Diamond and Leo
"Life's not fair." This quote has echoed through time. Sometimes it is the only answer that can be given when confronted with an unjust situation. Sometimes we have to accept that life's not fair, sometimes we don't...
Each year 100,000 horses ship to slaughter from the United States. No one knows better than the people involved in trying to save them that, "Life's not fair." The injustice of it all sometimes threatens to overwhelm. There is no 'why' that makes it understandable, no explanation that makes it bearable, no reasoning that makes it okay. And yet we go on. Because we make a difference for some.
Copper Horse Crusade was founded on principles of sustainability, doing the most good for the greatest number of horses, pulling the horses that were sound, sane, and serviceable. This allows a lot of good horses to be saved, most of them are in need of riding / training but they go on to be trail mounts, 4-H partners, therapy horses and so on. People want usable horses. I've always said that I can't pull what I can't place. Unfortunately, that means leaving behind the older horses that have been used up and discarded, the lame, the old, the broken. There are a lot of those that end up in the kill pen every week.
Leo was one of those old horses, Diamond was too. Neither of them met the sound / serviceable criteria that is typically used to determine which horses are saved by Copper Horse Crusade. Leo approached me at the sale with a hopeful expression that broke my heart. Diamond did her best during her evaluation there (in spite of her emaciated condition.) I wanted to scream about the unfairness of it all. Leo sold to a kill buyer on the Friday that he went through Sugarcreek. He weighed heavily on me. I posted about him and there was an overwhelming response to save him. Leo became representative of all of the old, lame, used up and discarded horses that can't be saved, the ones for which "life's not fair." Little did any of the people that chose to be involved in saving Leo know the story that would emerge.
Of course all horse's have a story that they can't tell in words. (I wish they could.) But Leo had a 'Black Beauty' story that became known because of all things, his halter. I am sure that the individual who took Leo and several other horses to the sale is still kicking himself for not removing the halter that allowed Leo to be identified. Social media is far reaching and Copper Horse Crusade has many connections. After the decision to save Leo was made and the photos started circulating it didn't take long for someone to identify the horse and the person responsible for dropping him off at a sale where his trip to slaughter was almost guaranteed. Almost. More and more people began coming forward with pieces of Leo's story. He had been quite the contest horse in his day and he took multiple kids through 4-H. He was loved by young girls. He went to the All American Youth Horse Show several times and at one point sold for $5,000. People failed him all along the way. Certainly the last two people to own Leo bear the greatest responsibility for him ending up in a kill pen, but each person that ran him and used him had some obligation to keep up with where Leo was and how he was doing. They did not do that and it nearly cost Leo his life.
Less is known about Diamond because no one recognized her, although at least her papers followed her to the sale. She came from Quarter Horse royalty. When Copper Horse Crusade pulled her she was starving, literally. Her bones showed through her hide even under her winter coat. Diamond was so emaciated that she had to be reintroduced to food gradually. She went through countless buckets of soaked hay cubes. When she was healthy enough to see a dentist it was determined that a dental specialist would be required to address the problems with her teeth. Likely her dental issues contributed to her massive weight loss. Lucky for Diamond several people stepped up to help her get the care she needed. She put on weight and got her spirit back.
Because Diamond and Leo were both older and had special needs they were stalled next to each other and turned out together. A love affair ensued as they recovered at CHC. When taking them out to pasture it was only necessary to lead one because the other was sure to follow. Leo was left in his stall while Diamond was attended to by the farrier? Much crying and hand (hoof) wringing went on until they were returned to each other. As both horses gained weight and became healthy again placement options were considered. People from Leo's past admirably offered to take him as a pasture pet. Diamond was rideable, well broke, sound, papered and probably had a reasonable chance at finding a good home where she could be ridden.
Space and resources are always in high demand. There are horses every week at the sale dying to come back to the CHC barn. Finding horses homes means more can be saved. Diamond and Leo were well enough to find homes. An amazing home offer came in for Leo after his story was shared. It was then pointed out that Diamond would probably die of a broken heart without Leo. Would this individual be willing to consider TWO older rescue horses that were very (very) bonded?? We waited with our fingers crossed... Finding outstanding placement AND having them go together was almost more than we could hope for. Few horses run through a kill sale get a happy ending, Diamond and Leo did though . They represent what good people can accomplish together. They are proof that sometimes when "life's not fair" we can intervene. Many people had a part in Diamond and Leo's story and now they are on a farm in Indiana getting the best care that money can buy. They are the lucky ones.