Lost and Found
“No. Way.” I stared at the picture on the screen in utter disbelief. “Seriously?”
A poster on Facebook was seeking any information about her old horse. He had gone missing after he was traded for another horse by the boarding barn where he was being kept. We’ll just say “traded” and leave i at that. She had been searching for him for over two years.
The horse in the photograph was beautiful. He was a big, chestnut Thoroughbred, a show horse in peak condition being ridden by a lovely, poised young woman. But that wasn’t what reached out and smacked me in the head. This gelding had very few markings. Aside from a tiny star, he had only one short sock on his left rear foot, the white area forming a small point in the back. How many big, red Thoroughbreds are there in the world? Tens of thousands? But that foot….
I went down to the barns with my cell phone.
Back in October, we had worked with Animal Control in an adjacent county to take in two horses that had been surrendered to them. Both were malnourished, one so emaciated that we could not save him. His companion was thin, about a Body Condition Score of 3, and he had an acute suspensory injury when he arrived. We called him “Brodie.” We knew nothing about his history, as his Jockey Club tattoo was illegible. He was just another neglected horse who needed our help.
But looking out at me from Brodie’s stall was a big, red Thoroughbred with one small white sock that came to a point in the back. I honestly didn’t know whether to whoop or jump up and down. I think I did both. But we had to be sure.
The mother and daughter arrived on Saturday. They had come equipped with registration papers, racing photos and show pictures. If we still had any doubts about the identity of this horse, they were dispelled immediately by the tears of the daughter, his owner.
She quietly announced, “This is him. This is my boy.”
Brodie’s whole life opened up before us. He had raced (rather badly, and therefore briefly), had ridden cross-country, and had excelled in the show ring. At one point, he had even barrel-raced. He was called “Roso” or “Red” in Italian. He was somebody. He had a solid career and a family who loved him. And Monday morning, after a long, strange trip, he went home to them.
It has always bothered us that our rescued horses have lost their entire histories. Some come in so beat down by their lives that they want nothing more than shelter and safety, and to be left alone. Others still have a strong sense of themselves as individuals. Some take a while to show you who they are, coyly reaching out to you a little at a time. But they are ALL somebody, and my sense is that many of them once had a place they would like to go home to, even after many years.
People frequently seek information on social media about their old horses, their words often tinged with sadness o regret. Some just want to know if they are having good lives, some are fearful for their safety. A few would like to buy them back. Some of these horses were sold or given away, others were lost or stolen. A few are eventually found to be accident victims. But once they are out of your hands, horses can be very difficult to locate. This is especially true if they are solid colors or bays, with few distinguishing markings.
One way to find missing horses is through Stolen Horse International, which is a nonprofit organization originally intended to help locate stolen horses, but which now helps to locate horses that are missing for many reasons. They can be found at: http://www.netposse.com/. Their advice is to use every means available to publicize your horse (which they will help you do), and not to give up.
Finding a lost horse can be difficult and daunting. But two years after he had gone missing, a short Facebook post by a persistent owner paid off, and helped a lost horse find his way back.
Well done, Desha.