For someone who grew up longing for a horse in a place where it would be impossible to have one, it seems incomprehensible that there should even be a need for such organisations as horse rescues and shelters. As a child, it seemed to me that anyone who owned such a magnificent creature would count their blessings every single day.
Reality reared its ugly head when I started taking lessons at a nearby stable. There I met a shy young man who had an equally shy young horse. The man was called Stephen and the horse, Robert.
Apart from his very striking blue eyes, the thing about Robert was that some thugs had got into the field where he was kept with his mother. They shot the mother to death and left the struggling and terrified little colt tied to a tree with barbed wire.
Who would do such a thing? What did they get out of it? Thankfully Robert had a guardian angel and I think he repaid Stephen with an uncommon bond - one that the boy needed to break out of his shell, perhaps.
It is not only vandals who create the need for horse rescue though. Cases of neglect are more frequent. Quite simply it is often a child's forgotten pony, left in a paddock to starve and fret with boredom and loneliness that needs the attention of the rescuers.
What about the brood mares when they are passed their prime, the fleetest of racehorses which lose their edge? While many are honoured for their work by being put into retirement and receive loving attention to the day they die, a shocking number of horses are worked nearly to death and then rejected by the original owner.
Internationally, tireless vounteers and workers take horses into care every day. Scour the horse rescue pages in your area and you will find (after you manage to get your anger in check at many of the stories of outrageous neglect and abuse) everything from ancient old ponies who ask only that they be allowed to come to spend their last years as companions and friends and noble hunters who have many good years ahead of them to young colts and fillies with their whole lives ahead of them.
So, if there are any young (or old) dreamers out there, who have the opportunity to finally buy a long desired horse, please look at horse rescues and shelters as your first option.
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