It is show season … owners, loaners and proud parents with great love for their child, pony, or horse work hard to make their horse look and act fantastic and in the perceived picture of health and happiness. They excitedly talk about it on social media platforms, fill coffee breaks with pride and giggles, they want to show their pride and joy to the world and tell whoever will listen how proud they are and what they have achieved.

It gives me goose bumps every time I see a story, or clip of a conversation saying that the horse or pony is so lucky to have this opportunity because he/she has a background of abuse, neglect, starvation and all sorts of horrible stories that fill the fundraising pages of many charities.

How did the horses end up in this situation?

Many were the result of indiscriminate over breeding, needing help due to lack of knowledge, resources and sometimes, empathy and compassion. This is where it starts, but what happens in between this and being shown off at an event, is truly remarkable. Intervention … perhaps from an individual, a charity worker, a welfare officer or a member of the public, there will more than likely have been intervention from one of the above at least once.

This blog tells of a case where a rescuer, an individual who never had any knowledge of horses, had very limited resources and didn’t have the environment suitable for a horse. Their courage and commitment, driven by compassion for horses, overwhelmed the fear of failure and drove them to step in to help an animal in need. Then they had the courage to allow someone else to come along and take over, take the horse and promise it a brighter future, giving up a situation where they had made a difference…

Someone with nothing went without food themselves in order to care for a horse, learnt how to treat ailments, overcame their fear of handling and failure to be able to treat the ailments, fed, nurtured and brought back to life a horse that was previously abused, abandoned, neglected. They stepped in when cries for help were ignored and nothing was done by anyone else. They had a choice; walk away and leave the horse die, or dive in head first.

But then came the heart-break – other people made judgement, passed hurtful comments, even set about full-blown campaigns to get the horse seized. Why? Because the inappropriate environment, and failure to provide for the behavioural needs of the horse did not go unnoticed….. well-meaning interveners only see what they want to, don’t take the time to find out the situation, and want to be the heroes themselves.

This is where we, Communities For Horses, come in. We take the time to listen, to understand the hardships faced and the reasons behind the original intervention, the full background story. We listen to the context of the bitter, aggressive, sometimes unwarranted, verbal abuse, caused by such persecution that would affect anyone, let alone someone with an inner battle to fight.

The individual becomes not only the persecuted but also the perpetrator. All for having compassion and love for animals, and a desire to help.

This is not the scenario of all horses rescued, but it is more common than you might think. People step in to help when they see something that they can connect with – a form of abuse, hunger, or illness. They try to alleviate that part of the suffering, in the way they would have wished to have been assisted.

That my dear friends, is where you and I come in. You support us as an organisation, you support my work in the communities and you support the team at Communities For Horses.

“I never polished him” is a statement I received from someone who was courageous enough to allow me to help. They relinquished ownership of a horse, who despite having everything that could be provided for them under the current circumstances, was not provided for appropriately. The owner was forced to reconsider their knowledge and capabilities. I have never known such bravery and courage, where someone goes hungry for another in order for it to survive and has the foresight and vision that there was the opportunity for the horse to have a bright and secure future, the horse that had been such a huge part of their lives for so long, a shared connection through a difficult background. They owner had to give that up, to give their friend away.

This is why where I can offer reassurance of that new life for the horse. “I never polished him” – the owner didn’t polish the horse, making the animal show-ready. But they did keep him alive and did step in when others walked away. Please do not forget the courage it takes, to make a difference and the many routes that lead to this. Before we pass judgement, know the battles and sacrifices that have been made along the journey to a polished horse.

We at Communities For Horses, understand and cement the cobbles of the yellow brick road, to home and it is team work that makes the journey possible. Without paving the way and making it secure, we cannot achieve lasting success – or a “polished horse“.