Once upon a time, there was a baby horse full of promise. Kentucky bred and born, foaled out of "Flashy Future", how could he not have a full life to look forward to? He was sold for $110,000 as a yearling and this is where he entered the world of human greed and the lure of prize money. At only two years old he won his first race. But horses are not skeletally mature until around 5, and most horses who race at age two don't last a year; the kill pens are full of these babies dumped from the track. The records show he lost all subsequent races. His final race he fell on the track...and although he walked away, his racing career was over.
He was one of the lucky ones and ended up with a kind hearted man. They spent the next few years riding the Virginia countryside together. He was treated well and loved, but horses are expensive and require daily care and eventually the man didn't have the time or the money, so he gave his horse to a trusted friend believing his horse was in good hands...until he received a phone call from someone in Pennsylvania who had managed to trace the horse back to him. His dear horse was sitting in a kill pen ready to ship to slaughter. He was stunned, but wasted no time; he hooked up a trailer, drove to PA, and paid the kill buyer $1000 to get his horse back.
And that is where we enter the story. I knew we couldn't take on another horse, but I would do my best to network the horse and help find him a home. I planned to meet the horse and take photos so I could give it my best shot. The day we met was cold, damp and raw; a reminder that the toughest time of year for horses was upon us. I saw the concern on the man's face as his horse is already underweight. In this brief visit, I could see the gentle nature of this young horse and as I drove away, I knew I had to find a way to bring the horse to Nalani. Many conversations, prayers, sleepless nights, and finally a realization that I have been here many times before; on the verge of stepping even further outside my comfort zone.
The timing was perfect - we had just had a hugely successful Giving Tuesday campaign. With the generosity and continued support of our donors fresh in our minds, we decided we could make this happen. So, on a sunny, beautiful December day we welcomed our next horse to the Nalani family. He stepped into the paddock like he knew he was home, and his owner stood by watching him with a smile of relief.
This time of year is so full of expectations and pressure. Whatever holiday you celebrate, I believe that what we are all longing for are deeper connections and meaningful experiences. Today as I look outside my window at the cold, raw, damp day, I am filled with warmth and gratitude for the chance to experience the true meaning of Christmas; giving this horse a safe home and his owner peace of mind is the best gift I could have ever received.