Courage to Stand

Rescue Horses

Today, I was inspired to write about something a little different. A lot of people are interested in our rescue animals and why we invest so much of our time and resources in them. Let me make it simple for you, look at the picture of our pregnant mare.

Why would anybody treat an animal like this?

We rescued Shortcake from a kill pen in Louisiana. A kill pen is the last stop for horses before they are sent to Mexico to be slaughtered for meat. You read that right, a pregnant mare was about to be sent to slaughter.

All our horses are rescues and they are all amazing animals. Some of them are perfectly broke and ride like a dream, others need a tune up, and some just need a “field of dreams” to live their last remaining years on.

Others, unfortunately, are so sick they die in the trailer on the way home.

We’re able to find good homes for a select few. We know a few good working ranches that need good horses and trade for hay. We have homed several with children who want a good horse but can’t afford the cost of buying one. Most stay with us though and become part of our family.

We have Prince Ali, a beautiful grey/white gelding; Brownie, a small chocolate colored mare that is about to give birth; Broodie, a smutty buckskin that gave birth to an amazing colt we named Dublin. 

There is Big Mama, a gigantic Belgian draft horse that came from an Amish farm, who thanked Tim profusely when she saw his tractor in our field. Reno is a nice big paint horse that is gaited, meaning he is a really smooth ride. Shortcake is our pregnant Strawberry Rhone that’s fighting to eat enough to keep her and her foal alive. She came to us with a tiny thirteen hand horse not much bigger than a pony that was named Tarzan.

Lazarus is our newest rescue, a buckskin that we got from the North Texas Feedlot. We have two mini-horses, Fred and Wilma, Polly our little donkey, and our most famous resident, Doug the miniature spotted donkey. He might be the smallest on the farm, but his bray is the loudest, and his attitude is the absolute worst.  He runs the whole crew. He even threw his food bowl at Lazarus with his mouth on the day Lazarus arrived at our place!

It’s a labor of love and, candidly speaking, draining in more ways than one. But the truth is, it does not matter what kind of day you are having, what your hair looks like, or how you are feeling, those animals treat you the same every single day. The effort we put into them is returned tenfold.

While sunny days and fields of alfalfa seem like a dream life, its not always easy. One night, a pregnant draft horse that we had, wandered into our pond to cool off, probably because she was going into labor.   She got herself stuck in the mucky bottom at 1:00am in the middle of a thunderstorm. She was too weakened from struggling to get herself out and the 1,500 pound horse was in danger of drowning in only a couple feet of water. I waded out to her and held her head up out of the water as Tim and a couple of Sheriff’s Deputies were able to get a rope around her and drag her out with the tractor. 

Unfortunately, the struggle in the pond had been too much for her and we had to put her down. We have all had to deal with the loss of a pet, but this is like the loss of a family member, especially when you risk your own well-being to save them.

But the bad never outweighs the good. Some of my favorite days are towing the trailer with Tim to and from the kill-pen, giving a horse that nobody wants another chance at life. Here’s the crazy thing: they know.

The horses understand they’re being given a second chance at life. 

Shortcake came to us nothing more than a skeleton carrying a baby. Her eyes were scared and looked like they would weep tears if they could. Two days later, her eyes were soft and understanding.  She was eating all she could, her coat was clean, and she looked a little healthier.

Tim walked her to the back pasture late in the evening after she had been fed and pampered in our backyard all afternoon.  I watched as she stopped short of the gate, not because she didn’t want to go in, but so Tim would stop and turn around. She then walked up to him and laid her head across his shoulder. He hugged her, and then she stepped past him into her “field of dreams,” her own acre of grass, water, hay, and security. 

It’s these moments that help recharge us, that make all the effort seem minuscule, and give us hope that what we are doing is making a difference. No matter how work went that day, how good the meeting or speech was, what the latest fight is on social media, or what politician is making my skin crawl, there is always a set of loving eyes and a soft nose peeking over the top of the fence that is saying thank you. Thank you for having the courage to give me a second chance.

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