Today I heard myself whispering the words ‘I’m sorry’ to a foal tied to a tyre in a halting site! He had no water and nothing to eat.
Earlier, his owner pulled up at a gate where I was feeding a pony on gravel! He was reported for beating this same pony on the road! They were his words. I felt bad pushing my friend over to talk to him as today I couldn’t. Today, I could not look him in the eye. But I did (a few minutes later) go find the foal he talked about buying. The same foal looked at me with short darting glances as he stared downwards. The word ‘sorry’ repeated again and again as I filled a bucket of water. The word ‘sorry’ said quietly as I held out my fingers to his quivering lips. He didn’t allow me to touch him. My need to reach out and to comfort him was blocked by his tangible fear. My fear about being there became secondary to my need to comfort him. If this owner was reported for beating his pony – why is his pony still on gravel near his home and why is this foal here? Why?
This week the priority was to find a safe place for a colt left on Nama land. Rescues are so full; waiting lists are adding to their stress and their constant struggle to find room and find homes! The latter becoming increasingly difficult! So I said to my friend that I would resort to prayer and lots of prayer as the lady keeping him alive feeding him was increasingly worried about him being attacked frequently by kids throwing stones. My prayers were answered with a call from a lady who was moving out the country to a new home with land – she offered a lifeline to this boy. And you breathe a sigh of relief! I wish people with empty fields who have no farm animals would consider adopting horses whose only option to escape their ‘living hells’ is the pound. Why aren’t more people coming forward to help? Yesterday a lady rang me from Limerick City! There were two ponies tied together along with a goat and cars drove over the blue rope that bound them together to face the urban jungle that is their home. The guards called seemed to have no interest or intent to go out. Why?
On a positive note, I delivered Easter Eggs which were bought by a kind lady for kids who help me carry hay in a halting site. I can’t put into words their gratefulness. They were full of smiles and thanks as they showed me their new pony on the site. Yes, I’m worried about this pony as I’ve already got three off this site who had nothing to eat. One of the nine year olds surrendered his as he wanted a better life for him. Months later he still asks to see pictures of his pony. He made me smile when he asked me ‘what will we do today, Catriona?’ He wanted us all to go do something together. The young owner of the new pony wanted hay for his pony and the many horses over the wall here – the same ones I use to feed daily when they lived on the site. These young boys give me hope.
The donkeys who once stood in a mucky paddock and starved by their wealthy owner are thriving in their foster home and yesterday they got gelded! I was about to stand behind a wall to speak comforting words from a distance as the vet lined up the necessary equipment. Handing me a bucket filled with disinfectant told me I was going no where! I was the reluctant assistant!! Life will never be the same again after witnessing what gelding entails! But an hour later the donkeys were walking with ease back to their grass. They didn’t know the difference once they were back eating.
I am so impressed by Action for Animal Welfare’s march in Clonmel on Thursday. They are in their infancy but have already become a watchdog for welfare in Tipperary and other counties. Their demands for action are constant and those demands are warranted in a week where a pony was rode to death in Cork. The owners thought little of him as he lay on the ground as his once pumping heart started to fade. Death was coming for him and he was about to be freed – not just from the sulky they quickly unclasped from him but free from them: cruel and careless owners who know nothing about being a horse owner! Why isn’t the department matching the reaction of rescues to this crisis? Why?
I won’t dress up this week in colourful words of ‘I’ve got this!’ because I don’t. For the first time I’ve hit the wall of ‘it’s suddenly become too much’. Every week my mental path has been bringing me here. So much has happened that I can’t put into words here. But my straw came when someone told me the other night that I’m being laughed at, being taken for a fool, and basically a joke for doing what I do. For caring, for feeding, for loving horses I might never own.
Why can’t I face these words and return them to the sender? Why would someone want me to swallow these words? Why can’t someone see your visible upset and hear the words ‘it’s OK, I’ve heard these words before!’? Why can’t I fight back? Why do people target people who care? It is now so common for people to shout abuse from cars, for walkers to give out to me as they pass, and for residents close to the horses to ask me to let the horses die from starvation.
What have we become? Are the very characteristics that define us as human being eroded by internal questionable needs unchecked within us. A need to be right, to judge, to elevate ourselves; a need to cause suffering, and a need to ‘other harm’ to distract from our own pain or darkness within. People who get a great fulfilment, even a thrill, from being cruel, are truly frightening. I’ve met some of these people feeding horses.
What have we become that we do this or accept this? Yes, we need to keep fighting the good fight but when one of us can fight no more, someone else needs to take up ‘that sword’ and welcome others to hold it with them. Again in the absence of an official response to those who hold horses illegally and treat them cruelly, it will be left up to rescues and animal advocates to keep fighting for change, whilst they feed, whilst they rescue, and whilst they rehabilitate. Those paid to care couldn’t care any less.
Yes, sometimes you have to call on all angels and hope they do exist to carry you. And if the miracle doesn’t appear, you have to go find it, make it, even create it! It’s the holding on part that becomes increasingly difficult but what is the alternative….
Here’s to miracles… x