Author Melanie Sue Bowles was born and raised in Sylvan Lake, Michigan, a small village near Pontiac. She moved to Florida in her early twenties where she earned her living as a professional firefighter/medic; it's where she met her husband Jim. After acquiring her first horse and becoming immersed in the equestrian community, Melanie discovered a disturbing amount of mistreatment endured by too many horses and vowed to make a difference. While continuing to work at the fire department, Melanie and Jim set out to create a sanctuary for abused, elderly and unwanted horses.
In 1991 Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary was established, and readers were introduced to Melanie's graceful heart when she chronicled the start-up of this award winning facility in her inspiring debut book, The Horses of Proud Spirit. In Melanie's second book, Hoof Prints: More Stories from Proud Spirit, she recounts how the sanctuary has grown, and readers are taken on an extraordinary journey unlike any other. When Melanie and Jim retired from their jobs as firefighters in the spring of 2005, they made the decision to relocate to the rolling hills of western Arkansas. The move would include transporting the forty horses that were living at Proud Spirit at the time - a monumental trek of over a thousand miles in three 53' semi-trailers. And this unforgettable story is one of the chapters in Hoof Prints.
While Melanie and Jim officially rescued horses, they also un-officially rescued numerous dogs. Followers of Proud Spirit and hundreds of fans of the Proud Spirit books wanted to know more about them and began asking for stories about the dogs. And so, in 2010 the book everyone was waiting for was released, The Dogs of Proud Spirit.
Today Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary stands as one of the longest existing privately run sanctuaries for horses in the United States and its highly successful program has been cited as "exemplary" and a "model for other rescue organizations."
Melanie's writing is powerful and filled with emotion. Her books are not just for horse lovers or dog lovers; they are for anyone who wants to be uplifted and inspired. These heartwarming stories speak of living beyond ourselves, living a life of purpose and finding ways to give back to the world around us. The Proud Spirit books were the inspiration for an Emmy Award winning PBS Documentary which is currently airing nationwide.
Melanie and Jim reside at Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary in Mena, Arkansas with nearly 70 rescue horses who function as a herd and live a life of freedom on 320 acres, and 13 (previously) homeless dogs, who are all in the house, all part of the family, and all over the furniture.
Melanie says, "We are blessed beyond measure by the animals who have found their way into our lives…we get so much more from them than they get from us.