My Sister-I-Love is one of my favorite people in the world. Other favorites include our family members mentioned in this story! Read about Epona Horse Rescue and Destiny and more. And stay tuned for more horse stories!
Guest Post from Jodi Finch...
All my life, I have been a horse lover. As a little girl, I spent hours sitting at the feet of my grandpa’s farm horses, never once worrying that they could hurt me. The earliest picture of me on a horse is Grandpa holding me on his big Paint gelding, Chief, when I was six months old. Grandpa got me my first horse – a Shetland pony – when I was 7. His mare, Chica, gave me my first foal when I was 11. Flicka and I were best of friends, until I was 19 and an accident ended her life, way too soon. For years after that, I begged and borrowed every horse I could, knowing some day, I would have a horse of my own again.
In November of 2014, my daughter Kylah and I were killing a boring Sunday afternoon by visiting the Lancaster County Horse Expo. In hindsight, my husband Shane said the $20 he gave us for the admission fee was the most expensive $20 he has spent in his life. On that day, we learned of Epona Horse Rescue, based just outside of Crete, NE. A few days later, Kylah, my younger daughter Madi, and I visited Epona for the first time, and knew we had landed in our “happy place”. I could tell stories for days on end about Epona, and our time volunteering, the friends we have made, and horse stories galore. But one of my favorites, so far (besides the one where I met my heart horse, Freebird), is the story of Destiny.
On a warm Saturday in October of 2015, Lin, our Director, talked me into going with her to the Palmyra Sale Barn Horse Auction. I had never been to the Auction, but I knew it was not somewhere I really wanted to be. Going is never an easy decision for Lin, as there are always more horses than we could possibly hope to save. However "something" kept telling her that day that we needed to go.
When I arrived, I found a bench away from the crowds, and sat down to wait for Lin. A few feet away, there were two young women with tears in their eyes, one on her phone – I could over hear snippets of their conversation… ‘yes, she looks young.” “She’s severely underweight” “She’s got visible wounds and fresh blood”… at that point, I was nearly in tears. Having never been to the sale barn, I wasn’t sure what to do next.
I texted Lin, urging her to hurry, as there was something we needed to take care of urgently. As soon as she arrived, I told her what I had heard.
We immediately went back to the sale pens, stopping on our heels at the very last pen. Standing there, with truly a heartbroken look was a very young mare, nothing but skin and bones, and bleeding from gaping wounds.
The caller on the other end of the young woman’s conversation was the county sheriff, we learned, when he showed up a few minutes after we discovered the mare. He examined her, and apparently had been told we were “those women from the Rescue”. He told us he could not see anything wrong with her, and rather curtly suggested “since you’re the Rescue Gals, YOU do something about it”. At that moment, we knew it was destiny that we went to the Sale Barn that day.
The little mare was the last horse in the auction pen. She was so thin, and very obviously depressed that no one wanted her. Thanks to the generosity of a beloved donor, we were able to win the bid and rescue this sweet girl. We learned from another attendee at the auction that she was somewhere between two and three years old, and has only recently been sold to the individual who consigned her to the sale barn. We immediately went to the pens, and after securing some hay (okay, maybe I pilfered it off the hay cart when the pen attendant wasn’t looking), began to assess her wounds and feed her small bites of the hay. She immediately warmed up to us, nuzzling me as though she was thanking me for helping her.
We took her home to the Rescue that evening, and bedded her in a safe, dry stall, and had our veterinarian come assess and begin treating her wounds. She had several deep cuts on her legs and chest, and an abscessed hoof, along with cuts in her face where her head had outgrown a halter that was left on for months on end.
Within a few weeks of healthy groceries, and good wound care, the girl we named Destiny began to gain weight and heal, not only from her wounds, but from her wounded spirit. Her eyes began to sparkle, and she began nickering greetings to us.
Then, in January, we discovered our sweet girl had apparently met up with a flirtatious stallion at some point. She was pregnant! Without knowing her background, we could only assume we would have a foal sometime between April and September.
Being that Destiny is a walking mystery, it should come as no surprise that she gave us no indication of being in labor in early April. On Monday morning, April 4th, Lin went to the barn to do chores - guess what? Peeking from behind Mama was the sweetest little face you have ever seen. Princess Buttercup was born sometime between 10 p.m. on Sunday, April 3rd and 7:30 a.m. on Monday, April 4th.
After a colic scare with Destiny, we are happy to report Mother and Baby (Princess Buttercup) did quite well, and spent the summer with another mare and filly, growing and playing.
However – the story doesn’t end there! Princess Buttercup is a beautiful buckskin filly. She is happy and healthy – and was adopted by my 13-year old daughter Madi in October! Madi worked diligently over the summer, doing one of the hardest, dirtiest jobs a kid can do – destasseling corn for two seed companies. Early (as in 4 a.m. early) mornings, and long, hot days in the field earned her enough money to donate to the Rescue to adopt Buttercup as her very own! She has big plans for herself and Buttercup in the 4-H and open class horse-show world, and is working to train Buttercup all by herself. You’ll have to stay tuned for more Buttercup blogs in the future!
Destiny is still at the Rescue, and will either remain as a Sanctuary horse, or be adopted by a suitable adopter, one who is able to care for her emotional wounds and understands that she was severely scarred by neglected and starvation.
Founded in 2004, Epona Horse Rescue is dedicated to helping equine that are unwanted, abused, or simply if the owner is no longer able to care for them. Since the beginning, they have saved over 150 horses.
Post from one year ago today...
March 10, 2017