I know this question has been posed before, but not by us, specifically. So, with everything that has been happening over the last few months, I feel as though it is time to broach the subject with you all. But…where to begin…?
There are so many reasons that come to mind. First and foremost, as always, is my Kirby. But, while he set this all into motion, in the end, it really isn’t JUST because of him. I have been a horse lover since the day I was born. Ask anyone. In fact, as soon as Nate and I even talked about moving out here, my first thought was that I would be able to once again have horses. That was in 2009 and we got our first horses in 2010. Kirby did not come along until 2013. So, the love and respect and appreciation I had for horses, and all animals really (shout out to the dogs and the cats and the goats and the chickens) was already there. But, because of him, my eyes were opened. Because of him, I entered a world I didn’t even know existed. Because of him, I am where I am today. But….
It wasn’t just him. While he holds, and forever will hold, an enormous part of my heart, it was the thought of all the others out there in need. I’ve mentioned how when I saw him needing a home that my first thought was “who is going to take in a 2yo, one-eyed arabian?” and the answer, of course, was “ME!” At the time, I did not care if he could ever be ridden. I did not care if I would be able to “use” him. All I cared about was giving him the best life I could…he deserved it. And in the end, I wish I could have done more. I wish with every fiber of my being that his life would have been longer. That there was SOMETHING I could have done to make it where he was still with me today. But, life had other plans….
What I do know, is that I did give him a good life. He was loved and adored and I was able to ride him once he grew. And I bought him a fancy saddle and I bought him a fancy bridle and he had the best care and everyone at the barn loved him and spoiled him and gave him attention when I couldn’t be there. And my heart shattered into a million pieces when he left me. And honestly, I cannot even believe I’m able to even talk about this now. But, I have come to realize, that him leaving me…was as important as him coming into my life to begin with. It opened my eyes to yet another world that most everybody tries to avoid…the world where they leave you…and you have to let them go. The world where they are suffering, but your gut reaction is to do everything within your power to keep them with you. The world where people believe that the pain they themselves will suffer if they let the horse go, somehow outweighs the pain and suffering that the horse is experiencing. It’s an ugly world. Possibly uglier than the “horse world” itself. But, it exists. It is real. And it hurts…
So, why do we do what we do? We can’t save them all. We can’t help them all. No matter how much we want to. But, we can save and help the ones we can. Many times though, in order to help them, we have to enter that world where we let them go. We have to enter the ugliest world out there, over and over. And we hate it. But, it’s what is right…for them. We kick. And we scream. And we cry. And we struggle within ourselves. Maybe we should do this. Or let’s try this. Or what if this happens. And we have an internal battle within ourselves even though the entire time, we know the answer…let them go…
While that increases our pain, our suffering, our tears, our sleepless nights…it decreases theirs. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but we suck it up and we carry on…for them. We are an open door, full circle of life shelter. We do not have to be, rather we choose to be. If I had known how everything would end with Kirby…I would still do it all again. As painful as it is for me to even talk about him still to this day, over 2 years since he left me, his life, and ultimately his death, gave me the strength that I now need. I falter. I question myself constantly. I wonder, if only we do this with this horse or that with this horse, can we “keep them alive”. And 9 times out of 10, we can. But…why? For who? For the horse? Or for us….?
Horses live in the now. They do not go to bed at night and dream of tomorrow or think about the past. This is one reason you can see how grateful they are when they are saved. They are in a terrible place and suddenly no longer are. And they know it. And they show it. And they appreciate it. But, they are not dwelling on the past. They are thinking about their current situation. Once out of a bad situation, they are happy, but if they are still in pain, they are thinking about that also. They want to walk to the water tank, but it’s so far away. They’re so thirsty or hungry, and you can actually see them psych themselves up to make the journey…just for a little food or water…they suffer. So…we do what is right for them…we let them go…and end their suffering.
That is why we do what we do. Their suffering must end. No matter if it’s just getting them out of a bad situation and into a loving home or if it requires us making that call…that nobody else would make…for them. “Saving” a horse, or any animal for that matter, does not always mean that they are kept alive at all costs…no matter how much we want it to… Sometimes, the only way to “save” them is to end their pain. And we will still struggle within ourselves, and we will cry, and we will battle our emotions, and we will lose sleep, but in the end…if their suffering has ended…they have been saved.