(Above: “When life gives you lemons, but your adopted mum rescues you off the back of a meat truck, and now you’re super carefree”)
This is Tabitha. She is a 14.3 hh, flea bitten grey, 16 year old Arabian mare. Tabitha has had an interesting life. She was bred by an Arabian horse stud as a show pony, she attended pony club in her younger years and was a competitive little horse. Somewhere along the line, Tabitha ended up in a home where she was used solely as a trail riding mount. Now here’s where things get interesting. After being used as a reliable trail horse, Tabitha had an incident with a barbed wire fence – her back legs were severed all over, she still wears the scars of her fence accident to this day. Not only this, but she had also developed a large melanoma that protruded from one of her eyes. This not only interfered with her vision, but the cancerous nature of her lump meant that if it wasn’t tended to, it would become a death sentence.
The crushing part about Tabitha’s health issues were not that she had them, they were fixable after all – it was that the people who owned her at the time didn’t care enough to deal with them. The horse who devoted her heart and soul to being of service to her owners, was put in the ‘too hard basket’ and sold to the knackery. Her fate was that of a can of dog food, all because she was injured.
(Above: Tabitha in the yards at the knackery pre melanoma removal surgery)
This is where I come in:
My Mother stumbled upon a rescue organisation on Facebook, and immediately she fell in love with the little grey mare who looked so sad. Something about Tabitha had struck a cord with the founders of the rescue group, they had seen that she was so desperately asking for help, so they saved her. Immediately my darling Mother, without any knowledge to me, got in contact with the rescue group, told them that she had to have Tabitha, and organised her to be transported to our paddock the very next week.
When it was revealed to me that there was going to be a horse from the knackery with all of these issues arriving, I was sceptical and almost disapproving. I already had two, very well bred, well educated horses keeping my hands full, and I was afraid that I would find a psychotic, batted and bruised nag walking off that truck. I was stuck up and doubted my own ability to do this horse any justice. But when the day of Tabitha’s arrival rolled around, I was surprised in not only myself, but my expectations of this little mare.
(Above: this was the day she walked off the truck and into my life)
I had fallen in love. After having surgery on her melanoma, spending time to heal her leg wounds, and working on her letting me catch her in the paddock, I decided to see what Tabitha was made of. I will never forget the day – I popped my saddle on her expecting her to flip out. She stood perfectly without a flinch. Initially she was a bit head shy, so I took the time to work on desensitising her to the bridle, I wanted to make everything a positive experience for her. Then it was time to get on.
I remember standing on the mounting block, absolutely certain that I was about to be thrown off, but minutes later I was yet again proven wrong. My first ride wasn’t a pretty ride, but it was successful. We managed to walk and trot around a paddock on a loose rein all the while keeping super calm, and it only kept getting better from there. As our trust in each other grew, we accomplished more and more under saddle.
Today Tabitha trots up to me in the paddock when I call her name, she follows me around like a bad smell when I clean her paddock, she shoves her head in the bridle eagerly accepting the bit and she works beautifully under saddle. I like to refer to her nowadays as ‘my big puppy dog’, because when she came out of her shell, she showed me how much love she has in her heart.That sad looking little mare, who knew that her life was grim, thanks me every day by trying her heart out in everything that she does. Learning how to trust humans again has brought the sparkle back into her eyes, and you can just tell that she knows she has been saved and is grateful.
Tabitha wasn’t the only one who got something out of being rescued. The entire experience of adopting a rescue horse taught me that every horse deserves a chance. I have learnt that by spending the time on improving a horse’s quality of life, I have built an unbreakable bond through trust and love. A horse has never given me as much as Tabitha has, watching her evolve from timid and sad, to an almost obnoxious, kind, loyal mare who oozes personality, has been the most rewarding aspect of being a horsewoman. So please, don’t rule out the idea of saving a horse’s life. It may just be the thing that ends up saving you.
(Above: Tabitha today, after a run around in the rain)