Sunday, February 08, 2009


My First Rescue

“Wanna ride with?”

That was the subject of the email from Sandy....did I want to go with on a rescue? Absolutely! I was excited at the idea of it, rescuing an old horse left without hay, water or shelter. Saving a life. How often do you get that opportunity?

We left THE FARM around 11:30am with Little Man in the backseat and the empty horse trailer. On the drive we talked about upcoming events and other Refuge Farms items. We enjoyed the sun on a beautiful day, and listened to The Eagles. We talked a little about Buddy, the horse we were going to rescue. He is old, 32 the owner said. He was left behind when they moved, and the neighbors were no longer willing to take care of him. The owner sent an email to Sandy when Buddy’s partner died, asking Sandy to rescue him. Thank goodness they cared enough to do something...but why did they wait so long? How can you leave two horses behind? How can you stop caring about them? I just didn’t get it.

I had no idea what to expect. Yes, I was excited, but I was also afraid. Afraid of what we’d find... Would he be sick or injured? Would he be too weak to move? Would he break my heart? I knew better than to expect it to be easy...I’ve heard Sandy’s stories and seen the pictures. I knew that some of the horses she went to rescue didn’t make it. But, I wanted to go. I wanted to be a part of this mission. I wanted to help Sandy. And I wanted Sandy to know that she could count on me to be strong in the face of something terrible, to help her when she really needed it. I prepared for the worse...driving home in tears with an empty trailer, but I hoped he would be ok.

We turned onto the road where Buddy lived. On the left, a fenced in pasture with 4 -5 horses. Further down on the right, another nice horse pasture with more horses and hay. Nice barns. Nice houses. Why weren’t the horses left here? We pass the church and know that the house is coming up. There it is, on the left...with a car waiting for us. The owner and a friend of his walk out of the house as we pull over on the side of the road. I get out so Sandy can pull forward and off as far as possible. Before I can cross the road, a white pickup driving past stops, the man rolls down the window and asks, “Are you here to get the horses?” I nod. “It’s about time” and off he goes. I didn’t think to say that only one was left. I just wonder if he ever tried to help them.

We cross and the owner and his friend greet us, tell us Buddy is back in the wood, so we’ll have to hike through the snow to go get him. Sandy and the owner start out for the horse and I follow along, not really sure of what I should be doing. There he is across the ravine. “He knows he can jump that, he just doesn’t want to today” they tell us. The owner’s friend crosses the ravine, almost falling into the creek, and tries to lead the horse with a bag of feed. The owner and Sandy walk along the creek to where it is frozen over so they can cross and get the horse. I walk back to the gate we went through to see if it can open far enough for the horse, which it cannot.

I hear the friend calling Buddy, because Buddy has decided not to follow any longer and is back at the edge of the ravine. I walk up to the edge, talking to him in my head, telling him it’s ok, we’re going to take him someplace better, with food and water and shelter and other horses. I secretly wish that he’ll jump the ravine and want to come with us. But no, of course that won’t happen. He’s not sure about Sandy and I, he doesn’t understand what is going on, he misses his friend and these guys are trying to catch him. Sandy and the owner decide on a different tactic and he goes a different route to meet his friend and halter the horse and bring him to us by the barn.

While he’s gone, we look at the barn and wonder why the horses were left out in the open when the barn would have provided at least some shelter. The barn actually is the best looking building on the lot, why didn’t they just put up a gate and open the doors?

They are closer to us now, leading the horse with a rope around his neck. Sandy goes out to get the halter on so they can lead him better and hopefully stop him if he decides to bolt...the road is busy and we don’t need him running out there! We walk up to the road and across, they bring him up behind us and into the trailer he goes! No hesitation, straight for the hay. He rocks around in the trailer a bit while Sandy says her goodbye’s and we head off down the road. He’s scared, but we are relieved. He doesn’t look too bad, except for a tail and mane full of burrs. He appears to have a worm belly, and is thin, but his eyes look clear and he’s got spirit! He’s not the “old coot” Sandy expected...we are not even sure he’s as old as they told us.

We get to THE FARM and move Angel out of the corral so we can put him in. Then Sandy backs the trailer down closer to the corral and we get him out and get our first really good look at him. He’s adorable...a little Arab, beautiful red with a white mark on his forehead and one white sock. I can’t tell what color his mane and tail are with all the burrs, and he needs his hooves trimmed, but he is beautiful. He sniffs around the corral and goes to roll in the snow.

Then he checks out the hay. A little from this round bale, a little from that one. He walks up to Sandy...he understands. He knows that she has saved him. He walks past me to more round bales, and looks over the fence, smelling that other horses have been there, but no one is out to meet him. I take some pictures of him, while Sandy goes to get April and Cole out of the barn..”Make sure you get pictures of him when he see’s the other horses”.

He perks up then runs along the fence toward me when he sees the others...his tail up in true Arab fashion. He gets down by the gate and April slowly approaches him, then Cole. Then Addie rushes up. There is some snorting and sniffing and talking...his head is over the gate in the middle of all of theirs. Friends! New Friends! First all the hay I can eat and now this, he seems to say.

I know that we don’t know for sure yet how healthy he is...Dr. Brian will help with that this week. I also know that all rescues will not be this easy. I know how lucky we are that he appears to be relatively healthy and strong. I know that we were lucky the owner cooperated. I know that there will be other rescues, and some of them will not go well. I know that there will be horses we cannot save. But my first rescue went well and I will be eternally grateful to Sandy for asking me if I “wanna ride with?”, because I helped to save a life today.

Julie G.

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