The Lucky Ones

Today I rode my horse, and I had fun. I spend most of my days answering emails, managing websites, social media and coordinators. That’s in addition to caring for all the animals here and my husband. I’m not sure when I buried my head in the sand and forgot to come up for air but it’s easy to do in this type of work. I suppose I forgot, I forgot what it was like to work with my horse and enjoy it. For one hour to feel the sun hitting my face and zoning out to the rhythm of his hooves, focusing on just us being a team and leaving the worry of the many horses who are not mine behind me. 

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I get told a lot that, “they are all my horses” and in my heart I and our team care for them and oversee their lives as if they were our own, but they are not. They are all our horses yours, mine, the horse community as a whole, it’s our collective responsibility to right the wrongs these helpless horses have suffered at the hands of some crap human. For a rescue to truly do their job the horses need more to blossom, to be free of the traumas humans have inflicted on them, they need more patience, training, trust and time, vet care, feed, hay, plain and simple. When a rescue does their job that horse is 100% whole again before adoption which we pride ourselves on. We are supposed to fix anything that’s wrong and give them the proper tools to be a wanted partner in someone’s life.

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So today after riding my 100% rehabbed adopted horse. I find myself coming home to continue the constant sharing, communicating, worry, and thinking of how we can make people care more about the other adoptable horses here. Watching horses who deserve that one on one love just sit here… in the orphanage… just waiting… after months of rehab, training, months of them trying their hearts out to be the best horse they can be for no one to even care enough to share their picture on Facebook. It’s disappointing. 

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Listening to the countless “we want to donate” lines but no one ever does… Hundreds of emails that lead to nowhere… Promises of all kinds of things from humans that are just never done… and maybe everyone thinks someone else is doing it? But they aren’t! No one is! Maybe it’s society, maybe we live in an I want it all and I want it now world? I want everything I can get my hands on for as little as possible? Some who want to reduce our already low fees that the other horses depend on. Your not cheating some rich tycoon who donated to us because they don’t exist here, your cheating the next needy horse waiting to be saved! 

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I suppose I could wrap my head in knots wondering why these sweet horses are over looked but the bottom line is we have to do better. We as the human race have to care more, we have to stop and take a second of our day to hit the share button, we have to think outside ourselves, we have to slow down and collectively make a difference. 

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And as I rode my recently adopted orphan, who sat in our pastures for months also being overlooked, out of the arena today… someone said, “wow what a beautiful horse! You’re so lucky!” and I felt sad. I felt sad for all the horses still waiting for their lucky day to come too. 


Please adopt, foster, donate, like, share, volunteer, fundraise…. everyone can do something. 

http://www.paypal.me/crossfirerescue

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Dear Former Human

You had my feet done, shaved and clipped my whiskers and ears and gave me a bath. I remembered you conditioning my mane and tail so I looked my best. You cut a big chunk out of my tail to remember me and our adventures by because you said you loved me. I might have even had a note telling other humans how I had served you well and what a good boy I was. That I was just getting older and needed a new home. I know I have some lumps and bumps on my legs but I still tried for you and I loved to be with you. 
I loaded up in the trailer like you asked and went to an auction. I was sold and my whole life changed. Where had you gone? Where was I going? You went home and told yourself I had found a great new home. A good home that would love me like you did and never let yourself think of me again. But I didn’t end up in a good home I arrived at a kill pen where they stuck another yellow tag on me, this time on my shoulder… I didn’t like that glue and I didn’t like my new home called the kill pen.
I don’t know where the other horses went but I was separated. I made a friend who had fresh shoes on too and his legs hurt also. We got each other through the days and the nights together. I dreamt of grazing in green fields again but there was no grass here. I could see grass all around me but couldn’t reach it. Just lots of poop on the ground and some old hay. I stayed close to my tall grey friend. 
The other horses in my group were sicker than we were. They felt really bad, coughing and snotting. My grey friends legs were really hurting him and mine were swollen too, I don’t know how far I traveled but I was tired. Days went by. I waited, what was going to happen to me? I could see people but I couldn’t be with them and I wanted to be with them. I wanted to feel loved again. 
It was late in the evening and a trailer pulled in. Two ladies got out and talked to the man I was always watching. He let them come back and said they could get the horse even though it was late. “You know what he looks like? Go on, back pen to the left” I heard him say and the ladies were so excited. Crazy human girls! Why would anyone get excited to come to the kill pen I thought I sure wasn’t! But that’s where we were, me and my grey friend were. 
They came to our gate and we rushed up to them and put our noses to their hands. The others stayed in the faraway corner huddled together. She put a halter on me, it was me they had come for and I was leaving I was too tired to be anymore excited but I was thankful! My grey friend tried hard to come too but they couldn’t take him. They wanted to but they could only get me… They gave my friend cookies and love and walked me out of what is called the kill pen. 
One put her hand on my head and I knew I was safe. I loaded up and we drove away not knowing where I was off to but it must be better than here. At every stop they gave me pats and talked sweetly to me. I got a few more cookies and I rejected this thing called an apple, very odd thing to eat if you ask me. After a very long trip we made it safely to a little barn tucked into a bunch of sweet smelling pine trees. They gave me water a snack and let me rest.
Today I got medicine from the vet for my eyes, got some shots, ya know no big deal… wormer, fresh shavings to sleep in, vitamins bla bla they were just okay… and this awesome orange stuff called electrolytes which I LOOOVVEE! My new human took me out and gave me a bath. She carefully took those tags off me that I hated. She washed my face and my hiney and that felt good hehe. She softly scrubbed me with her hands all over and ran the cold water over my legs for a long time and that felt good. Her touch felt good and she was nice. She started crying I think because I was trying to tell her my story and how thankful I was but then she stopped, she said cowgirls have to be tough or something… Lol these girls! I wanted to follower her everywhere she went but I had to wait. She conditioned my mane and tail and brushed it lovingly until all the knots were gone. She brushed my face and doctored my cuts and told me I how beautiful I was once again. She told me her name and said she would protect me, I rested my face in her arms and thanked her for all the rescuers who saved me.
I hope you get this note old human. That I’m perfect just the way I am. They don’t even care that I’m skinny now. I just want you to know that I did find a good home but they say it was a miracle and if it hadn’t been for my rescuers in less than 12 hours I would have been on a hot truck to Mexico and then dead… even with my clipped ears, clipped whiskers and freshly trimmed feet… but I guess you would have my tail to remember me by even when I was gone. 
Forever Thankful,

Goose

The Underdog

The coolest thing about rescuing horses is every horse has something new to teach you. Every horse has also at one point been discarded, labeled, some abused then given up on… and rescued to shine again. 
Tiny Tim is a true underdog. Pulled from the mud and out of one of the roughest parts of Houston you can go to, mostly blind and scared he stood fighting. He fought every day in the crap conditions he was living in prior, he’s fought everyday for god knows how long living in the shadows not knowing from which way it was coming for him. He has fought through years of neglect and abuse only to stand in front of me and try to love humans again. He just keeps going never giving up. 

He’s as tough as the neighborhood he came out of quite honestly. He isn’t giving up this life to no one. Who is this pony?! Definitely not the meek pony I met a couple weeks ago that’s for sure. His admirable spirit is just as big as everyone else out in the pasture, he is a fighter, a survivor, a spitfire rebel that defies all odds. 

Tiny is living proof it’s not where you’ve been, what’s happened to you, or what’s not happened for you that matters, but rather your will and determination to keep moving forward that does. So if you ever catch yourself thinking your not good enough, or you can’t do something, or go on… think of Tiny Tim and remember that the past does not define your future, everyday is a brand new day for you to shine again.

I’d like to think there is a little bit of Tiny Tim in all of us. 

Wouldn’t it be easier if…

Yes it would be easier to give up on my thirty something year old arthritic horse I can’t ride anymore. Who has issues when the temperature changes, who needs wet food, special forage, supplements, a heated bucket and blanket in the winter. I guess “finding him a home with someone who had more room and more time” would be easier. But no one will give him more love, and to be honest no one else, maybe one in a million people are looking for your pasture ornament. Honesty alert- kill buyers are looking for your lifelong friend, for free on Craigslist especially (don’t do it!). I’m sorry but it’s true.

We get these emails all too frequently. My lifetime senior friend is of no use now can’t a rescue take her? If you don’t take them I’ll send them to slaughter, I love that line in an email! Really effective… (insert sarcasm here). I’m downsizing my breeding farm…. OR how about you just stop breeding so many unwanted horses to begin with! We want the rescue to keep them forever… That’s not how it works there are not unlimited funds and stalls. They are safe now that they are there with y’all and we no longer need to fight for them… finding a forever home is success not just getting them into a rescue. We get tagged constantly to go and buy healthy horses from individuals selling “cheap” to thin their herd… that’s once again brokering which rescues shouldn’t do!

What is a rescue? How did the lines get so blurred? When did “rescues” become kill pen brokers? When did they start buying and selling and flipping at all? When did having a Facebook page make you a rescue in the first place? Kill buyers talking about “their success stories and adoptions” NO your a kill buyer. When did kill pens start financing horses like used car salesmen? How does a true rescue fit into this grey world of online ghost fundraising? Fundraising pages where people blindly send money to absolute strangers? Like legit strangers? A world where people will buy a horse sight unseen with enormous health problems for three times the price, but expect horses from rescue organizations (charities) that have been completely rehabbed, truly vetted and trained to be absolutely free? 

I’ve been watching a lot of groups here recently. The social media world has turned rescuing into an online reality show and it makes me sick. Organizations that pull your emotions for shock value rather than hold a high moral standard of excellence. Groups who freely and openly argue and cuss online to their supporters. Real rescues who have stopped helping all horses but now only help kill pen horses to simply stay relevant. What has happened??? Companies making rescue groups compete for donations when we should all be on the same team… it’s sad. How does a group with good hearts, great work, and real standards fit into this online fiesta of what I call “the instant horse”. The deadlines, the drama, oh mylanta! Literally I just can’t. 

Rescue work is hard, it’s no walk in the park. There is no easy way to become a rescue you have to do the work. I’ve fallen to me knees in the pasture with tears in my eyes in prayer. I’ve grieved for weeks over horses I knew for only days. We’ve taken in your senior friend and held his head as he took his last breath, your welcome. I’ve rehabbed your emaciated good old riding horse for his last one year of life at 36. I’ve cleaned wounds for months, I’ve given shots for months and worried for years. I’ve slept in barns on horse blankets in the dirt so a horse wouldn’t die alone, or to give it comfort to pull through the night. I’ve cried in their manes and I’ve listened to their stories. While we have a super high success rate I’ve still had those little brown boxes shipped to me from their last ride to the equine hospital. I’ve had to realize not every story has a happy ending. I’ve felt more out of time, out of energy, and unable to go on than most people feel in a lifetime.

So believe me when I say, it isn’t luck. What we have been built on is good old fashioned hard work. I’ve worked my butt off and have for a long time to do what I felt in my heart to be right. To fight for the horses who deserve to live a life free from suffering and pain. We haven’t gotten lost in the grey area and we still hold strong to a true rescues standards. A lot of other groups have done the same, they feel overwhelmed, overworked and under heard. Rescue groups feel like they are screaming at empty rooms most times. Screaming for someone to care as much as we do… Is social media an organizations best friend or our worst enemy these days? I don’t know anymore. All I know is who we are and that’s a verified organization of excellence. Does it matter to anyone? Again I don’t know but I know it matters to our horses, and I know they would appreciate it if it mattered to you. 

Everyone can do something adopt, foster, donate, share, support, volunteer. Www.paypal.me/crossfirerescue #crossfirecowgirls 



Rescue to be Rich

I hear that some people think rescuing horses is some kind of glamorous lifestyle… and while I’m sure many of my fellow cowgirls and I can rock mud, sweat and dirt like no other I assure you rescuing is not all that glamorous.

I’ve also heard people think there is some kind of get rich quick secret to rescuing… and if anyone finds one let me know! Lol Because I know I would have more money if I DIDN’T rescue horses and that’s the truth! I rescue horses to be poor haha!

Rescuing isn’t for everyone to understand. It’s not easy or for the faint of heart. It’s not a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. You have to love it so greatly that you give of yourself until there is nothing left to give and then give some more.

It’s responsibility, it’s caring for lives that have been placed in your hands.  It’s feeding in the cold, the rain, sleeping in the barn, and putting their needs before your own always. Simply because their lives depend on you.

It’s commitment of time and money. When all the help has deminished and the shiny new urgency of the horse has faded, when the emails, volunteers and donations have run out. It’s you and a pile of work or bills.

Rescuing is a roller coaster of emotion filled with a passion and love. It’s also crazy, sad, exciting, rewarding and miraculous all at the same time. It’s betting on yourself to make things happen and making your ideas come to life, to make these forgotten souls lives a little better! It is finding a strength inside yourself you didn’t knew existed. It’s always learning about horses and from horses! The rewards always outweigh the things you may think your giving up.

So while I choose not to be some superficial social standard of wealth. I am rich… I am richer than my wildest dreams in love. From the horses, my family and friends who support me and lift me up along my path when I feel to weak to continue. They have given me all I need. It is there in the simplicity of something such as the glittering love of a horse and knowing that you made a difference, that I find what I’m looking for and that is enough for me.

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Give To An Established Charity

Nothing erks me more than seeing fly by night charities pop up here and there. Asking for donations left and right and not being a 501c3. I recently saw a “new charity” pop up on the horse boards, a group claiming to take donations and then give those donations to other actual charities. When taking others money through you to then give to another charity being a 501c3 is the only way to go in my opinion. Without that The “donations” are considered the collectors personal income and is taxable not to mention the “donations” are not (as she claims) tax deductible. And to top it off I personally wouldn’t want my donation taxed at all, it should all go to the charity. Which is THE POINT OF BECOMING A CHARITY IN THE FIRST PLACE… Whew I feel better.

While I don’t doubt this person had good intentions, good intentions sometimes just don’t cut it. I then asked, do you have your 501c3? The response was basically, other people do it so I can too. Unfortunately, for them and you, it’s still very much frowned upon. I tried to share my knowledge of the 501c3 process to her. I was attacked like, how dare I ask her, she event went as far as saying, “I wish you would delete your comments.”

And I’m sure that would make her happy but the public can and does ask that very question quite often, and it is their right. However, I won’t delete my comments because people need to know who they are donating to. Her answer was NO they did not have a 501c3 but she claimed she was a registered charity with Texas and she would continue organizing fundraisers, of which you can be fined for mind you. I tried to enlighten her saying she needs to be careful with her wording and use the word gift instead of donation to avoid issue. And also to not write people’s “donations” were tax deductible because they are not unless you are a full blown 501c3 or are in the process of becoming one… but what do I know right. My suggestions fell on deaf ears I’m sure of because of the defensive catty responses I received.

So much for trying to help. If running a charity was that easy everyone would be doing it. Unfortunately, this is not the first time I’ve seen this. I did our 501c3 and personally funded our rescue efforts until we became one. Of course I feel everyone else should play by the rules also. The IRS doesn’t make exceptions for anyone.

Don’t let an unscrupulous charity take advantage of your goodwill. Find a charity with a proven track record of success with dealing with the type of issues at hand. Avoid fly-by-night charities created specifically to deal with any new crisis. Even well-meaning new organizations will not have the infrastructure and knowledge of the region to efficiently maximize your gift. If you do feel compelled to give to a new charity, be sure to get proof that the group is in fact a registered public charity with 501 (c) (3) status.

As for these overnight charities I really do wish them all the best. I once had a dream of doing good and made that dream a reality! There can never be enough good in the world but do it the right way. Bring a 501c3 is something you have to work for and you appreciate when you have. Those of us who have it do not take kindly to when others fabricate the charity status. I play by the rules and things are hard enough but I can’t imagine how hard it would be to do otherwise.

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Hope

Going to auctions, saving horses from different horrible situations somehow, replays quite the same in my head. I see their faces, how they almost instinctively know we have come to save them. They reach out with what strength they have left and briefly touch a soft nose to us as if saying “please take me.” You may hear a half hearted nicker as you pass their stall or just watch them stand there in a blank space of sheer miserable survival.

Often times you see the before and after photos and stories of successful transformations. I see the honest, scared soul moments before they get saved all throughout their time with us.  There is a rawness of vulnerability in looking at each other in such a place. And there we stand human and horse looking back at each other. Us pretending to be brave for them, and them standing there a silent defeated being living on hope alone.

And I think many times no one stops to consider how the animal is not so much feeling but also thinking. The emotional toll of what being starved to death will take on any soul. How scary it must be, to be dumped away from everything you know to be familiar. Even scarier to not know where your going. To have no previous training and then suddenly need to be perfect… or else. The confusion and hunger run together in their minds all while still needing to listen and work. Then the void of nothingness, the waiting, still no food… no water… more… waiting… for days. Weeks. Month’s no one has come… maybe tomorrow…

And they hope, they shut down, cling to whatever they can to get by. It takes some time for the very worst cases to emotionally come back. The horses starved to death will stand in their stalls with empty, blank eyes for weeks before they decide to let the walls down.

Rescuing horses isn’t about the pictures, the success stories, the bigger story to get noticed. It’s about being able to pull a lost soul out of the depths of their own personal hell. Rehab their whole body, heart and mind. It’s hours upon hours of neverending work for absolutely no personal gain whatsoever. Other than knowing you’ve made a difference to that one horse.

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“The very purpose of our lives is happiness, which is sustained by hope. We have no guarantee about our future but we exist in the hope of something better.” ~Dalia Lama