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A Disability is Not an Inabillity
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A Disability is Not an Inabillity

The first time I laid eyes on that dark horse in a dirt filled back pasture I wondered why she was put back there. She’s beautiful and yet, I saw this strange stance and rocking motion. I boarded my gelding at what I thought was a safe barn with owners who “knew” horses.

Over a few weeks I became more interested in this dark horse eventually discovering the reason for the strange stance and rocking motion that this mare was blind. Her present owners took her in because they were horse hoarders. I watched the owners take visitors over to this horse and with a slight tear in one eye, they would explain to them that they were “financially tight”. They needed to help this poor horse, her hooves were horribly long. She needed her teeth floated and needed her vaccines. I would see people out the goodness of their hearts hand over money. Only it never went to the horse, just into their pockets.

I learned that her name was Miracle and she was born blind. She had been traded, bartered and swapped most of her life, finally ending up at this particular barn used as a cash cow or horse, so to speak. This justified her severe trust issues and wild behavior.

My heart ached for this horse and having a husband who understood me, we decided that this horse would be joining our herd. However, nothing prepared me for the job ahead to help this horse.

Sitting on a broken and splintered fence, I would watch her for hours with my gelding at my side. I talked to them both. I sang the only song I knew the words to, Jingle Bells. (The gelding walked away every time I spewed the song, being my best critic). Slowly, Miracle accepted carrots and bits of apples from me. The acceptance process was set to progress.

I spent hours devising different methods to earn her trust and flying by the seat of my pants, it started to work.

Short verbal commands such as touch, hold and please, appeared to help her understand what I was asking of her. In the reverse, I learned to understand that she had non-verbal commands for me.  Her body language clarified her needs. Our connection grew and she wanted more from me, like a learning sponge she absorbed everything and in return, I learned how to help her trust.  I was in love with her and she proved she loved me in return with her faith in me.

The verbal commands expanded to a complete vocabulary. She learned and became confident in us enough to let the eighth farrier finally do her hooves. She learned that a blanket wouldn’t eat her. A halter was her freedom to get out of the pasture she was held in.

Trips to the emergency room lessened for me. The black and blue marks became rewards. I knew we, as a team worked together. Touching her for me was the best gift she could give me.

I continued to observe the treatment of the owners toward her. She would revert to her protective mode when they came around for any reason. They would throw her hay into the pasture and tell her to find it. The same with her feed. The dust bowl for her pasture became a swap mud hole with the rain season.

I took pictures of her pasture and of her jelly-like muscles. The donations began to dwindle and I could hear them talk about selling her to a kill buyer they knew who came around the area. I had a plan to take her away from these people. Our horse was not being taken care of properly and we had to move. We weren’t leaving without her; we both knew her fate if we did.

A nice boarding facility had two openings for us and the plan to get her away was in motion.

The day before the move, I approached both owners with a legal document for them to sign her over to us. Both refused in the beginning as they wanted $500 plus other essentials, as they called it, for her. I refused to pay and allow them to hold her hostage. It was my turn to show them what it feels like to have someone do to them what they had done to her. Placing pictures in their face, along with a video of their treatment and embezzling of money from good caring people, let them know I wasn’t going to fight. I was taking her with us. I tried to reason with them. Finally, I motivated them with a statement I would go to the sherriff. It amazed me how quickly they signed her over and even allowed me to keep the pen.

We moved to the new barn. Miracle’s endless trainging transformed the angry and untrusting horse into a sweet, giving, and very social horse.

We eventually lost our boy; he lived be 32 years old. Miracle mourned his loss. He was her eyes and special guide. She had to learn to do it on her own. We all had to learn to go on without him as he was our anchor. He would explain to her what we wanted and he showed us what she needed.

After a few years, Miracle allowed herself to be placed in a stall without kicking and fanatically circling. She learned to trust humans. The two of us became loving partners. We ride trails. She gallops in open fields and jumps small heights, learning her right and left to be able to maneuver obstacles. She became a normal horse living in a normal herd.

 

Photo: Miracle pictured enjoying a cool sunny day.

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