June 7th, 2010
What will these horses remember? Having no shelter or being locked in a shed, not having enough to eat, times when there was no clean water, aching overgrown hooves, injuries left untreated, ailments ignored, no social interaction, no bonding or attachments, no exercise, neglect?
This has been their experience with humans. This is what they remember. This is what has been played out since the day they arrived at the emergency shelter. Bad reactions to hands offering kindness, kicks for those who got too close, nips on elbows, lunging at fences trying to get at those who walked too close. This is what must be undone. Good memories must replace the bad. Trust must be earned. These animals are not blank slates. They have had a lot of bad words written on them but it is time to get out the eraser and a fresh piece of chalk and begin to write their new story.
It has already begun. Horses who wouldn’t let people in their pens to clean will now allow petting. Horses who have been fighting for food because they are afraid they might never get any again are beginning to relax as they have figured out that more hay will be coming each day. Horses who were rigid and cautious are melting to the touch of an EARS volunteer giving them a good scratching. New, positive memories are being made every day. Slowly trust will be established through thoughtful human contact and their new lives will begin.
Will they remember what has been done to them and by whom? You bet. And they will also remember who brought them out of that painful existence and into this safe place filled with fresh food, clean water, companionship and affection.