There are times when I want to be alone, times when the memories cause more pain than I want to bear. I know I can’t walk away. I can’t get up and leave for a more perfect place. That’s impossible, because the memories come with me. They have become so entwined, so entangled in my being that we can no longer be separated. The memories create what I am, influence all I do. They have not only become part of me, they have become me.
Few know where the graves are at the ranch. Under the soil are more than 150 horses. Into that soil I’ve shed a million tears, for each death took part of my heart. From thoroughbreds to Quarter horses to ponies to puppies, most of them came to the end of their precious life in my arms, each looked at me with fading eyes, and I cried as I let them go.
I never liked sharing that moment with other humans, although there are times when I must. Saying a forever goodbye to someone for which we have taken total responsibility is the most heart retching moment we can have, and almost all of them came to their final sanctuary because we opened the gates and our hearts to them.
Three more passed away last week, one of them a life long resident. Jasmine came to the ranch far back in the beginning because she had no place else to go. We adopted her out three times and all three times she was only gone a few weeks. With each new family she either developed choke or colic and all three times she was returned. Our unwritten rule is that after three adoptions, the horse stays, and she did. She had no use for other horses, didn’t really care for people, but she felt safe here. This was her home.
Another horse, a beautiful gray mare, had cancer. Operated on twice, the cancer became aggressive. There was no upside, so we left her to enjoy her last few weeks, let her be until the pain was evident. The third was a gelding, older, fighting the agony of arthritis. We tried everything the vet could throw at us, and kept him pain free to munch hay and talk with the other horses – until nothing else worked.
There are so many others, so many love stories that I could share with you, stories that demonstrate the deep love that horses have for one another. Some of the horses loved people far more than other horses. Some simply gave up on love, on wanting, on caring, and came to the ranch to die. Each, in their own way, was a perfect horse, for that there is no question. They made it through the gates, into the safety of our arms, and closed their eyes forever. We shed our tears while they took their final breath and while we held them, we knew that we would never be the same. Each precious one took a little piece of our heart with them. Their memories will dwell in us until we too pass from this earth.
We did a seizure with law enforcement last week, a beautiful, extremely thin stud. Two days ago the court awarded him to us. He’ll be gelded and, in a few months, he’ll be strong and healthy again. Today we completed two more seizures, a total of five new horses. Next week we’ll let the Judge decide their fate, but until then they will have the love and attention they deserve. I have little doubt that they will be with us far past next week.
The easy part is bringing them in and making them well. The hard part is finding them a special someone so they can spend the rest of their lives making memories.
The healthy horses stand waiting, wanting, reaching out for love. Sometimes they cry out, yet few people, if any, hear them. Sometimes they stand at the gates waiting for someone. Sometimes they stand alone in a far off corner, lost in their own memories. They all want the same thing we humans want – love, respect, a gentle touch, a soft voice. Love is so important, for us and for them. It creates us, breathes life into our souls, transforms us into radiant beings.
There, in the pasture, they stand waiting for you. There stands the possibilities of your future memories, memories that will change you for the rest of your days. Do you have room in your pasture? Is there room in your heart?
Visit http://habitatforhorses.org to view the adoptable horses, then call us at 409-935-0277.