On Thanksgiving day, on the way to my parents, I made Paul drive up there. Piles of rubble, mud, abandoned junk cars, and random mountains of metal line the rough dirt driveway. In the middle of this mess, is a small muddy lot with over a foot of manure built up, and not a blade of grass to be found. This is where the horses live.
I carried with me a high quality all-weather horse blanket. I knocked on the door and when they opened it I apologized for bothering them so early on Thanksgiving morning. Then I talked to them about the older, sickest horse. They said the vet had been out and told them there was nothing to be done for her. I explained that she was too skinny to stay warm. I asked if I could put a blanket on her to keep her more comfortable. They were thankful. These people - they mean well. They don't mean to make the horses suffer. I want to believe that they want to do right by them. They just don't have the knowledge or the money to do so.
I walked through the muck, glad it was frozen so that I wouldn't sink knee-deep in the piles of manure. The older mare didn't object as I slipped the warm, thick blanket over her skeletal frame. As I tightened the buckles beneath her belly, one of the young horses came over. A little bay mare, malnourished, stuck her small nose under the belly of the older one, and gently sniffed my fingers as I fussed with the buckles. I looked at the little mare. She looked at me, with curiosity and hope in her eyes. She wasn't too far gone - not yet - she still had a chance. The little one hadn't given up. Not yet.
All day long, as I enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with my family, I thought of her. I remembered her sweet brown eyes. I thought of how she wasn't eating that day - Thanksgiving - there was no hay in her enclosure, and hadn't been for a couple of days.
After two days of obsessing, I went back. Armed with 50 pound bags of alfalfa cubes and some cash, I knocked on the door again. I was happy to see that a round bale of hay had been purchased since I was there last. I offered and bartered. Successfully. And I walked back home with a weak little mare by my side; my hopes for her high.
And I haven't given up on helping the other two. I have plans for them yet. Stay tuned.