Welcome to Habitat For Horses!|Saturday, February 13, 2016

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