We have been busy! I declared myself healthy enough to return to work full time in April, and the first order of business was to RESCUE A HORSE!! We planned a trip to New Holland, PA to hit the auction where many Amish horses (among others) are dumped in bad shape and often end up in the slaughter pipeline. The auction takes place on a Monday, and we had everything lined up. The Friday night before, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and saw a video of a horse at an auction in Texas. He looked sweet and clearly had some training, and his time was up. These videos come across my feed weekly, but there was something about this horse that stopped me from just scrolling. Often a few hours go by, and SAFE is posted because someone steps up to save the horse. I watched it through the night and nothing changed. In the morning, still nothing. I kept thinking I needed a sign that this was “the one,” but, honestly, my hands were shaking and I couldn’t bear the thought of him meeting a terrible fate. I called the auction and stopped them from loading him onto the truck and asked that they just give me a couple hours to raise some money. I raised half of what I needed, but, by that time, my heart was in it; and it didn’t matter. By the end of the day, Tag #3458 was officially a Nalani horse.
Now what? Our money was spent between paying his bail, his quarantine period, and shipping him from Texas. We went back and forth about whether we should go to New Holland, but we decided it was a worthwhile learning experience to go in person. We arrived Monday morning, not really knowing what to expect – just knowing we would see things we wouldn’t be able to un-see. I had arranged to meet with a contact from a local rescue there and she walked me through the steps. It was overwhelming. Over 100 horses tied up waiting for their turn to go through the auction. Some seemed “normal”, some had their heads hanging in despair, many had a terrified eyes, some were literally trying to break out of there. I had to put all emotion aside and think about the job at hand.
We quickly tossed out the “learning experience” mission and settled on a number we were comfortable spending. How do you choose a horse out of so many? Shane and I walked down the aisle way and I stopped in my tracks as we approached a very thin horse. Shane was immediately drawn to him. My first reaction was he was too thin, too far gone for us to be able to train and re-home him. I started to walk away, and he turned and looked at us. He wouldn’t take his eyes off of us. They were pleading with us. Shane knew in that instant that he was the one, but I had my doubts. We watched for a couple hours as two “kill-buyers” bid horses up too high for us to even compete. There was no way we could afford to outbid them. I wanted to leave, breathe some air, escape and just call our previous rescue a success and never step foot in that place again. Shane insisted that we stay and wait for #193 to go through.
When it was finally time (four hours into the auction), I sent up a quick prayer and said “here’s how much we can spend, God, if it’s meant to be make it happen”. The bidding started – Shane was bidding for us because if it was left up to me, it wouldn’t happen. It goes so fast – I couldn’t even understand the numbers. All I knew was the kill buyer was bidding and Shane was coming back at him so quickly that at one point he turned around to see who was bidding against him. Shane looked him in the eye and said the words “I’M NOT STOPPING”. And then silence. And then SOLD to that guy as he pointed to Shane. $25 below our limit. WHAT?! Then we were running on adrenaline. We made arrangements for quarantine and shipping, signed the sales papers, and walked our horse to safety. It was such a surreal moment. Tag #193 was also a Nalani horse. We had lots to talk about on that car ride home – we were emotionally exhausted and on a high like no other. I was breaking down from some of the things we had seen, and I had to talk through them almost like a therapy session. I still wake up at night with some of those memories, but that keeps me focused on the mission.
Sometimes (okay many times), I worry that it’s too much, it’s too expensive, and we may not find these horses a home. We planned to rescue one, and it was a huge leap of faith to take on two. What if we fail? And then I remember that when I told Shane about the prayer I said right as #193 walked up. He told me he said the exact same prayer. People often ask how we choose the horses we rescue when there are so many. We don’t…they choose us.