My red headed sass-master mare Promise bucked hard twice on our ride yesterday - I was so proud of her. As we rounded a bend in the road a curious black dog stuck his head out from behind a bush and BAM, she spooked and started bucking… In most circles this would seem like a bad thing, this bucking – So why am I proud you might ask.
I found this mare five years ago. While driving to Tallahassee one morning I saw her. There in the backyard of known unsavory characters, amid pens of pit bulls, roosters and garbage stood a pitiful sight that twists my gut like no other. An emaciated horse with her head hung low like only the most downtrodden do. I thought of this horse all day and on my return, I steeled my nerves and made my decision to stop in and inquire about her. I was afraid of this place that had a reputation for drugs and violence, but I'll walk through the gates of hell for a suffering animal. Armed with faith, I knocked on the door. It was answered by three women, each with a different inquiring glare as to why I was there. I told them I had noticed their horse and I had had one just like it when I was a young girl. My most common entree into situations like this... Walking in with accusations and guns blazing is a quick way to block the path of helping an animal. Kindness moves mountains, so with sweetness and light, I asked if I could just say hello. They said yes and explained their cousin was the owner and they didn’t think he would mind too much.
The poor mare had an ugly infected saddle sore and was as skinny and poor as any horse I’ve ever seen. Poor miserable girl... Rain rot, fungus, insect bites and wounds plagued her skin. No worries, I had Equiderma for those issues. With my Equiderma products, I had a powerful arsenal to handle any skin issue or wound she had. It was her wounded heart and emaciated condition I was most concerned with. She had dreadlocks for a mane and a baseball bat for a tail. This spoke volumes of the silent suffering and long term neglect she had endured. There in the hot Florida sun, she stood in the dusty dirt, no grass, no water, no shade. Just a tiny 20 X 20 pen with curling barbed wire carelessly nailed to unsteady posts. Just feet away, beyond her reach, knee high grass grew outside her shoddy prison. Come hell or high water I was getting her out of there. I could do it the easy way by offering some money or start a storm by calling the authorities to have her taken by force. I opted for the former. She could easily die or be hidden if I went to the police. Before I left I made her a promise. As she chewed on a dried stick, I whispered in her ear and told her I would get her out of there. The women found it funny that I would talk to a horse. I told them I wanted to buy her, left my number and drove away praying hard for this to go easily.
The phone was ringing when I walked in my door. It was Cousin calling to tell me the mare was “wif child” and he would sell her as two horses for the bargain price of $750.00… Nope, that wasn’t going to work. Afraid not my friend. I offered 300.00, hung up and sat down to pray. Ten minutes later he called and countered 350.00$. The mare was mine. My heart soared.
My sweet friend took me to get her. She was ten miles away and I couldn’t find a horse trailer so we decided we would walk her home. I wasn’t going to let her stay there another minute, so I put on my best pair of hiking boots and headed out with a halter and lead rope. When we arrived "Cousin" was riding her hard around the littered yard. Proud of the big cowboy he was and wanting to show me all he had trained her to do. He spoke of how gentle she was and how anyone could ride her. There are many times in life when one should bite their tongue and this was one of them. Just get her out of here, Bethany. Just get her home. Cousin offered to let me use his evil saddle so I could ride her home if I would bring it back later. Didn’t he see the horrible sore it had caused? Didn’t he see her at all?
We started our long walk home just as night was falling. The mare was in pitiful shape so we took it slow, at a pace she could handle. Off we went into the night… Ten miles is a long walk, but it is especially long for a starving mare who needed to stop every 500 feet to rest and graze. Walk five hundred feet, stop, rest, graze for 10 minutes… Walk, stop, graze throughout the long night. At some point my friend brought provisions and we had a little midnight picnic under the stars while she quietly chomped grass. This was one of those times in life when the feeling of goodness and hope wells up so strong inside that it brings tears of gratitude. Helping a horse to a better life is my favorite good feeling. Somewhere along the way, I decided to name her Promise. I had made her a promise to take her away from her suffering. Now I made her another promise… That she would never know abuse and suffering like that again. Around dawn, we made it home. Here the real work would begin. I would bring her back to health with love, compassion, understanding, fresh water, the best food, and grooming with Equiderma to address her skin issues.
There is nothing in life as rewarding for me as bringing a horse back to their full glory. Promise soon began to thrive. Having taken in and helped many horses, I knew that her real personality wouldn’t emerge until she got strong and healthy again. Who knew what we would find under that seeming gentle exterior. Yes, she was sweet as apple pie in the beginning but boy was I in for it.
She's a Hard Hearted Woman ~When Promise got healthy she was the most hateful animal I’ve ever known. At every turn, she fought me, tried to outsmart me, was suspicious of everyone and BUCKED like a rodeo superstar. I have had more flying lessons off that horse than all others combined. How many times have I cursed the ones who ruined her, but I know love and kindness and thoughtful care can break even the toughest hard heart. It is the greatest weapon of all. This one took a little longer than usual. Two years passed before she completely dropped her guard, but one day while sitting with her, I saw it. There it was... a soft gentleness in her eyes as she returned my gaze. A knowing that she could trust this two-legged human to do right by her at every turn. I am her true friend and she knows it. Now the love and loyalty that pours out with a look from her melts me. As long as I have that, there is very little the human race can do to harm my self-esteem. Good horses don't love bad people and I am deeply loved by this horse. Together we have come so far.
Promise is smart and she is fun. She has shown me that even the deepest wounds – the ones on our hearts – can heal with heavy doses of compassion and love. No longer the broken ruin ~ she is a whole horse and a treasure now. She looks for me, whinnies when she sees me and I am honored.
So, why am I proud of my chestnut mare who bucked those two times on our ride yesterday? I’m proud because she ONLY bucked two times. I’m proud because we didn’t go all the way back home like that. I’m proud because I felt her catch herself, take a deep breath and calm down for my sake. I’m proud because I know her knee-jerk response was to get rid of me and run from her fear and yet she didn’t. She stayed with me, trusted me and took care of me. Like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, my heart grew three sizes too large and those are the moments, I live for. Riding back home the sense of love and whole-hearted oneness with this precious mare overwhelmed me. Oh, Life! You bring such joy sometimes.
Working to create great products that truly make a difference is what I do. The secret ingredient and maybe the most important is the love that goes into each and every bottle. With every shipment goes a prayer. That with wings of Angels it will fly and help alleviate the pain and suffering of the animal on the other end. Yes, Equiderma is a business now, but it is a business fueled by compassion and a deep, abiding love for all animals. Yours or mine... it doesn't matter. I love them all and am dedicated to helping, however I can. My long term vision for my company is that someday it will grow so big we can make a huge impact by helping rescues and other groups dedicated to taking away the suffering of animals. That is where my dream and my heart lies. Always remember ~ Beneath a Ruin Lies a Treasure. This sign hangs on my front porch and serves as a constant reminder. There are two other signs there too. Fear Not and The Secret Lies in Letting Go. Words to live by I believe. May the world evolve where all hearts are protected and may each of us do our part to make that happen.
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