Recently, I had a nice write-up from a colleague at work that was used as a kind of get to know the employee piece. The colleague had asked me about my horses, dogs and cats and written about my work with both a specific horse rescue and rescue in general. I feel like the end result of the “In the Spotlight” made me look a little more altruistic than I actually am.
I have never undertaken a horse from a rescue, friend or otherwise, that I did not think I could profit from in some way. I am not really talking about money here as I don’t think I have ever sold a true rescue horse. But I did think about if they would make a great horse for me, a show horse for my daughter or a good ride for my grandbabies. I hoped to get a horse that I could not otherwise afford, if it didn’t have the particular issue that was sending it to the rescue. I had to believe I could ‘fix’ whatever the issue was.
Let me be frank-there is not a single horse or dog (for that matter) that I have “rescued” or recommended for someone else to “rescue” that was not CLEARLY a deal, a good animal in a bad situation. The horse rescue was besieged with horses, especially in the economically bad times, quality horses that had fallen on hard times. People could not afford to pay over $500 a month to board a horse. Horses got dumped to the rescue to get out from under the economic pain. Of course, during those times some were in horrible situations, like Joey or Snowboy ended up, but many were great horses who just needed another chance. Maybe I should be a better person, but the truly hopeless cases or crazy dogs have not come into my home.
I think Rescues do outstanding work. But I hate the people who take on ‘rescue’ animals to be do-gooders, to be more superior to us that might ‘buy’ our dogs or horses. Those that end up with too many animals to care for, whatever their original intentions were. I had someone scoff at my breeder bought poodle this weekend and tell me they would have gotten theirs from a rescue. I am glad for them and hope it works out. I have had wonderful rescue dogs, I have owned and cared for more good dogs from rescues than most people will ever own in a lifetime. But for me, now, this breeder poodle was what I wanted and needed. That is okay, too!
In the end, where ever they have come from, the problem is what if you cannot fix the problem your animal is having, be it lameness, aggressive behavior, destructive behavior or other health issues?
In the off-the-track thoroughbred (OTTB) world, things are even harder. These horses are bred to race. Regardless of their success on the track (or lack thereof) at some point, say age five, they need new homes. Many of these horses are not sound, and may never be. What about those? I have taken in Bruno. I have spent a ridiculous amount of money on him. I do not know if he will ever be sound. What will I do then? I cannot, I will not, turn him over to someone if he is unsound. He is so big that he is just a dream come true for a slaughterhouse ending. I owe him more than that.
Caroline and I got Joey as a rescue. Joey’s return to wellness and health is chronicled here. (You can find all the Joey pictures and updates under the “A Joey Story” category). As time went on, it became clear that Joey was not a horse that would fit for Caroline’s young daughters or herself. In an effort to find him the best place for his temperament and abilities, Joey was given by Caroline to a respectable horse professional. In turn, he was given away again.
And just because of this blog, Joey’s new rescue owner found Caroline and myself. Joey, with whom Caroline had celebrated every pound of weight gain, every day as sound, was returned home to Caroline last night, not as thin as before, but close. Getting off the trailer he could barely walk. I do not know that this big, beautiful horse will ever walk soundly again. I praise his ‘rescue’ owner because at least she knew she had more than she could deal with. She found us and got Joey home again.
Horses like Joey and Bruno, the big OTTBs, are so tough. It costs hundreds of dollars a month just to keep them minimally fed. Their shoeing is tricky. They need high dollar meds and fancy shoes. And then what if it still does not matter, what if they are still lame?
I do not have a magic answer or a divine plan. Lauren loves Bruno probably more than any horse ever. I do not have the funds to care for this horse for the rest of his life if he is not a working part of the farm. I know many of you have faced similar, horrible decisions with your OTTBs.
Today I applaud those that are willing to care for these animals, cats, dogs, horses, whatever, and give them a chance for a good life. I applaud the rescues that every day do work I could not. That both Joey and Bruno will get weight on, adequate vet, shoeing and other care is a given. What will happen down the road if they do not recover from their ailments is not. Caroline and I are both single mothers, with too much heart, and too little money. I wish we could trust the world to take care of these horses when our resources run out. But we cannot.