Holding on to Hope

In a day where horses are sent to our border countries to become someone’s lunch, horses are “set free” to starve in bordering states, they are loaded into empty trailers when no one is looking… Horses that were somebody’s best friend…

Those fuzzy ears have listened to countless secrets.

That bony back carried the weight of a rider for years, sometimes ridden hard and put away wet. 

Those lips gladly accepted carrots and nuzzled the back of an unsuspecting neck a time or two.

Now the horse is a throw away.  Disposable.  Too expensive to feed.  Too much trouble to have trimmed.  Too low on the list of all of the demands life has on our bank accounts and our dwindling time. 

How, amidst the hopelessness of watching as truckloads of these once beloved animals head to Canada or Mexico, do we maintain hope?

Every morning I get up with my kids at an ungodly hour.  My boys were meant to ranch… they rise before the sun and are ready to go.  The littlest is not still a baby, but not yet a big boy.  He wakes me up and holds my face in his chubby little hands and says “horses”.  He wants to be in the carrier on my back as I feed (and he spreads hay in my hair).  We get out there and he says “Good morning boys!” to the horses. 

He can’t wait to start shoveling poo.  “Poop.  Lots poop.  Clean up.  Everyday.  Lots poop.” he says, which is my encouragement to not save the chore for later.

The other likes to fix things… he sets to work about filling water and checking to make sure the hose is on tight.  He gathers baling twine, moves barrels and orgainizes chairs.  He’s only 6, but he tells me he wants his own farm someday.  He doesn’t know what he wants to grow or raise, but he loves to fix fences and all the work that goes with the place.  He doesn’t mind being dirty or hard work.  He melts my heart.

At that ungodly hour when I’m trying to pick the sleep from eyes and ready myself for the day ahead of me, I make my chai or coffee and turn on my computer.  My email downloads- mostly offers that filter back to the junk box.  Many emails from yahoo groups that I will read later.  Customer questions, orders to fill and friends…  EVERY morning, between emails, I read Joe’s journal  at www.tbfriends.com

Every day I read about the desperation that this economy is pressing down on people in California.  The desperation that presses down on the horses… the one-time-best-friends and days-gone-by-trusty-ranch-hands that are now meat.  Scared and alone.  Hurting.  And yes, I feel helpless. 

Why do I keep reading?  It’s a healthy helplessness.  I SHOULD feel helpless if I am unable to help!  I should shed those tears, it lets me know that I’m alive.  When most things these days are synthetic, horses are still very real.  Joe’s efforts and those that rally around him with hay, extra pastures, tears and prayers- they are still authentic. 

The horses, like the filly that no one can track down that was shipped off to a Mexican rodeo- that filly may be living a horrible, fright filled life right now.  All I can do is pray for her.  But I do know that God used that filly… He used her to touch hearts from the homeland to the shores of Italy!  He used that filly to let us know that our hearts are not hardend, even in a crazy desensitized world we are still compassionate enough to allow our hearts to break for a horse we’ve never met.

Thank you God for using Joe to show us that we are still human with authentic feelings and emotions.  Thank you for using the horse- a smelly, poop machine that has collectively broken four of my toes… an animal that by all reasonable estimation should not have the effect that it does on our souls- thank you for giving us this gift.

Holding onto hope seems useless some days.  If your read Joe’s journal today (www.tbfriends.com), people that are crying out for help are then hostile when help arrives at their door.  I think these people are trying to hold onto hope and their last finger is still hanging on but it’s becoming numb and the finger nail has started to bleed… 

Sometimes it’s like that.  But, even when we’re ticked off at all of humanity… at all of the hopelessness and callousness that we see, we have to remember that holding onto hope means putting our Hope in the right place.  My hope is not in a person, people are fallable.  My hope is not in the state of our union, that too may fall.  My hope cannot be in the equine industry or I will want to be sick most days.

My hope is in the Lord.  Without the events that my eyes see here on earth, I would never understand the love and compassion, grace and mercy that are afforded to me by Him.  Without Joe’s journal, I would not understand the love and compassion, grace and mercy that are afforded to each horse that has clean water and will not go hungry tonight.

Thank you Joe.  My heart still beats for life, love and horses… I would not know the depth of my compassion without knowing the depth of my grief for animals I have not yet met.  HUG YOUR HORSES.  Hug your horse and let them feel your love for them so stongly that the horses standing in the feed lots can feel your love.  That’s what I tell my boys every day.  That’s what we do… thanks to Joe. 

Thank you Joe for pointing out that the kids of today are the horses’ hope for tomorrow- that’s why I take them along so much more than I used to.  You’ve changed the future of those 2 boys forever.

Hold onto hope.