The call came in on January 30th – about a very skinny horse that’s down and couldn’t get up. A few minutes later I was standing next to a 20 something bay mare stretched flat out on the cold, wet ground, about as thin as a horse could get and still be alive. In the same pen was an Appaloosa, not quite as thin but going downhill fast.
Sometimes I don’t even bother to ask questions. There is no excuse for this type of starvation, nothing the owner could say that would cause me to think he was even trying. Two hours later, with a signed warrant for seizure in hand, the ranch crew put her on a slide and transported her back to the ranch, along with the Appaloosa. Shortly after that she was in the Anderson sling, munching down on her first bites of hay. The Appaloosa was in a stall, doing the same thing.
Under Texas law, we’re able to do a civil case totally separate from any criminal proceedings, that allows the court to decide within ten days if the animal has been cruelly treated. After a delay of a few days, the court was held today.
Three officers, an Assistant DA and myself presented the case before the Judge, complete with pictures, vet statements, blood work, diagrams – everything we needed to prove beyond any doubt that the mare and her pasture mate were in bad shape.
All it really took were the pictures, but to be fair, the Judge asked the defendants questions.
On the Appaloosa, “Did you feed the horse?”
“Every day. I work all night and live 40 miles away.”
Judge: “When do you feed her?”
“In the afternoon, about 1.”
“I just want my horse back.”
On the bay mare, owned by a different person, “Do you have anything to say?”
“It ain’t my horse.”
Judge: “Who does the horse belong to?”
“Some lady give it to me.”
Judge: “And where is she?”
“She moved somewhere else.”
Judge: “If she gave you the horse, then the horse belongs to you.”
“It ain’t my horse.”
The Judge awarded both horses to Habitat for Horses, leaving one defendant mumbling that it “ain’t my damn horse” and the other defendant waiting to get his horse back, which isn’t going to happen. Both will be facing criminal charges.
At the ranch, the horses standing around the hay bale will need to move over a few feet to make room for two more. These two are now in sanctuary: a place of rest and recuperation, a time to replenish their weak, starved bodies and to restore their souls.
We have no way of knowing where they came from, but we will know where they go after they are healed. Somewhere there is a family for each of them, a family that knows how to feed, care for, respect and love one of God’s greatest creatures.
I repost a lot of stories about what is happening in the horse world. That’s important to all of us, but sometimes the story is right here. These are the horses that are struggling, that try to make sense of man’s world. Often beaten, often starved, neglected, yelled at, ridden hard, denied water, denied even a spark of attention, they come through these gates as shadows of what they could have been in the right hands.
Our job starts with a soft touch on the cheek and hopefully ends when the same horse, now healthy and happy, jumps in a trailer and leaves for a new home. It might take two years, but it’s worth every dollar and every moment.
Over on the right side of the page is a blue bar that says, “Click here to donate now.” Everything we do, from buying feed to going to court to keeping this website up depends on those who click on that bar. Otherwise, we’re out of business.
A pat on the back feels good, but it never paid a bill. To keep doing what we need to do, we need your financial support. Please don’t wait. Do it now.
The horses thank you,