Click on the photo to enlarge and read.
I guess, if you really want to get a feel for what we have done and what we believe, read these stories. These are only a few of the rescued horses who have touched and changed our lives.
We rescued Jasmine's herd from starvation when Jasmine was 11. She had her yearling baby by her side and was about to give birth to another baby.
Only problem -- Jasmine had a broken hip that had never been treated, she was emaciated, dehydrated, and lame due to no hoof care; and she had a respiratory problem. We followed our vet's orders and, 3 weeks after her rescue, Jasmine presented to us her new baby boy.
Jasmine gained weight and strength and was a very good mommy, considering she had a broken hip and couldn't really teach her baby everything she wanted to.
After her baby was weaned, Jasmine went and lived at a really nice retirement home. But soon her other hip gave out, probably from having to work double hard since the one side was broken. It was just too hard for Jasmine to get around anymore, and we had our veterinarian administer humane euthanasia. It is amazing that Jasmine survived her starvation, it is amazing that her new foal was born healthy, it is amazing that Jasmine stayed strong until her baby was weaned, and then she let us know that life was really getting hard for her. Staying alive and strong for her babies took a lot of willpower. Her babies, Minerva and Hero, live here with us and are a part of our horsemanship program.
I met Aspen nine or more days after State and County law enforcement had already met him. When I met him, he looked like this:
I knew in 3 seconds he was still alive, and I could not understand how our humane society, sheriff, and state vet could have known about him and left him like this. I don’t know how long he had been like this. This is how he was when I met him; a "humane" officer had called me and asked if I could bring some hay, as though that would help. (I consider this to be an extreme example of long-term ignorance, for this "humane" officer had held that title for many years, yet had never bothered to learn anything about basic horse health. After all of those years, it can no longer be considered ignorance. At that point it is serious irresponsibility and possibly even neglect! ) So, when I saw Aspen like this I immediately called our veterinarian to come, and our veterinarian immediately called the proper agencies to receive permission to humanely euthanize poor Aspen. Why did he have to suffer for this long, for this many days. Because of ignorance, irresponsibility, neglect, lack of willpower by all of the people in charge. All of the agencies who were supposed to know and care about Aspen, about animals in our county and state, DID know about him. But they did not care. They could not have cared. They did not have any willpower to do what should have been done. They certainly did not do what was humane. And even though they were not Aspen's owners, they were just as responsible for Aspen's continued suffering. Because they had no willpower, no care to do what was right. How could Aspen still be alive after all of that time and suffering? This was in a very cold South Dakota winter, and the horses had no food or water. Aspen had been put in this falling-down building and left there with garbage, just like garbage. There were other dead baby horses out in the snow, and another one in this building. And remember, law enforcement and our humane society had known about this situation for at least nine days. And still, Aspen lay here like this, suffering so. How could he still be alive? Because of his willpower! This is how much willpower horses are capable of. I think Aspen was waiting for his real horse rescuer to arrive, so he could know what kindness and compassion felt like. So he could know that for sure, kindness and compassion really do exist; and some humans really are capable of it. So he could know that, even though it was too late to be made healthy, it was not too late to be loved. It was not too late to receive a name, a pillow, a blanket, and the humane act of our veterinarian to bring him peace. It was not too late for Aspen to know that he mattered. And that his story would be told. And so here I am telling Aspen's story yet again. Every time I tell this story it is with the hope that it brings great awareness to our community. I guess, not just awareness but also compassion, prevention, and the will -- the willpower -- to do what is good and right.
Aspen's story is awfully sad; I know it is. But if you decide to get involved with a horse rescue organization such as ours, you will hear some stories like these. We aren't like other horse places. There are many good barns around here -- boarding facilities, training facilities, breeding facilities, places you can go for riding lessons -- you can avoid the rescue, sanctuary, shelter, animal welfare part if you want to. But if you are in our horsemanship program, sometimes the rescue stories come up. The best thing to do really is to become aware of these stories and learn from them. Get a feel for this strong willpower and awareness that horses have. And become aware of how it is possible to learn from them.
While I only knew Aspen for an hour or so, I have known Lily for 8 years now!
Lily and one other horse were put out in a field during a cold South Dakota winter with no food, no water, no shelter. Lily's friend died. County officials said the other horse had been lying there dead for some time before Lily was noticed. What willpower did that take for Lily! To keep waiting and hoping while she was freezing and starving, standing there by her dead friend, her only friend. When we rescued Lily she had a body condition score of 1 (there is nothing lower, only death). She was loaded with worms, had received no hoof care, and her halter was growing into her head. She had nothing left but willpower. That is how she survived. Her recovery, growth, and development was slow. A few months after her rescue we did put her up for adoption, but no one wanted Lily. She had a long way to go in her recovery, her future was too unpredictable, we could not guarantee that she would someday be a riding horse or even a healthy horse. So she came to live here. Unlike many of our "rescues," Lily did recover and grow and has become an excellent horsemanship partner here. We never want her to lose her willpower, her spirit, her dignity, her quirkiness, her individuality. Lily is a survivor. I learn something from her every single day.
Saint Nick's story.
Sometimes I still can't believe that Saint Nick's story is true. His owners left him in a road ditch near our shelter, in the middle of a cold South Dakota winter. They tied him up there to a fence in the ditch. And that's where he spent that night. Alone, cold, frightened, emaciated, injured, on the Eve of Christmas Eve. A neighbor found him the next morning and brought him to us, and our veterinarian met us at the clinic, on Christmas Eve Day. A horse does not get in this emaciated condition overnight. What willpower these horses have, to survive for so long. I really do believe that most of them try to hold on for as long as they can, believing that a true rescuer will come along so they can know what love feels like, before they let themselves go. In Saint Nick's case, we might have helped him get through his starvation; but his leg injuries were too severe and he could not be saved. You see, his owners had transported him in a trailer that had holes in the floor, and Saint Nick's leg(s) were dragging through the floor of the trailer as the trailer was moving. And still, he wanted to believe in humans. He was a perfect gentleman for us and as the Vet worked on his legs.
He still believed in humans. That they are capable of goodness. What willpower these horses have! Willpower to survive, willpower to please us and trust us, and willpower to forgive. Surely we can learn a lot from them.
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This blog is written by Darci Hortness from South Dakota. That's me. I'm the resident, volunteer manager of New Hope Horse Shelter, which is HQ for DoubleHP (Horse Help Providers, Inc.)
We are a 501c3 nonprofit and have been for more than 20 years. We are a very small organization. Our 501c3 purpose is "for the prevention of cruelty to animals." Our mission statement is this: To assist law enforcement in starvation/neglect cases involving horses; to encourage responsible horse ownership; and to develop safe, educational, and fun opportunities for all levels of horse lovers -- so that we all may experience the magic of horses."
We are a Horse Sanctuary and Learning Center, so 12 of our rescued horses now get to call our Shelter their permanent home. Humans may come here and learn about horses and learn about themselves with the help of horses. We have a horsemanship program now, and it is strongly influenced by Parelli Natural Horsemanship. Several of our participants are going through the Parelli Levels, auditions, certifications, etc.
We have done a lot of rescue. Seen lots of suffering, starving, freezing, and dying. Just in case you wondered if I have actually been "in the trenches" I assure you I have spent more than my fair share of time down there. For proof, go to our page for horse story archives from 2007-2011 and read some of the stories. Some happy some sad. Some nearly unbelieveable, like Jack Frost and Saint Nick and Shadow & Bella and their poor friends. And many many others.
I feel fortunate that I don't have to go to a real office job anymore. I live here with the horses. And rescued cats and dogs too. And so I DO have a very important job; I just don't get paid for it. Not money anyway. The animals pay me plenty. just not with money. I don't recognize birthdays anymore but I am over 60 now. I do a lot of manual horse chores and, with this many horses, that can be a lot especially during the winter. I stay motivated and positive though, with warm clothes and the knowledge of physical exercise as it relates to mental well-being and all things healthy. We also have some part-time paid employees who do a lot of the stall cleaning and feeding. And some of our horsemanship participants are willing to help with chores if we need the help when they are here. My husband also lives here with me. Though he has a "real" job to go to in the city. Which is good, because without that we would not be able to have our Horse Shelter and do what we do for the animals here. This is where our hay, tractor maintenance, snow removal, and entire facility comes from. This is what we decided to do in life -- help some animals, as many as we have time money and space for -- and find ways to provide opportunities for other humans to enjoy the horses too, to help with their care and become their sponsors and partners. And when we put all of these individual picture frames together, the resulting big production is something like this: it's a story about some very special animals and the people who truly love and care for them, people who continue to learn from and with the animals every single day, and who spread the word and experience on to other humans from county to city to state to nation to world, people who indirectly help with our original purpose of "prevention of cruelty to animals" and our original mission statement which includes a hope for improved equine welfare and continuing education among all horse owners. And a hope that somehow, with our stories, we can help turn that education into compassion. These horses are our friends, our buddies. They are not like other animals on the farm. They are not really like dogs & cats that are generally accepted in our houses, and they certainly are not like cows sheep pigs and chickens who are generally accepted on our dinner plates. Horses are special, unique. And one of the most special things about them is how much they can teach us about ourselves. I kid you not! Spend some time in our horsemanship program learning about non-verbal communication and different personalities, and I will dare you to not let it have an affect on other parts of your life. At home, at work, in meetings, on the playing field, in life in general.
I certainly do appreciate the help we have. But, we can always use volunteers. At first, it can seem like really hard work. cleaning stalls, shoveling snow, putting hay out, emptying water buckets, etc. But it gets better. It is excellent exercise. It is rewarding and purposeful. You don't have to dress up. And you get to be around horses!
We can also use more donations and income in general. As I mentioned, we are 501c3, so donations are tax deductible to the full extent within our Laws.
If you have any questions or suggestions about our organization or programs, please email me at