The horses left to right: Skye King, Sierra (blaze), Holly and Johnny (rear end to us).
Skye and Holly came to us through a breeder who was having serious medical problems and was beginning to disburse the herd. We visited the herd and started to keep a close eye on the horses we considered most at risk of finding good homes due to age or physical or emotional health problems. We purchased four horses from that dispersal.
This picture is important in telling the story of how we humans rarely consider the cost to the nonhuman animals that we breed for show or profit. Year after year the females are impregnated, give birth, love and nurture their babies and then we take them from them, too early and without a thought for the pain the female suffers emotionally and physically. We also don't consider the attachment wounds, separation anxiety, PTSD and suffering we cause for the babies.
Holly was a mare we had our eye on from the start due to her physical injuries and limitations. She had been severely hurt by a stallion that she was forced to be with. She had severe bite wounds on her both sides of her neck, nearly all the way through. She also had remnant wounds of having her legs tied. All signs of the suffering humans had inflicted upon her to obtain a foal for sale, year after year. Starting when she was just 2 years old. She was 8 when we rescued her. She was not sound on her front feet due to not having good hoof care. Most of the mares had never had their feet picked up or trimmed. If they weren't on ground tough enough to naturally trim, they had lameness issues.
Holly arrived pregnant, within 2 months of giving birth. Our empathy for her was immense. What must it be like to be that pregnant, in a new place, surrounded by strangers, weeks away from giving birth and having no idea if you were safe or not. Who were your allies? Did you have any here? No doubt these were thoughts she had.
We gave her space and time and kindness. She was a fundamentally kind mare, in spite of what humans had done to her. When she gave birth, she was dangerously protective for two weeks and we gave her as much privacy and protection as she needed to feel safe. Within a month, she was warm, kind, and generously sharing her little filly with us. We promised her she would never have to give up another baby. She was in Sanctuary. She would have a stable group of horses with her, including her daughter, for the rest of her life.
In the picture above, Holly is allowing Johnny to nurse. Notice Sierra's unhappy face at the thought of sharing her mommy's milk? Sierra tried every threat and tactic she could think of to keep him from nursing, all the while Holly did everything she could to nurture and encourage him. Holly's maternal instincts, kindness, compassion, and empathy are part of who she is. What must it have been like for a mother of this caliber to lose her babies after only four or fewer short months together, year after year - a most unnatural and heartbreaking predicament?