Feedlot to Family

…a bittersweet rescue story!

Under the 1971 law, the Bureau of Land Management is supposed to protect wild horses. Despite the law, horse roundups continue because they are a profit-driven enterprise that are permitted by our government and driven by businesses like cattle ranching and extractive industries that want to horse-clear land for mankind’s greed-laden development.

When horses are purchased at auction by buyers intending to kill them, they’re hauled away in double-decker tractor trailers where they are beaten and often blinded with baseball bats to mollify them. After crossing the border into Mexico, the animals are stabbed on each side-an act to tenderize their meat-and immobilized. Workers then saw the horses’ legs off, at the knee and hang them to bleed out-all while the horses are ALIVE! (This is an excerpt, from an article written by Missy Diaz)

♥♥♥ This is the story of Lola, a speckled grey mustang who was offered for sale by horse traders in November 2013. She might have been bought from an auction; there is no real certainty about her past. The horse traders that bought her never gave out information on where she came from or on her background. image

She was likely evaluated and probably seemed to have training or a gentle nature; so the traders at Fallon, NV feedlot hoped if they offered her for public sale she may bring a larger amount than what they would get from shipping Lola to slaughter. Still, they knew if Lola was not rescued, she’d get put on a truck with countless other horses and shipped to Canada or Mexico for that long ride and later, a very cruel death.

Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue had been enthusiastically watching Lola online. Supporters from across the country gathered for her on Lifesaver’s Facebook page; tense as they saw each new post. Fearful of her demise, at the last minute Lifesavers decided to try to save her. Jill Starr waged an online rescue campaign with only days to go. Via tremendous outpouring, they were able to raise enough to purchase two horses; Lola and Chica, just minutes before their horrific end. All over the USA the patient watchers on Facebook saw the news of the last-minute rescue on Fallon’s feedlot site and cheered cries of joy!

Concurrently and away from the trading happenings, now a grown woman, Tenaya remembered the days growing up with her one passion… her mom’s speckled gray Spanish Arab, Leando. Even though forbidden to ride, Tenaya never flinched from the first day she mounted him, bare-footed and bare-backed, this youth had the time of her life with her childhood best friend; that is until her mother sold the horse for drug money while Tenaya was in school. Her world shattered, Tenaya never lost the love in her heart.

Fast forward to 2013: now a mom to 4 children and married to not much of a horse guy, plus living in the suburbs, none of it prevented Tenaya from day-dreaming about rescuing a horse. With coffee in hand, she Googled nearby horse rescues. The first horse she saw — Lola. She described it like a romance movie, “Swiftly becoming an online fanatic; passionately watching and weeping over the incredible plight of Lola and her possible fate, I could not stop searching for information about this girl. I was so drawn to her,” she said. “She reminded me so much of my Leando.”

Hours became days and Tenaya’s husband saw into her soul as she wept. Lola wasn’t part of her plan; she wasn’t prepared to bring home a horse. Her own age and lifestyle didn’t fit… yet she felt so alive sitting in front of the computer searching for more information about Lola. Finally, her husband said, “Go find her!”

Tenaya stumbled on Lifesavers Rescue Page, excited at first, but quickly her spirit fell as she read the many comments on each of Lola’s pictures: I’m interested – Left a message – please call me – How much for her? – I want her. Tenaya felt the emptiness consume her. She left several messages at Lifesavers and a few Facebook messages, but still felt as if the odds were against her and that her dream would never happen. Worry, anxiety, dread, fear, she paced the floor for an entire day. Finally a call, “This is Clay from Lifesavers Horse Rescue!” Tenaya couldn’t talk to him she was so nervous. She was praying he didn’t think her a complete nut case.

“I felt like Lola was calling me from out in that desert… like those bad dreams you have that you accidentally left your kid at home and you’re frantically trying to get back to them. That’s how I felt. I HAD to reach her.”

A local hauler was hired to go retrieve the mares. After they arrived at Lifesaver’s Ranch it was obvious how bonded the two were. They assumed that Lola was probably the offspring of Chica, a BLM branded mustang. Therefore, Lola would be 1/2 mustang at least, but born in captivity because she had no freeze mark. The feedlot advertised her as a mustang, giving more reason to connect her to Chica.

When Lola arrived her hooves were grown out and her spirit was broken; she was sad. She looked as though someone had broken her heart and let her down. She was introduced to Clay McDermott, Lifesaver’s resident horse handler; he is gifted with a soft touch and strong communication skills. He shared that Lola was smart, willing, and loving. The plan was to watch Lola revive with Clay; to see her spirit renew as she returned to life and eventually go to her new home.

Tenaya recalls: the day I met Lola I felt like I was in an airplane, I couldn’t quite get my feet on the ground. She was unsure of me as she kept trying to stick her big round bum in my face. I just kept talking to her, making eye contact. I just kept telling her, “I’m going to keep you safe.”

After an hour or so of Lola and I dancing and connecting, she was under my armpit halfway asleep. I was gently stroking my finger tips on her face when Clay said, “you’re her human now,” and I melted. I felt like all the pain and loss over the years was all worth it at that moment because it meant waiting for her. It took everything to not bring her home that moment and let her live in my house until we could find horse property.

Clay remembers her days with him:
Lola is a grey mustang mare I have been training. She is an incredible horse and a classic beauty as well. She was rescued just hours away from going to slaughter. Now I am working once a week with her adopter and she will be taking her home at the end of the month – it is a beautiful fitting together of horse and human, a true love story unfolding.

After a few magical sessions with Lola, and an incredible opportunity to rent a house with horse property, room for the kids to run free barefoot, room for chickens and other country animals to live (the house, the property, all of it… this was Lola I say… she made this happen) we finally brought her home! Having her in the horse trailer, the kids in the back singing Katy Perry songs, and all of us pulling up into the dirt driveway, this is what life is about! What an amazing day!

When we arrived we had an older mare waiting for Lola when she got here. We had received a call about a mare needing a home before she goes over the rainbow bridge and we thought how perfect for Lola. We didn’t want her to be alone in the pasture. Today, the “girls” are best friends; Lola has taken to her like mother and daughter. I look out my back window and watch them all day long. They bring me such peace and joy to my life.

Lola is greeted every morning by the pounding of 4 pairs of bare feet running towards her. She listens to the giggles of the children as they each take hay to put in her barrel. She is brushed by little hands constantly. She’s found a way to make friends with the chickens, the dog, even the neighborhood mountain bike rider. She’s learning the farrier isn’t a giant shark coming to eat her. She’s never had a carrot until us; now she gets a huge bag every week. She got a job, a really good one! She’s my therapist now. She tells me when to grow up and grow on or she tells me when it’s ok to let it out and cry.

I don’t know how I’ve managed motherhood, homeschooling, marriage, not having my own mom, etc., without Lola. She’s a part of our family now. When she first arrived I was stressing over the fine details of what she needed. Now I know, she doesn’t care that I still haven’t found a saddle… she doesn’t want that from me. She wants love and the whispering of secrets in her ear. She loves the quiet evening walks with me by her side. She’s made her way into my husband’s heart as well! Lola has turned my life into a blooming flower. She’s constantly showing me she’s more than a horse. There’s something much deeper there. You can see it when you look into her eyes.
A final from Clay:
Finding homes for these mustangs can be a bittersweet thing. We have to really let them into our heart and soul in order to get them to that home. After a while it becomes clear that we are not training these horses – they are guiding us – to be present, soft, and more conscious as a human being. As we grow in that, so do they, and true community starts to form. Lola changed my life – they all do – and to see her carry that on to a safe place to grow with a loving family is the sort of thing that will keep me close to horses forever. ♥♥♥