"A horse is the only animal that will teach you more about yourself than them”. How many times have I read this quote? The lessons keep coming, and they are not at all the ones I expect.
When I started a horse rescue, I planned to rescue skinny horses, but not TOO skinny. Just the horses that needed a little TLC and training so they could have a safe future. Happy little stories – that was my plan. And oh, am I a planner. At least I used to be.
I watched other rescues take in the severe cases and looked on in awe as they had to tend to sick horses through the night (I mean, I need my sleep!), take horses on the brink of starvation and bring them back to life, and sometimes even rescue horses that just desperately needed to be euthanized humanely rather than endure any more misery. WOW. Those people were heroes and thank GOD I would never have to do that. Happy little stories. That was my plan.
Then I attended my first auction. We locked onto a horse who was in pretty bad shape. We all know how that ended and our lives are all so much richer for having LINCOLN. He is a special horse – but he was not in my plan.
Second auction – let’s get something rideable and young and get back to the happy little story. REMI – young and so broken. Not rideable because he was ruined at such a young age. Also the sweetest horse you will ever come across who greets me every day so excited just to get a little love and attention. Damn I love that horse, but he was not in the plan.
Third auction – upon walking through the doors, I spied a horse in such bad shape I stopped breathing. #106. He was beat up – cuts and blood and swelling. His body was shaking all over and he was sweating. I said “oh my God, this horse needs to be euthanized”, pushing back the tears because I had limited time to find a rideable horse. I forced myself to walk away. So many horses, who is the one? I tried to focus, but found myself back by #106. I approached him and made sure he wasn’t going to kick. He didn’t even move. I put my hand up to his face and he turned his head towards me. Labored breathing, sad, desperate eyes. I stroked his head. I told him how sorry I was for whatever happened to him.
As we sat in the bleachers watching the horses go through, we had a list of numbers to bid on. At some point I realized if I turned around and looked through the slats I could see #106 right below me. I kept looking down. A couple hours into the auction, it hit me. He WAS the one. I had PLANNED to find a rideable horse. But if I asked myself which horse was in the most need of rescue, it was clear.
This story includes all of the worst things about the horse world. An owner (dealer) who cares only about money and who has NO problem lying to your face, and a system where people look the other way. I’m not going to waste any words on that. I had to decide whether to use the last hours of this horse’s life confronting a piece of crap who calls himself a man and laughs while he counts his cash, or spend it comforting an innocent animal. The choice was obvious. I spent an hour looking into the eyes of a horse I barely knew telling him how much he was loved and that I was sorry the world had let him down.
So, #106…here is what I learned from you. Life is not about planning. We are not supposed to know the future. Hell, if anyone had told me 3 years ago that one day I would walk into an auction and pay for a horse only to have him put down, I would have never gone in the first place. Would I change it? Not for anything. Instead of saying thank GOD I never have to do that, I’m saying Thank GOD I was there to do that. I have learned that if you plan too much, you may just miss out on the amazing things that life will throw at you. I am unprepared for what is to come, and life is not always a happy little story, but that is OK! I intend to honor #106 by living my life one day at a time, being in the moment, and accepting the now, as raw and real as it is.