Category Archives: Willow

The story of my Friesian rescue horse, Willow.

Day 2 – a rough day…

Upon our arrival, we were sad to find out that she didn’t eat at all during the night in her stall. She was offered the same hay & food that she loved the day before, but she wouldn’t eat. Nor did she drink but 1/4th a bucket of water. This made me cry, as I was so hopeful after Day 1. So we took her out to hand graze so we could bond while she got some sun and ate some grass. She seemed to really love it…
I love the way my husband Michael held his hand on her as they walked… He adores her.
Here I am trying to smile (when I feel like crying) with my pretty girl… I love how gentle and quiet she is.
When we took her back to the barn to groom her, I noticed how gorgeous the barn light was and took this of her. I love how it shows her sweet whiskers. But almost as soon as we got back, she started to struggle to swallow – technically she was choking (although it’s not like a person choking and she could still breathe). It was awful… she was struggling so much, straining her neck, saliva coming out her mouth and nose, pawing at the barn floor with her hoof out of frustration. It was so upsetting, and I cried.  Martha was so calm though, and she treated her while she struggled. Martha is not only a wonderful trainer (and friend) but she is a specialist in Equine Myofascial Therapy. I will write more about that later, but what she does is amazing.  She told me not to worry, but to think positively…. she reassured me that her farm is a healing place (not a place to worry).
The episode lasted about 40 minutes. I just don’t understand why it happened… we knew that if she ate regular grain too fast, it could swell in her throat and cause her to choke… but grazing on grass was supposed to be the safest thing for her? She had surgery up in Lexington two months ago to remove a cyst in her esophagus. We are wondering now if there is scar tissue or what could be causing this. Dr. Hawthorne will be back tomorrow.

Her first day with us…


As we walked her past the barn out to graze for a bit, all the geldings lined up at the fence to admirer our pretty girl. It was pretty cute.:)

Dr. Hawthorne is one of the amazing vets that will be caring for my sweet girl. He’s quite a character… very charming, southern, a bit funny, and very wise. (He really is the cutest.) As he examined her, he asked me what my intentions were with her… I answered, “Love her…”. He liked that and told me that she was a very sick “lil mare”. He ordered no training, muscle building or anything until we could get her weight up. He worries for her immune system, as horses in her condition have weakened immune systems and that puts them at risk of contracting EPM (and we don’t want that). He said all she really needs now is “love and groceries”.;)Then he sat down with Martha, and they carefully wrote out a plan…

And when  he began to tell me the plan, he started off by saying, “This lil mare has been abused…” My heart stopped for a minute thinking, not only neglected and abandoned but abused too? So I stopped him and asked him if he meant neglect or abuse? His answer: “Darlin, this kind of neglect IS abuse.” He is so right.

She loved grazing… she seems to like it here already… but I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to look at this and not cry…:(We have a plan though… and I know she at Martha’s farm she is at the right place…

She arrives…

The sky was so ominous while I waited on the barn steps for the trailer to arrive… as I sat there, I journaled my thoughts, my questions, and my doubts… Would I be good enough for her? Would we really be able to help her? Why was I taking this on now when I am so overwhelmed and over committed already? What would the vets say when they saw her? Was she even more sick than we knew? What had she been through? And why would someone do this to her? Mostly though, how could I quiet my mind enough to really listen to my heart – to connect with this horse – to learn and grow from this experience?

And then they pulled up and opened the trailer door. When I saw her again, I knew that she was right where she belonged. And everything else would work itself out (like it always does). I cried when I saw how Leah braided her hair for her for her journey. There is something so very sweet and thoughtful about that…

The Broken Fence

It’s official… I have a new horse, and she is a rescue. A beautiful Friesian mare… she was neglected and abandoned. She was found starving and sick three months ago and has been cared for since then by some wonderful people… But she is still very thin and in poor condition. And she has a medical condition which makes it hard for her to put on weight. . She will be in rehab at my trainer’s farm for two months until she comes to live with us. My husband and trainer picked her up this morning, and I took this on the way to the farm to welcome and settle her in. I was struck by the beauty of this broken fence and the vibrant leaves sprouting there – so much like this sweet, beautiful horse… from something broken can grow something beautiful. I am so looking forward to this journey….

Leah told me how much she and Mark have loved this horse and their three months with her. They took very good care of her… she is thin now, but she was so much worse when they took her in. Because she is a Friesian and trained in Dressage, there were others that wanted to buy her; and Leah told me how happy she was that we decided to take her, because she knew that we wouldn’t ask much of her. We only wanted to love her and do anything we could toward her recovery. Michael and Martha drove the trailer up to Springfield, and Michael took these photos of Leah and Mark saying goodbye to their “Mountain Girl”…

Mark & Leah Marie King… the lovely couple who cared for my horse for the first three months after she and the others were found abandoned and starving.  I will always be thankful to them… they are true angels.

In her shipping boots walking to the trailer with Leah….

One last goodbye hug from Leah,  and she’s on her way to me.   We will be good for each other- I just know it…

A little history…

Abandoned by the dressage trainer who had likely neglected her for many months, she was found in very poor condition. Emaciated, sick, hungry, and dirty… In desperate need of a temporary and safe home for her and 14 other horses, the Kentucky businessman who owned them learned of Leah Marie King, a  musician from Canada who had just purchased a large farm in northern Tennessee. Leah and her husband Mark took them in, cared for them, and loved them. It’s been three months, and now they are trying to find these horses loving homes.

She looked thin in her photos, but nothing could prepare me for what I saw when we went to meet her. I had never seen a starved horse, and I guess I didn’t even realize that she had been neglected. And she’s black, so shadows don’t always show so well in photographs. She was sunken in… her hips protruded out so much. She was so so skinny, and she lacked muscle. I just wasn’t prepared for that… I was a bit shocked. I couldn’t even lift my camera to photograph her. I was frozen, and as we heard her story, I cried. We spent some time with her and Leah and Mark. This mare was so so sweet, so quiet and gentle. Much smaller than Paloma, and she was so affectionate and kind. Despite the neglect and her condition, her mane and tail were beautiful. And her eyes were kind and bright – I’m quite sure because of Leah and Mark’s evident love for her. At one point, I braided her long wavy mane, and she seemed to love being groomed. At the end of our visit, as I said goodbye to her, I took a chance and scratched inside her ear. Like Paloma, she loved it, and then she slowly lowered her head and nuzzled my chest. As I walked away thinking that I’d never see her again, I prayed for her. I truly thought Michael (my husband) and Martha (my trainer) would think I was crazy to want to purchase a sick, neglected horse with a medical condition (especially one which would inhibit her weight gain and recovery). But they didn’t. They both loved her as much as I did… and they thought she was perfect. Perfect for me.