Thursday, September 11, 2014

Finding My Friends

Barns are sacred places for us to meet people and horses that will affect our lives long after we have said goodbye to them.  My friend Wayne was no exception.  On September 11, 2001 his life was taken from us.  I will never forget the lessons I learned from him that have carried me through many barns, many horses, and many friends.   It is a great honor to share his story with each of you.  Make every day count, breathe deeply, and love your barn family. 

Finding My Friends
By Rhonda Hoskins Arza

      The summer of my 39th year brought great reflection and yearning. While reflecting, I felt guilty about the years I allowed so many friends to slip away. On the night of my June birthday, I sat up late in our bed with my husband sleeping next to me and my lap top atop my comforter, as I often do, and I quietly keyed in the names of some of my old friends leafing through my past to try to discover their present. As I began to have some luck locating long lost friends from college and beyond I excitedly began to dig deeper into my past.  Eagerly and with great anticipation, I continued to work backwards from age 39. Hours later, I found myself at fifteen, when the search shifted to something most unexpected.

      I lived in rural New Jersey during my 15th and 16th year. During those brief two years I met some wonderful people who I still think of as friends, as they affected profoundly the way in which I later would view the world and how I would always search for friends just as great as they were. I had never forgotten the impact they all had on my life, but my thoughts went to that remarkable experience less and less as the years passed by. On this milestone birthday night I was determined to find them, and although some of the more unusual names were easy to track, the common names led me to too many leads, but I relentlessly forged on.

     I began thinking about driving around in my friend’s white Buick Skylark listening to the lyrics of Phil Collins and Genesis, which led me to type in the name Robert Wayne Hobson III. We called him Wayne. Wayne was the kind of guy you would want to have as your brother. He was a handsome kid with wavy dark hair which he parted down the middle and tried to keep in check with the comb he kept in his back pocket. He always wore oxford cloth button down shirts in winter, layered with a turtle neck, and a blue down vest which held his Marlboro Lights that he smoked fiendishly, and in summer Wayne always wore short sleeved polo shirts. His only Levi’s were faded, tight, and holey. He had grey-blue eyes that sparkled when he looked at you. He always smiled when he spoke, and you never knew what was going to come out of his mouth. His wit was so sharp and his humor so wicked, you hoped he would not direct it at you. He had a way of knowing your weakest link and he would poke fun at it. Even the parents were fair game, and because he was so charming he could say whatever he wanted to whomever he wanted and everyone loved him for his verbose honesty. He would cut right through your facades and fabrications to others, and raise them right to the surface every chance he got. Some of my friends hated this about him, and avoided his ill mannered immature fun poking, but because he was so indifferent in his quick banter he got away with things no one else could. On any one else this would have been a character flaw, but in Wayne it was what made him ever presently honest, sincere, and brave. There was not a person in our stable who didn’t wish that they were just a little bit more like Wayne, a little bit more courageous and outrageous with a laissez-faire twist. We were all drawn to him.

Wayne grooming in 1982.
     Wayne was seventeen years old, and his parents were divorced. He worshipped his father, lived with his mother, and felt he was owed something. I kind of felt the same way for him. Wayne loved horses and riding but never had the opportunity to ride and show the way he would have liked to. His father was a prominent doctor who had the means to give him the object of his adoration but I think that he felt it was unnecessary, indulgent, and silly. He could not see the value in the sport nor did he care to try. Coming from the polar opposite family who could not see the value in not making sure that I was able to follow my passion for riding horses and competing, I found it hard to understand, and felt Wayne’s pain deeply.

     Wayne’s resentment for the lack of understanding of his love for the sport of riding horses became an absolute rebellion. He would follow us to the shows, and stand on the side lines, waiting patiently for the occasional catch ride. Wayne watched and cheered for the rest of us, and when I would see the sad expression on his face as we walked the courses without him, I was constantly reminded of what a privilege it was to have parents that were a part of my life, parents who encouraged my every move and appreciated my passion for riding horses and competing for the betterment of myself. Each time I glanced in his direction and noticed him leaning on the arena fence with his arms crossed and his foot resting on the bottom board looking in at us dreamingly, he became a reminder of just how lucky we all were to be at these prestigious venues, walking these beautifully designed courses with our trainer, anticipating the moment in the ring that we well deserved, the opportunity to show our hard work and sometimes, when the moment arrived, get that great reward with the gratification of having the one great round Wayne only dreamed of getting a shot at accomplishing. Sadly for Wayne, he was the poster child for riders who for one reason or another were unable to realize their own equestrian dreams, and even those who did not appreciate what was handed to them would look into those blue eyes and see the ignorance in their ways, and shamefully turn away from his image on the sidelines.

     But the thing that I remember the most was his resilience. He would not allow anyone to stop him from participating with us in any way that he could. Wayne would stand at the in gate with our trainer and wipe our boots to perfection, run a quick soft brush over our horses’ coats, and carefully polish their hooves all the while listening to us repeat our course plan to our trainer. “Good luck Rhonda” he would say in earnest with an “I know you can do it” smile as I entered the ring. He wanted to be with the horses and he wanted to be with all of us, and we loved his charismatic infectious personality, his constant pranking and foul jokes, and his tell it like it is style. He was the most admirable among us, and no amount of national awards, qualifying rounds, and blue ribbons that we all accomplished could make any of us hold a candle to the kind of character that Wayne had. There wasn’t a junior competitor among us that didn’t know this in our very core, and we were engrossed by him.

     As the years of my life passed I often wondered what had happened to Wayne. I was a bit reluctant to press the Go button on my computer as I had often worried about Wayne and hoped that he had made it in life okay. I found out that his future was nothing like I had expected, and the life that he lived was nothing less than the American Dream, his American Dream. As I read on I learned that Wayne had become an amazing man. The proud son of a military Doctor, he loved the Pearl Harbor story and memorized the movie “Tora, Tora, Tora”. He had opened his own bar/restaurant in Hoboken New Jersey, an old steel town which had now become the place to be for young New Yorkers. He called the bar “Hobson’s Choice” a play on words that embodied his unique sense of humor, taken from a book of the same name whose theme was that you really have no choice. Wayne’s mother helped him run the place while he worked by day at what his friends called “the town mill”. Wayne worked with a fun loving, strident, foul mouthed group of young traders much like himself, and had helped a couple of the younger up and comers get jobs working at his prestigious investment firm. He was a leader amongst the locals in the small town in which he played such a large part in changing. Wayne and his cohorts virtually rebuilt that town, with Hobson’s Choice at the center of the fresh and hopeful town which overlooked the grandeur of New York City.

     When I pressed the GO button my eyes were blinded by the number of links that popped up. As I read on, in a moment of sadness, and hopeful desperation that the links found were those of a different Robert Wayne Hobson III. With a heavy pounding heart, I found a picture of the Ryan O’Neal look alike and once again looked into those same sparkling blue eyes; I knew that I had surely found the Wayne that I once knew. One web site left a place for me to write a memorial passage which still today reads:

From: Rhonda Hoskins-Arza
Date: 07/01/2004
Message: Wayne-When I thought to search for you I never expected to find myself here. You were a bright light at our stable when we were kids together so long ago. I will never forget your humor, your smile, your very foul language for a 17 year old, and how you made me (all of us) feel. We lost touch so many years ago and I always wondered where you ended up. Now I know. May your bright light shine upon the world, while the memory of your laughter reminds us of the joys, and innocence of growing up in America. God Bless your family and all of your dear friends, I know that you have been deeply missed. Some day we will find each other again and have a laugh. Love, Rhonda


     That momentous night for me was three years after Wayne’s fateful day that we all watched from the desperation of our televisions. We who looked on will never forget where we stood while we witnessed them all perish in their own quiet desperation. Wayne worked on the 110th floor of the World Trade Center for Cantor Fitzgerald, and on September 11, 2001, he never returned home to his wife, his mother, or his bar in his town. I wondered if any of my New Jersey friends were trapped in the towers that day, but I never placed Wayne there. Wayne Hobson lived the American Dream, and so much of that dream died with him, as the rest of us just watched, mesmerized, while so many lives were snuffed out, and many of our own dreams of the brightness of our futures changed interminably. But Wayne left us at the top of his game, and for a brief moment, I envied not only his life, but oddly, I privately envied his death too. His life remained motionless in the bright lights and beautiful world in a bubble we called “Fortress America” and it was still protected by that fortress somehow. Protected from the knowing, and the responsibility, and the ache, from the loss of our virtue, that was once a small town in New Jersey where there once lived a 17 year old boy in love with horses, who grew to be the man who collected cars, and enjoyed the people who visited the bar that he built out of a dream. A boy who was resentful that his parents missed the moment to watch him ride, who grew up to be the man, who had learned forgiveness, and later embraced his mother as his friend and partner. A mother who still carries the hope for the Hoboken youth, who lost so many of their high spirited friends and loved ones that day, by keeping Wayne’s bar open, protecting the bar stool where he held court and watched football with his friends. “Hobson’s Choice”, also known as “Wayne’s” to the locals, remains a thriving restaurant and pub even still today.

      When I think about how he lived and how he died, it was classic Wayne. Like a fire burning bright with prevailing and infinite energy and spirit, he lived every day as if it were his last, and when it was his last day, there were no uncertainties, no misgivings, just tears from those who would miss him, and laughter that we still remembered, so much of the particulars of the outrageous things that he had said and done. He was here and gone in a moment, as we all are, really. We miss him, but he was never really ours. What he did in his short instant here, who Wayne Hobson was for us, was a treasured dazzling beacon reminding us that we should all live the best days of our lives every day, and that life is indeed our one great ride. Wayne was here in his short time to teach us this, and he would have wanted us to reflect on his life in this way. I know that I always will.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Herd Bound

Rhonda and Sara
           Photo by Dory Touhey.
In July of 2012, I was captivated by a story on facebook about a herd of paints, mostly brood mares, who had been purchased by a kill buyer and needed re-homing fast.  Although, I tried to ignore the pleas from my friend who owned a Michigan horse rescue, something inside me would not allow it, and I launched myself head long into the cause.  The story struck a chord in me that was so deep that I was unable to stop following it and trying to help. The chronicles of the hopeless herd lead me on a journey that literally changed my life, and the way I will see horses forever. 
This story is dedicated to the 19 horses that were saved by many heroes, and especially to the beautiful souls in the world who have not been so fortunate.  You are loved. 
         by Rhonda Arza

Paint horses are mystical creatures who seem to embody ancient spirit, and each one has as much mystique as the divinely designed flawlessness in the markings that make them each so distinctive. I now own a Paint; she was one of a herd of nineteen others, mostly Paint brood mares like herself, that I played a part in rescuing one summer.  I witnessed proof of compassionate humanity existing among us as I felt the hearts of hundreds of friends viewing posts of pictures of the almost forgotten ill fated herd on Facebook. This group grew to become an unstoppable force of hopeful humanitarians that magically orchestrated a new and hopeful reality for these horses.

The herd, which had learned to move like an easy river over rock, and sludge, and any further difficult terrain put before them, was in trouble. There were nineteen horses all total, and each had been fattened up, and housed drug free for six months, the general waiting period needed for a kill buyer to ship them alive to Canada and then onward overseas to countries where eating horse meat was a popular delicacy enjoyed often by patrons of fancy European restaurants.
The herd’s original owner was a dying woman who was given an ultimatum by her husband. She had spent years laboriously developing this herd of beautiful breeding stock which she had enjoyed and loved like her very own children. They each had registration papers and pedigrees miles long that seemed to tell the story of a proud woman who could boastfully talk about the horses she owned and bred for pleasure. When she was weak and ailing, the resentment her husband felt from the time lost to her prized horses, coupled with the expense of taking care of an entire herd of horses, had overtaken him enough that he forced her to sell the last facade of joy in her life to a single buyer. Sadly, the rare buyer buys herds of beautiful horses, so they were sold to a horse dealer, a kill buyer we call them in the industry, who would prepare them to be sold for top dollar by the pound for overseas slaughter.
In our country, horses are a national treasure that have enriched our history so much that most of us can hardly even imagine the horrors that go on, and we often choose not to acknowledge these misfortunes as horses are shipped out of our country where they can be consumed in cultures that accept them as food. Sadly for this herd, the house of cards they had fallen victim to, had finally come down, and they were no longer safe from the harsh reality that life here can sometimes bring.
The herd knew nothing of their impending doom as they moved quietly through a simple life that had defined them for so long. They worked cooperatively as one pack and no horse among them was either the leader or the follower. They had learned to live together without competition, they were a team, and they had learned to move as one strong entity. They shared space, food, and water; they groomed each other, and slept outside together under trees or shelters that may or may not have been provided them by the humans who were to care for them. They had developed love and affection for one another over a lifetime of shared experiences, and each individual in no way felt that any of the others were separate from them. Bound for slaughter, though they had no way of knowing, they had formed a pact that together they were safe, but separate they were uncertain.
First Chance
The hired driver of the goose neck horse trailer pulled into the kill buyers’ driveway and loaded the first ones she could catch. She immediately took note as to how magnificent they were, and when she was handed the appropriate paperwork for slaughter bound horses, something in her drove her to plead with the kill buyer. Maybe it was the colorful herds’ uniqueness and oneness that had saved them, and somewhere buried just below the surface of the kill buyers own humanity was enough consideration to impel him to give her permission to sell them, if she did it quickly enough, and he received his money.
Facebook lit up as the message of desperation and hope was passed along from the shipper to her friend who runs a Michigan horse rescue who quickly moved and decided it was right, as animal rescuers know all too well, to get the word out about this herd and their dire story as this was their only and last hope.
I see countless horse’s faces every day on Facebook that need or are looking for homes, they all have a sad story in their eyes and it seems so hopeless. When the first post caught my eye, I admit that I glazed over it thinking that I would share it but it would end there. There are so many dismal pictures plastered over my wall of dogs, cats, horses, ferrets, and on and on and on, that I am overwhelmed by them all, thinking that I cannot possibly do anything to stop this madness of homeless animal after homeless animal. “Too many lost souls”, I thought with a head shake, but I passed the word along and hit the “share” button as I always do, and I felt at least for that moment, satisfied that I had done by part to help the herd. 
My friend who owns the rescue did not share my languid attitude at all and instead stressed the urgency of the looming situation at every turn and enough times that I could no longer ignore her pleas. “These horses have until Friday to live, and there are many more where these came from.” the post read. There was a photo of a beautiful bay gelding that caught my eye immediately. He was a thick and sturdy looking quarter horse, who somehow was thrown into the mix of breeding mares. 
“How on earth did this guy get here?” I thought as I looked at his picture, which showed his confident demeanor and strong stance, “He looks like a nice riding horse, not a brood mare.” I thought out loud.
As a riding instructor I was in need of a lesson horse perhaps, or even a horse I can lease out to one of my clients, so I inquired. When I spoke to the driver who discovered the herd she spoke with a strong voice that had heart and mileage behind it. She was a trainer too and she informed me that this horse was very sensitive to leg aids and probably could not have a beginner rider on him.
 I really appreciated her honesty, and thought that even though she only had a few days to home this group, she was not going to sell him to the wrong home. So he was not to be my horse, but now the seed was planted that I should continue the search for the right horse. I watched facebook all night after that and noticed that there were some takers on this first group. “If we get this first group homes,” my friend from the rescue posted, “We can get the next group homes and keep on going.”
     The first group of four was sold before the Friday deadline. It seemed like a miracle as we all held our breath, checking the daily reminders, and the comments from onlookers. There were plenty of “I wish I had more room”ers  and “I wish I had the money”ers, and an abundance of oohers and aahers, but the actual buyers, those willing to listen to instinct and intuition from just a cell phone picture, those were the people we needed to find, and the rescue farm owner knew that the only way this herd would survive was to share, share, and share some more.
         Round Two
The next group of four was picked up by Monday and we were off to the races yet again to find the next batch of would be owners for them. There was a handsome chestnut gelding in this bunch that interested me but he was described as too green for my needs, and the others were not exactly right either. One by one we shared and shared the pictures of the innocent faces of these kind horses, and had to watch with our breath held as the owner of the Michigan rescue stuck the neck of her rescue efforts out to save them, pleading with the Facebook community to share and repost so everyone could see them. She actually had people asking her why they weren’t free horses, questioning her integrity, and the integrity of the rescue, leading her to pose the question “What is a horse rescue?” and “Who qualifies as a recue horse?” 
I watched in anguish as she fought for her cause, but I knew sadly that my horse was not in this second group. Some of my fellow trainer friends were getting agitated on my shared posts saying things like, “Come on people! These horses deserve homes, they deserve a chance.” Someone even reminded us all that the famous Snowman was once a rescue horse and he was bought for $200 and went on to become one of the greatest show jumping legends of all time.
“One of these could be the next Snowman”, she pleaded, which lead one of our peers, a professional horseman within the hunter jumper community to step up and become a Facebook hero when he bought the chestnut gelding who had such an innocence about him that we could hardly stand waiting to see if he had to be shipped to a deadly fate. All four were sold by Friday and the kill buyer got his cash in hand late that afternoon. I heard a collective cheer seemingly through the vibration of my laptop on Facebook that night, and I cried for the horses that had no idea they were in danger, no idea that tonight they had been saved.
Round Three
Pleased with his fast money, he told the shipper to take the last group of horses in their entirety and sell them. She was given two weeks this time. When she arrived there, she put as many in her trailer as she could catch and made a few trips. She had to leave two behind because one was a stallion who was too wild and unruly to load into the trailer, and the other one was so lame and elderly that she could hardly stand up any longer.
Her heart was broken as she drove away unable to keep her promise to the herd. When she got the horses to her farm she tied them all to a hitching post to bathe them and assess the situation. Most of the horses were very rarely handled by people and were frightened. One horse was so afraid that she tried to break loose from the holding area and tragically slipped, fell, and broke her neck. The horse had to be destroyed the old fashioned way with a bullet at the scene with the whole herd looking on. The kill buyer insisted that the shipper pay for the dead horse, so money had to be added to the prices of the last group in order to make up for the one that had died.
It was to her the worst most heartless experience of her life, and although she was doing the best she could and felt called to do the work, she could not help but feel the enormity of the tragedy which had unfolded before her. Unfortunately, she was not a Facebook user, and she had no idea of the rally that was going on behalf of the herd.  She had no idea that people across nations were now rooting for them, and the driving force behind finding the members each homes had become virtually unstoppable.
The powerful determination of Facebookians far and wide would see nothing but a happy ending to this story. With the rescue owner at the helm of the motion to push through, the wall post read, “Slaughter Bound herd in Michigan in need of homes now!” We all shared, and shared again the message of impending doom each day, posting the album of the individual pictures of each horse like “wanted” signs all over our walls and the walls of our friends, and pretty soon we had roughly a thousand onlookers behind us.
Final Round
The final and largest batch was posted on a Friday. I remember getting very restless to see them and knowing that my horse was probably among this last group of horses. I recall checking my facebook page, my friends’ personal page, and her rescue’s page several times that day, and when the pictures finally came out I saw my Sara. She was called “Honey” because her papers said “Honey Dus Print”. I looked at her photo for a long, long time. People were making comments beside her picture saying things like, “This is my pick.” “Save this one for me.”, and, “This is my dream horse can I have her?”

I said nothing, made not one comment or even a “like”, as I did not want to bring any more attention to the photographs of the horse I knew would be my own. I remember calling my husband on the phone at work and asking him to look at her photo. “She’s nice.” he said with indifference behind his tone, quickly changing the subject.
Saturday and Sunday, I looked at the photo dozens of times, and looked deeply into the one showing eye of the horse I had already named Sara after my guardian angel. Her eyes had bold expression in them and though you could see the white, like so many paints, it was not a mistrusting eye that makes a person leery of a horse; it seemed more like an intelligent soulful eye that could see right through into your heart. Her eye was the type that could soften you, understand your fears, your pain, or anything that deep kind eye needed to teach you at the exact moment you needed to learn. That eye could demonstrate kindness, bring you warmth, and an eye like hers could even heal you. I saw in her something that I desired, and although initially I thought that I would be rescuing her, I also knew with great faith and clarity that she would come into my life to salvage me, to awaken me, to heal me, but most importantly to teach me.  On a soul level I knew that she was meant to be a part of my life, and that I had much to learn from her. 
 I could not stop thinking about her. “She is not a beginner horse you know.” my pragmatic husband said with a coolness in his voice. “If we are going to buy a horse Rhonda,” he said sensibly, “We really need a horse that is useful to us right away.” I stayed quiet because I knew he was not wrong about any of it, his reasons were realistic, and practical, but I couldn’t stop staring at her photograph. More and more comments were lining up underneath her photo as the hours went on.
“SLAUGHTER BOUND HERD IN DANGER AND IN NO WAY SAFE!!!” The haunting description read, “We have only two weeks to sell the rest of them or they WILL get shipped.” The photo share caption threatened and I shuddered to imagine that beautiful, perfect mare on a trailer heading to a holding pen, and eventually on to an airplane, and then perhaps countless more frightening holding pens preparing her for a devastating fate. It was not her actual death that I thought about, but it was her journey toward a slaughter death which concerned me the most, and I thought about the immeasurable number of other beautiful horses who never even get the chance to be seen on facebook, who must face such a journey. 
I stared at her photograph all night until it seemed that I knew her. The vibrant colors on her sides seemed to blend now, morphing into one large painting of another perfect horse losing hope.
No one had taken any of them in yet and it was Monday morning. “Two weeks from last Friday comes so fast.” I thought out loud. “Someone else would have bought her already if she was not meant to be ours.” I convinced myself. I was folding laundry and feeling so anxious about her and in a moment of hopeful panic I picked up the phone and dialed the number of the shipper who had stumbled upon the ill fated herd. I felt I could trust her because she had been so very forthright with me when I called about the bay gelding from the first group.
If she hadn’t have answered the phone I would have questioned myself and might not have attempted another call. She told me that she had never seen such a horrible scene, and that she would never do anything like this again, as she was affected so profoundly that she would never be the same. I remember thinking with great clarity and conviction that she was being utilized as an angel, and how through the wreckage and the heartache she could not see this yet.  I felt a deep sense of peace within me, knowing that all of us were being asked to do the same thing, and that we were each being utilized in the same way.  
I remember trying to comfort her in vane as she shared with me the story about the dying woman who had owned this herd, and how she could never forgive herself if she didn’t see this herd through, and finally she told me quietly about the two whom she had to leave behind. Tears streamed down my face as I listened and empathically felt her pain, noticing the words weakening as they came from her once strong voice which now cracked as she spoke to me.
My reply felt cold but I was honest. “I don’t think I can do it because she is not exactly what we need.” Then with a softening voice I told the truth, “There is something about her picture that I just can’t shake.” I spoke with hope in my voice, “I promise you,” I said with sincerity, “I will call my husband and call you right back if I can take her.” As I hung up the phone, I was confident that she would never expect a call back from me, and I also knew for certain that I had only a moment to get my husband.
I contemplated the uncertainty of his answer and knew that I had to be careful. But I also knew that my husband understands how fate and intuition play a large role in our lives way more than I ever give him credit for, so I spoke from my heart. I spoke of my experience on the phone with the woman and told him the story she had shared with me. He was quiet but he knew that we had to do what was right by this mare. He too had gone back to her picture several times, though he had been much more discreet about it. “Let’s get her.” He said in a calm strong voice.  I sat stunned for a moment, “Go ahead and call her back.” He repeated, noting my breathless silence. 
I am not sure if I even said goodbye to him, but I do remember that I couldn’t hang up the phone and redial fast enough. My hand fumbled recklessly on the keys once or twice.  I then had to concentrate and redial the number more slowly as I was not going to make an untimely mistake in dialing it again when I had only moments to spare.
I anxiously asked how to pay for her.  I could feel my heart beating strongly against my chest as I momentarily assessed the impulsivity of the act I was about to embark on. Nevertheless, when she sent me to her PayPal account, I spared not even a minute before making the transfer, and within moments she was ours.
I pensively sat on the bed where I had made the calls, sitting precisely where I had spent hours looking at her photo and the photo of the herd together so many times, and recognized that I had just made a profound and significant decision for all of us. Chills blew through me as I connected gratefully with the guidance that I had listened to, and I knew, without any evidence of remorse, that I had done the right thing and that Sara, a soul that I had perhaps known forever, was coming home.

Sara. Photo by Dory Touhey
I proudly posted a comment under the beautiful photo showing our Honey, my Sara, declaring that she was sold and confirming to all of the onlookers that we had bought her. A sudden and immediate barrage of posts flooded the photograph. There were now 30 or 40 comments underneath her picture congratulating me on our new horse. I felt completely uncertain of what journey lay before me, but I knew one thing, at that instant I knew that I could breathe again because she was safe. I had never felt so much relief, and now I could wait for her safe arrival, and deal with the next chapter of our journey as it came, knowing with great faith that I had listened to the right voice this time. I was now able to continue to help find homes for the others, as I was able to begin to lead by example. 
         All of the horses found homes and followed suit after Sara was sold. No horse that was taken to the shelter of the kind shippers’ barn would have to endure a grueling slaughter journey. The final horse that remained from the herd did not find a home within the strict time frame. She was an older mare who was plainer looking than the others, but she was easy going and kind. An anonymous donor from our group of faithful Facebook friends, found it in their heart to pay for the last and final horse so that the shipper could put the payments behind her, on time, and begin to heal herself as she now had the occasion to find the perfect home for this final mare, which she did just a couple of weeks after the deadline.
The more time I spend learning from Sara, the more that I appreciate how the herd acted as one. I think about the parallels of the work we all did together that was much like the work of the herd, and how really simple our place and purpose is as individuals. We are here to learn that we are all more the same than we are different; That when the universe asks us to step up, we can either choose to disregard the call, or we can become a powerful force that rallies around each other sharing the simple message before us, because after all we do recognize the idea that as one we are just one, but as a working herd we are the sum of our whole.
Together, we witnessed all of the posting and sharing that began with one and multiplied into a flock of many who had just one goal in mind. The goal, though it seemed to be as simple as the saving of some horses, was about the humanity that binds us together and the hope of people who proudly want to proclaim that love always wins. The herd was nothing but a reminder of the lesson, and living with the blessing that is Sara in my everyday life, I am reminded of the power of all of us together for one purpose, as we are as strong or as weak as the herd that was built out of a dream of one, which went on to become a vision of hope for so many.
When we glance back at the tragedy of the misbegotten herd, separated but bound as a whole, living forever within each of us who were lucky enough to be touched by this story that we all chose generously and collectively to share, we can hear a quiet undertone that reminds each of us that wherever we look, we will always find love seamlessly within one great herd moving together steadily throughout our lives.