Damned if you do….

damned if you don’t. Running a Sanctuary for horses can feel like that often.

Yesterday, we were preparing for a Volunteer Appreciation Dinner and Star Party at Dharmahorse. A woman dropped by without an appointment. She was nice enough, I always need to show people around and tell the horses’ stories and explain our mission… so scheduling a visit is important. But, yesterday, I gave her an hour of my (limited and valuable) time. You never know, it could benefit the horses, and that is the focus at all times here. The horses.

We have everything equine here, really. Two foundered and recovering, older horses. A gelding turning 40 years old next year. A mare recovering from a skull fracture. Several horses with limited eyesight in one eye (not terrible, just something to be aware of). A Draft horse with an old jaw fracture and scars on his eyes. A big gelding whose hooves were never sound until we got him and pulled his shoes. A mare who had the worse necrotic tooth we’d ever seen…. and on and on.

We have horses who were starved nearly to death; horses who were saved from slaughter; a horse who was a victim of horse tripping… and all the horses here now are shiny, slick, plump-ish and beautiful. And that’s often a problem. People see them and think that everything is flowing beautifully at Dharmahorse, the horses have all their needs met, the world is soft and easy here.

Old photos and back stories do touch the hearts of those who help us in the support and healing of the horses. People who visit get the back stories because we want them to know how far this herd has come… we are not a zoo! We are a testimonial to love and herbal care…

And, I suppose we must look like we are sailing along because I’ve seen some people start to ask for donations for their horses and calling themselves a Rescue, actually using the words from my own campaigns for donations for our 501 (c) (3), state licensed Rescue!

Let me point out here – Dharmahorse has been struggling. We don’t know where the money or hay for next month will come from! Every donation goes directly into the Dharmahorse account to be used only for feed and horse care. The improvements here (including every fence for pens, arenas, etc.) come out of Mark and my pockets entirely. He and I pay the bills for utilities. He and I cover our own needs and pay the mortgage! We post all of the financial information on the website so donors know exactly how that money is used. That is how it should be done.

So, yesterday, after a tour of the place and hearing the horses’ stories, the visitor said to me that the horses seemed friendly and happy. “And healthy”, I said. “Oh, they’re not healthy”, she said. “They are very healthy”, I responded. She continues on about how they all have such problems…. they are not healthy. I refused to let that stand. I told her they are are all healthy now. “well, they are shiny”, she said.

As I walked her to the gate, I thought about how people see things. I guess horses with some age on them, overcoming brutality and starvation are probably not going to be “usable” in a competitive sense… although our Sage, after four months wearing his hooves how he needed them, competed in the Las Cruces Horse Trials and took second in his division. This was after being unable to walk from the driveway to his paddock when he arrived….

So some people see our shiny, happy, healthy horses and think we’ve got it all under control – and some people see these horses as having no value because they have special needs – and some people can’t bear to hear about the abuse some have suffered nor see photos of their battered, starved bodies. But, some wonderful people truly see these horses and make donations and volunteer to help care for them and become a part of a tribe filled with genuine compassion for this life.

And because of these people, we had a Volunteer Appreciation Dinner and Star Party last night!! Not everyone could come; it had to be after dark, so driving home was an issue for some. I had lost contact with others who I wished could have been with us (but, we’ll do it again!).

And Mother Nature participated in the Love with clear skies, no wind, chilly (not frigid) temps and perfect viewing. We couldn’t have asked for more!

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