Tales from the old-timerIssue Date: August 13, 2014
By Jane Thibodeau Martin,
daughter of the Old-Timer
I live in a semi-rural area, and quite a few of my neighbors have horses. We have two ourselves, our daughters retired registered show horse, a real gold-plater; and his pasture companion, a rescue horse we call Ugly Betty. One of my favorite games with first time visitors is to ask them to guess which of the two contentedly grazing horses cost a lot of money, and which was free. Most people cant tell. Horses prefer to have another of their own kind for company, since they are herd animals. These two buddies are both 16 years old, and have a good life.
Unfortunately not all horses are so lucky. About a year ago, a new neighbor moved into the small house down the road, put up a small barbed wire enclosure, and then a pony appeared. At first the pony ate the grass in her small enclosure and all seemed well, but as the grass was depleted she became thin and I started to get concerned about her. Its difficult to poke your nose into someone elses business, but when the residents took a trip of a weeks duration the little mare got increasingly agitated when I was outdoors to feed my horses. I went over and knocked on their door but no one was there. I filled her empty water tank and left them a note, which was still there the next day. It was clear theyd gone away and left her with no food and no water, and I couldnt watch her suffer any longer.
With a little trepidation, I left another note for them, and brought the pony to my house. My two horses looked the little visitor over and decided it was fine for her to stay here, so a week went by, and the neighbors came apologetically over and collected her. I assured them I didnt mind having her visit and she was welcome whenever they needed to be away. It does no good to rail at people like this, it only creates a divide that makes it hard to help the animal.
This continued for months, with me checking to ensure the pony had water, feeding her twice a day, and on occasion relocating her to my house when hauling the water from my place got too difficult. The girl who was probably intended to be the guardian of the pony turned old enough to be driving cars and we saw less and less of her. When we traveled, the friend who cares for our horses took on the waif as well.
I had no problems with the situation, but eventually the pony took matters in hand herself. She pushed her way out of their poorly maintained fencing and repeatedly relocated herself to our house. They came and got her one time, and she was back here within hours, and they didnt come and get her again.
I finally approached the neighbors carefully and respectfully with an offer to buy the pony. They surprised me by immediately agreeing to sell her, as they had no time for her, and so June Bug truly joined the Martin herd. I had her vetted, and my daughter borrowed a pony bridle and girth so she could ride her, and we were overjoyed to discover she was really trained. A quiet, small, healthy and well-trained pony of 4 years is actually an easy animal to find a home for, and within a week she found a good new home where she will never have to worry about having food or water again. I teared up a little as she trustingly followed me into their horse trailer for her ride to her new home. Ethically, I priced her at what I had paid for her, and know the new owner got a real bargain. In my concern for her well-being, I really never noticed how cute she was, nor did I expect shed be so well-broken.
Animals, any animals, whether pets or livestock, are a responsibility. While it says in the Bible that man was given dominion, my belief is that that dominion comes with the grave responsibility to treat all animals humanely. Even a beef cow intended for the dinner table deserves shade or shelter, food and clean water. Standing by and watching someone neglect this basic obligation is to share in the responsibility for the suffering yourself.
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