Sunday, March 11, 2012

On Horses and Forgiveness

Having a dog comes with its own set of troubles. What about owning a horse? At our old house, we had 6 acres to play we rescued a horse...then took in a second for companionship. The first horse we took it was the white creature on the right, named Leo. We found out about him through a friend of a friend - "You guys looking for a horse? Well I know someone with a stallion to give away, but he needs some weight put on him." I don't think that statement nearly prepared us for what we got.

Leo was severely underweight - nearly skin and bones. He was contained in a dirt pasture along with two other horses (fat and happy beyond their feet in disrepair), a donkey, and a goat. The people also had a multitude of dogs, some intact, some not. They ranged in size, appearance, and age. Quite a collection! Back to the pasture - it was about the size of my house...which isn't big enough grazing area for one horse, much less all of those others. There was no grass, just some old beat up buckets they put horse feed in, and it was obvious Leo didn't stand a chance at getting to that food. The water was nasty. The worst part of it? The owners acted like there was nothing wrong. They were in the middle of setting up a brand new above ground pool...riding nice ATVs...nice cars under their garage...while a horse starves to death in their own backyard. His mane and tail were a matted mess (See the pic of me grooming him), and his skin was covered in rain rot. His hooves had gone so long without trimming that they had chipped down to nothing. He was also a gelding.

We took him home, and set him free in our green pasture. He found the fresh water first thing and drank like he hadn't tasted water in forever. The next few days, he didn't wander far from the water trough. We fed him horse feed and shredded beat pulp. We didn't introduce hay for a long time because of the rich proteins in it.

 Slowly but surely, he started to come around. He steadily gained weight, thanks to a solid round of wormer, vaccinations, good food and water. We cleared up his rain rot and detangled his tail. We never could quite detangle his mane, but he was so proud of it that we couldn't bear to cut it off.

Leo was only 5 years old. The people we rescued him from had him for 2 years. 2 years! The other horse we took in was a 13 yo retired jumper - an Appendix Quarter Horse. He was a little underweight and had rain rot, but he bounced back in just a couple weeks.
 Leo was a long project. He was overly nuts about food, and he'd kick at our other horse, Cowboy, if he came close to his food. He would spook at the lightest touch on his belly. Every day was progress, though, and by the end of his stay with us, he was a healthy, happy, spunky horse again. We had to move, and the best place we could find was only on one acre of land. We always knew the two wouldn't be with us forever anyway, and we found them a great home with another horse to play with.
So, besides the reality of the cruelty and the nonchalant attitude of Leo's former owners, which requires a forgiveness all of it's own, there's another story here.

I've always loved horses, and one day, my parents finally caved and bought me two of my own - a Racking Horse gelding named Charlie and an Appaloosa mare named Molly. Charlie was sweet, but he was skittish. Molly was my favorite. She was a sweet butterball of a horse, and she let me climb all over her, walk underneath her, all with the patience of a mother hen. There was a lady my parents knew that had gone to the church my dad preached at. She was getting married and wanted to borrow Molly for her wedding. My parents let her. Well...she never brought her back. Instead of doing the right thing and going to get my horse, my parents, after not reaching her on the phone, sent her a letter stating to return Molly or send x amount of money for her. She sent a check. My parents should have gone and brought her back, or involved the police. They didn't because it would "look bad on the church." So I lost my horse. The first and only horse I've ever loved. It's taken me a long time to forgive them for these actions, and I'm still not sure I've quite forgiven the woman that took Molly away from me. Well, maybe forgiven, but definitely not forgotten.

I have to go now - Axle doesn't have the zoomies, but he certainly has le gas! I'm going to hang out on the OTHER SIDE OF THE HOUSE NOW!!!

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