Sharon + Susie + Della
I knew that I wanted my first horse to be a rescue. I investigated what this would involve and found I was disturbingly deficient in hands-on experience caring for horses. I began making inquiries, offering to work for free for several people who owned horses, just for the experience.
The first few attempts were not successful. I was disappointed but I understood. Any horse owner is going to be guarded about the liability issues of allowing an inexperienced person (childhood riding lessons notwithstanding) handle their horses. Then, one evening, I ran across a listing on the internet of a horse trainer’s business very near my home. I sent a doubtful instant message offering “free labor” and much to my surprise, the trainer called me back. She was actually willing to consider me further to help her in some way on a volunteer basis. The trainer is a young woman who enjoys talking about what she does and sharing information. She allowed me to gain hands-on care experience working directly with and caring for a few of the horses she trained. I could not have hoped for a better opportunity.
It gets better! This talented and incredibly busy young woman also coordinates the equine service of the Kentucky Humane Society (KHS). And then low and behold, after she had some time to assess my abilities and potential, she suggested I might be interested in adopting a little bay mare I eventually named Della. Poor little Della was discovered abandoned in Eastern Kentucky. Della was severely emaciated. Ultimately, it was determined Della’s development had been stunted due to the extended period of malnutrition she suffered. At the time, she was only three years old. For the foreseeable future (maybe forever) Della is too small and underdeveloped for a grown adult to ride her. No one seemed to want her and I jumped at the chance! KHS also had a mule up for adoption, her name is Susie. She was born and raised completely feral in a free-roaming herd on an abandoned strip mine in rural Eastern Kentucky. A first adoption attempt failed when Susie jumped a fence and ran loose and the owner did not want her anymore. Susie returned to the rescue. A second potential adoption fell through when no one showed up to collect Susie.
I wanted Susie! I wanted any horse I own to have a horse companion. These are herd animals. At first, Della and Susie avoided contact with humans. I started working on gaining their trust. I spent a few hours with them just about every day. Previously, Susie the Mule was unapproachable. Now, my Susie will stand in place without a halter and enjoy an all-over curry and brush. She also seems to enjoy rubs and scratches and neck hugs. She has not been trained to do this but she will move with me and stand next to me. Della walks right up to me and accepts lots of rubs and scratches. Della especially enjoys treats. And she is a thinker. She likes to watch everything I do. I needed to fix a door on the back of the barn and Della stood next to me with her nose inches away while I worked. Occasionally I would stop and let her sniff the tools. She stayed right there. I love my horses. I am so lucky to have them!
What #RightHorse means to me
The universe permitted me to find the horses I needed and let my horses find their way to the human they need. My horse, my mule and me have all found each other. I needed them. I think they needed me. I genuinely believe we are all much better for having found our way to each other. I am looking forward to our lives together!