This isn’t an easy read, but it’s an important one.
The life stories of the horses are tearjerkers. I can reach in to this article and pull out any one of them, and the sick horror of it is matched by the next story and the next.
“The elderly Arabian gelding, Buddy, once stood on the edge of his own grave, dug by an owner who didn’t want to feed him anymore.”
“Handsome, the one-eyed, 9-foot tall giant bears scars across his body from electric shocks given to him by an owner who duct-taped cans to his hide and sent electric current through them until the draft horse pulled a load ‘properly’ or he dropped.”
Refuge Farms, a 20-acre ranch near Eau Claire, WI is a national horse sanctuary “specializing in saving the ‘diers’ – horses that are old, diseased, severely abused.” Where most would just euthanize the horses, Sandy Gilbert abandoned her lucrative CEO career to save them: “We give medical treatment to horses who need help from humans or tractors to get up when they lay down. So we take them in knowing we can’t ‘do’ anything with them. Except love them.”
On the wall of the horse barn are three Horse Promises Gilbert makes to each horse that arrives. The first Horse Promise begins with, “You are safe here. No one will hurt you here.”
This is reinforced by others. A visiting special education class thought these horses, with their empty eye sockets, scars and jutting ribs were beautiful, because as one 17-year-old said, “”The horses are like us. They need hope, too.”
These horses come to Refuge Farms unwanted and unloved. But as the special education class learned as they hugged the horses and combed burrs out of their tails, hope is something that can be shared by all, and we all deserve a chance to survive.
By now I think I’m beyond shock at the depths humankind can go with torture, abuse and cruelty, beyond head-shaking over the energy we spend on our own ignorance and thoughtlessness and “not in my backyard” smugness, but I’m not beyond sorrow or the raging desire to DO something about it. I’m so glad others are doers too.
We all have pressing needs on our money and our time, and I’m not one to tell you what to do with your money and your time. But I’ve come to realize for myself that every little bit makes a huge difference. If it moves you, donate to Refuge Farms, or any such sanctuary in your area that you know of or pass by or have heard of over the years, most struggling by as not-for-profit.