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Exactly 4 weeks from today, it will all be over…

Exactly 4 weeks from today, it will all be over…

Exactly 4 weeks from this moment, we will all huddle together.  We will cheer.  We will talk about how everything went.  We will laugh.  We will sit together in silence.  We will think about what happened over the last 48 hours.  And…we will cry…and we will think (as always) if only.  If only last winter hadn’t been so hard.  If only the seemingly never-ending rain right now would stop.  If only we could have helped more.  “If only” we will say, think, mutter, dream…over and over.

And we will cry some more.  We will cry ourselves to sleep…likely for days and weeks to come.  We will wake up thinking “if only”.  And it will come and go in waves as we go about our day to day tasks and then we will suddenly be hit once again by the magnitude of what transpired, the magnitude of the number of horses we WERE able to help, the magnitude of lives changed forever, both human and equine, and the magnitude of our mission and how far away the goal seems.  How every time we turn around, there are more and more needing help.  How we feel like we are beating our heads against a wall at times…shoveling sand against tide…fighting what seems to be at times…a losing battle….

I know this, because I’ve been there before.  Twice.  I know how I was affected by the first surrender event that was held here at Pony Tales 3 years ago.  3 years?  Honestly, it is hard for me to even believe it was that long ago.  Some days…it seems like it was just yesterday.  I remember each and every horse that was surrendered 3 years ago though.  Yes, all 56 of them.  I remember hugging owners as they cried on my shoulder not wanting to let go of their horse, but knowing they had to.  Knowing that they were doing what was right by the horse.  Not them.  Not us.  I remember seeing horses with severely contracted tendons who could barely stand.  I remember a gorgeous horse with wobbles who could barely walk.  I remember a horse whose teeth were rotting away from the gums out. Oh, she was so gorgeous.  I remember a horse with severe navicular syndrome at just 7 years of age, who, once she laid down, could not even get herself back up.  I remember looking into the eyes of a horse so riddled with cancer that he could no longer even defecate and telling him that everything was going to be ok.  I remember them all.  And they haunt me…and I think…if only….

There is always a lot of talk and speculation around these events.  Talk of “high euthanasia rates”.  Talk about how we have some sort of “checklist” for what horses “make it through” and those that don’t.  If only it were that simple.  If only it could be that cut and dried…black and white…if this, then that.  If only…we weren’t human….

But, we are.  Just like the weather…we cannot control that.  We are human.  And we care.  So, we will look into the eyes of every horse that is surrendered that day.  Our shoulders will get wet as the owners shed their tears.  We will steal ourselves away into dark corners and cry so no one else sees.  We will hope and we will pray that things will change one day.  We will rejoice in those that have a happy life ahead of them.  We will be there, til the end, for those who do not.  And we will remember them…forever…and think…if only….

4 weeks from now it will all be over.  Every horse that is surrendered on November 17, 2019 will receive veterinary care and training evaluations.  If you would like to contribute to this enormous undertaking, no amount is ever too small.

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And so, it is done.

Like all good things, this too must come to an end. The hot days of summer, are over. The leaves of the trees are now vibrant with beautiful color as the days shorten. The hay fields turn dormant preparing for the upcoming winter. And so, it is done. There will be no more hay for us to cut this year. We worked hard all summer long to crop as much as we could for the horses here depending on us. We put in countless hours cutting, raking, tetting, baling, stacking. But, it was not just us. This was not an undertaking we could have completed without help. From the farmer who let us lease his land to the people who ran for supplies. Each person who helped, was needed. Every task that was performed, was necessary. There were no “small” jobs. There was not one helper we didn’t need. To manage, cut, bale, stack, etc. the amount of hay that we now have, took an army of incredible people doing whatever it is that they could do to help.

So, as we went to bring home the tractor and return the last hay wagon to its owner, I looked at the beautiful fall colors in the trees, the corn still standing to dry, and the fields that we cut that will now lie untouched under the snow for the next few months. And I could not help but reminisce on this experience over the last few months and to once again find myself humbled by the kindness and generosity of our community, our supporters, and of course, our local farmers. The people who dropped everything they were doing to come out and get the hay cut, baled, and stacked while the getting was good. The people who took time out of their own lives to help, even though there was no reason they had to, other than the simple fact that they wanted to. The people who stacked hundreds and hundreds of bales in that barn on the hottest of days. The people who offered advice, equipment, and the most valuable gift of all: their time. Why? For the horses.

Many of these people don’t own horses. Many of them don’t want horses. Some of them, don’t even like horses. (Weird, right?! Lol) But, they love animals and they don’t want to see them suffer. They support what we do because it is the right thing to do. They help us, so we can help the horses. It is really that simple. They don’t want anything in return. They don’t even ask for anything in return. They are happy just knowing that by helping us, they are helping the horses. They are happy knowing that they helped in whatever way they could. And for them, that is enough.

And so, it is done. There will be no more hay to cut this year and we will not need their help again until next year. But, we won’t forget them. With every bale of hay that we feed, we will think of them. With every nicker from the horses as we bring them this delicious hay, we will think of them. This hay would not be here if it wasn’t for their help. And so, we would like to give a ginormous thank you to each and everyone of you. In no particular order: Doug Aspen, Lenny Bowe, Jon Tuschl, Wade Aspen, Pat Peterson, Roxanne Sward, Adraic Bethel, Marisa Prince, Sam McCoy, Trevor Larson, Chuck Schindler, Rich Lofthus, Matt Larson, Edwin Martinez, Tim Lauffer, Dale Bergeson, and of course, the Krall family. There are simply not enough words to express our gratitude. The horses’ bellies will be happy and full because of you all. So, thank you. From the bottom of our hearts. You are all rockstars in our book!

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7 horses in 7 days!

7 horses brought to safety in 7 days. Since last Monday (Sept. 30) we have been able to bring in 7 at risk horses thanks to all of our supporters and donors. This is truly something we could not do without you all. To be able to get a call for 3 horses at risk and to be able to help them, no questions asked, is a dream come true for us. And at the same time, to be able to work towards saving others from the auction just a few short days later, is nothing short of amazing for us! We are horse rescuers. Our goal, our dream, is to be able to help them out of whatever situation it is that they are in that puts them at risk of abandonment, abuse, neglect, or slaughter. And every day, thanks to all of you, we get closer to our goal and our dream becomes a reality.

The first 3 horses brought to safety in the last 7 days were 3 horses that had found themselves in a horrifying situation. Law enforcement stepped up and removed them from that situation where they then spent the next year recovering. We cannot thank the wonderful people who took them in enough. But, that was a temporary situation. And with winter bearing down on us, the horses needed to find homes. With killbuyers and flippers raising their hands at every turn, their only safe option was to go to an organization that could fully vet the potential new homes. But, then, to find an organization who could take in 3 horses at once, again with winter bearing down on us, was not an easy task. Thanks to all of you though, we were here for them and the wonderful people who took on the expense, the time, the heartache, and the enormous task of rehabbing them, can now rest easy knowing that their future is safe.

At the same time though, we were in the midst of fundraising to save horses from the auction taking place just a few days later. While we had a lofty goal that we were unable to meet, we were able to save 4 from the slaughter pipeline, from ending up in the wrong hands, and from an unsure future. Thanks to all of you, 4 more beautiful souls are resting easy, settling into their new surroundings, and preparing for their future with wonderful homes who will give them the love and the attention that they all deserve. And there are more horses on their way here soon.

While this is our goal, this is our dream, to be able to help as many as we can, it is an exhausting task at times. The weather has been completely working against us and our bodies are weary, but this too shall pass and the horses out there in need are on their way and we will be there for them. But, we need you to be there for them as well. Without you, we cannot help them. Without you, the fate of the 7 horses brought to safety this past week, would be uncertain. Without you, we would not be here. So, we thank you for your past support, your current support, and your future support. You, our supporters, our donors, are the backbone of this organization. And thanks to you, we have been able to help 59 horses already this year. Help us help more. There is no horse out there that deserves to be abandoned, abused, neglected or slaughtered. Help us keep as many of them from that horrible fate as possible. Thank you all!!

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I know my name is Mufasa.

I know my name is Mufasa. Or it is now anyway. I had a different name before. I had a different home before. I had a different life before. But, none of you knew me then. None of you knew me when my body was strong. None of you ever got to see what a majestic animal I was. I worked so hard for my owner. I did everything he asked of me. And I have the scars to prove it. He worked me hard and I did what was asked of me. But, just like him, I got older. The work became harder for me. The food he would give me was not enough anymore. I tried and tried to do my job everyday, but it became so hard. And then one day, he loaded me onto the trailer. I had no idea where I was going, but it was nice to be riding instead of pulling.

We pulled up to a large building with many other trailers. I could hear dozens of other horses and at first, I was a bit excited about who my new friends would be. But, I soon realized that the others were scared. There was so much desperation in their voices. So much fear. And then there were those who just stood quiet, with their heads down, almost as if defeated. I no longer wanted to meet any of them. I no longer wanted to make friends. I quickly realized that this was not a new home for me. I was unloaded and led into a small pen where I stood, for hours, on concrete with no food or water. My owner left me there without saying a word. He didn’t even want to keep my halter. I think I was forgotten as soon as he walked out the door. All my years of faithful work, forgotten. I became one of the forgotten. One of the ones you never hear from or see again. One of the ones that people like to pretend don’t exist. But, I do, though I no longer much wanted to.

More horses came in after me, but I no longer cared. It had become clear that I would either die here or somewhere else soon. People came in and they would stop briefly and look at me and talk about how old I probably am. They would walk away and start cooing over the younger horses who were in way better shape than me. I used to look like that though. Before. And so I just stood there. My head getting lower and lower. My legs aching from standing on the concrete. And my mind drifted off to happy times. Days of sunshine and friends and running through the fields. I was lost in this dreamland when I suddenly heard a gasp. I looked up briefly to see a girl standing there, trying to reach her hand to me. I turned towards her and she gasped again as she saw my broken lip. I quickly turned away to try to hide it, sure she would walk away. But, she didn’t. She stayed with me. For a long time. Eventually she did walk away as I heard her say “You’re coming home with me today, I promise.”

It took several more hours before I saw her again. And when I did, I was in a ring surrounded by people who looked at me funny. I felt as though I was a novelty to them. There was no affection or compassion on their faces. It made me feel very uneasy, but as I was turned around, I looked up into the stands, and there she was. The girl who promised to take me home. My hopes began to rise as I saw her bidding against these other people. But, they kept going. I was getting so nervous about who would win me. Would she keep her promise? I began to feel as though she wouldn’t be able to. Everything happened very fast and as I was led out of the ring, I had no idea where I was going. I imagined I was going straight outside to the pens with all the screaming, scared horses in them. I didn’t want to go out there. I would have rather just laid down where I was and died. Instead, I was turned and moved back into the pen I had been in. There were very few horses left in the entire building by then. I still did not know my fate and worried and feeling defeated, I let my head hang even lower as my legs ached even more from the concrete.

And then…there she was. The girl who had promised me was there. She came up to me again and told me everything was going to be ok now. She told me I was safe. She told me she would take care of me and make sure nothing bad ever happened to me. And I felt alive again. She had to leave again, but I now trusted her. She had made a promise and she had kept it. The people who owned the building brought me out to the trailer and I happily climbed on with the others she must have made promises to. We were all brought to the same place and we got to stay together while we adjusted to our new surroundings. Some of them were still scared and a bit afraid of her. But, not me. She would pet me and talk to me and bring me so much food. Soon I began to feel stronger and I heard others say how much better I was looking. I feel better too. I had a different name before. But, now, I know my name is Mufasa. And I like it.

Mufasa’s story is no different than so many that we see at the slaughter auctions. The old, the thin, the “washed-up”, the “useless” all dumped off like yesterday’s garbage without a second thought. I was that girl that made him the promise, but I could not have done so without the help from all of you. We shudder to think of where this gentle giant would be now if it wasn’t for all of you. This Saturday, there will be more just like him and we are hoping to walk in there and be able to promise them safety. Please help make sure we can do that. Please Give Now!

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How can you help in October?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease.  As many of you know, I finished my battle with breast cancer exactly 5 years ago this October.  It was this battle and my inability to care for my Kirby during that time, that has led us to where we are today.  This year, to celebrate not just 5 years of Pony Tales, but 5 years of being cancer-free, we are hoping to help more horses than ever before in a single month.  In the final days of September, we have already found homes for 6 horses.  In the final days of September, we have taken in 5 more.  This Saturday, we are hoping to save 10 more from the slaughter auction.  That will be 21 horses either finding safety or homes in just 2 weeks.  Imagine how many we can help over the next 30 days…

But, we need your help.  It costs approximately $1000 per horse to save them from the slaughter trucks.  We can only save as many as we have funds for.  So far, we barely have enough for one. 🙁  If that is all we have funds for, that is all we will be able to help.  The rest of them are counting on you to save them.  So, I ask you, in celebration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, in celebration of my birthday, in celebration of 5 years of Pony Tales, and in celebration of 5 years cancer-free, please help them.  Give Now!