OpEd: The courage to continue


DEBBIE STOUTAMIRE | Galveston Sunday Morning News | May 5, 2013

Success is not final, failure is not final; it is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston Churchill

Baby Gal April 2013 1My first published guest column about the horses at the Habitat for Horses was about a horse who had been injured while racing and eventually died there.

It was then that I met Vicki Crisp, who was ranch manager at the time and took care of the sick and injured horses. Vicki eventually “rescued” me when my fingertip was bitten off by a horse named Harper. Had Vicki not been in the big red barn that serves as their animal hospital that fateful day, I quite possibly could have bled out.

Like the pro she was, she stopped the bleeding, cleansed my wound, wrapped it and climbed into Harper’s stall and retrieved my fingertip. After making sure I could drive myself to the hospital for a tetanus shot and antibiotics, Vicki jokingly said, “Now this is a story you need to write about.”

It was not courage that drove me back to the habitat several weeks later. I needed to find Harper and apologize to him, and I needed closure. I had spooked Harper while giving him a treat and I was the one at fault. I saw Harper in the meadow with a sad, sheepish look on his face and when he walked up to me, I asked for his forgiveness.

He, like almost all of the horses at the habitat, had been abused and left behind. While I lost a fingertip, I gained so much more — a respect for animals who have been wounded and for those who rescue them.

I have my own rescue operation here in Galveston with Old Blue, our 16-year-old adopted Labrador. Blue, like the horses at the habitat, has endured much, but his survival skills have served him well through the years. 

Years ago, while living in Wharton, Blue was mauled by a bobcat and found on the porch at his master’s home, bleeding from his wounds.

After a week at the animal hospital and a large bill, paid by his master, Old Blue was brought back to the scene of the crime. He jumped out and took off for the woods, determined to get his “day in court” and the closure he needed. He did not return until the next morning, with a big smile on his face.

It is that same smile that greets me every morning these days. Even though he is so riddled with arthritis that I can feel his spine creak under my hand, he hobbles and puts on a brave face for me every morning. His courage astounds me, but doesn’t surprise me. I have seen that same courage in the horses that I have met at the habitat — the courage to continue, despite all odds.

Debbie Stoutamire, Galveston


AUTHOR: Jerry Finch
  • Mary Anne Gardner

    Such a story

    May 6, 2013
  • BlessUsAll

    Lots of unselfish, courageous rescuing and forgiving and thanking going on in this short commentary. Habitat rescues Harper, Vicki rescues you, you thank Vicki, Harper forgives you, you rescue Old Blue, Old Blue thanks you. One big circle of love, sparked by the divine Love that crafts, creates, and keeps us all.

    May 6, 2013
  • Arlene

    What an amazing story of courage and love !!!! Horses have taught me of many lives lessons, and presented them expertly in every instance !!!! They brought to me the real true meaning of Freedom and how very precious,and fleeting it is, they gave me courage when i thought there was nothing left meaningful left !!!! They gave trust and how to earn it !!!!! And the most amazing thing they sent the right horse to show me !!!!!! My respect for them is never ending , my quest for their Freedom is strong and focused and on target although I live in Ohio , where they are not as plentiful they always draw me near them !!!! I used to think they needed me , but now I know I need them !!!!!!

    May 6, 2013
  • Arlene

    The Horses have brought us all together here with purpose and united us , can we even fathom how really amazing this all is ?????? Another one of their amazing feats in the circle of life !!!! another reason to make positive protection for them as if it was needed !!!!!

    May 6, 2013
  • Debbie Stoutamire

    Jerry – thanks for sharing this. We almost lost Old Blue several weeks ago and I have been nursing him back to health, but thinking about the horses at the Habitat and how brave they are. Blue came roaring back, and I so wish I could bring him to the Habitat, but I would need a forklift to load him into my car! I do want to visit soon, though. I love what is being done out there – especially the horse boot camp. And, of course, I miss my wounded warrior – Ventura.

    May 6, 2013
  • Sharon Jacobs-Salinas

    Excellent article about love and the circle of life; beautiful comments by all; I couldn’t have said it better. Bless you Debbie and thank God for Habitat for Horses. I need to make an appointment to visit as I’m just down the road on Fairwood in La Marque.

    “Give a horse what he needs and he will give you his heart forever in return” ~ Unknown

    May 7, 2013