You can tell a lot about people by the way they treat animals, and you can tell even more by the way they treat the hand that feeds them!
When it comes to feeding hungry horses, I make an effort to leave early in the morning or late at night for fear of testing encounters! That avoidance plan rarely works out. Avoiding certain humans seems to send out an even bigger ‘flashing light’ invitation for them to turn up at the exact locations of the horses I feed. They say in order to pass certain obstacles in life, you have to learn your lesson or you’ll keep facing the same obstacle until learning has taken place. I must have a lot to learn; I bump into ‘Cluster B types’ all the time!
When you lift hay from your boot to the path, it is inevitable that bits will navigate their way freely through the air to the path or road beneath. This attracts the power walker protesters. ‘You better pick that up,’ one florescent clad lady shouted over to me one day. I looked at the five to six pieces of wispy hay. Throwing bags over gates or fences draws out the horn huggers. I can only presume they think I’m dumping. Then there are the resentful etched faces that say, ‘why would you feed them?’ This triggers a very much ‘not wanted’ memory of my first rescue. Mini was tied to a steel barrier at the side of a road. One morning she was down and it took a while to get her up. The slope she was on was transformed into a mud bath given the weather and her pacing. I had been away a few days and with no food and unable to get herself steady, her legs gave up. A lady walking her well groomed retriever stopped as I pulled as hard as I could to get her up. She asked me ‘is this your pony?’ I explained she wasn’t mine but I was feeding her. She returned my explanation with a scowl and the ‘well heard’ words came from her mouth: ‘why would you do that?’ But this week’s encounter punched hard. It was like she had come from a meeting of ‘power walker hay haters’ and ‘why would you do that coldies’ and ‘any horse but a traveller horse’ supporters.
So it went a little like this: I’m standing at a gate throwing over hay and a car pulls up, and the window comes down. I stay talking to the pony and throwing the hay over until her hand becomes fixed on the horn. So in being polite, I walk over, truly into ‘the witch’s cauldron’. All I remember were snippets, such was my shock. Her words came carved from her deep seated hatred and need to cause as much hurt as possible. One after the other, she gathered momentum the more she threw them at me. Her aim was good and she was winning as she had me in a corner. I stood there and I took it because I was what stood between her and Nollaig, a pony much forgotten and neglected. ‘How could you?’ again and again was answered with the only words I had for all the others. ‘This is a pony who is hungry! This is a pony failed by her owners and the authorities. She will starve to death if I don’t feed her!’ And there in front of me was the face that drew the words ‘so what!’ When she failed to get any where with the ‘it’s a traveller’s pony!’ and ‘look at you! You’re a disgrace!’ She smirked. And her final words kicked me when she knew I was already down. ‘You brought this on yourself’ when I told her that I was not listening to her anymore.
I did remind her of the other horses I feed that are not traveller’s horses. That fell on her prejudiced deaf ears. When she took off, she left me with Nollaig, wondering, did that just happen? Of course I got a big ‘life goes on nudge’ from Nollaig and I think she either attempted a smile or was sticking her tongue out at our ‘not new friend’!
Filling hay today, my friend who is a big support and fills and lifts into the car when he can, asked me ‘how do you think this all started?’ and ‘when does it end?’ I know the answer to the second question: when I die. In relation to the first, I still wonder, why that day was so different that I mindfully took Mini in on the hill.
I always reach this wall at this time of year, the wall that says ‘no more hay, please?’ It feels like we went through a decade of winters this year and I know if I’m going to lift over 1000 bales next Winter, I better take up Yoga or something that will give my arms and back a false sense of being young again! I’m not but for some reason, I can’t catch up on the age I am – my mind is truly in denial!
Today my friend took me to the scene of a desperately sad clear case of cruelty. I won’t go into it now but once you visit these sites where eyes look at you to see are you the one to end this, you are haunted by them. I’m going to try and not stop until those eyes don’t have to ask anymore.
Tonight I’m thinking of all the rescuers out there who are tired and weary, who are celebrating rescue success with tears in their eyes, and I’m thinking of all the rescuers worried about not having enough space or money tomorrow. I often wonder does the department fully realise the endless ‘twenty-four seven’ work of rescuers. What would happen if we all stopped? The annual token grant to some is crumbs compared to the grants given to the greyhound and horse racing industry. Anyway that is for another blog!!!!
Rescuers really need to be rescued too – even with kind words, a donation, or some hands on help. These gestures are the net to catch them when they fall. I know that feeling of ‘just when you’ve had enough’ some thing nice happens to rekindle you. I just wish there was more niceness!!!!!
So, all that is good about the last few days: Hearing about the little rescue Rosie who is the herd leader in her foster home. She is doing really well! Starbars are always good! And, a new/old jeep that will hold me and my blue bags of hay for another day!!!! How could I forget? kisses from Oisin. x
(Please ignore lack of proof reading!)