On Wednesday the 16th of May Stella (Read her story so far here) was to be sent away from the farm in Bridgetown as she was not suitable for pulling the carriage that Jim had lined up for her. Although she was a lot calmer now she was still jumpy and Jim had had to make a decision. The owner of the horse had found another buyer and was anxious to bring her down to them. Stella was due to go that evening. Chris returned home from his once weekly day of volunteering on the farm distraught and was desperately worried about what the future held for Stella. We quickly decided that something had to be done and we tried to call Jim to ask where she would be going and whether she would be looked after well. We could not get through on the phone so eventually we decided to drive out the farm.
We arrived to find that the horse box and pickup were gone. We were too late it seemed. But Chris got out and had a look around and found Jim getting the horse box attached to the pickup beside the stable. Stella had been brought down from the field and was ready to go. We asked about her fate and Jim did not think it was a good one, so we told him of our plan to buy her. With some relief he and his son thought that it was a good idea, however they warned us that it was a lot to take on. But we decided that if it was at all possible for us to look after her then we would have to do it. The owner was rung and Stella had won a reprieve. The next day we went out with a hurriedly rounded up €2300. The deal was done and €50 luck money was returned.
And then the reality of what we had done hit us. We were still sure that we wanted Stella but now we had to try and find somewhere to keep her as well as the money and the know how, none of which we possessed. An appeal has been sent out to every one we know for support and we have had a generous response so far....thanks so much to every one who has dug into their pockets! However we are still well short of the money that we need to raise in order to secure Stella's future.
Here is Stella today grazing with her friends on the farm. Jim has kindly said that she can stay there for a short time, while we find some where else for her. She has 5 other friends here, four horses and a cow called Mary Moo. She also has plenty of space and peace and quiet. As you can see she has put on a nice bit of weight since the last pictures were taken of her and she seems quite relaxed as she chomps away continuously.
So at the moment we are mostly concerned with helping Stella to make a complete recovery from her past traumas and neglect. As far as we can tell she is not expecting humans to be nice to her and as such she prefers to keep her distance. The only thing she associates with humans is pain, however at the farm she has encountered a new kind of person and is slowly beginning to tolerate a bit more contact.
We are going up to her every day in order to spend some time with her and to figure out how to help her. We have to pass through a beautiful meadow on the way and the theme music to Little House on the Prairie keeps going through my mind! Here are Chris and Bailey coming up through the buttercups, clover, vetch and other unidentified wild flowers to visit Stella.
Here is Chris just sitting near to her today as she chomps some more. Bailey the dog is eager to get some attention too.
And here he is patting her just a little bit. She tolerated it for a few moments before moving off slowly in order to find more grass.
Jim lent us some books on horses and one of them was about healing horses. It is called "What Horses Say". It is all about a woman who believes she can ask horses questions and that they answer her. She uses the information she picks up to help heal them. Where ever the information is coming from I thought I'd try this with Stella. Yesterday I asked her what she would like me to do in order to help her. I got the impression that she would like me to sing to her. So today I went up to the field and did just that. I started with the Mongolian lullaby I mentioned before, followed by Sarah McLaughlin's Arms of an Angel. I sang for about 10 minutes and the horses seemed very interested. They just stared at me. Stella sat down for a few moments before having a scratch and a roll around and then got up. I needed to get some water so I went and had a break for a few minutes on the other side of the fence before coming back and having another go. It seemed as if they were at least registering the fact that I was singing my heart out in the middle of a field with hail stones pelting down, hoping that some farmer would not wander along and think he had found a crazy person!
But the sun came out and I started again. By now the horses were all the way over on the other corner of the field, busily eating more grass. It seems that they eat for 24hours a day.
I decided to do one rendition of Arms of an Angel before settling into the lullaby again. Fairly quickly they all stopped eating and after about 5 minutes Foxy and Kualité sat down, lazily looking over at me.
Then after another 5 minutes Stella sat down. By now the three on the ground were resting their noses on the grass. It seemed that it was too much for them to have to carry the weight themselves.
Foxy got up again and Quaroba took her place while Stella decided it was too much and had to lie down completely.
Once Kualité saw that it was OK to lie down she followed suit. Kuaroba also lay down completely and was just settling in for a nice snooze when Kualité started snoring and gave them all a fright, including herself.
They stayed sitting however, with their noses balancing on the ground. Foxy the elderly horse didn't return to sitting position but barely moved for the entire time. It seemed as if they had all been drugged.
By now Mary Moo had joined in too. But then she seems to be sitting most of the time anyway.
Here is a video of the horses during the lullaby singing. Unfortunately it didn't occur to me to video them at the start. I will see if it works again tomorrow and I'll put up a new video if it does.
After a few moments I walked away and left the field watched by 6 pairs of eyes. Once I had left they all began to get back to the business of wandering around eating grass. This had been the only time they stopped in the 5 hours that I was there. In all I sang to them for about 40 minutes. Hugo was the only one that stayed out of the lullaby session as I think he finds it difficult to sit down. More on him later....
If you think anyone else would like to read this post please pass it on, along with an appeal for support. Anyone with advice, some land near Limerick city where she might have some friends or a donation towards her upkeep can email me at the link on the left.
Here is a picture of her having a trot after a drink of water.
Thanks to everyone who has encouraged and supported us in our efforts to secure a brighter future for Stella. She is a beautiful horse and deserves a chance to experience what it is like to be content. I will keep everyone up to date on her progress and on ours as we adjust to the fact that we suddenly own a horse! I have a feeling that she will bring us all somewhere wonderful.
She already has....