Several of you have asked what happened to our rescue horse. I want to thank you for remembering this sweet boy. To share the story of how a starving horse changed our lives, I'll review a bit of the past on my way to telling you what a remarkable experience this became.
His name was Shadow, but he didn't know his name. I don't think in his twenty plus many years that anyone had been kind enough to speak to him by name. His irresponsible owner didn't have time to feed or care for him. He was basically ... abandoned.
Several equestrian friends brought this to my attention since Shadow was in a paddock near our home. I offered to feed him, call the vet and pay the bills. The owner said ... no.
This called for undercover action. My friends and I worked in shifts to secretly begin a feeding program. I had the night duty. So, dressed in black to go undetected, I arrived to a nickering horse that now knew the routine and nearly gave awaythismercy mission.
We faced many bumps in the road. There was a great deal of trauma and drama. But the day finally came when I was able to take over and boughtShadow for $1.00 with a signed contract.
We chose to keep Shadow in his paddock as he was bonded to the nearby horse. We began a "back to health" feeding and exercise program. Our vet spent over two hours checking him over. When the bill arrived it was ... zero!
There were so many wonderful people in this story, my incredible husband, my friends and theterrific Blogville friends who wrote in with their helpful advice and encouragement.
Shadow soon was gaining weight and strength. We even talked about changing his name to something he might like. We were with him at least four times a day, taking short walks along the trails, grooming and just talking. He had a shine to his coat and a sparkle in his eyes. He was beginning to know what love felt like.
Things were looking good.
That was until the fateful day when the horse next door moved away. Shadow was now alone. He panicked, he paced, he was frantic. We knew all the strength he had gained was not going to last. Something had to be done, immediately.
It was decided to move him to our barn. That meant removing him from whatever security he had known. In his state of anxiety we chose not to use a van, but to walk the trails that were now familiar to him. Fortunately, it was a short distance to our barn ... and Royal.
That was another matter. What would Royal do when a frantic new horse abruptly arrived? However, Royal was a sweetheart, completely calm. He knew he was needed.
Then one day everything changed in the barn and in our lives. The new boy was calming down while we were stressing out. The vet was making three trips a day for Royal. Royal was fighting laminitis and then he foundered. His situation was critical. He required quiet stall rest. Now, it was time for the rescue boy to keep Royal company. After what seemed a very long time, they were taking turns visiting each other, until the day came when both stall doors were opened and they stood side by side.
That was when I noticed the size difference between those two boys. Looking at our newcomer, I said ... why, you are just a little Joe.
That was it. Shadow became Little Joe and finally, Little Joey.
It was amazing, this little guy liked his name. He even came from behind the barn when I called his name.
Joey loved following Royal around. Things were so calm, even the Canada geese never ruffled a feather.
Royal was very gentle with this little boy. And Joey loved being anywhere near the big guy.Joey was, at last, feeling happy and secure.
And Royal was now making fast strides to complete recovery. He was our miracle boy.
Life was good.
Little Joey had an amusing daily habit.He loved to stroll into Royal's stall where there was a window view into the tack room. Joey enthusiastically watchedwhile I put together his gourmet lunch.
The boys were a wonderful pair, a rather odd combination, one might say. Royal was the big confident boy and Joey,his little puppy dog.
They spent their leisurely days wandering around together, standing in the sunshine, and sharing snacks of hay. Royal got the feed box and Joey was thrilled to eat whatever, wherever.
How true the saying is: Time is a great healer.
Joey had put on weight and muscle. He no longer looked his former emaciated self. He was a happy, relaxed, healthy boy. And Royal no longer wore pads, wooden shoes and wraps. He was overjoyed to be out of his stall. However, he was still confined to the easy pathways for an extended period of time. This would prove perfect for Joey.
The time came when Joeybegan showing signs of arthritis in his hip. Moving about was becoming more difficult, getting up and down often required help. We had friends on call who helped when Joey needed assistance.
We spent a great deal of time in the barn, keeping our eyes on both Joey and Royal.
It was bright and sunny that day. Joey was relaxing in the warm rays. This washis first time to lie down and stretch-out in a long time. As we watched, we knew Joey would not be able to get up.
We had done everything we could for this little boy ... everything except making him young, again.
We told Joey good-bye that day. We were with him talking gently. It was peaceful.
We knew then how much this little boy had been a life changing experience for all of us. Joey had helped Royal recover. And we had the reward of seeing a fragile life become strong, again. Little Joey was our blessing. He said thank you every day. He was a happy boy. And at the end of his journey, he had finally known security, companionship andlove. I think of the wonderful words of Ralph Waldo Emerson ...
You cannot do kindness too soon For you never know how soon it will be too late.