“This is where the tears are shed, the blood pours out of deep wounds, the weak try to stand and life struggles to hold on to whatever small glimmer of hope we offer. This is where words don’t count, but faith, trust and actions mean the difference between life and death.” – Jerry Finch
Despite what a number of politicians would have you believe, a lot of very positive things have happened to our economy in the past couple of years. The stock market has reached new highs, businesses are hiring again, unemployment is down, the housing market is strong and, although we have a ways to go, the US getting back on its feet.
But there’s a side of our world that is not doing well at all, one in which both you and I are deeply involved, and that is the world of horses. It seems that each new day brings more trouble for the horses, trouble that leads to abuse, neglect and death for what you and I consider one of God’s most majestic animals.
I spend quite a bit of time reposting news about those troubles, and occasionally writing pieces about our own horses. Those repost are what I consider the most important stories from the hundreds that are released daily. My motivation comes from the sense that I need to let you know what is happening so perhaps both of us can do something about it. The frustration comes from not knowing what good that awareness is doing. Does it indeed bring about any change?
Fifteen years ago I started Habitat for Horses for just that reason, to bring change to a massive problem involving the abuse, neglect and death of horses.
Let me give you a little bit of history.
When I first moved to this part of Texas I ran across several very thin and neglected horses. At that time, law enforcement simply was not interested in helping so, on the advice of a local judge who said, “If you want something done, you’ll need to do it yourself,” I formed a nonprofit corporation, took classes in Equine Cruelty Investigation, made friends with a lot of cops and started assisting in taking people to court.
Those beginning years were hard. At times I felt like I was the only sheriff in a land of outlaws, but putting bad guys away and bringing skinny, almost dead horses to the ranch drew a lot of attention. Before long, I had volunteers surrounding those horses, making them well, taking calls, feeding, doing investigations and aiding me in every way possible.
What surprised so many people was what happened when the bone-thin horses turned into healthy, happy and ready to go horses. One horse that was once stuck in a small pen with six mini horses without feed or hay turned into a hunter/jumper that went on to win all sorts of awards. A shaggy, lice-filled and almost dead QH was in reality a highly trained barrel racer. Time after time the walking skeletons turned into prize family members once their health returned.
It wasn’t easy, nor was it inexpensive. We pinched pennies every place we could, learned to do most of our own vet work, built our own fences and stalls, used our own trucks, but a few things we would not sacrifice, like the quality of feed and hay, or medical if the horse had a chance of returning to normal.
While the national battle over the welfare of the horses continued, what we were doing took on an even more personal tone. We took part in the national effort to close the US slaughterhouses, made trips to Washington, DC to lobby and testified in State Senate committees, but after that we came back to the ranch, there to dig out an abscess on a horse’s hoof, give shots and walk late into the night to help break a colic and hold a horse’s head while it struggled to overcome a massive infection.
You see, this is my connection. This is where I deal with the raw material that turns into that majestic horse we place up for adoption. This is where the tears are shed, the blood pours out of deep wounds, the weak try to stand and life struggles to hold on to whatever small glimmer of hope we offer. This is where words don’t count, but faith, trust and actions mean the difference between life and death.
I’m telling you this for a reason, not because I want you to share the horror, but because I want you to be part of the miracle.
It costs us, on the average, $250 a month to maintain a horse once it becomes healthy. That covers the basics of feed, hay, farrier, vaccines, dental, and other little things like salt licks and wormer. When we bring in a sick, skinny or injured horse, that costs naturally goes way up, but we have no way of knowing how much until it happens. Nor does it cover training / retraining, which every horse needs to some degree.
What I am asking from you is far different from just reading the news and making comments. I’m asking you to act, to be a part of the recovery of an individual horse. While our mutual battle goes on with the mistreatment of horses across the nation, this is about a single horse, not just a number, a horse that needs our help.
This is my proposition to you. Pick out a horse on the website, or let me suggest one for you, tell me how much you can pay every month, or do it on annual basis, and if you can do $100 or more a month, I’ll send you pictures and a full report on that horse’s progress at least three times a year. Do this, and I promise you that your connection with horses will become very real. This is about taking action one horse at a time and about you becoming a very strong part of the solution.
If you can’t because you have your own horses, I understand. If you can’t because of a very limited income, you don’t need to explain it to me. I understand. But if you can afford $3 a day, instead of buying that coffee or renting another movie, think about what that could mean to a horse. Think about making a real difference.
Most of the time when we make a donation, and I donate to several organizations as well, we receive very little if any feedback. Habitat for Horses is guilty of that as well. That’s why this program is so special. For a hundred dollars or more a month, you can put a horse back on the road to recovery, watch it return to health and experience the joy when an adopter walks onto the ranch and says, “I’ve made my choice, I want to adopt this horse.”
At that point, I will ask the adopter to write to you and tell you what your effort has meant to their family.
This is far different from anything else I’ve ever asked of you. This is about our sharing a connection with one horse, about continuing to fight the great battle together, and winning a small battle by giving one horse a chance at a new life.
Which horse do you pick?