Why we're here

We are taking a stand against horse slaughter returning to the US and are striving to stop the transportation of horses to other countries for slaughter. Some of us are working in those other countries as well.

We are taking this stance as Pagans and Heathens, at a time when it seems some have decided that eating slaughtered horse meat in ritual is somehow cool, edgy and "ancestral." Therefore we want to show that that minority does not represent all of the Pagan and Heathen communities. Many of us worship Horse Deities, many of us are horse people who may see our horses as sacred charges who we care for to honor these Deities. Not by killing but by striving to give them good lives.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Redemption: Old Eyes Tell Stories

The barn where I board is full of wise old eyes: half of the horses are over 20. My old girl, Prize, is 28 and still teaches people (myself included) about riding and jumping. She's a bright bay Arabian mare with three white socks, a snip, and a blaze. She's not typey for an Arabian (most people think she's part Quarter Horse), but she is fearless and enthusiastic. The riding instructor at the barn--who previously was never a fan of Arabians--cherishes Prize as one of the best horses on the farm.  

For the first nine years of her life, she was mine: a $2 mare my family won in a raffle and was immediately claimed by me. She was the second horse I ever trained to ride. Over the years, she blossomed into a willing partner to try all of the crazy stuff teenaged riders do: medieval horse games (like ring spearing), trail riding, barrel racing and pole bending in hunt seat attire, jumping, Western, side saddle, driving, hunt seat, and dressage. Together we had the confidence to do anything. We never pinned very high but we had fun trying. 

After college, I tried to support her and board her. There comes a point when what is best for the horse comes first: I had to let her go because I couldn't afford her upkeep. When I sold her, I wrote a five page letter explaining her pedigree, her training, all of the cues I used when we rode--everything I could think of that I would want to know if I was the one blessed to buy Prize.
Prize, summer 2012
I let my baby go. As the years passed and other horses came into my life, I always tried to provide the best possible care for my horses because I never wanted to be in the position I was in with Prize. I was always haunted by the memory of how I had failed Prize and how I had to give her up. That guilt drove my career so I could have enough to support my horse.

When her 20th birthday came and went, I held a small memorial for her because odds were, I figured, something had probably happened to her. I wished for a happy life for her and hoped that anyone who had her loved her as much as I had. 

More years passed and I moved to across states, back to the same area where I had lost Prize so many years before. I never lost the feeling of having failed my favorite mare.

Three years ago, my mom received an email asking if she had a daughter who had won a horse in a raffle. This author of the email wanted to contact me because her daughter was going off to college. The family didn't want Prize to be inactive, so they were finding homes for their daughter's horses.

Prize was being boarded at a barn almost exactly halfway between my house and the barn where my other mare was boarded. She was 24 and looked much the same as she always had. Her back was swayed but the sparkle in her eyes was still there.
Reunion day: Prize, fall 2009. First time I had seen her in 15 years. 
The letter I wrote out of sorrow and pain ultimately brought Prize back to me. The letter had followed Prize from owner to owner throughout her life away from me. The lady who had Prize said that she knew someone who had written a letter like that had loved Prize. She offered to give me Prize.

I was torn. I wanted to give Prize the type of life she deserved but I already had a two mares and I wasn't sure I could support Prize. If I took Prize on without being sure I could pay her board, I wouldn't have learned my lesson that caused me to have to sell Prize in the first place. 

I told the story to the people at my barn. At my barn, the average lesson horse's age is 18-25. They have (at most) one lesson a day, and maybe a lesson every other day. They are like the grandparents of the herd. Prize, 24 at the time, could have a grand retirement teaching young kids about riding. The barn owners and I figured out that we could make this happen for Prize. She could earn her keep and I would cover farrier and vet costs. If (and when, given her age) something serious happened that required a vet, there would not be any heroic measures.
Prize, summer 2012
Prize is 28 now and has been at the barn where I board for three years. Like the other older horses, she is valued for her experience and patience. She walks quietly with the young riders. When they can't figure out how to steer her, she walks to the instructor and waits. When she sees me with my riding helmet on, she perks up. There is a spring in her step when I get on. It's Mom and we are going to have some FUN now! We've had to hand gallop a few times around the ring to get her to calm down before we started our jumping lesson. (Yes, she is now my teacher too.) 

When I talk to other people about how their horses are old and how they need to find a replacement, it makes me sad if the person's attitude is one of replacing a car or truck. Some people--like the woman who reunited me with Prize--find loving homes for their older horses. Others, though, don't seem to realize the gem they have in their back yard. That these grand old horses have given us so many years and so much love. They deserve the best possible care and active life style that they are capable of.

For me, this old girl is a blessing in my life. I have the rarest of opportunities to correct a mistake I made so many years ago and give her the retirement and life I always wanted to give her. 

She is my redemption.


  1. Thank you for sharing Prize's and your story. I am so glad you found each other again, that the love you showed in that letter guided her back to you. I can't imagine how hard it was to give her up, I know many stories do not end this way. But it's also must be such a relief for this other young woman who had to let go, apparently for the same reason, to know she's back with someone who loves her.

    The oldsters are so special. I cherish forever the memory of those years with Saoradh, who I found abandoned and starving. I now have two elderly Minis and a mare who is getting on now. They have so much love and so much to teach, they deserve to be honored and cherished.

    1. I am happy to share Prize's story. She's an amazing mare and has so much spunk. Prize's story is a rare one and I'm so thankful that she ended up back with me.

      Saoradh was a very special horse. I always loved your posts about him and all of his critters. We are lucky to have these grand old horses in our lives.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing! I cried...

    My old horse, Federal Agent, I thought would live to be 30 and I looked forward to having him that long. Sadly he passed away at 20, I was quite shocked.

    There isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish he was standing in the stall. I had to move on. My new-ish horse Fionnabhair is a good horse, she inquisitive and smart (to damn smart!). I hope that we can have grand adventures until she is to old to ride...

    1. You are most welcome. We never know when we will lose one of our kids. Cherish each day with them. My other mare, Isis, passed away at 18 due to medical issues. I had wanted her to be with me forever, but it was a miracle she was with me as long as she was.

      I hope Fionnabhair is your company for many years. :)

  3. It's great that when you got to have her back she still had that sparkle in her eyes. She must have been lucky in her owners all the way long. Yes I thought my old girl would be with me into her 30's but she passed away at 22. I had to send another beloved mare to the bridge at 13. Even when we do our best for them they don't all make it to such a grand old age. Right now I have a 24 year old pony on loan to keep my baby horse company. Mr Moonlight still thinks he is Bucephalus, or maybe Pegasus, since he is white. I hope he feels like that for a long time to come. He is a gem.

    1. I think Prize was very lucky in her string of owners. There were three or four people who had her before I got her back. They all must have loved her because her attitude is so good still.

      You never know what will happen. Growing up on a breeding farm, we lost horses of all ages to a lot of different things. Cherish every day.

      the fact that the horses make it to those ages is part of what makes them so special.

      Mr Moonlight sounds like quite the character!