We had been alerted to a Thoroughbred in need. A quick group meeting…we decided we would take him. We made arrangements to pick him up on an early Sunday morning.
A long drive, lots of chatter and more coffee.
We arrived. A non descript place in the woods which was not set up for horses.
No shelter, no pasture, a mud pit. Hay mixed with mud, dirty water tubs, grain buckets half submerged in mud.
A woman came out to greet us.
“You here to get the horse?” she croaked.
She pointed him out. “He’s trouble, he’s dangerous and he should ship,” she said.
Ship means kill pen/slaughter truck… not a word we take lightly.
“He” was standing in the small muddy pen with several other horses.
A dirty, depressed shell of a horse. He was a tall bay gelding, I could not see his legs for the mud that covered them. and he feet were submerged in mud. We had been told he was 12’ish. Hard to know by looking.
As I approached, he did not look towards me, but stood with his head down, eyes half closed and I thought that perhaps he could be in pain. There was no spirit in him and I wondered if perhaps he was old and had been really used up.
I got a halter out and walked into the pen. I spoke to him softly and in that moment he turned away slightly. I knew in that moment that he had given up on people. I came closer and saw jutting hip bones, matted fur and tangled mane. I swallowed hard and stepped closer. You never know if a horse suddenly decides he means to not play nice when they are in a bad situation. He didn’t know me from Adam. I got closer and when I reached out to put my hand on him, he winced and I realized he expected me to perhaps hit him. His eyes were wide open now and I could see the whites of them.. he stumbled a few steps in the slippery mud to get away from me.
I reached for a peppermint in my pocket and rustled the wrapper. He brought his head around to face me and for a brief moment I saw hope in his eye as his ears came forward. In this hell hole, could someone really have brought him a treat? I spoke again and encouraged him to come to my hand.
He stepped forward… he stretched his neck WAY out and reached for the treat … as he took it, I scratched his forehead….and then patted him gently. He melted onto my side, sunk his head under my arm and just stood motionless. Someone’s baby..someone’s boy…He was filthy, he smelled.. his mane was tangled… but I saw potential… I saw a desperate living being aware of his present fate and the hope my gentle hand might provide.
We flipped his lip back and saw he was only seven by the tattoo left there. A life gone from good to bad.. and how many homes in between? A life once so full of promise and now so full of gloom. From riches to rags or worse. I wish I could say it shocked me… but it doesn’t shock me any longer…. But it always punches me in the heart. .. the ones thrown away. A heart busting at the seams Thoroughbred handed off to someone ill suited to own a pet slug. Not dangerous…simply misunderstood.
There was no way he was not going home with us.
Out of the mud, and into the trailer. No fuss.
They always know..