminn.com)

In addition to rescuing horses and providing volunteer services, the rescue works with the Long-Term Memory Care Center in Northfield. About six or seven years ago, Bedeaux said they brought pups to brighten up the residents’ days, which they did every year until last year. That year, since the facility was not open to visitors at the time of the event, Bedeaux began thinking of other ways to involve residents. Residents were encouraged to choose a stuffed animal and then were given an adoption card to represent one of the animals currently in rescue.

She is still working on other ideas to brighten her days without having to enter the facility. She has come up with a few ideas, one of which involves bringing a horse / dog in front of the residents’ windows to give them pleasure.

She currently owns 26 horses and donkeys that have either been adopted by a horse rescue, rescued from the battle management or given to the owner. She fell in love with the Belgian horse breed in 2019 and has since acquired 10 breeds. Her home is not only her home, it is also a retirement home for horses, which she calls “gentle giants”.

“None will ever work again, except for possible easy driving,” Bedeaux said on their website. “I’ve decided that we need to expand and save horses so that we can foster them and find them at home forever. With the help of my husband, sister and a few close friends, we’re making this dream come true.”

Ali, Lucy & Austin with Wally

Pictured from left, Ali Johnson, Lucy Johnson and Austin Franck Wally give the rescue horse some love. (Michelle Vlasak / southernminn.com)

In addition to rescue horses, donkeys, cats and dogs, Bedeaux also has other animals on her farm for personal enjoyment such as goats, chickens, cows, ponies and an emu.

As the nonprofit Healing Hearts and Hooves grows, Bedeaux hopes to welcome people with disabilities and those suffering from PTSD to spend time with their horse friends.

Reach reporter Michelle Vlasak at 507-333-3128 or follow her on Twitter @apgmichelle. © Copyright 2021 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.