Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Reclaiming A Broken Heart

Tonight we had to go to the barn to measure out new pastures: one of the Super 6, another for our existing herd, and to plan a small pasture for Stella Blue the pregnant donkey. Currently Stella shares a pasture with three mares: Soleil, Vivienne and Nala. While I don't know how it works with a donkey foal, I do know mares will occasionally steal a newborn for their own.

As I sat and observed the Super 6 it became apparent each horse is in a different place when it comes to their emotional health. Physically they are slowing improving, though they look worse from shedding the winter coats they had upon arrival two weeks ago. But starvation is easily corrected with good hay and grain, carrots and apples. Emotional abuse is different.

Horses which have been trained, handled, and mis-handled are totally dependent upon humans for the basic staples of existence: food, shelter, water. They learn to trust we will provide them with these necessities. But what happens when man breaks that promise? What happens when we break the unspoken contract?

Trust, once broken, is not easily re-established. The horse becomes wary of 'the other hand', expecting the food to come with a condition. Too many times that 'other hand' brings pain, bewilderment, fear. The safety of the herd is breached by men with ropes and whips, or the electric prod. Horses run, fear and panic taking hold and erasing the memory of love and companionship. For some, man brings the final inglorious end - slaughter.

We must break through to these rescued ponies and show them not all humans are to be feared. It isn't an easy task, and some are so broken that reaching through the cage of their fear is close to impossible. But we never give up on an animal unless it becomes a danger to itself or others. If their spirit is too damaged it may be time to send them to a professional who works with wounded souls. Sometimes a horse cannot be healed.

Of the Super 6, one concerns me - Dolce. We have not gotten a confirmation from the Jockey Club on her identify, but if I had to lay odds my guess would be she came out of either Louisiana or Alabama from the race track. She has an air of suspicion, a watchfulness the others do not exhibit. Something is broken, but is she ready for healing? I don't know yet. I will not give up on her, or any horse, until every path has been exhausted.

Somewhere out there is Dolce's story, a past we do not know, a present we are now writing, and a future brighter than anything she has had before. That is the true core of what BSRA does - we rebuild hearts and write new futures. It isn't a bad job, the hours are long and the rewards are hard fought for. And the day Dolce puts her trust in us will be the best reward I can think of. For now.

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