Popeye: 30 yr old Rescue Horse at Kimberlin Farms
Photo by Lauren Pigford of Lauren Pigford Studio
Okay, so horses of all kinds and ages ROCK. In my lifetime with horses (not divulging age here) I’ve stumbled upon a “secret” value to horses that I wish to share with others. This “secret” is quite simply that “Rescues Rock!” Naturally, people attach a value to a horse based on performance, competition value, or riding ability. So what value does ole back-yard Smokey, or Old Geezer Blue, or Lame Jane possibly have to offer? Even if they can be ridden, they aren’t competition worthy. What does that skinny horse down the street in the neighbor’s small, barren pasture possibly have to offer? If they’re skinny that just means their old, right? Old horses get skinny, right? Sure, they look bad, but there’s a reason….they must just be sick. Hum…all of them…that must be it?
Chances are, that skinny horse you drive by is a diamond in the rough just needing a little polishing in order to shine brightly once again. As is the case with the rescue horses I’ve encountered in my lifetime. One being my very first horse, Sampson, an OTTB who’d been “turned out to pasture” and forgotten for years to basically fend for himself in Mississippi. My mom and dad bought him for me mostly because my mom, being a lifelong horsewoman herself, felt sorry for him and the emaciated state he was in. She knew his luck would run out soon, and didn’t want to see him end up at the “killers”—even though he wouldn’t have brought much price for pound because of being so underweight. But, also, she was able to see something in his eyes that others had missed. This is because she’d been taught by horses to look beyond and see the hidden value…..the potential. She’d learned from horses to give chances and to take risks, no matter what others tell you makes sense or doesn’t. She learned from horses to listen to her own heart and instincts…and that voice inside that tells us which path to take.
Well, she was right! Sammy went on to become the most awe-inspiring, wondrous teacher I’ve had to date in my lifetime. I know without a doubt that horse loved me & was GRATEFUL for having found me after going through his rough years of hunger and neglect. This horse was ride able….and show -worthy. He was a self-confidence builder for me and a lesson that hard-work and gritty determination does pay off. It wasn’t easy; many a time did he dump me and challenge me! Many a time did I learn to meet his challenge! He let me know that force would never equal success with him. If a fight was what I wanted, you better believe he’d deliver! I realize now, he “let” me win some….but he eventually taught me how to more effectively “win” his challenges! He showed me through trial and error that true success comes through patience and consistency and not tiresome, yeehaw, stubborn (I’m after all a Taurus)”Horse you WILL do what I ask!” dominance.
Sampson was one of my greatest accomplishments. But far greater than the beauty and wonderful riding horse that he became, which consequently made me a good rider, was the special bond and relationship that we formed. Going through trials and tribulation…the ups and the downs….the humility and the success… my greatest joy was simply walking in the barn, calling out “Sammy Sue” and having him run to his stall door and nicker with wild excitement every time I came in the barn. That horse was ALWAYS happy to see me and let me know it! Every time he greeted me was like the first time he’d ever seen me. He was ALWAYS grateful to have me to his very last day! Anthropomorphize this or that… his unconditional, loyal, and count on me affection….genuine LOVE……warms my soul to this day and is one of the main reasons I’m on such a mission to spread the joy that all horses, but especially rescue horses, have to offer people.
Horses teach lessons in love and the self-confidence and respect that consequently develop from such bonds. Horses teach you the value that lies within your own hearts. They show us our own capacity to love, selflessly, and the rewards of such that feed our souls and help us to inspire, encourage others, and meet the challenges that life throws at us. They teach us that success in life is not railroading down the train tracks rolling over anything and everyone in our path. Sure, we may get ahead that way- for awhile. We may be profitable and successful in terms of society’s standards for success. But how will we “feel” about ourselves? Will our soul’s be at peace, be content, be happy and joyful? You will have to answer this question for yourself. For me, rescue horses have given me my answer.
Rescue horses are special amongst horses. Rescue horses never forget where they came from, what they’ve gone through. Rescue horses communicate more effectively with people. Some words that sum up rescue horses from my own experiences are: grateful, courageous, loyal, and open to communication. I’m not sure I can explain this adequately, but there is something about them that makes them extra special when it comes to being effective teachers. Their own breadth of experience makes them wiser. They are on another plane, a higher level. They see into our own hearts and more quickly reflect our own strengths and weaknesses. They just plain better understand us and bond with people more quickly and more powerfully. They leave us with an experience that we can draw upon long after they’re gone. The value is forever with us as we walk through our own life and meet the challenges that will inevitably come our way. We all have challenges. I have huge challenges ahead, but I’m not giving up. The harder I fall, the longer I’ll climb and the more determined I’ll be to reach the top of where I’m climbing to. But I won’t railroad others along the way. I won’t steam roll on past and not stop when I see reason to slow down! I’ll get where I’m going, and I’ll be proud of it when I get there. I’ll be the owner of my soul because I didn’t compromise my integrity. All of this because of the most true and honest experiences of my lifetime with rescue horses. Experiences that I can forever draw upon for clarity, motivation and inspiration. Experiences which I can share with others in order to pass on the valuable lessons that I have learned. Hopefully, I’ve answered the question as to why I think “Rescues Rock!"