Rarely do I even bother to look at Twitter when I wake up, but for some reason this past Sunday morning I did. I was scrolling through posts retweeting a few when I came across this horse in desperate need of a rescue. He was in a kill pen. I wrote to Ann to ask where the kill pen was. and from there my day became about rescuing a horse named Vallier.
I often donate what I can to horses needing to be bailed out. I know the whole debate about not doing this, because it keeps the kill pens in business…how they hold the horse’s hostage, etc. How do you turn your back? What these horses go through in these pens and then when they go to the slaughterhouses is ungodly. They live in a hell that I can’t even imagine mentally and emotionally, let alone physically, surviving.
For some reason this horse named Vallier stopped me in tracks. My heart froze, and I looked at my husband saying, “We need to get him out of there.” I felt this horse’s panic, and I felt the same way about him as I did Dulce; I needed to get him here.
How did he get into the kill pen? I guess he was abandoned in a field by someone, picked up, and shipped to the kill pen. I’m not sure how long he was there, but I think it was for a decent amount of time.
After a whirlwind of events and five hours after posting a GoFundMe, I started working out the details with the kill pen. I sent them the money, arranged to have him shipped here (I don’t think I could have handled going to a kill pen and leaving with just one horse.) , and we finalized the details of the sale and paperwork. The following morning Brandon picked him up, and Vallier was on his way to Colorado. The next morning at 9:30am we loaded him into my trailer and we headed here.
My friend on Facebook and from back home, Mary Anewalt-Perrine asked me what Vallier is like. I decided to answer her in this blog. When we first met, he was very timid. He loaded up easily, and he immediately began eating the hay I put in his bucket. When I got him home, he was pretty scared….not spooky, but scared about what was about to happen to him. I took him to his corral, and he immediately grazed. I got him some hay, and he stopped grazing and dove into the hay. He really had no interest in me; just the hay, which was perfectly fine with me.
He likes to have his ears scratched, his jaw rubbed and his neck stroked. The first day he seemed very beaten down, tired, mentally and emotionally exhausted. I’d lie if I said I didn’t cry more than a few tears watching him. I will never understand how people can toss away a life like this. Personally, I think if an owner wants to send their horse off to slaughter, they should be the ones to haul that beautiful being to Mexico or Canada. They need to see what they are about to do.
By the evening, I saw a little bit of his personality. He likes to nicker at me as I walk towards him; especially when he knows I’m bringing fresh hay. He finally took a couple of Standley hay cookies from me, and he quickly realized they weren’t too bad. This is when he started to let his guard down for a bit, and he let me love on him. Before long though, he went back to being aloof. I respected that and gave him his space.
The next morning I noticed he liked watching these two calves play in the neighbor’s field to the west of us. He was paying more attention to his environment. Despite being totally exhausted and eating all night long, he continued to chew on his hay as his head bobbed trying to give in yet fight off sleep. He ate the entire night through, and I never saw him lie down. When I came back from the vet, he no longer could fight it off. He was down and out for about thirty minutes.
When he woke up, he was more sociable. He followed me around a bit in the pen. He rested his head on my shoulder for fifteen minutes. He rested his cheek on the back of my neck, and then he put his nose to my cheek breathing, resting, sighing…..
He should be aggressive. He should be mean and angry. He is none of these things. You can tell that he was loved throughout his life until he ended up in the wrong hands of someone. He is very gentle. He wants to have a relationship, which is such a lesson in itself about forgiveness. He shouldn’t want a relationship with any human being, but here is reaching out to me when he can.
He is sweet, and he loves it when I blow into his nostrils. He likes it when I play with his upper lip, and he likes to lick my hand. When my friend Jessica and her nephew came to visit him, he was timid. It will take some time for him to trust people walking up to him. He comes out of hiding and then brings the guard back to duty. However, I got to see more of him on his second day here.
This morning was a very different day. He was pacing and nickering for me wanting his bucket of feed. He ate it all down in fifteen minutes. He then nickered away at me for his fresh hay. When I was done with all of my chores, I went in with him, and the guard wasn’t on duty. He was lovey, wanted me to pet him, followed me around, and his ears were up in a different way. They stood up in curiosity, his eyes seemed clearer…..that fog from the past few days wasn’t so visible anymore, and he was awake. He finally is feeling safe enough to sleep.
He likes it when I brush him. He lets me run my hands all over him. I’ve never worried about standing behind him. I can tell that he was hit on the left side of his face. He flinches if I move my hand too fast, which he doesn’t do on the right side. He acts as if he thinks I may hit him. I spent a lot of time moving my hands all around his face and petting, scratching or massaging him letting him know that my touch isn’t going to be a hit or a slap.
His ears are always on me, and the sweetness that emerged yesterday stayed out today. He also began grazing as well as eating the hay, and he cleaned his bucket three times. When I walked out to him this evening, he once again nickered to me. I noticed how different he was standing. He was standing like a horse. He was standing as if he knew all of that other stuff was behind him. He was tall instead of sagging and beaten down. His spirit is rising and healing. We have a long ways to go, but this evening I saw his desire to get there.