Merida, along with her foal and another pregnant mare, were tied up in the backyard of a rundown house. Having no access to food or water, they pushed and pulled against their ropes in an effort to get away. Instead of breaking free, the ropes became tighter cutting into the flesh on their necks and legs. The damage was severe and the scars will forever be a reminder of the months of cruelty they endured. The rescue came just in time and with the help of doctors, surgeries, medications, and food, their lives were spared and each one of them began their journeys towards healing.
On November 17th 2012, the sun was starting to set as we pulled into the Stable Days driveway. We parked near the barn, walked around the truck, open the double doors and held our breath as a skeleton of a horse backed out of our trailer into her new paddock. She was beautiful- a sorrel with a perfect star on her forehead.
It was chilly, as late fall evenings often are, but none of us could pull ourselves away. We watched as our brave new mare slowly circled the paddock. She stopped at the far end to take in the breathtaking view, the magnificent sunset and to get a peak at the herd she now belonged to. Nine horses stood crowded in the corner of the pasture all wanting to be a part of Merida’s welcoming. They whinnied back and forth before Merida happily buried her nose into the waiting pile of hay.
It was good to have her here, to know she was safe, and to know that she would be loved.
Debbie, a wife and mother was instantly drawn to Merida. Debbie came out to the ranch as often as she could to visit our new horse and she was determined to help this, once abused, horse learn to trust again.
“How can people be so cruel? How can they do stuff like this?” Asked Debbie with soft, tearful eyes. “How could anyone know this beautiful horse and NOT love her?” She said running her hands gently over Merida’s protruding ribs and sharp hip bones.
Debbie’s feelings for Merida were raw and deep, not just because of the injustice of her past, but because Debbie could relate, she was also abused.
Shortly after her wedding day, the hope that Debbie had in her ‘happily ever after’ turned into a story thick with confusion and fear. Failures and many tears were shed sitting on the floor with her back against her bathroom door.
Anger ruled her home and the constant manipulation left her tired. The fights were exhausting and the lies that she was able to resist at first were starting to sound like truths. “This is your fault…you got what you deserved…you’re not good enough…”
Seeking a brief respite from all her life had become, Debbie stopped by the ranch. She felt weak and insignificant to everyone as she stepped into Merida’s paddock. As she looked at this beautiful horse, she couldn’t help but wonder if she had anything left in her to give?
Love. She had love and that was what she was willing to share.
Placing her cheek against Merida’s soft neck she sighed trying to get a little release from the tension she felt. Merida mirrored her sigh and as only a horse can do, turned her head and gave Debbie a perfect hug. In Debbie’s efforts to help Merida find healing, something extraordinary happened and Debbie found herself being strengthened and loved.
Hope, love, healing, trust and belonging- these are the things that can be found. By the mercy of God, His unconditional love and a special hug from a horse, hardships can be endured and hurting hearts can find wholeness.
* With Inspiration from Merida and support from CVIC, (the Community Violence Intervention Center) friends and her family, Debbie found the courage to seek the rescue she was hoping for.
Merida's heart although strong in spirit, was weak in strength. Her body failed her Monday August 18th, 2014. Saying Good-bye to Merida, I asked her if she knew Jesus, she didn't say, but I'm confident that He knows her and walked with her through every moment of this difficult day. I held her as she took her last breath and felt so blessed to have spent the last two years watching her inspire those that had the privilege of meeting her.
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