Yep, I'm making this a thing.
This whole experience with Chamie has taught me so much and given me hours of "what-ifs" to think about.
First of all, as an aside, I've found I don't have an old, sweet pasture pet. I have an old, sweet, getting stronger and sounder by the day mare who still remembers all her aids and gave me a flawless walk-canter transition under saddle on Sunday. The smile on my face didn't leave until my cheeks hurt. She was moving so well on our first ride since she came home I thought, what the hell, let's see if she will do it. She moved out like a dream. I have witnesses, y'all!
Regardless, even if I didn't feel comfortable riding her ever again, I'm so, so glad she's home. She's so frigging happy, you guys-she came cantering to see me at the gate yesterday. Her eyes are bright and she's been moving OUT on the lunge. I found her trot (as opposed to her western shuffle or wev it was she was doing at the old barn). This is after a week of all day turnout...such a difference. She's actually out with LaShore, Miles' best bud-they are both easy keepers and it makes sense while the grass is still out. Miles is with another little arab mare(!) on a much larger, lusher pasture right next door to Chamie and LaShore so he can continue to keep his fine-ass round figure. If you had told me my fake stud could go out with a mare even 6 months ago I would have called you nutty. He truly has become a different horse. A gentleman, you might say.
Digressing over! The real reason I wanted to write this post is because I want to encourage you, since you're reading this, to follow up on an old horse that has made you the equestrian you are today. It doesn't have to be a horse you owned-maybe one you leased or rode in lessons or even just hacked out with casually. A horse that gave you SOMETHING-a horse that touched your life. A horse you have lost touch with. I want you to follow up on them even if you are in no position to take said horse IF such a solution is needed.
If I hadn't kept tabs on Chamie, I don't know that she wouldn't have been put down...in her condition, it actually would not have been the worst thing, either. The thing is, even if I couldn't have taken her, I would had done my damnedest to network and find a home for her, even temporarily. I have enough connections in the community I'm pretty sure I could have found a place.
I wish her barn owners had told me years ago (or whenever shit started to go downhill as far as her care) that she was rotting in a stall all day, every day, even if her owner wouldn't relinquish her just then. I would have gone out at least once or twice a week to groom her, walk her, pay for basic hoof trimmings. I wish I had followed up when they didn't respond to my email a little less than a year ago. I wish I had gone to see her once a year (I always did have a standing invite to do so). I wish I wish I wish.
So, again, I want to challenge all of you to do so. Shoot an email, make a phone call. Make sure the horse that carted you around and taught you how to ride is ok. Make sure that horse that won you your first blue ribbon isn't being neglected. EVEN if you are in no position to do anything financially to help if, god forbid, things are not as they should be. The horse world is filled with caring souls, and most of us are on the interwebs. At the very least, you can do what I would have done had I known, yet not been able to buy Chamie back; visit the horse, give attention and love, and give BACK to these horses that have given us so much. Let the owner know you are HERE, and you care. Even if, hopefully, everything is fine now, it can make all the difference down the road.
I know it's scary. We don't want to know things are not as they should be. It hurts LIKE HELL to find out things are not right. I realize I may sound a little self-righteous writing this..."Lookit me, I saved my old horse, now YOU all do it too!" Please believe me when I say that this has nothing to do with me. One of the things I can't get out of my head are all the other Chamies out there....in far worse condition than she was. Almost every horse (well, ok, the lucky ones) has a person who loved them, learned from them, cared for them, bonded with them. While it shouldn't be up to that person to rescue or help such a horse they haven't seen in years, sometimes there IS no one else.
I'm willing to bet that if you do follow up with your special horse, things are just as they should be-maybe the horse is still in light work, or retired properly, or was given a dignified death; that piece of mind is worth everything. If things are not as they should be? You can always do SOMETHING, however small, to help.
Do it. Do it soon. There is no way you will regret it.