Lameness, soreness, dental infections, flat feet, thin feet, dropped coffin bones, dropped backs, EPM, kissing spine, Intestinal Bowel Disorder, tendons that are swollen or bowed or pin-fired or blown out entirely…. wobblers syndrome, “lupus-like” skin photosensitivity, decaying pasterns, founder, cancer, Lordosis, Cushing’s, impactions, string-halt, severe worm infestation, severe tick infestation, rashes and hives, tumors, shattered stifle, cracked ribs, cracked pelvis, severe laxity, starvation, severe ulcers, chronic lyme, chronic choking, chronic colic, cryptorchids, cribbing and wind-sucking, snapped coffin bones, sarcoids, tumors and cysts and lesions, more cancer, Uveitis, orbital lock, dwarfism, blindness…
We have seen everything on that list here at Rosemary Farm, and some of the horses suffering from one or more of these ailments looks a far cry from a ‘beautiful horse’; in fact, they look like freaks, and not worthy to live. Expensive and a waste of resources.
Why do we save the “freaks”?
Why do we save the horses with ‘issues’? Why not just the ‘nice’ horses, ready to go? Ready to be adopted, and used again? Why waste money on the ones in need?
Why are we here?
We are here, ostensibly, to help horses in dire need.
Yes, there are horses in dire need with nothing medically wrong, and actually a fair number do end up here, but they don’t get the same public attention as the ones in need. Sometimes also, while nothing physically is wrong, emotionally there are issues to uncover and heal. Despite our opening list, ’emotional scarring’ tops the physical ailments 10 to 1. The physical issues are what we can see easily see; the mare stumbling with severe neurological issues, or bleeding from the skull, body broken, mind gone, not even fit for the slaughter trucks…. These are the ones most in need, because despite what the pro-slaughter proponents will argue, the old, broken, and feeble horses are not even wanted by the kill buyers. So, the rescues are there. If we feel we can manage it, physically, financially and emotionally, we welcome these horses, and manage somehow, and either fix the horse, stabilize the horse, or give it a peaceful passing. Journey complete.
But still, why help these expensive saves rather then ones that could ride again?
If we were here to serve humans, here to focus on providing riding amusement, that would be a valid question. We are not here to help humans. We are here to help horses. And horses are not on this planet to serve man.
And yet, we are not here to just help horses.
Have you ever fallen down? Have you ever been ill? Has anyone in your family ever suffered from cancer, or been ravaged by another disease? Has anyone in your family ever grown old, feeble, unable to work, to support themselves? Have you, yourself, ever been left without help in your weakest moment, your hand in the air for a help up that didn’t appear?
Whether the answer is yes or no, perhaps there is a glimmer of understanding about why we do what we do. Why we stay up late, get up early, bother vets non-stop, research more supplements or exercises, then share photos and stories about our efforts. Share our journey and the journey of the horses we welcome. To us, life matters. Yes, these horses lives, but your life, too. The “life” here on this planet, how it goes about the business of living and yes, very much, how we go about dying. Now, one might argue that such broken life, in nature, would be swiftly ended. There is some truth to that. However, these horses do not live in nature; most were created by Man, and born into captivity. Even the mustangs, once born wild, that are now ‘owned’, were captured and removed from the level playing field of nature. Their choices are restricted, their ability to move, fenced off. Their ability to forage or find a new band or a warmer locale, gone. By removing these choices, we have assumed their care. And in a life they did not choose, the least of our humanity dictates a kindness in care, in life and in death. In short, we created them, we owe them dignity, and we owe ourselves the dignity of humane stewardship. We owe ourselves to be the best ‘human’ we can manage.
So we save the freaks because they matter, as each life matters, even if that means a kind end. We save the freaks because odds are, one day that will be us in need. We save the freaks because we want the same kindness, and dignity, returned, because we want the philosophy of ‘humanity’ to carry the weight that it was intended to carry. And in the process of ‘saving the freaks’ , something extraordinary happens. By connecting with these living beings, the kodachrome spectrum of life, a life without expectation of performance, the inherent astounding beauty of these creatures, is fully revealed. A sensitivity, a connection to an astral plane that humans can only dimly perceive, is reflected back to us. It’s a gasping beauty, in a different language then our limited forms of communication. And the distance that some of these souls have traveled, the depth of pain and despair that they relate to us about their journey here, when they are brought back, and the immense gratitude that they return to us… well, it is humbling. We are lucky to share their lives, we are lucky to get to know them as themselves.
We save the freaks to see the world without a human lens, to see ourselves as the freaks, then to rise above the idea of any living creature being labelled a freak.
We save the freaks to save ourselves.