Boomerang, Summer of 2009
I posted the link above a couple times in the last day or so on facebook horse rescue sites wanting to share the joys of taking in a rescue. I reread thru these older posts and thought an update On my most recent rescue horse is due.
Boomer, short for boomerang because she kept coming back… came to stay permanently with me April 09 after I rescued her for the second time from a bad situation. She is a full blooded, professionally trained and shown, well put together, healthy horse who TWICE has found herself in situations in which she was needed rescued. I do like to say at this point I am careful who I sell my horses too and each time thought long and hard as to whether she was a good fit but in each case life happens and things change and she took the brunt of it. I won’t go into all that she’s been thru… its written in the link but I will say by helping this horse I have been so richly rewarded in understanding myself. Its been healing for me to help her heal.
I also am a trauma survivor and like Boomer hurtful destructive things have happened in my life and have been burned into my psyche. I grew up in a home with severe domestic violence and in many ways grew up in a war zone but this is not about my history other than how it relates to helping a creature, who thru no fault of her own, found herself at the mercy of the people who were supposed to care and protect her.
When Boomer first came home the priority was her physical needs… she needed to gain strength and be allowed to relax and feel safe. She needed companionship and interaction that was supportive and not hurtful. I took care to make sure she was slowly introduced to my herd. I wormed her, had her feet trimmed, slowly put her out on the pasture and increased her calories all in a way that would not overload her. She was given room to hang back if she needed or to interact if that felt okay. All on her terms. (She does not have a pushy, aggressive bone in her body.)
She’s come around now to the point she is carrying her weight.. physically on her body as in a good, healthy weight and also mentally within the herd. When she came she was SO timid and frightened she would just tremble walking up to the water trough. She is gaining confidence in her surroundings and world so now it is time to pick out some ‘life skills’ she needs to refine for a better life. She needs some guidance.
One major stumbling block in ‘guiding her’ is her fear of closed in spaces… even so far as walking thru gates, into barns, stalls all due to a horrible trailer accident and a fence accident while at her former homes. She is extremely leery of any closed space but I need for her to be okay in these situations. I am happy to say she is willingly now going in and out of the barn and stalls very well. I bring her in and let her eat and often over turn a bucket and just sit with her. After she gets to leisurely eat I have her on the lead and put out hay, water etc. and do the barn chores that I can with her following along. I do this so she gains confidence in going places with me… letting me lead her calmly as I go about my business. I thought this morning how a good broodmare does this for her foal… poor Boomer didn’t even get that luxury because HER dam was also a rescue which I took as a skin and bones, unbroke pregnant broodmare, lame and caked with manure. I found her in a stall with no food and water with manure 2 feet deep. I shudder to think how a mare would of given birth in those conditions– if they even made it that far. Boomer’s dam had not been handled much and was a nervous, anxious mother. So right from the start Boomer had alot to overcome. She wants SO badly to have a calm, quiet, confident, gentle leader because she responds so well with a gentle handler who understands she needs to take baby steps. As an artist I often think in pictures and metaphors and also enjoys the process of things sometimes more than a goal or end point. While working with my mare it has not been hard to see how her healing process shares many of the same themes as many trauma survivors. Something interestingly happened too along the way. As I understood what she needed I and responded to it clicked in me how as I do that for her I am also learning how to do that for myself. I imagined how we all need that helping hand of a gentle, wise and understanding leader in our lives. A calm, confident, fair, gentle, protective, patient leader who is there for us when we are in a tough spot.
And that the help needs to work in stages or steps:
Safety Care Support Room to progress at your own rate and in your own way Compassion A Kind, Strong Leader to show the way
I find a leader in my faith in God and in healthy people in my life. I also need to develop this type of leadership in me so that I can show it to others. And to give grace and compassion when needed to myself and the people and animals in my paths. By allowing myself to be in tune with the needs of this high risk, down trodden animal I have gained so much more than what I have given. This is the message I want to convey to you.
The B &W photo was taken by my daughter’s friend, Kaitlyn. She is in highschool and has a wonderful artistic eye. When I get the chance I am going to do a graphite drawing based on this photo.
Thanks for following along,
Sue Steiner White Horse Studios
equine and animal artist