Conversations get around, people talk to other people......and eventually a part of that conversation gets back to you and you hear something that makes you feel bad....makes you feel awkward.....makes you feel angry and sad.
It is easy to play arm chair quarterback when you aren't ever going to be on the field. Easy to say "I could have done this or would have done that"....easy to belittle others choices.
I did not talk much about Mercy's death, but today I will.
I wish it was the story of Black Beauty.......I wish it was the story of how this horse turned into a lesson pony or of how she was adopted by some millionaire....but it isn't, but it is a story of how we stepped up for a horse when no one else would and made a decision out of love and responsibility...how we did the right thing even though it broke our hearts.
Mercy was starved almost to death last winter...and then confiscated by the local humane society when her owner could not, would not begin a proper feeding program. I was asked by the humane society to take her into our program and we did. I had visited Mercy at the humane society and Mercy had some issues...but after what she had been through, I understood. I said we would give it a try. I knew I could heal her body.....but was not sure about the mind.
The next week I went and got her.
It was apparent that she needed a medicated bath, louse powder, foot work....mane and tail combed....and so we began. Mercy did not want to be haltered but we got her haltered anyway....she did not want to be combed and some days it took two or three of us to get it done. We dewormed her, we bathed her and had to take care of her hind legs......she kicked at us..she would scream at us....she hated folks handling her. She took opportunities to bite us if she could reach us..she would kick out with both hind legs. We worked with her every day. We used positive reinforcement but the behavior was often unpredictable and out of the blue. We would frequently hold a foreleg up in order to brush her hind quarters...so she couldn't kick....and yet she would kick anyway.
The rule was set......
NO ONE was allowed in her stall or paddock except me. I worked with her each night, fed her, cleaned her stall and brushed her. No volunteers could handle her unless they were assisting me. I think I was making some progress....she stopped trying to bite me and she also rubbed on me, something she had never done before.... she loved to get a treat from my hand...she would finally lower her head and take a deep breath of relaxation. We had an arrangement that when I cleaned her stall, she had to stand outside...she would wait for me, but still I could not have her in the stall with me..a kick was sure to come. The horse, at this point, I knew was unadoptable, except to someone who wanted to take on her issues....and frankly, why would anyone? There are plenty of nice horses out there looking for homes. Still, I held out hope that she could come around.
One Saturday morning, with several volunteers on site......someone forgot the "rule".....and entered Mercy's stall while she was eating. The result was this:
The volunteer was kicked six times....kicked twice and knocked down, then kicked four more times as the person crawled out of the stall. Frightening? You bet.
The person had to go to the hospital. Fortunately the injuries were not more severe....but the point is ........they could have been. A kick to the head...a lifetime injury or a death sentence.
The fact that the rule was broken is not the issue here....it could have been anyone.....it could and it would happen again to someone else......or what would happen if I got sick or had to be gone somewhere? Who would care for Mercy?
We have a lot of teenagers, young adults, non horse type folks.....we would be completely liable if we kept a horse who was known to exhibit dangerous behavior. Ask any lawyer.
I spoke to two veterinarians and to a trainer I know and trust.........I made the decision that same day .....Mercy would be euthanized. She was not an adoption candidate and I could not risk anyone else's well being by allowing her to live at Pony Up. I felt horrible, but it is my responsibility to run this program and keep our volunteers safe.
It is very hard for me to have a horse euthanized. It was no different with Mercy. I wavered right up to the end. The attending veterinarian reminded me of responsibility, for the horse and for my volunteers at the farm. I cried for her, patted her and in the end I know I made the right decision. She has no more pain, she had a good couple of months and she cannot be judged ever again for striking out at the humans who hurt her in the past. She will never again be in a position where she can be starved or hurt.
So Mr. Armchair Quarterback......I know you would have done this and you would have done that......but the fact is....YOU DIDN'T....I did. I didn't see you drive up with your horsetrailer, I didn't hear you call, I didn't see you show up at the humane society when they needed someone to take her...I didn't see you taking care of her at all......I didn't see you with any liability....I just heard you to have an opinion that I did wrong by the horse. Your head is in the sand....I strongly encourage you to have a talk with your attorney about liability, known danger on your property and attractive nuisance issues.
Just a day in the life. You try to do the right thing, try to be responsible and folks feel free to kick you in the teeth and worse....talk behind your back.......
people you would have called friends.
Pony Up fortune for tomorrow:
It is no secret anymore.