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“Rescue me” –

16 Jul
Jeb and Macy

Jeb and Macy

Standing quietly near the barn, Jeb looked half asleep. With the sun hiding behind the thick clouds, today must have seemed ideal for taking naps. He deserved it, deserved the quiet time, for his thin and aging body has a lot of rebuilding to do.  Even though we feed him four times a day, he stays hungry. More than hunger, he wants friendship, the human kind. Jeb is simply in love with people, which offers a clue to his history. Someone, somewhere, loved this horse a lot.

A few feet away stood a yearling named Macy. She’s only been here a few months, part of a seizure we did in the Waco area. When she arrived both she and her mom were not willing to let people touch them. That attitude doesn’t last long around the ranch, what with volunteers carrying brushes and snacks. Macy is a pocket pony now, ready for belly scratches and kisses from complete strangers.

As I watched, Macy walked up close to Jeb, watched him for a moment, then closed her eyes. Jeb looked at her, then resumed his sleepy stance. The little girl and grandpa, in whatever horse world they lived, were taking a nap together. I was captured by the agelessness of it all – the new and the old, the first and last years of life, the beginning and the end.

Horse in intake pen

"You want him? Just take him."

In the intake pen stood a new horse, one “given” to us as the result of an investigation. We did our best to work with the owner, but the followup last evening found the horse with a rope around his neck tied to a tree, no hay, no water, and the wife saying, “He’s in jail. You want the horse, just take it.”

This morning a gentleman drove up from Corpus Christi and delivered a Thoroughbred. After hearing the story, we simply couldn’t say no to this guy, although we must say no to most of the others. This TB is the last of a herd of 12 owned by a person that did his best to provide for them. He did his best, but his death led to 12 horses without homes. A close friend found places for 11 of them. The last one, an older gelding, had no place to go.

TB intake

From the 1998 Olympics

Not that it made any difference in our decision, but this horse performed in the 1998 Olympics in Atlanta. From the looks of him, these last few months have been rough, for he’s easily 300 pounds underweight.

I stood in the hallway of the barn, witnessing the concern of the volunteers over these and the other horses and felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility, for here stood the lives of one of God’s most magnificent creatures, held in our symbolic arms and totally dependent on us for all of their needs. Here stood the horse in its ultimate relationship with man, bound by fences and controlled by commands. Here we play gods, deciding on their futures, on who will go where. Our decisions will affect their lives long into the future, especially the babies. What will the next twenty to thirty years hold for horses like Macy?

We do our best to measure the hearts of those asking to adopt these horses. Most of the time the decisions are good. There have been times, sadly, when we’ve completely failed in our mission, when the adopter who once promised to love and provide proves no better than the abuser from whom we took the horse.

I’m not good at making those decisions, probably because I’ve seen too much of the harm done by people who “love horses.”

Statistics tell too much about what happens to horses in our society. The average length of time for a horse to stay in one home is a little over three years. That’s mind boggling to me because these animals are like children in my world, not something to dispose of when I want something else. Macy, the yearling, will depend on us to find her a true forever home and I want, more than anything, to know that thirty years from now the adopters’ children will be bringing an old but very healthy Macy into the barn and that she will have never known anything but love.

If we knew that all the horses would have that type of family, I’d be at peace. We judge upon the meeting, look at the applications, probe for character, search their eyes for dishonesty, but we’ll never know for certain.

Even Jeb will leave someday, off to his own family, his own future. I don’t want him to come back as old and crippled, destroyed by the hands of non-caring humans.

This is a way station, a rest stop on the highway of their lives. What happens here will change their lives forever. Most will go on to good homes, to be loved for the rest of their lives. Some will never leave. This is the final stop, this the end of years of offering themselves to humans. No one will ever know their story, will ever understand all they have gone through, of their loves and pains, of the little children that rode them and the grownups that beat and starved them.

Some will get lost; will eventually be sold by adopters who say they will never sell. They will be sold again, hurt, abused, injured and end up either at the slaughterhouse or at another rescue, if they’re lucky. As much as we fear that end, there is nothing we can do to prevent it.

Some will indeed find that perfect home, ending up in the arms of those souls that are pure of heart, who promised to love and protect and who will fulfill that commitment not out of a sense of duty but because they know, they understand what it truly means to love and protect.

The overwhelming sense of responsibility also comes from looking at the gate, for standing on the other side are hundreds, thousands, waiting for a vacancy, waiting for help before it’s too late for them. We’re not the only place, but we’re one of the few, and it’s our chosen job. It’s what we said we would do, and that’s why we need your help.

This isn’t about the glory of the name, or the triumph of being noticed.  It’s about starving, close to death, forgotten horses that are dying by the thousands. I need your hands to help us when we hold the head of a bone thin horse and try to bring it back to life I need your tears of joy when we succeed, your sorrow and your broken, shattered heart when we fail. I need you to stand beside us, to be pure of heart, to know the purpose, to understand the problems and to help us provide the answers.

Horses running

"Rescue me!"

“Rescue me,” they cry.

We must. For their sake, for their life, we must honor our values, put aside our differences, our egos, our sense of self-importance. We must gather around them as a family, hold them, bring them, if we can, back from the brink of darkness, and make them whole again. We must find them a home of their own, one of love and respect, and then…

and then we must go back out, open the gate and do it all over again.

 

 

 

 

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Life and love in the world of horses – Jerry Finch

Join us on our website – Habitat for Horses

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7 responses to ““Rescue me” –

  1. Christi Barksdale-Fagerstone

    August 5, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    I remain exremely sad that some of the horses we adopted did not find a home with us.
    I have 5 horses right now. We have my Arab mare,whom I found by accident, fell in love, and would never consider letting her go any where without me. We’ve been together 16 yrs.
    Our other four are rescue horses.
    A lady couldn’t afford him. He’s been here 13 yrs. A lady was afraid of her and ignored her. She’s been here 5 years. A trainer said he kept running off with the kids (a lesson horse still, at 28). He’s been here 5 years. And a husband whose wife could no longer ride due to illness, and he didn’t care about him, take him. He’s been here 3 years.
    We adopted another one who no longer would be ridden, they had moved on to younger, faster horses. He was with us 2 yrs, but we lost him in a harsh cold winter and he’s buried here on our ranch, his spirit runs with the herd he loved and we talk of him often, missing him.
    We adopted two of the HfH horses. Ones who had been starved. But in 6 mo, as they grew healthier one would not let the other one eat, running her off. She did not seem to want to fit in with the herd, even phyisically hurt my mare. So we could not keep her. She was so beautiful, and happily, when she was returned, there was someone who loved her immediately and took her home that same day. She didn’t have to fit into a herd and could be spoiled by a young girl, and loved the way I wanted to love her. Then I began to realize the other younger horse she came with needed someone to ride her and give her a job, and I knew she would be happy in her new herd, going on trail rides, leaving behind all the senior guys here. I planned to adopt another mare, whose owner didn’t feel she could afford to keep her. She knew I would take care of her. But the heat here in North Texas has been unbelieveable. We cannot offer lush green pastures. I am older and it’s been very difficult to feed in the heat, plus rinse everyone off to cool them down. I decided to wait until I felt I could offer more, hopefully in the fall. We have gone out of state and found hay which costs twice as much and more than before. Once I am comfortable in offering a good home, I will contact the lady and see if she still wants us to take her horse. But I still feel very sad that not all adoptions can offer a forever home to those precious horses.

     
  2. sherriey miller

    July 17, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    i wish i had more to give…i am here for the horses. my own and rescues will never leave here…never. 3 yrs…..what in 3 yrs do they get tired of? what in 3 yrs do they not want of their horse? 3 yrs….
    i make a commitment to any and all my horses that come onto my property. i make a commitment for life, their life….that they will never again have to wonder who will abuse them, who will hurt them. they are here for life! i would never betray their trust…some of this trust in me took a long time in coming. some came with so much baggage that others gave up hope on. one mare took 5 yrs before she let me touch her. now she follows me like a puppy. how could i betray that? her trusting me means more to me then anything. her true self she lets me see….and i see and very sweet mare that wants to only have someone to love her. when i got her…she was 7 yrs old and had 8 owners! i was number 9. she would put her ears back and whirl and kick if she was loose in the pasture and you tried to approach her.a farrier could not touch her feet. if you did catch her, you would not dare stand behind her. she was always sullen and grumpy. she liked only horses….and made sure you knew she didn’t like or trust people.
    now….its been 6 or more years and this same mare will come running to see me if i go out in the pasture.
    how could i betray her trust and get rid of her?
    i could never look myself in a mirror again if i betrayed any one of my horses. i, in 2008, had to put down my best friend….a little bay mare that nobody had wanted…she was the best! she was 2 mos old when i rescued her…she was 25 when she passed.
    they all will be here till the day they pass and will be loved forever. that is my promise and commitment to them.

     
  3. Diane Lowery

    July 17, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    As president of Panhandle Equine Rescue in Florida and equine cruelty investigator, Jerry’s words speak the truth of what rescuers feel and experience after a horse is brought into rehabilitation. When the funding dwindles, we worry about the fate of the horses that we have made promises to; that they will never again be neglected or abused.
    It is also very difficult to judge a person who is interested in adopting and sometimes, it does turn out that the wrong decision was made. But the application and homes look great and the people seem sincere. We do follow up checks on the horses and sometimes find the horse is actually in a bad place again.
    The longer you are into rescue, the more disappointed you get in humans; but on the flip side, you are also amazed at the people who come forward to help and who truly care.
    Running a rescue consumes your life, but the rewards are tremendous when we look into the eyes of a now trusting horse whose spirit has come alive again.

     
  4. Linda Parker-Fedak

    July 17, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Once again you have made me cry. I wish I could send you and all of the other rescuers a million dollars each. But I have been unemployed for 3 years and barely feeding myself… The soul and spirit of horses touches me deeply. Ever since I was 4. My wish for you and all of the others is to find enough funding, and especially kind people who will adopt and love needy horses everywhere. Who will care for them and make sure they live long and healthy lives.
    God bless you all..,

     
  5. Nelly

    July 17, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Thank God for what you do. I wish I lived where I could volunteer…..or even had land to keep horse. I am boarding mine at friends. Its wonderful what you do. That 3 yrs only people keep a horse makes me wonder about we humans. We would not get rid of our children like that???

     
  6. mustangmare

    July 17, 2011 at 5:40 am

    Beautifully written plea for the horses, and for those who work must seem never ending and often unappreciated – and heart-wrenching for those of us who can help little more than share posts, write letters and call our representatives.

     
    • Edie

      July 17, 2011 at 11:06 am

      Three years? I can’t understand the loss of interest in such amazing creatures. I’ve lost track of the time with our adopted horses. I can’t even imagine them not being a part of our lives. We are so thankful that there was someone to rescue them from slaughter, abusive people, and from starvation. They all deserve to be free from the horrors wrong minded people place upon them.

       

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