Meet my new love, Jamie. A “leopard Appaloosa”, he’s not the prettiest horse on the planet but he may well be the sweetest. At the ripe old age of just eight, he was the embodiment of freedom for some of our most vulnerable Australians as a Riding for the Disabled (RDA) mount.
Certainly, he has the calm, unflappable nature required but he got bored of walking gently around and around an arena. For Jamie is quite a character, smart enough to drink Coke from a can or juice from a box.
Farm life suits this inquisitive fellow down to the ground. There are always people coming and going, cows on the move and Jamie loves nothing better than a ride in the bush. We feed him carrots, brush his silky spotty coat until it gleams, take care of his health, smother him with affection and, in return, Jamie keeps me sane and more alive than I’ve felt in years. It’s a contract written in love.
I’ve always considered myself a horse rider even during the last seven years of being horseless. When Zoe was just a toddler and the grief from my father’s death was still raw, I had to put down my best friend, Mistral. No matter what the vet tried, she was in debilitating pain with arthritis.
Over the 22 years we were together, Mistral and I came to trust each other implicitly; we could face anything together. Her loss was devastating. But I owed it to her.
Anyone who cares for animals has to be courageous and selfless enough to put their well-being first. That’s what we aim for every day here on the farm when we are making decisions that affect their lives. And, let’s face it, nearly everything we do has an impact on the animals who share our home.
Farmers are accused of not talking about animal welfare enough. It’s difficult, just as raising the topic of child welfare would be, err, unpopular at a kindergarten barbeque. Nobody wants to have their parenting or animal care standards questioned – it’s insulting. But maybe it’s something we need to face with the same selflessness and courage we animal lovers expect of ourselves when it counts.
8 thoughts on “Valentine’s Day on the farm: what it means to love your animals”
Great post! And your new animal love is just beautiful!! I haven’t ridden since I was a kid – would love to have a go again but I have so much fear now – aargh – the joys of getting older!
What a shame. Maybe you just need to find your own Jamie – a big-hearted fellow that feels so safe and gentle.
I can understand that, I haven’t been mounted in years…
You rascal, you!
Just think of me as one big hearted wascally fella…that can be mounted but never saddled or bridled.
Beautiful Appaloosa! Same here – would love to have a horse again, but the time, energy, expense, not to mention much older bones now have put those days behind me. People often forget about the expense part. Out here, there have been instances of people moving out from under large animals such as horses, leaving them behind, or plain dumping them off in someone’s field. A tough economy tends to spell trouble for cats and dogs all the up to horses and cows.
I know what you mean, Lavinia. I’m really lucky to have enough land that I don’t need to pay agistment or for feed, which helps a lot.
Having Jamie is much cheaper than visiting the psychiatrist, too 🙂
A horse as a psychiatrist? You should have called him “Ed”… 🙂