I came across my 2 rescue horses in 2005 when I was 9 years old. A 21-year-old mare, Lady, and her 7-month-old colt, Poco. Lady was a gorgeous solid bay while Poco was a bay tobiano. My family wasn't looking for nor wanting another horse at the time, but when we found the very unsanitary conditions they lived in with their previous owner, and witnessing their poor treatment, we just couldn't turn the two horses away.
When we took them home, they were both ill and suffering from pneumonia; but with the help of our veterinarian they both made a full recovery. Lady also had a rope burn scar on her back leg, leaving severe scar tissue and arthritis. This made moving more difficult and painful, but she could manage. Whether from ignorance or abuse, Lady was left with this debilitating injury forever. Even today it angers me, because that preventable injury is eventually what took her from me.
Lady became my heart horse very quickly; she was like a second mother to me in the way she looked out for me, brought so much warmth into my life and so much joy when I was alone. Her previous owner told us she bucked everyone off, but when I rode her she was nothing but the kindest soul I had ever met. We could only walk, and occasionally jog here and there due to her bad leg, but riding her was like floating on a cloud. She was my best friend, and even though I couldn't really ride her, she was no less important to me. I just loved being around her. Lady even saved me once. A stallion had escaped and gotten into the arena with us. He reared up onto Lady’s back which knocked me to the ground. As I lay in the dirt the stallion started running in my direction. Lady chased him away, out of the arena and used her body as a blockade until my mom came over to shut the gate. Lady never took her gaze off of me for a second, even when the stallion was trying to push through. Once Lady heard the gate lock, she walked over to me and put her head down, as if asking "Are you ok?". It was that day that I saw her, really saw her for the sentient being that she was. Despite the rough life she had before, she was willing to put herself through the pain from her leg to protect me out of her own free will.
I never blamed the stallion. I knew his actions weren’t to be mean. He was just young, playful and didn’t understand. But the experience opened my eyes and gave me new purpose. I realized I wanted to give back to horses the one thing Lady gave me - paradise and safety. I wanted to take in the horses that other people passed up on, especially the seniors like Lady, who may be physically limited.
Lady was always a place of warmth, confidence, and love. She impacted my life so much. But like all good things, they come to an end. One day when I went out to feed, my heart shattered in a split second. I saw Lady's eyes and I knew that she was done. She was tired. Her leg was becoming too much. I loved her so much and despite my heartbreak, I made the call to have her put down that day. I loved her too much to make her wait a second longer, and she was ready.
As for Poco, although in the beginning we weren’t very close, he turned out to be an amazing horse. His looks and personality were truly one in a million. He was brave, very intelligent, strong minded, and our journey was just beginning. But in 2012 he twisted his gut, and by the time we saw him it was too late. He was in excruciating pain, so we were left with no choice but to end his suffering too. Not only did this world lose a truly magnificent horse, but I also lost the last connection I had to Lady.
I miss them both very deeply even after all of these years. I would give up almost anything just to see Lady one more time, hell, just one more second. She gave me a sense of purpose, honor, and desire to fight and protect the weak. I hope one day to open a sanctuary in her honor. Seeing them, especially Lady who was so broken down in the beginning, regain their spirit again; it changed something in me. I want to give that to other horses in need too. My heart still hurts, but I’ll never forget them. They will always be my greatest joy, my greatest teachers, and the fire that keeps me going.