A word of Caution
This is a story about Rene, a horse I rescued. In order to tell the story of her I made the decision to show photos as well. I am letting you know this now before you continue so you can decide if you want to read on. I did not make this decision lightly, I am not one that likes to shock in this way. I do feel that they are necessary in order to truly tell the story. Words are just not enough.
Yes I am showing the images in order to make a point, in order to make you angry so that maybe just maybe you will be moved to do what I did, rescue a horse or at least help another do so.
Rene is doing great now so remember that when you see the images
Have you ever seen a rescue horse, no not one that just needs a new home, I mean one that really needs to be helped, no neither had I. What was about to happen opened my eyes to the neglect and cruelty I had only heard about. This was going to change my life and send me on a course that I was not expecting. If anyone reading this has thought about rescuing a horse let me just say Do it !!!!!!!!, don't think about it, just get out there and get involved. Don't worry about how much you can do if its only to donate a dollar or an hour of your time, do it, I promise you will feel good.
How this came about
Well that is a long and boring story and something I would rather not get into . It had to do with the sale and trade of saddles, I got took plain and simple. Live and learn. As time went on I had put it out of my mind. There was no point in dwelling on it
The phone call
The phone rings, my friend tells me to get over to her place we are going to pick up a baby in exchange for the saddle money, I don't want a baby I tell her, I don't need another horse, I have two as it is, no no no..... as I am saying this all the lies and ill feelings creep up and I agree to at least go look. I am telling myself that I can sell the baby and recover some of my money. OK
Off we go, myself, my friend and her daughter. . We talk an the way over I am still not really sure about this but yea I guess it will be ok. I left in such a hurry that I had not even called my husband, oh he is going to kill me.
We get there and the baby is gone, seems I am not the only one she owes money to..... I don't really care I just want to get out of there I don't like this place, I don't like this woman her energy is bad, please lets just go before I say something. I wonder off while my friend is talking to this women and I hear "ok I'll ask", "there is a skinny mare in the brood mare pasture, if you want her you can have her". Oh great we go from a baby to a skinny mare, now I am just mad and think yes lets go look.
The pasture is not on her property , it is one that she rents, we need to drive else ware. I told her if after looking at the horse I decided to take her home that I would call.. "Oh no need for that, if she is gone she's gone." " I will know you took her" That my friends should have been a clue! That is the place I should have thought wait! something is wrong with this picture. That is the point I should have said no and gone home
On the ride over to the pasture I think, ok, a full grown horse, that may be easier to sell than a baby. Plus in the mean time, I can ride her, right, right!... Ok this may not be so bad.
So we head over. There were 5 mares in this pasture and even though they were all skinny there was no doubt which one she was talking about. She had two blankets on her making her look kind of funny, bulky in a weird kind of way, yet....just not right. At first I thought it was to keep her warm, but I am sure it was more to hide her condition from prying eyes.
We all get out and walk over to her, we are not talking, I don't think anyone knew what to say. I place my had under her blankets and was horrified by what I felt. I could not believe it, how could this be? I told my friend to check it out, she just stood and shook her head, she had seen this before, she knew.
Carrie goes to see the people who own the property and tell them we may be taking this horse. I stay with the horses. Carrie comes back awhile later and asks what I think, do I want to take her?. I don't think it was really a question, she knew the answer.
Now we don't even have a halter, we were picking up a baby what did we need with a horse size halter ok then we will make one out of rope. Carrie and her daughter do that while I just stand with the horse thinking I must be out of my mind but knowing I could not leave her here. ( my regret was that I could not take them all) We get it on her and I lead her off. She dose not want to leave her friends, she puts up a little fight, as much as her weak body would let her.
No kidding about an hour later we are still trying to get her in the trailer, we are soaking wet, tired, hungry, cold and frustrated. The whole time the horse is looking and yelling for her friends. Carrie asks if I want to reconsider, I think it was the look on my face and her daughters that kept her trying. Finally we, no Carrie gets her in and off we go.
My heart is saying I am doing the right thing, my wallet is screaming wait a minute, listen to me, huge vet bills for a horse you are bringing home because someone owes you money. Something is wrong with this picture!!!! You are getting took again!!!!
Now I am thinking, ok I will get home before my husband who at this point dose not know I am coming home with this horse. Maybe I can hide her, she wont take up much space.... We pull in and of all days for him to be home early. I jump out of the truck and go into the house, oh honey, I say in my false sweet voice, I hear " is there a horse in that trailer"? LOL, he knows me well! I say "you need to come and look at her" and before he can say anything I am back out the door. He had the same look on his face that I had when I first saw her. Remember he is new to all of this as well.
We take a real look at her
We get her in a stall and now we need to take a real look at her, we need to remove the blankets. Up to this point we have not really seen her. I was not prepared and truly no words can described what we saw. We were looking at a walking, breathing, living, skeleton. I have never in my whole life seen anything like this. There were patches of skin showing were hair should have been, her coat was not just dull, it was dead, her body was so awful , it was surreal. Her legs had scabs all over them, her hips jutted out, you could clearly see each and every rib....... There was nothing in her eyes, there was nothing in her, she was blank, she was empty. I remember thinking an anatomy class would love to study her..... The next hour was just a blur we were all trying to take this in, disbelief turned to anger, and back to disbelief. Ok what now!
I called the vet and set up an appointment
I was talking about her with the vet as we entered the barn. He had just come from another call on a rescue, he has seen this kind of thing over and over. We entered her stall and there was sound from him that I had not expected, a gasp of sorts. My heart sank when I heard it, surly this was not good. That will tell you a little about how she looked, when some one who sees this often can be taken aback you know its bad. He checked her out and said she was really doing ok, she really had a will to live We designed a feeding plan and talked about a few other things and he said only time would tell.
It took about a month before she would leave the stall on her own, the door was open so she could go in and out as she pleased but she was always in. When we had warm days, as this was early spring. I would take her blanket off and lead her out for sunshine and to graze a little. I think she stayed in because we had food in front of her at all times and I figured she was afraid it would be gone. Slowly she started venturing out on her own slowly she started acting like a horse.
We still had her separated from the others, she could see them and touch noses but we did not let them be free with one another. Then one day, months after we had brought her home I went to the barn to find her with the others, she had jumped the low gate we had separating them. I figured at that point there was no use trying to keep them apart. They all got along and it was good for her. It seemed she was getting better faster after she was able to play with then, could have been my imagination but I truly believe the other horses helped her.
On the road to recovery
Now the second half of the story begins. Remember I told you I was new to horses, well what happened next I was unprepared for, but for some reason was able to take it in stride. As Rene' started to put on weight and feel a little better she started to show her personality. Up to this point she really did not want to be touched, perhaps it hurt to touch her skin or was she just very afraid of us, we speculated that she had been beat, I think maybe some of each It was ok we just let her be.
As time went on I decided that I needed to be able to touch her, I need to be able to do things with and for her. She needed to allow this to happen. But she really did not want me to, and she let me know by baring her teeth, swinging her head, snapping her mouth open and shut, lifting her hind legs kicking out, swishing her tail and making it very clear that I was to get away from her. She would even lunge at me. This would all take place in a matter of seconds, and although she was still very skinny and weak she was still very powerful. It was something to see. Now I realize that I should have been afraid of her, I was not. I cant explain this but I felt that she was acting, like she was not going to really bite me, that she did not want to kill me. Well maybe she did want to kill me but she would refrain from doing so. She just did not want me there.
As time goes on
In the next year, yea , I really thought I would have sold her by now and recovered some of my saddle money, LOL, anyway , I was able to have some wonderful moments with her, she would place her head on my chest and just let me love her, then she would remember she hated me and her act would begin. I even saddled her a few times, that was something, she would go into her act while I was saddling her but then as soon as I got the bridle on her she would be a different horse, calm and wonderful, it was a little weird. I just rode in my field but it was nice.
She loved the other horses, played with them. She would run to me when I approached her in the field. She was still underweight but very healthy. We had a very hard time getting weight on her the vet said she was so nervous that like some people she was just shaking it off.
One day I realized that if I ignored her instead of telling her no that she would stop her kill you act and go about her business. Now I would like to say I figured this out because I was becoming a great horse women but no it happened quite by accident.
In my haste one day to get the horses fed and be on my way, I had never hurried with her, I realized that she did not try to "kill" me. So the next time I went into her stall I ignored her and guess what? Yep she did not do her act, oh she did ,but only a little, then she would eat or do whatever. I started to play games with it and wow this was good. Unfortunately when I told others about it they told me I was wrong that was not the way to do things and I figured they were right. It took a long time before the person I went to for help also figured this out and reinforced what I had thought. Life got better and better for Rene.
The next step
Well now I had begun taking her with me to the stable that I worked at. I used to clean stalls there in exchange for riding lessons. I started to bring Rene and have my boss ride her in exchange for work. I did not care if I was getting a riding lesson or if Rene was. This was also the time my husband thought it would be nice to try this riding thing, LOL, He had begun to take lessons. Very soon after he started his lessons he had out grown her schooling horses and I was having trouble with my other horse, we had no one for him to ride. We thought he could use Rene and even though she was tall enough for him she was still to petit, and he looked really funny on her. It would of worked for lessons but he needed his own horse now and she was not for him. Well the dilemma was, in order to get him a horse we had to get rid of one, we had three at the time and a fourth was out of the question.
Lucky for all of us my boss has fallen in love with Rene and we were able to make a swap. A few times prior to this happening she had told me that she knew someone who could take Rene but I just could not let her go to anyone. Every time it came up I would get that sinking feeling, what if they did not understand her, I cant tell you how many people said they could handle being around her and then went nuts when she flew into her act, one person reacted so badly it set us back months. I just could not take that chance. Finally one day she said she was in a position to take her. Rene was to have a real home, a permanent home, a good home, Rene was safe from abuse and would live her life out as a horse should.
It was an incredible journey one that I will never forget. I think it's a shame that this kind of thing happens. Look at how we treat our children, our old people, our spouses, each other, why am I surprised when we treat our animals this way. I will take in another rescue I know it will happen, maybe by chance as in the case of Rene but maybe just maybe someday I will be in a position to seek out a rescue and then another and another and another.......