By April Horowitz
(The Heart of a Horse Story, part 25)
One of the ways I spread the word about Heart of a Horse and its mission is by attending Horse Shows and Fairs, where our volunteers help me set up a booth to sell our rescue shirts and distribute our literature. The Equine Affaire is one of the largest trade shows for the horse community in America. On a spring weekend in 2011, a group of Heart of a Horse volunteers went to Pomona where the Equine Affair was being held. There were events for those who came with world-class horse whisperers like Chris Cox, and displays with every horse product imaginable. Thousands of people went up and down the aisles between the booths that had been set up and passed by our Heart of a Horse banner and table. People came by to talk, purchase our items, and pick up our literature, and donate to our cause.
I was there was with a contingent of Heart of Horse volunteers, including Kevin, Kandice Watts, Katie Jones and Ava Cohen. I was touched by how hard they all worked. Kandice donated her homemade horse cookies, which she called “Gourmet Horse Treats.” She passed them out free to help attract visitors to the Heart of a Horse display. Kevin gave free medical advice to horse owners who came to our booth with questions. He brought his mother, Jackie, who also volunteered to work at the booth. Ava, our youngest volunteer, helped wherever she was needed. I felt so lucky to have such a wonderful support group. Everyone who stood behind our booth had a love and passion for the work.
As we started our first day, and set up our booth I would never have guessed that the people I met and the stories they told me would so touch my heart. One in particular, showed me how the work we were doing was having an effect that was greater than anything I could have imagined.
A boy in his teens came up and introduced himself to me, and then told me his story. One day he was riding his bike with his friend, and they went down into a farm area to look at the horses and the cows. While they were there they saw some men in a field who had been drinking. He looked again and to his dismay he saw that the men had a horse tied up and were tormenting and beating him. When the boy got home he was still upset by what he had seen, and he asked himself “What would Heart of a Horse do?” He had learned about us through our website.
After thinking over his question, he arrived at an answer. He asked his dad if he would drive him back to the ranch so he could see if the horse needed hay or medicine. When they got there, the horse and the men were gone. The boy and his father went up to the ranch house and asked the woman who greeted them what happened to the horse he had seen. She told him the horse was tied up behind the barn. He and his dad went over to the barn and came upon the horse, who was on the ground bleeding. They were horrified to see that the horse’s tail was dangling where somebody had tried to cut it off. His body was covered in gashes. The boy said to his dad, if we can call a vet and save this horse, and if you will let me take the horse home I will not ask for the dirt bike you promised me when I turn sixteen.
His dad agreed to the deal. They called the vet and were able to get medical attention for the horse. Then they put the horse in a hauler and took him home. The boy told me he had named his new horse “Bucky.” Then, beaming with pride, he took out his cell phone and showed me Bucky, who he said was his best friend. He said that when he asks his dad for a dirt bike and other things now, his dad says, “We spent the money on Bucky.” But then he said what Bucky has taught him is that all those other things are unimportant. When his friends ride their dirt bikes, he rides Bucky alongside them. “The love of Bucky,” he said, “is better than any dirt bike I could ever have.” He finished his story by telling me that he wanted to thank Heart of a Horse for giving him the idea, and the courage to do it.
Of all the stories I have gathered in my travels, this is the one that inspires me most.
Thank you, Build-A-Bear, for your recent grant award. We cannot fully express how appreciative our foundation is for this grant. Many horses will benefit from your organization’s generous donation. Together, we can end the suffering of horses everywhere.