This week my path seemed determined to cross the paths of some people I only know of because of their horses. That is all we have in common: horses they don’t feed. Yes, it’s ironic that horses are dying in this country because they are owned. Owners who tie them to trees; owners who throw them onto bog land; owners who push them beyond their limits on sulkies, and owners who give them feed that is akin to stable waste.
What do you do when you meet the people who steal your peace of mind? What do you say to people who own horses – horses who don’t run to meet them at their gates? Arguing is pointless: to win an argument with someone who has never shown any empathy is lost before it’s begun. So I talk, I plamas, I throw in my opinion like a sprinkling of glitter with the odd sharp edge. I see their delayed reactions: did she just say that? And I smile. Yes, I did!
Lots of people give out to me for feeding horses. Their irrational and biased opinions believe if I feed they never will. The truth is: some people won’t feed their horses. That is why many fields are dotted with bones and the desperately sad evidence of starvation. One child said to me last week, ‘did you see the new bones, Catriona?’ as I threw hay over a wall! I didn’t want to.
So back to telling tales. They go something like this: ‘I drop them hay everyday,’ they say convincingly. ‘That horse gets hayledge and sure they never eat what I give them.’ Yes, I’ve heard them all and I’ve smelt the round bales dropped into fields with diesel poured over them! Why would someone do such a thing? So it appears there is always hay there – it’s just not meant to be ate.
Last Tuesday I had to work in Galway City. I also brought hay for the motorway horses and enough to give a girl feeding two hungry ponies. I’m getting better at running from fields to a counselling room. I’ve learned my lesson after I was feeding one morning and lost track of time; I had an important meeting in the city. A dog running through traffic added another layer of lateness! My friend agreed to take the dog off me, and I had a change of clothes in my car but arrived at the meeting room with no shoes! Wellies didn’t exactly say ‘smart casual’. Yes, I did, I wore them! I laugh now thinking of my early days as a feeder, rushing to work which sometimes requires me to work in the hospital. Pre-hay bags, I would throw bales into my car, even a bale into the passenger seat, and in Galway the weather is not always agreeable to loose hay. I would leave my hay mark where ever I went! It would stand out in a hospital car park!
And, back to Tuesday, the feeder in Galway wouldn’t put hay in her car as she just got it cleaned! I found that so disappointing! She also wouldn’t give me a landmark to find the ponies. I tried but failed to find them.
After work that day, I revisited a building that I once frequented because of work. I once worked there as a hostess and DJ sometimes when I was in NUIG. I sat in my car, filled with haylage, reminiscing until a loud knock brought me back to my present. A big smile greeted me! ‘What are you doing here? And what the hell is in the back of your jeep? And what are you at now?’ came cascading one after the other.
There are moments when you think, will I just tell a tale that is more digestible for him or do I tell the truth? I explained to the man I once worked with about my work and then about my ‘real work’! I chose the truth!
He tripped over his words as they came out. ‘What? Why would you get involved in that? And why would people not feed their horses?’
I smiled and shrugged my shoulders… because I don’t have an answer – especially for his last question.
Before I pulled away, we both looked at the decaying building that once was (what we thought) our spring board to fame and fortune. I said to myself, how the building looked like I felt!!
‘I always thought you’d be something,’ he said quietly as he shook his head from side to side. Wasn’t sure if that was a veiled compliment.
‘Well who would have predicted this one?,’ he looked at me with amazement.
And without thinking, I just said, ‘I’m something to them, I suppose!’
I seem to be losing my ‘bounce back’ feature these days but I’m still feeding. Sometimes we will fall into valleys filled with fears, doubts, and disappointments. But the key is, to climb back to the peak as quickly as possible. Even when energy doesn’t allow it, you have to dig deep. I remember this great quote from one of the Cusack brothers. He said how it is so easy to hide away but a tragedy to never be found. With a purpose, we have to keep going. If I gave up, many horses would be at their gates – let down by me! They are the reason I probably bounce back much quicker now!
This morning I couldn’t feed and my sister told me, she felt that Nollaig (pictured) was giving out to her. She was late and not on my feeding timetable!
This week I’m so grateful to a lovely lady called Betty who has bought the kids on one halting site some Easter eggs. When I go there to feed horses, they face the elements with me to lift, drag, and pull hay to their horses. One of these boys surrendered his pony to me. Why? Because he knew his pony deserved a life he could never give him. I’m grateful to my friends for being there the last few days and today! The snow days has literally brought rescuers down with exhaustion. I’m exhausted and I’m terribly sad but it’s just ‘for now’. Sad about all the horses I will never be able to rescue and sad about all the people who have let them down!
Here’s to Spring and grass…I look forward to it as much as hungry horses do. I’m one step away from taking daily measurements…. but I better resist that one!!
Please think of a rescue near you….and see how you can help them this month! x