. . . the tug of war
They say we are a sum of parts! At any one time we can love and hate at the same time! It feels like a fight within: the part that wins is the part we feed.
Rescue life accentuates these parts and I often feel a constant tug of war within. The part of us that is too proud to ask for help is overpowered by the part that is desperate for help for an animal in need. The part of you that loves the animals you feed hates the owner who has brought you here. Yet, it is love that keeps you coming back: the love and care for an animal that will never be yours!
When I first started rescuing and feeding hungry horses, I told few, and I asked for no help! How can people help when you never ask? However, the proud part of you is silenced by a desperate need for donations or the desperate need for transport or rescue space. I think I’m now without any pride; it has been starved! What struck me about rescues is this: you may have to ask for help once or twice but after that ‘Can you help?’ is replaced with ‘Do you need any help?’ Busy rescues like My Lovely Horse, Charlie’s, and Forgotten Horses Ireland, along with some great foster homes always seem to have a place for ‘just one more!’. I’m forever in debt to them for taking pigs and ponies off me. The part of us that is too proud to ask has no place in rescue!
Rescues are constantly connected by lives saved and lives lost. The sense of togetherness sometimes makes me feel less alone. And that is a part I struggled with greatly in the past and still at times now: the loneliness of rescue.
So much has happened this week already! The worry of one horse is quickly replaced by the other and now there is a question of rescuing up to thirty wild goats! Yes, the part of you that says ‘yes’ also silently says ‘Oh no’. How the hell can we catch them? A question that has followed me all day! But in rescue and with Charlie’s, like a lot of other rescues, anything and everything is possible when it comes to animals and their welfare!
There is another part of me that craves to be anonymous. Failing that, in the past I’ve given out different names to different owners. That ‘not very well thought out plan’ came apart the other day when three different horse owners stood chatting to me! All three called me variations of my own name until one said: ‘Jesus, you’ve a name on all the horses and you’ve many names on yourself!’
Again the part of me that wants to scream ‘feed your horse’ never gets heard as the part of me that wants to build bridges and to feed their horses pleads for silence! This silence had me leading a pony I feed out of her lane to a yard, where I watched her getting new shoes put on…. I also watched her fear build and her breathing escalate. The part of me that loves her but hates the sulky waiting for her tries to calm her, talk to her, and tries to block out the sounds of rasps and hammers falling to the ground. The part of me that felt I betrayed her won on this occasion.
A young traveller boy asked me, ‘do I only feed horses I like?’ His fear is I won’t like his next horse and therefore I won’t feed her. So that started us onto talking about me helping him feed her. Time will tell how productive that conversion was. I was relieved to see how kind he is with her. It reminded me of a conversation I had with a 6 year old boy on a halting site. He was my little helper when I fed horses around his home. What brought me to his address was a pony lodged between two concrete bollards. Nobody came to help but rescues. It was SCAR that sent me out to help after twelve calls to the guards and the department proved futile. That pony is now very well and very happy with FHI. In one way it was a blessing in disguise as two Falabellas here also needed rescuing and I am happy to say that the two who lived on concrete are now with Lorraine in a beautiful green field with a stable. And back to my conversation with my little helper! He pointed out to me, ‘Catriona, the horses all look at you when you’re here! Is it cos you are nice to them?’ I replied, ‘Yes, and because I feed them too!’ He was so sweet at six, as he told me, ‘they look at me the same way!’
Today my new rescue friend drove me around to feed the horses! I told him ‘I better get the most of you before you disappear!’ He tells me he is in it for the long haul! My prayers will start now!! I can’t tell you what it’s like to have somebody who can lift a bale of hay like they are lifting a pillow! To feed the three donkeys requires fence jumping and wading through muck to get to them. I walked with ease today! No, it wasn’t easy to hear the words ‘that’s poison’ when my friend looked at what their owner left for them! Sometimes I really want to be wrong! I want them to be OK and I want to hear the words, ‘you’ve nothing to worry about’ but I do! The owner here is neglecting his animals! The part that hates this behaviour can take over and so I had a heated phone conversation with a welfare inspector. The agreement was, the owner would leave hay and it was made over two weeks ago! Still no hay…
I want to remember Hutch tonight, the twelve year old dog killed in Mountrath. His family’s world is now changed forever as they have lost a family member in the cruellest way possible. I also want to remember the pony in Ennis we couldn’t find in a flooded field, to learn when we left the field that she had died. She died alone, with no access to feed and in water. I cried as I drove away with a bag of hay meant for her.
Yes, I struggle with the parts of me that feel complete hatred for the people who cause so much suffering and yet I wonder did they suffer terribly at some stage in their lives. In the case of Hutch, I worry for the sadistic behaviour these people are capable of. Part of me feels sorry for the part of them that must be so deprived of love, care, and compassion that they could do this. Yet, part of me wants them to feel the pain they caused the beautiful and noble Hutch.
To end on a lighter note, I was really hungry earlier and given my mucky attire, I went with my friend to the restaurant in the mart. I was relieved I couldn’t hear any of the cow calls that can be upsetting for some of us. Anyway, here were hard working men lined up in their wellies. I fitted right in until I asked the girl behind the counter ‘was there anything for vegetarians?’ I answered my own question when there was silence! ‘Hardly in a mart,’ I laughed awkwardly. She said nothing but smiled and I got a plate of veg. And then it was off to collect a round bale of donated hayledge, and bring it down the motorway to fork some into Erin, Bella, Nollaig, Holly, and Finn. Tomorrow it’s the motorway horses and more feeding around town.
It’s the part of me that can never give up on them that I’m feeding for now! x
(Excuses grammar/spelling mistakes! Too tired to proof read!)