I work with the Humane Society of North Texas as the Equine Assistant to Dawn Foil. She is the Equine Coordinator. I have a small boarding business on 40 acres. We call it Six D Ranch, because we have 6 daughters.
Many people tell Dawn and I that we ought to write a book, or make a television show….. and I don’t know if people are really ready for that! We are much akin to a ranch version of Lucy and Ethyl; and Dawn is definitely Lucy. We work hard. We do our best. In the end, that has to be enough.
We see a lot of stories and many stories that we will never know the rest of, so to speak. However, one story that rests on my heart today is Teaspoon. The kill pen horse that stole everyone’s heart.
I had arrived at the Bowie Kill Pen, a sale barn that ships and auctions horses for sale, to pick up a horse that had been purchased by a group of ladies and released to HSNT. The horse was thin, aged and quiet. She had the feel of a horse who had served her owner well.
I shook my head sadly and said out loud, “ I just don’t understand why.” No matter how many I see, I still say that to myself over and over. The gentleman there said, “you ought to see the one who came in today.” He went down the alley and disappeared. In a bit, he came back ever so slowly with a large frame of a sorrel gelding. Ribs and hips protuded as he painfully made his way. I took pictures and sent them to a group of ladies Dawn and I have in a perpetual ever on going chat about these kill pen horses.
My phone blew up with pleas of “Don’t leave him!” “How much?” Well you get the picture. There was a freeze brand of 01 on his left butt cheek, and 11 on his right, so that was the tag number he was given in order to purchase him. (Every horse gets a tag number.) I gave him the name Teaspoon, and that’s another story for another day. He was paid for within the hour by SOS, a rescue created by Joy and Shelly, whose last names I’ll with hold for privacy sale, and ladies who donated to them.
There are many rescue networks that bail (meaning to pay the slaughter buyers online price) to keep a horse from going to slaughter. A group of women mostly, that ban together, each putting in what they can to purchase the horse. Then, often times to make sure the horse lands in a safe spot, that will not end back at the kill lot, they will release the horse to HSNT. That is what happens often. However, in Teaspoons case, a group called SOS had bailed him, and HSNT took the horse to rehab only. Helping the horse is the most important issue at hand and Dawn was happy to take Teaspoon and rehab him.
Teaspoon had a look of a horse who had given life long service and a kind eye, sweet spirit that one could not help but fall in love with. Saddle marks decorated both sides of his withers. We shared every step of his journey with us on Facebook. Pictures are worth a thousand words in this case. We washed the years of dirt from his body. Gave him a comfortable stall and started to refeed. The first thing we found was that Teaspoon could not get up by himself. He was too big for Dawn and I. Even with the help of Terrell, our employee that helps us in the equine department. So we created a sling and got a truck, lacing the straps over the support beams in the barn, and attaching to a truck, we got him up.
Then we went back to our little chat group of women who make things happen and a sling was fundraised for. We aquired a sling and found that Teaspoon also needed cool air. We went back to our miracle girls and we got a PortaCool for his stall to combat the Texas heat.
Meanwhile the farriers and the vet were seeing to his source of pain. Teaspoon had suffered a severe founder in his past. His coffin bones were coming through his hooves. We made the decision to euthanize him. Most people understood and some did not. There were those that wanted him to make it so badly, could we try one more thing?
One has to ask themselves at the critical decision to euthanize, do you keep them alive because it makes them feel better, or yourself. It is never easy. This was not easy. But it was right. A mentor once told me, “ Do the right thing, because its the right thing to do. It’s that simple and that hard.”
Dawn and I took Teaspoon out of his sling that night. We let him and his little buddy Tiny Trinket ( he will be another story another day) out on the tall grass under a starry Texas sky for one more time. He ate his last meal there and grazed. We had given him some pain meds to help him enjoy his time. He laid down in the wee hours of the morning to rest on the cool grass. Early as the sun came up, Teaspoon raised his head and lay in an upright position, happy to munch the grass around him. He made no effort to rise. I gave him hugs and kisses from all the ladies who waited in other states and cities to mourn him. Mid morning as he decided he would lay his head down to rest, stretching his legs out, he lay flat and peaceful. Dawn gave him a seditive and Terrell administered the fatal injection. I stroked his neck and called Shelly so she could be with us all as we said goodbye.
Teaspoon took our hearts like a gale of wind on the ocean. He left like a soft whisper. He should never be forgotten.