Sunday, March 21, 2010


Is She or Isn't She ? ? ?

It was Easter Sunday. The day of resurrection. The calendar said it was April 12, 2009. On this day a partially blind, fleshy, frightened, red roan Appaloosa Mare came to be rescued by Refuge Farms. Rose R., the volunteer who accompanied me on this adventure, blogged about the experience back on Mother's Day in the blog dated May 7, 2009. It may be fun to go back and read her blog again!

This was no ordinary experience, to say the least. We went up to this hoarder's farm to pick up two blind mares as a result of a kill buyer's call for help earlier that week. We came home with one blind Quarter Horse and a down, dying Paint stallion that we now call Dude.

BUT! Not to be fooled, we returned the next day and retrieved the Appaloosa Mare that had been promised to us. And I am so very, very happy that we returned for her!

We found her standing in a cement paddock area with pipes and posts sticking up out of the cement at all angles. The cement had cracked and heaved and walking the area - even with good, working eyes! - was treacherous. Forget the fact that intact stallions were also housed in the area! But all the other horses were occupied by frantically consuming a stock tank of corn placed in the center of the paddock. There was not a blade of hay or a bucket of water to be seen.

Shivering in fright, tightly pressed up against the barn wall, trying to be invisible was the red roan Appaloosa Mare. She was haltered and lead out of that trap directly into the Refuge Farms trailer. Her withers and hips shook in fear. Her ears were rotating trying to pick up every sound. The lightest of touches would cause her to jump literally off of the ground. But I whispered to her that she was safe now. We had rescued her and we would find her a good, loving home.

Fast forward to December of 2009. Appaloosa Mare, as she came to be called, was looking a little heavy in the tummy. A little low and wide. Her body elsewhere seemed about the same but that tummy . . . . And then by January, I noticed that she began to withdraw from the herd. She was separating herself. I read that as protecting herself. What was going on with this mare? Could it be ?

I continued to watch her and that belly of hers. Other horse people came and pushed on that belly and looked at those swollen milk bags and lifted her tail. We all counted and recounted the months. Gestation for a horse is eleven months and eleven days. If she was bred prior to arriving at Refuge Farms, then she should be gifting a little set of hooves right around . . . March . . . mid-March . . . Yikes!

She and I began a routine of daily checks for tail head relaxation, bag checks, and tummy checks. The mare tolerated all the touching and I continued to question her. "Are you carrying a little set of hooves in there, Appaloosa Mare? Or are you just getting fat?" Never an answer, but always the question.

Dr. Brian had been to THE FARM several times this winter but always on emergencies or specific care calls. Never the time to examine the mare and discuss the findings. So early last week I called his office. The forecast was for sixty degrees - above! The sun was shining and this mare was large. It was time for Dr. Brian to give the definitive answer.

We put Appaloosa Mare in the shoeing bed and before we began the exam, Dr. Brian looked at me and asked me what my preference was. I went on to verbalize the battle that had been raging in me all winter . . .

"Heaven knows, there are enough horses in the world! The last thing the world needs is another horse! Dear Lord! We are in the rescue business, for crying out loud! We need to re-home this mare, let alone another baby!"

But then in the next breath, I continued by saying, "But a baby brings out the very best in all of us. A baby rejuvenates us! A baby brings us laughter and smiles and hope! A baby brings the public to THE FARM and a chance for us to tell them the stories! A baby brings its own kind of MAGIC! A baby would be so good for us this spring. We have had so much death here lately."

I finished my argument and went to stand at the mare's head. I stood with her and knew that whatever the result of this exam, it was part of The Plan. I would accept it and welcome whatever Dr. Brian told me.

"Well, Sandy," he said. "I have it in my hands."

"WHAT? The head? The hooves? The baby?"

"No, her uterus. There is no baby."

Disappointment mixed with relief. Joy mixed with sadness. A grateful exhale mixed with a single tear.

So, she isn't. There is no baby. And we are now, once again, clear to find the home for Appaloosa Mare that she came here to find. A home with a loving family who will be patient with her as she learns the new grounds and the new routine. A mare who will show her new family that she is a very easy keeper. A grateful horse who does not test the fences. Who halters easily and stands easily. Who loves her blanket in the cold winter and who loves the companionship of another gentle horse like her.

A family who will give her time to adjust to them and her surroundings before they begin to ride her. Knowing that she must trust the rider before she will move. But she rides well and I have sat upon her with her ears plastered back so that she can listen to me. A pat on her neck and a gentle voice and the Appaloosa Mare steps forward. In complete and utter trust. It just takes a bit of time to build that trust. The mare just needs a little time.

And yes, the world does not need yet another horse. We are a rescue. And we have rescued this beautiful mare. And now we must re-home her as we promised we would. And we must be grateful that there isn't a baby.

Easier said than done.

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

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