Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ruby, The Horse Who Captured My Heart --

Yes, I will tell you about her. Also, I want to tell you about a wonderful local organization that rescues and rehabilitates neglected and abused horses. It was my major pleasure to visit their facility this past Saturday, which was their monthly adoption and visiting day. First, though, I’ll preface the details of what brought me there at that particular moment in time, with a bit of background.

One of the very noticeable phases the teenage girls of my time experienced was a strong interest in horses. I remember well the excitement of my high school girlfriends about "going horse-back riding" one or more times a week; I remember their descriptions of horses and I remember the sincerity of their passion about horses. I’m thinking that maybe the interest young women have in horses transcends generations and was not specific to the days of my youth. Anyway, those years, for me, were a time of dealing with survival issues, so I was not able to become involved with or think about horses then. Later on (years later), I became a strong animal advocate and have remained so, over the years, working on behalf of marine, farm, wild, and companion animals (dogs & cats). In fact, humane education and animal advocacy are a big part of my identity. But I never championed horses ... not until now.

A couple of years ago, I began writing legislative letters, urging enactment of laws to protect American wild horses and horses in general, from being sent to slaughterhouses. Eventually, a law was passed to ban horse slaughter in the U.S., though these magnificent animals are now shipped, under horrendous conditions, across Canadian and Mexican borders, to be killed there for European and Asian "delicacy" markets. Please read some of my earlier posts that urge letter-writing to legislators to protect our horses from this cruel fate.

Well, that’s enough preface. About two months ago, I was flooded with a deep, spiritual desire to make the acquaintance of horses in a hands-on way, no small wish for someone whose horse experience was limited to feeding Jake, the milk wagon horse, an occasional sugar cube when I was a tiny tyke ... and on one occasion, having a "pony ride" on a poor, patient horse at an amusement park when I was nine years old. As an aside (you know I frequently do asides), Jake faithfully toted his milk wagon around town for daily deliveries and would, occasionally, get disgusted with his toting job and just begin running wild, all over the place, until he either became tired or felt satisfied – with his wagon driver hanging on for dear life.

Anyway, my recent desire to get to know horses led me to Horse Haven of Tennessee. I was welcomed there by Nina, who founded and heads the effort there. A number of capable, cheerful volunteers were on hand and three of them tutored me on various things I needed to know. I took it all in. Remembering my few up-front meetings with Jake (and the driver’s instructions to "hold your hand flat") I asked if I could feed a treat carrot to a horse. Most of the horses were outside, but two were still in the barn. I felt drawn to one of them, softly called to her, and she responded by affectionately nuzzling my neck and then kissing the side of my face, much like Dixie (my dog) often does. So I held a carrot on one of my very "flattened" piano-playing hands and darling Ruby gently and carefully took the treat, and then another, and then another. I fell totally in love with this wonderful horse. On my drive home, the hauntingly beautiful song "Ruby" (from the 50s or 60s) floated into my head and I've played it on the piano many times since. Ruby is available for adoption, as are several other nice horses at Horse Haven.

Horse Haven needs financial contributions to help with the costs of caring for the horses who are there and with the expenses involved with rescuing others. Check out the HHT website at
www.horsehavenoftn.com. to read their news and see the horses. You will love it!

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