Animal lover Cheryl Connell-Marsh, co-owner of Nottingham Equestrian Center, has opened her heart and her property to a menagerie of creatures.
Connell-Marsh is both a horse trainer and a registered wildlife rehabilitator. Taking care of more than 50 animals has become her life.
She owns a chipmunk, three dogs, five fish, four birds, 42 ponies and horses, a miniature donkey, 13 squirrels, fawns that “come and go” and between 13 and 18 cats.
Part of what she loves about her job is educating others.
“I think I was born a teacher,” she said. “I love teaching people about wildlife, and how to ride and I love just being around the horses.”
Nottingham Equestrian Center co-owner Cheryl Connell-Marsh plays with rescued chipmunk "Chippy" on Thursday afternoon, Nov. 15, 2012, inside of the barn at the Nottingham. Connell-Marsh takes in wildlife such as deer, rabbits and squirrels, among others. Natalie Kolb/The State News
Nottingham Equestrian Center co-owner Cheryl Connell-Marsh stands next to Hugo, one of her students' horses, Thursday afternoon, Nov. 15, 2012, inside of the barn at the Nottingham. Along with taking care of horses, Connell-Marsh also rehabilitates wildlife. Natalie Kolb/The State News
As a wildlife rehabilitator, Connell-Marsh also has to take in and deal with the animals that aren’t going to make it. She said she feels that she is as much here to help the animals die as she is to help them survive.
“I hold them and I let them know they were loved and I let them know that they are going to be OK and nothing is going to harm them, and I let them know that it is OK to leave,” she said.
“They go to sleep in polar fleece, on heating pads, in a warm place where they knew they were safe.”
With all of the animals comes a lot of responsibility, but Connell-Marsh said that it’s her passion to take care of the lives that have come into her life.
“Sometimes you get going so fast that you forget to stop and just go, ‘The whole reason I’m doing this is because I love (the animals),’” she said. “You learn that it’s about saving the animals, but you can’t stop loving what you’re doing.”