Sunday, March 08, 2009


Not Yet!!!

I am one who tends to be a bit pushy...a bit too optimistic at times...a bit to ready too move forward before the grounds are ready. Hence the road sign message which I posted last Wednesday:


This Sunday morning, a mere four days later, there are warnings of sleet and 2"-4" of wet heavy snow to fall sometime between lunch and supper time today. Huh. It's not Spring yet, is it?

I spent part of yesterday out in the yard raking. I know, I know. The ground is still frozen and there's no way that grass will be growing for several weeks yet, but there I was. Raking. A bit pushy...a bit too optimistic at times...a bit too ready to move forward before the grounds are ready.

As I fed Ole' Man Cole last night and moved Angel and The Old Coot in to the barn for the evening, I once again marveled at the world of rescue and where it has shifted in these past few months. It seems that we now "rescue" the riding horse! The horse with pedigree! The horse with training! The horse without injuries or disabilities!

Angel is a glorious animal and here she sits at a rescue. Waiting for someone to want her. Someone to use her talents and her energies and her intelligence. Someone who is willing to take her and challenge her. Give her a purpose! And she shares the corral with The Old Coot.

Now, The Old Coot is more what the world of rescue has historically been about. He is elderly, his sight is leaving him, and he is recovering from owners that abandoned him last August (yes, August) in the back woods of Black River Falls. These owners who were so worried about him when Refuge Farms retrieved him this February (yes, February).

These owners who have not responded to multiple requests to formalize the surrender documents. These owners who have simply dropped off the face of the earth and left The Old Coot behind them. These owners who deny that the other horse they left behind died of starvation. These owners who stand firm that a horse doesn't need hay to survive. These owners that I try so hard to understand and in doing so, I repeatedly tell myself that "I don't know until I've been there".

I know times are desperate out there. I see tent cities springing up in California. I see people just leaving their homes - furniture, toys, and animals - all behind. They simply close the door.

I've found aquariums frozen solid from the cold - with the fish frozen in the ice, too. I've found horses in basements of barns where their only food has been the manure they created and the wood of the barn. I have found things this winter that make me lay awake at night and try desperately to fathom just how human beings could turn their backs. How do you just walk away from a creature that you have taken responsibility for?

But then, I'm not in those shoes. I'm not with a family and out of a home and a job and savings and options. It is desperate out there. I understand. But my new mantra? "Desperate times don't allow you to do stupid things."

I am one who tends to be a bit pushy...a bit too optimistic at times...a bit to ready too move forward before the grounds are ready. But my guts tell me to be cautious and save our hay reserves. Be cautious and save those spots we create in the barn each time we place a horse. Be cautious with the funds and the energies we use. Be cautious because it is going to get worse before it gets better. There is going to be a bit more Winter before Spring finally arrives.

An interesting email came through my inbox this week. It was from a friend who is not in rescue who innocently questioned that I must be relieved to be out of winter and heading in to summer? I replied that yes, I was relieved. I lied.

Summer will bring with it heat and dehydration. Starvation will be present but yes, there will be some grass. Summer means the horses running free in farmer's fields will need to be dealt with. No more dropping bales of hay trying to humanize the horse. No more time. The farmer wants to plant his fields and so that horse has to go.


The funnel of rescue has reversed itself these past ninety days. The abundance of willing new homes has dried up. Disappeared. That cautious gut reaction is obviously contagious. There are barns with open stalls, but the trend is to "stay light". Don't let your heart take on another one. Wait it out.

And meanwhile, the rescue business that used to serve the old, the disabled, and the injured now also serves the trained, the talented, and the registered. Simply, the world of rescue is now the thousands of unwanted. If you want a visual picture - a snapshot - of this change in our world of rescue, simply look in to the corral at Refuge Farms. Look and see Angel eating side-by-side with The Old Coot.

I am one who tends to be a bit pushy...a bit too optimistic at times...a bit to ready too move forward before the grounds are ready. It is with great purpose that I push forward. I try to tell myself that it is still optimism that moves me forward now. I try to continue to "Think Spring". But a tiny little voice inside coaches me and tells me it may be fear and desperation. If the "quality" horse is in need of rescue and filling our corrals then who is finding the old and injured? How many of those that we would have rescued are now standing waiting for death because the "quality" horse is taking their spot?

Given the weather and the times, I think it I need to change the road sign:


Enjoy the journey of each and every day,
Sandy and The Herd and The Unwanted

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