“The big scary thing in the dark (or, ‘No, really, I can explain’)”

Sunset is like 4:30 pm in the winter, so chores are usually finished in the dark (persistent procrastination is the topic of another blog, or will be whenever I get around to it). Chores are amusing here; Hay is stashed in all kinds of barns and rooms in barns, connected via obscure pathways, staircases, and shortcuts. Hey, we’re making do with what we have!

As I headed out last night for the lower barn, I debated going the long way and turning on the lower barn lights first, or just taking a flashlight, and the shortcut, down to the lower hay stash, to throw some out to the hordes below. I opted for the latter, as the shorter path (read ‘lazy’) and entered the barn above, from the side.

It’s a short trip through the first room, which used to be very scary before I knew each creak and object; and I stepped into a hole in the wall and onto a lowered ladder with confidence. This leads to the old milking parlor, an unstable floor but useful for packing with hay, as long as one knows where to step. I am brave now! I skipped halfway down before a heard a noise. Standing on what I realize is a very rickety ladder, surrounded by stacks of hay and narrow aisles, I am aware that I am not alone. All those little hairs stand up on my neck. Something is there. Some mysterious huge creature is breathing very close in front of me. Or was breathing, until hearing me, and we both paused, mid-inhale, and waited. And that second became very very long, and every Stephen King story flooded back, and every awareness of being a foolish girl standing alone in a decrepit barn floods your cells. OH, I knew this was a huge mistake. I mean, how long would it take for someone to even find my dead eaten body, out here in nowhere? What was I doing up here in the country anyway? How foolish was I, that now I had caused my own demise at the hands of some scary creature now hiding in the hay stacks?

My heart skipped. Followed by a small snort; was that a horses’ warning sound? A small shuffling…of a hoof? The smell of black hide. And the invisible creature just in front of me took form. “MOLLY?!?”I say, with hope…It was Molly. We both sighed with palpable relief. I am such a wuss.

Molly and Finn had broken into the hay loft, aka the ‘old milking parlor’, and wedged themselves in the stacks for an all you can eat buffet, in an area that they should not have been able to fit. “Didn’t you have enough hay outside Molly?”. Apparently not, she snuffled happily in my direction. Head to head, they could not exit easily or quickly, but stood there pigging out. Fortunate that we all knew each other, and recognized each other, before any of us three bolted. It took a minute to get to the door (around Finnys giant tushie) and get it open again, sufficient to back Finn out, then get Molly to follow. All in the dark. They were amiable enough, too stuffed to care much and just glad I hadn’t been a lion coming down the ladder to eat them. I secured the gate and added another 2 x 4 across the opening. We proceeded to join the herd without incident, altho’ when I was leaving, my heart still a little light, Molly did have a bit of a pout on her pretty perchie face. Lead mares, I swear.

Molly’s first ride

My perchie mare Molly and I had our first ‘official’ ride today, down in the pole barn, with Dan helping keep us steady, the rest of the herd nearby, on the snowy  path. Molly and I have belonged to each other since that night 14 months ago when I saw her in the auction house, with twine tied around her throatlatch, one line dangling down and getting caught under her hoof.  I cut her loose and the rest, as they say, is history. Readers here can find the full stories of how she came to Rosemary Farm, and how close she came to death, first on the slaughter truck (which she didn’t know) and later in the swamp pit on the farm (which she did know); how she and I grew, how she was pregnant, how we all lost her colt, and how we have been healing. Molly’s journey has been one of love and victory over many of the things that can destroy a horse’s life, much less it’s relationship to humans. Through it all Molly and I grew closer, forming a strong bond that she seems to enjoy as much as I do.

Early on in her time here, I tracked down her last owner, a camp,  and learned that there had been ‘attempts’ at training her, and it hadn’t gone well; so she was put out to pasture with a stallion, for years, and made babies. When there were several of them, the entire family was sent to auction, and with no training, almost certain slaughter. I can’t tell you why we hit it off but we did.
And this is the mare that I hoped to make into a riding partner, and after becoming partners on the ground, it began to seem possible. The trainer that I’ve been working with for nearly two years, Dan McCarthy, has a very gentle and methodical way of working, a way that I call ‘non-training’. It drives some crazy. Sometimes it’s hard to see anything being done, it seems so subtle; and when he is working a horse, it can look effortless…until another takes the line! With this training, every gentle effort is ‘rewarded’ by release, and one small step leads to another in a seamless and enjoyable process that builds.  It can seem an interminable process, but I have now seen horses come along this way, seen the seamless transition to riding without a single buck, without stress. In hindsight, considering the remarkable results it produces, it looks like a short span of time indeed.
So every time I interact with Molly, we learn about each other, and I had to learn to be a clear leader, and she had to learn to trust that. Then we learned about walking together on a float, turning into open spaces, giving to pressure…All of this helped the morning I saw Molly at the far edge of the field and she whinnied to me; it may as well have been english it was so clear; Help! she said, looking at me, waiting for me.  I ran to her, and found her rear foot caught in an old piece of unearthed barbed wire. I had nothing, not a single rope, but brought her head around to me, said ‘back’ and she released a step back. I had to let go of her head to grab her foot, and she held still while I pulled the wire loose and let her go, trotting gladly back to the band.
So Molly and I have been working; sitting on the fence dangling a foot over her, grabbing her mane at the withers and jumping up and down (she Hated that at first), climbing underneath her belly, then beginning to lay across her back and moving her in circles with a halter and lead. We got past girth issues bit by bit, and we played; fluffing her head, exploring the far fields together, greeting new herd members, coming to each others call. Our ‘riding’ progress was all tied up in our ‘life’ progress.
It was pretty clear that Molly had decided I was her person and was comfortable with me being close to her, leaning on her, all the parts of riding her except the actual riding. Most of this Molly and I had done with just the two of us, but I wanted some help with this step.Today was the day.
I had Dan over to help us with this big step. We got two different versions of bitless bridles to try, and a bareback pad to use. I had asked about a saddle, thinking I would have a better chance of staying on if she bucked, but Dan said that if she wanted to buck me off she would, so it was better to have less stuff to interfere. He told me this awhile ago and delayed our progress another month while I had to process and embrace that I might get bucked off! So Dan was letting me do most of the work today, really showing him what we had done so far; I fitted the hackamore on her, did a bit of ground work, and when I stopped to get more stuff she followed me to see what I was up to. I roped off the pole barn so we wouldn’t have interference, and got the bareback pad. We were getting close. I tossed it on her and settled her down before bringing up the girth. “Suck it up Molly!” I smiled as I fastened it on her, and she turned her head into me. What a great mare she is. We stacked two bags of shavings to use as a step, and brought Molly over. Easy enough to grab some mane and jump onto her back, deadman style. I know her and I’ve done this. She was quiet and held for me. Dan took her head and moved her out, stepping her around in a quiet easy circle. So far so good! I hop down, and we decide to switch headgear for better contact, using this time the Parelli hackamore. We don’t train with bits. Molly is so calm and easy about it all, makes it seem like she’s done this her whole life.

Time for take two; I hop up again dead man, and we circle around, and then Dan told me to rotate so my legs were over her butt. This is one of the things that can set off a horse, and we spent some time with me in this position, legs out, head down, rubbing her withers and relaxing. It was lovely actually, taking deep breathes on top of her, exhaling into her mane. Sitting up at some point was natural. I moved gently, careful not to thump her sides or be to jerky. I held a chunk of mane and there I was sitting upright and easy on the back of my mare Molly. To appreciate the beauty of this moment, one does not need to have the images of Molly nearly dying, or the powerful lead mare that she has become; I have fought with Molly and am aware of how strong and quick she is. But anyone who has seen anything where ‘breaking’a horse is taught as ‘how it’s done’, anyone who has witnessed a scared or angry horse trying to escape the experience of riding. I think that Molly had been introduced to that method, the belief in force, and so our journey was not from ‘zero’, but from somewhere in the ‘negative’ numbers. The quietness of this by contract spoke volumes; her journey from a wild and mishandled mare to a trusting friend. It’s possible someone had been on Molly sometime in her past, but it hadn’t gone well and it was so long ago that now, that horse doesn’t exist anymore. She has been replaced by my friend, who was doing something new, but with people she trusted, and so far, she was getting petted and rubbed so it was just fine, thank you very much.

I sat up there for awhile, just soaking it in. She could choose to toss me now, but that was nowhere in her mind. I had the reins, loosely, and Dan had the lead line, and moved us out. She was easy and comfortable, neck relaxed, ears tuned to my voice. We did a few simple circles, to the left and to the right. No tension in her back, I could see her eye on me. We walked over towards the entrance and stopped, and Dan and I both saw her look down the path to the field where her herd had gone, and we both felt it; she politely asked to go. She didn’t have to ask twice, we are friends. So we turned her once more and settled her feet, and I held the inside rein softly so her head was just turned in, and I hopped off. Perfect. We undid the girth, then the headgear, and when I turned to carry it away, Molly followed me.

I scratched her for a bit, and then she wandered down to the others. The victory of our first ride was what a non-issue it was for my mare, a continued extension of our growth together. While it’s the kind of thing that one reads in fantasy versions of horse stories, it’s humbling to really experience. Worth all of the effort to get here.

the continued blessings of Molly…

Those of you up to date on your ‘Rosemary Farm’ blogs will be familiar with the story of Molly, the pregnant perchie pulled from the slaughter truck to come and live at the farm (please read “Getting Molly” for the full story).

Molly had been living basically wild in a field for years, with a stallion, having babies, before I met her. Clearly her little experience with humans didn’t give her a lot of reason to respect us as a species. When I first saw Molly she had a hay string tied around her throat latch, dangling down so she kept stepping on it, choking. I will never forget that image of Molly.  It wasn’t easy at first because Molly wasn’t used to a human relationship; she thought she was in charge, and was going through all sorts of separation from her horse family. She bit me hard one day, in the back, when I didn’t ‘listen’ to her, so we had to re-order things. My fault and my responsibility to fix. Now we are close friends, and she ‘gets’ that I am in charge and will protect her, instead of the other way around.  She enjoys her special massive pregnancy stall and getting grain twice a day, and calls to me in a guttural whinny that pulls at my heart. Her pregnancy has been advancing normally and we are in daily expectation of a little bundle of equine joy any day now. All has been well.

I would add here “and she lived happily ever after”, but we had another incident a few days ago. It was a warm spring evening, the farm in early bloom. I had been down with the horses all afternoon and left to fix dinner. Molly had been eyeing the nearby field earlier, and now pushed open a gate and wandered out on our property, to graze the fresh grass. I had seen her around 6pm, and by 8pm realized she was gone. I wasn’t too worried, as she knows this is home and isn’t interested in leaving, and this was my first mistake. I was thinking that ‘I trusted her’, not that ‘she might be in danger’. We looked for her as the light faded to black, but after a few hours into the night,  became concerned. She wasn’t in any usual or favored spot, and there was no whinnying reply to my calls. It was about 11pm, and Robert went to check on the water tank for the main herd. As he was filling it, I sat in the car that we had been driving over our property, and the headlights were playing tricks in the shadows. How could I be seeing a horses’ shadow in front of me, down the bank, when the horses were behind me? I turned around to see if the light was bouncing off something behind them, but it was not. I looked ahead again, and the shadow moved. Oh my god, it was Molly, down in the swampy area. Or was it? It wasn’t big enough to be Molly, but looked like her profile; had Molly foaled and that was her baby? We scrambled down the hill, it was much worse then I could imagine. Molly had wandered into an area that, decades ago, used to be a manure pit. The containing wall had been removed over 15 years earlier, and all that remained was a swampy, smelly field. I had walked it myself. But one area that was strong enough to support a walking human was apparently not enough for a pregnant draft mare, and she had fallen through. Where there had been stubby grass that afternoon was now a black pit of old sulpherous manure swamp, and Molly was sunk up to her sides. Clearly she had been there hours, struggling and digging in deeper. She was exhausted and terrified. Of course we began furiously digging but it was clear it was too deep for us to handle. Robert called the fire department (which he happens to be a member of) while I stayed with Molly, and trucks and police soon arrived on the scene. It was nice to see friendly faces, the guys Robert works with every week. We all kept digging together, but it only got worse. Molly was exhausted and was sinking further. We tried to dig around her at the girth line to run something under her, but she was too big. It was about this time when I truly felt she might die. Her breathing was labored and she was disappearing into the black earth. We needed to get something around her, and quickly. We found a piece of metal and Robert curved it to snake around her, at first hitting her sides below, and the men tried again. Finally it worked, sliding underneath her enough that they could grab it on the other side.. All of this is being done now after midnight, in a dark pit, with emergency vehicles lighting the area, and every human covered in black muck as we all fell down over and over into the mire.

Once the metal was under her, a rope was attached to this; then a fire hose, each pulled carefully under and around Molly’s girth line. I stayed at her head, talking to her, giving her bits of grass. The fire crew was wonderful about understanding her pregnancy and trying to save the baby as well. When we had the hose around her, we hooked it to the fire truck crank parked back on the road, and began to pull. Molly’s front end came up out of the ground, but began to spin around, and the belt started sliding off. We had to stop. At least she could breathe better now, but was still stuck. We added a second line, around under her tail, which I was in charge of. She had been stuck awhile and had pooped over everything, and I was trying to see if she was in labor as well. Her long black tail was caught and filthy. My hands were freezing. I was able to push the line around her haunches, partway,and we tried pulling again. The rope snapped up, catching under her tail bone, threatening to snap it,  and I  yell for them to stop over the sounds of the motor. This repeated at least three times, as we would pull, the stop, then re-set. Molly was clearly out of energy, and getting very cold. Finally, the angle was right and they pulled again, and Molly was dragged out slowly on her side; when clear enough she began scrambling herself, shaking off gear and lines as she tried to stand. It was now 1:30 am, and she was shaking with cold, fear and exhaustion as she pulled herself shakily to her feet, with Robert at her head. We were all covered in black mud and shivering. But Molly was out.

I didn’t get to properly thank the crew as they wrapped up, as I had to take Molly right away for some food so she could generate some heat. She was very wobbly. After walking her, both of us shaking, grazing her so she could warm up, I got her to her stall and blanketed her. We were all as shaken as you can imagine. Molly seemed to understand all that had happened and was just as great as she could be. Showers and warm drinks helped the humans, and by the next morning it seemed that Molly would live. I did call my vet in the middle of the night, and they said what I feared, that either the baby would live or not, that we would have to wait and see. In the morning I walked Molly, brushed all the mud off of her, gave her extra grain, and did a physical inspection. No signs of labor, tail bone seems to have survived, no fever, and all limbs intact with no heat or swelling. She seemed shaken but ok. Now it’s been a few days and we have seen the baby kick. Molly is content. So it seems that Molly had yet another miracle in her life.

There were several mistakes and several miracles in this tale; my two mistakes were to not have that gate securely enough to stop a horse, and to not take her wandering off as seriously as it was. The miracles were that I saw her head poking out that night, in the black shadow of the hill, and that the fire department was able to save her from it.

There are so many people who have intervened in this mare’s life that I can be nothing but grateful; from the friends at auction who first helped me cut loose that hay string, to the rescue groups who helped me track the horse broker, even to that buyer who was willing to sell her to me instead of to slaughter that day; to the friends who helped fund her purchase and the other rescue group that contributed to her pregnancy vet bills… and now, for the Hobart Fire Department who saved Molly’s life from the swamp pit that would surely have ended it; who treated her like the family member that she is. Thank you. From the bottom of our hearts.

We hope we can now say, “and she lived happily ever after”.

Getting Molly

Pregnant Molly down in the pole barn...

This is the story of how our percheron mare Molly came to live at the farm. It began at a horse auction last fall.
Nov. 14, 2009, Dawn wrote;
“Went to the horse auction last night; it is such a horrible experience for many of the horses there, and not a great time for those of us paying attention to them. It is also disconcerting that most folks don’t seem to think it’s a big deal; I struggle as much with this as with what is happening. I keep remembering the scene in ‘Planet of the Apes’, where there is a human auction and we are reminded of the horror of treating any animal in such a degrading, abusive way. It is unfortunate that most humans miss the leap to other species when considering respectful behavior, but then again, many humans are just as awful to their own kind.
Before the auction there is time to visit with the horses up for sale, who are in the back aisles, in stalls. Some are saddled and ready to try out, with owners singing their virtues, but most are alone. The most frightened horses are the ones without any people, care, or even halters. There were two groups of horses there that night in such a state. One group of geldings, obviously a family group, was anxious, nervous, clustered together, seeking an explanation which no one could give them. Their owner had died, and when the property was sold, the horses were sent to auction. Without even a halter, no one could try and ride or lead them. So no one was going to bid on them, except the kill buyers.
Another large group of un-haltered horses included three brood mares with foals by their sides. One beautiful black mare caught my eye; she was obviously a percheron, with thick black mane and tail and a beautiful head. But these attributes weren’t what caught my eye, it was the twine wrapped around her neck, trailing onto the ground, getting caught under her front hooves, pulling on her throat. I went to the gate, where there were also two men watching her. ‘Do you have a knife?’, I asked, and one pulled out a pocket knife; we caught onto the twine and cut it short, freeing her. She was suspicious of our contact but she had reason; she had a tall paint colt at her side, as well as another yearling filly, both obviously hers. I pulled an apple out of my bag and she perked right up, taking the apple politely and gratefully. She was also, as everyone agreed, probably pregnant. I petted her as my companion walked up, “Looks like you’ve made a friend”, he smiled. I wondered about their fate and hoped someone would buy them all and keep them together.
The auction was starting, and they usually do the draft horses first. We found a seat on the risers, as people crowded the floor and the auction began.
As I sat there, watching this absolutely massive Belgian draft gelding being auctioned off I was embarrassed for us as a species. Here was this completely huge horse, really the size of a small elephant, with all manner of harness cobbled together and tied around him, huge collar fitted tightly around his thick neck, blinders on this eyes, tight straps around his big knobbly face, and he was being controlled on the reins by a child. He was trying to move and turn in the small ring, being cracked on his flank, with too many people crowding around him, and still he tried to be polite and careful where he stepped. He could hardly see and he could hardly move. He was so huge that really nothing was controlling him but his own will to listen. And the auctioneer, trying to raise his bids, was calling to the boy pulling the reins to back him up, then push him forward, turning him this way and that under the glare of the lights, with the stadium of humans looking down upon him. Spectacle. How many of us would have behaved as graciously? And this breathtakingly huge boy sold for $300, to slaughter.
What is wrong with us?
Soon after, the percheron mare and her family came onto the floor. The mare was first, and bidding was brisk for a few minutes, and I hoped that someone nice would win her. I had no money in my account! But she was a nice girl, she would get a home… Bidding slowed after just $200, and then hit $275, and as I hesitated, she was Sold. To the kill buyer.

Obviously the horse auction is not a happy place for me to spend time, but I feel compelled to look reality in the eye.

After her colt sold to a nice family, I left distressed. I could not sleep that night, for the face of that kind mare who I didn’t buy. I am not comfortable playing God. When I consider one I almost as quickly ask myself, why not the other one? Why this one? How can you leave the others behind? The kill buyer’s truck filled up last night with noble steeds of the Gods, discarded by a race that has fallen from grace.

Here is the awful question; how do you decide which ones to save?
Do we become complicit when we see them going and do nothing?”

Nov. 17 Dawn wrote;
“I decided to see if it was possible to save the mare. A small check came in that would just cover it. I got the name and number of the “kill buyer” and called the family up. Let me say here and now, I could not do what they do; I could not buy and sell horses for meat. But, these people are legal business people, and they own these horses for a few days. They are middlemen. I cannot defend the separation of ethics and money, but they don’t cause the problem.
So I called them. First they said that they didn’t know if they still had the mare because they had sold several already. I waited two days to hear, but nothing. I called back, and now she says that I should just come and look at the horses because she doesn’t know where her notes are, and there are so many horses, and a bunch are shipping out tomorrow night.
I hope that I have the stomach for this. I am scared to go to their place. I am scared of looking at all the horses about to get killed.”

Nov. 19, Dawn wrote;
“Wow, what a trip. Wrenching many ways. Got lost of course (I get lost a lot), took me five hours to find it….The place is as sad as you imagine, listless, unloved horses gathered together, waiting. Many of the horses were not in good shape. But they all had food and water. The people sort of baffled me, and I think me, them. They were friendly enough, and they took me to the pens to have a look for the mare. They kept telling me that there was nothing good in the pens or it would have been pulled already, certainly no pregnant perchie mare. I didn’t see her, it seemed she was gone.

Shall I describe the holding pens for you? They are made of a standard wood fence, the ground thick with mud from many horses arriving and leaving. There are several water troughs and piles of hay. The horses are sad, standing, waiting. Some have their tongues hanging out, some look suspiciously at us, most just ignore our presence. I’m told to watch out for the one that will kick me. There are all colors and shapes of horse, all age and experience. There are appy’s and drafts and many thoroughbreds, and I would bet money that many had raced. Many had carried people on trails or in shows. Many had once been someone’s friend. Yes, this is sentimental, but it’s also true. All of these horses were about to get into huge trucks to travel to Canada and be slaughtered. But I did not see my mare.

They then took me into the barn to show me ‘their’ horses. The owner used to be a rodeo rider, and his original old horse is there, and beautiful and well cared for. Then there is the younger horse that was to be the riding replacement, but he is now 78 and has largely given up riding. Then there were a few others, some family riding horses, also in good shape. This is not a simple image of a kill buyer, but a family who also owns and loves horses. I am more confused then ever.

There were also three completely emaciated horses on the other side. A beautiful buckskin, a tall thoroughbred and a quarter horse mare. They were ‘rescuing’ them, they said, and trying to get weight on them. I didn’t know that horses could still walk and be that thin. All vertebrae were visible on these thin sad horses. It was because of rescue groups, they said, that they couldn’t keep them outside, because then they get accused of ‘starving’ horses. And when they only own them for a few days it cannot be their fault. It was a painful sight. I couldn’t quite understand why these horses, of all of them, they were “saving”, but I learned later.

I asked to look one more time in the pen. That was when the head owner showed up; oddly affable and unassuming, mostly deaf, and smiled at me. They explained to him who I was and that I was looking for a black perch mare, and he said ‘Oh, she is down in the chute’;  As in, the chute to get on the truck in an hour. The trucks were parked there, waiting. It is certainly grim. I circled around to the other side, and there she was, my mare. The woman was very impressed with her, saying that they would have pulled her if they had seen her earlier. I was starting to get that I was being fed some bullshit, but whatever. The mare was already tagged with her waybill to ship to Canada, but I was allowed to pull her out. She is magnificent; a deep black coat, calm, happy to see me. What a relief to see her out of the pen.

Also in the chute were four gelding boys from last Friday’s auction, as sweet as ever, most certainly trained riding horses. Not given a chance. I petted them, glad to see them, and it is going to haunt me that I couldn’t take all four of them home as well. There really never is an end, is there?

I helped halter the mare and get her out, and the old man went to bargaining as I held her lead rope;  “You like ‘im?” He shouted, “Four and a half”. Yikes! He paid $275, and I pointed that out. “She’s worth $450 as meat”, he said simply. So what could I do but agree? Apparently the drafts are the fillet mignon of the horse meat world. You cannot blame this man for the problems of these horses when he has owned them for four days, and further, he did not have to sell her to me at all. He did not have to let me onto his property. So I am indebted.
I just stood with her for a few minutes, outside the pen, before we stored her in the barn for the night (I don’t own a trailer yet, if anyone needs a good birthday present idea!). I breathed a sigh of relief. It’s illogical to think that it makes a difference, or to try and understand what compelled me to get this mare. I told them that I could get her trailered the next day and called a friend nearby.

A few minutes later, I was driving the 20 miles to a friend’s place. There are about 20 there, almost all from kill pens. They keep many and adopt out what they can. I am really amazed, as I go along in the horse world, how many people there are, people trying to make a difference in their small but important way. My friend told me that the kill buyers get very suspicious of strangers, especially anyone who utters the toxic word, ‘rescue’, and that it would be wise of me to keep relations open. Which I hope to do! He also said that the story about rescuing the skinny horses was bullshit, that they were too thin to ship to the kill places, and that they either needed to fatten up or just be shot. Again, a mystery to me, but it would explain why the skinniest and saddest horses were tucked away. Who can one blame? There are clearly many people in the pipeline that is allowing our american horses to be neglected this way, with little repercussion.

I am exhausted and can ill afford to pay $450, but I am very happy to have this mare coming to the farm. Oh, on my way out, they went to get another mare out of the holding pen, to take the place of my mare who was already booked on the truck. How’s that for a sickening and helpless reality? I don’t know if I really saved anyone then.

What a world eh? Most of it doesn’t make sense from my vantage point, maybe from the heavens there are more distinguishable patterns.”

Nov. 19, a note from a friend;
Dawn, I am glad you got your mare. The whole cycle is vicious, and although you may wonder if you really made a difference, please know, to that perch mare, you made all the difference in the world.”
Nov. 19, a note from another friend;
Dawn, I hereby pledge $300 to help with this rescue mare, or another one. You are doing good.”