By Dr. Joyce The Caring Heart, Spokane, Wa.
The lover of all creatures, St. Francis of Assisi, stated that not only are we to not harm the animals, but we are to defend them and help them when they need it.
Saddlebred mare Commander’s Snazzy Pzazz had lived at our place for a couple of years; it was so long ago now I can’t remember exactly. Anyway, I was still working a full-time job and had so much to do on my mini-farm. I had become very exhausted and burned out, and really needed a good rest. A work friend of mine said her granddaughter’s horse had died, so I asked if the family would like to borrow Snazzy for awhile, which would be helpful for them and give me more of a break in chores to attend to. My friend and her family were all Christians, and seemed very responsible and kindly. I did not own a horse trailer yet, but they borrowed one and picked up Snaz and took her to their place.
Time went by. We were so busy, they did not live close to us, and reports to me by my friend at work indicated Snazzy and the family were doing great!! They especially enjoyed giving the mare baths frequently. After a couple of months, though, I told my son we should go and see how Snazzy was doing for ourselves. Were we shocked!! The poor, previously energetic, flashy horse was so thin, and her personality had changed greatly. We were looking at a skinny, exhausted, broken-spirited nag, droopy and hardly responsive. It was plain to see that Snazzy was starving. I told my friend’s family, right away, that Snazzy was not getting enough food. “Oh, yes, “they said, “Two flakes morning, two flakes night.” (But, how much did those flakes of hay weigh? The average-sized horse needs 20 pounds of good-quality hay per day). They said that, oddly to them, Snazzy would try to eat their pony’s food.
I requested that they return Snazzy to me as soon as possible. They had to borrow a trailer again. In the meantime, my son and I drove out to their place every day, bringing Snazzy sufficient hay, which she gobbled up! It broke my heart to see her in that condition, and so miserable.
Snazzy’s reaction to being back home really gave me insight into how traumatic the experience had been for her. Saddlebred Lady and her colt were still there, and Snazzy stuck to Lady like glue for days and days. Wouldn’t let Lady out of her sight, and seemed scared to death to leave her side. She looked nervous and scared, with her eyes big and her head and tail high. She was on “super-alert.” She needed so much reassurance from her horse friend, Lady. Lady was very good about staying with Snazzy, too. She was an excellent therapist! Snazzy finally settled down.
The Moral of This Story
The family I had loaned Snazzy to had presented very well. They were friendly, well-mannered, well-dressed, church going, and had a nice, green, groomed yard. They had kept horses before, and had one pony there at the time. One would have thought Snazzy would be very well taken care of there. But, the horses’ living quarters were sure not “spiffy” nice. The corral had rusty machinery and junk in it, which are not safe for horses. Apparently, these people had the resources to maintain and project a well-to-do middle-class lifestyle, but they did not want to spend much money at all on horse feed, or time on really cleaning up the horses’ living quarters They were angry with me for asking that Snazzy be returned to me, insisting that her bad condition was not their fault. My work friend cancelled our friendship abruptly, and I have not seen any of them in all these years since.
Through this experience with Snazzy, and experiences with other animals too, I have learned the hard lesson that if I want my animals to be well taken care of, and not harmed physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually, I have to take care of them myself, along with my trusted son, Jon. Even though people can look and sound so good, so sincere, so caring, and so capable of good judgment, I have found it is difficult to find those who really “come through” in those regards, for whatever reasons – lack of knowledge? lack of money? cheap? involved in what they believe are more important priorities? lazy? Who knows? I adopted same policy of caution for everyone - veterinarians, farriers, trainers, and riding friends. I am extremely discriminating of anyone who comes near my horses, and with good reason. Think about it!! They are family members and precious beyond measure. They are captive here, and so they can’t fend for themselves, and it is my responsibility to protect them from any harm of any sort, all possible!!
Obviously, I hope that YOU are always very watchful as to the quality of care your animals are receiving. And, if you are involved in taking care of someone else’s animals, that you provide adequate, sensitive, warm, considerate care. For example, human caregivers’ “sleeping in” so the horses, dogs, cats, or whoever have to wait hours before being fed breakfast, being miserably hungry, does not “cut it.” I recall visiting my work friend one morning, when she had been the one to feed Snazzy and the pony breakfast. For some reason, she waited half the morning, then stuffed a little hay in a bucket for Snazzy. At the time I wondered about it. Such a small amount! Why had she made Snazzy and the pony wait? Was she just too involved in visiting? Didn’t she realize animals experience hunger, as we people do? At the time, I was too inhibited to question her about it. I wish now that I had not just “let it go by.” It was a real, bright, red flag as to what Snazzy would be going through at that place. I’M SO SORRY SNAZ!! I LOVE YOU!!
Dr. Joyce The Caring Heart Copyright 2012