Thursday, March 29, 2012


           At 12:22pm beautiful Tim lay snoozing in his stall. As I watched him, his lips and nostrils began to tremble. His dead eyes flickered around in their sockets. He nickered softly in his sleep, his legs moved gently. What could he be dreaming about? Tim has lived almost 30 years. He wasn't always blind. Where he has been and what he has done in all those years is a mystery to us. No one wants to tell us, no one responds when we ask.
          Did he herd cattle? Jump fences? Was he a show horse or just a bum with a little girl to love him? Is he dreaming about his momma in a field of grass, himself a gorgeous spotted baby? Is he calling to the friends who have died before him? He really loved Snowdrop. He fought Solomon for her and actually won her before I could break them up. Is he dreaming of his lost love? The fact of the matter is that he is dreaming. He is talking in his sleep. He, and all horses are much more than they appear to be. They know and see things that we can't even begin to imagine.
          I am so honored to know these special beings, to be their caretaker. They teach me something every single day.
I'm sure Tim is not blind in his dreams. -

Through the Years

           Sometimes they can't be fixed. Some of them are broken beyond repair. All of them are absolutely beautiful. They all want to live. Most of them can. Their infirmities are like ours. With the help of friends, they can go on living. They are so brave, so willing to go on. Love can carry them for a very long time, all the money in the world can not fix them physically – but love helps them endure.
We have a unique group of horses that have found their way to EOTS, all of which will never leave, because we don't care if they can't be fixed.
          So many who have lived and died here have taught us priceless lessons of loyalty, endurance and friendships. They have taught us compassion, about loving – and letting go.
When Snowdrop, Willie and Sun came to us, they were so broken that in any other place they would have been euthanized because of their infirmities and the inconvenience of their care. What we saw was powerful spirits in bodies that – well – weren't doing so well. They were old and completely used up. But they wanted to live! So we helped them to so – until they told us it was time to let them go. Snow and Willie lived with us for years, but Sun was just passing through – he stayed for a little while, but he was safe and loved with us until congestive heart failure ended his life. I was with him, the vet brought an end to his pain. When he came to us he was starved almost to death, he had been a school horse. When he became neurological and developed narcolepsy he was given to a teen age girl who neglected him. He was a beautiful little gaited Spanish horse. He had panic attacks which would cause him to try to run away from his terror which would cause his heart to pound. It was a vicious circle. He could not stand on three feet to get his hooves trimmed. As he lay napping I would try to trim his hooves a little at a time. If we tried to back him up or turn him too quick he would fall down. When narcolepsy struck he would fall to the ground with a crash and gallop off into REM sleep, nickering to the friends he met in his dreams. Many would think he was having a seizure, but I recognized it for what it was because beautiful Nessa also had this ailment, as well as a human friend of mine. Someone I know had a horse that developed narcolepsy after receiving a rabies shot. Not recognizing what it was, they euthanized her. Such a shame – I tried to tell them – but what did I know?
          Willie was a victim of what I believe to be “horse tripping”. The catastrophic injuries to his hind legs could only have happened by this. It is an event in Spanish style rodeos, where they get a riderless horse galloping as fast as he can in fear and they rope either both front legs or both rear legs and the horse crashes to the ground. It is a hideous cruel spectacle. Willie's hip was completely dislocated and the ligament that held the ball in the socket was torn away. The other hind leg's tendons were torn in a way that only his toe touched the ground. We did not know how badly injured he was for years. His muscles help the hip socket in place and he tottered around with his other gelding friends! He was Tim's eyes (Tim is our dear blind appaloosa). At the end of Willie's life he began to fade away. He stopped eating and we hand fed him. He laid down and couldn't get up so we helped him. When he couldn't lay down on his own to rest, we laid him down on a memory foam mattress. He fell asleep immediately. When he woke, he was afraid, we would lay with him until he felt safe. We “kept away the wolves”. When he was refreshed, we lifted him to his feet. Off he would go to hang out with his friends – and so on.
           Willie had one last wonderful summer. He was never alone – we showered him with love. He lost so much weight that his muscles were no longer able to hold his hip together. We always thought it was the other leg that was bad – we were wrong. In an x-ray we saw the truth – nothing could fix Willie.
He was very, very tired – so the next time we found him down, in his stall, we did not help him to his feet. We washed him with love. So many friends were with him on the day we let him go. In the pitch black of night we carried him to his grave to rest forever beside his friend Cassie who died the following year, another ancient beloved one.
           Our dear Shetland pony June Bug was glued to each of there ones as their lives came to the full. She covered their backs and guarded them from the “wolves” - such a friend is June Bug – she always knows who needs her help.
           Snowdrop was a ballerina like Arab mare. Soft and sweet with a core of iron. She suffered silently for so many years. We paid $1,200 to rescue her from slavery. She too spent the last days of her life with June Bug. These two were joyous to find each other again! They actually came from a farm where they were together years ago! So happy they were! Happy! How can anyone believe that horses are stupid? They knew and remembered each other! The rest of Snow's life was spent with her best friend June Bug – every single day.
           When we were no longer able to manage Snow's painful laminitic hooves, she said, “please, may I go now? I an finished with my work here.”
They let us know – they just do. It is our job to care for them as best we can until then. We are all part of each other here. This is the circle of the Eye of the Storm.
           I know there stories seem sad, but they're not! Snowdrop was 27 years old, Willie in his 30s and Sun was probably in his late 20s. And they were Here, with us, among friends, not in some horrible slaughter house, not starving to death in someone's back yard, not slaving for anyone – HERE at EOTS – where we love them - “Till death do us part.” Yes what started to be a rescue has become mostly a sanctuary. All of our horses are broken beyond repaid, but so are all of us who care for them here. We find sanctuary too, among them, because, you know what? They love us too. Their loyalty, and trust just blows my mind. You can't live with them and not see it! Horses are brilliant! So what if they can't be ridden – I don't want to ride them any more, I just want to be with them. They Heal Me.
           Their friendships to each other never end and they never forget. When Snow and dear old Czardas found each other again at EOTS it was a reunion so beautiful to behold! They too had been together years and years ago in their hay days on the Arab show circuit. All of that time ago they still remembered each other. We only found out later that this was the case – but they knew!
And so among the horses at EOTS I have witnessed, love, compassion, loyalty and life-long friendships. I have seen horses dreaming in their sleep, they talk and gallop, they even have nightmares. They have memories that last all their lives – and they know how to love us humans, far better than we can love each other.
          Horses deserve to have life long partnerships with their very own human being. But at least here at EOTS we give them peace.

And in the End

          These are sweet, sad, beautiful stories about Sun, Snowdrop, and Willie. Horse slaughter for human consumption in this country is a terrible thing, but for those horses there is a great deal of humane laws in place, as well as the fact that they must arrive at the slaughter house in good flesh and undamaged. Their care and treatment falls under the European Union guidelines, which, as awful as the idea is, they have a value and must be cared for properly. But, you see Sun, Snow and Willie would not have been acceptable for human consumption. They and all the other underweight, old, sick, and seriously damaged horses go somewhere else. Somewhere that is so awful that I can't let my mind dwell on it. That would be the rendering plant for pet food. There are no laws, no guidelines, no end of life care. They don't even have to be alive. The dead ones are the lucky ones.
          No favors were done for the unwanted horses by closing the slaughter houses for human consumption. All it did was make them worthless. The outcome was starvation, neglect and abandonment, nation wide, OR the dog food slaughter plants.
It is time to STOP the over breeding of horses. People need to be responsible for the care of their horses for life – if they can't do that, they shouldn't own horses. Don't feed the breeding industry by encouraging the birth of future unwanted horses.
          I propose that all foals born from this day forward be micro-chipped. Who ever is responsible for their birth should be responsible for their end of life care. In the mean time laws must be made, where slaughter is not an option. We will know who that person is because of the micro-chips. A breeder gets a few of their horses back and he/she will be wondering is it's worth it to continue.
As nice as that would be it's probably not likely. The only way to end horse slaughter in this country is responsibility. When there are no more horses to go to slaughter, there will be no more slaughter houses.
I know the animal rights people mean well but most have no idea what's really going on. We need to police ourselves within the industry to deal with this problem. We need to come up with some solution. There needs to be a plan. There needs to be responsibility.
          There is no place left for these horses to go. The rescues are full. We are underfunded and overworked. We do our best – but these are so many!
I pray often for justice for the horses. They are so innocent. If they are never born, they will never be unwanted.

          So, in conclusion, for all who feel the need to help, make sure humane laws are in place nationally. The end of these horses lives doesn't need to be horrible. These laws must also be enforced. Lets make sure the pet food industry abides by the rules. Most of all be aware that your cats and dogs are being fed animals who have died horribly. By feeding cheap pet food we are enabling this to continue. Find out where the raw ingredients come from. Human grade food is the best.
          I don't know everything so this is where your own research is important. Pet Source in Stow and Concord, MA is extremely careful where their products come from. So maybe you could start there.
This is an ongoing issue that will be addressed more thoroughly in the future.