"Delta Dawn"

I've Found A New Home!!

"Delta Dawn"

This grey mare is about 6 yrs old. Unfortunately, she has developed a full blown case of strangles and is feeling pretty lousy. She has lost some weight, which is not unusual when they have strangles, but was attempting to eat, although not comfortably. She needs a special home ... someone looking for a project that will eventually become a riding horse. She's a nice sized mare, but a little difficult to catch, and when we put the saddle on her last week you could see the fear in her eyes and body, so we did not get on her. She moves beautifully ... with some weight and training she will be a beauty. She does not have her papers.

Update 11/9/98: "Delta Dawn" is out of the feedlot, thanks to John and Claudia (AOLer MYARAB2). But she is going to need a very special home, and someone IS coming to meet her next weekend. Delta Dawn (as John and Claudia have named her) is a very scared girl, about six, and needs training from the ground up, but not until she has calmed and gotten a bit more trusting of humans.

"Delta Dawn"


"Delta Dawn"

Update 11/20/98: Kathryn Berck, a US Foreign Service Officer, learned of Syr Darya's fate on our website and fell in love with her long-distance. This amazing woman has committed to giving her a home and a new life. Here are a few wonderful words from this fortunate mare's new adopted mother. Kathryn, you should have written professionally ... your poignant words hit such an emotional chord ... :

I am a US Foreign Service officer, and have essentially lived overseas for the past 14 years. Although I've loved horses since infancy, used every opportunity to ride them, and have owned one from time to time, my experience was generally limited to backyard and riding school horses: Quarter Horses out west where I grew up, half-bred Thoroughbreds in the east where I learned jumping and dressage, tough, tiny cross-bred ponies in Asia. I knew a lot about Arabians but only from a distance; I have never, to the best of my memory, even ridden one ever in my life. To own one was always an impossible dream.

I have always known that excess, injured or luckless horses end up in slaughterhouses. As a poor child in rural Oregon, I ate horsemeat often in the 40's and 50's, since that was sometimes the only meat that my family could afford. It came straight from the dog food can, but was pure horse. Twenty years ago, already an adult, I recognized the taste instantly in a plate of ravioli served to me at a café near the Spanish Steps in Rome, while the American ladies at the next table, indulging in the same dish, speculated on the mixture of spices that would make it taste so exotic. They had obviously grown up in more wealthy households than mine.

I am still not opposed, in principle, to the slaughter and consumption of the world's excess horses. However, my discovery and study of the horse slaughter and rescue web sites on the internet has caused an immeasurable shift in my feelings. While slaughter and consumption may be unavoidable, the calculated, appallingly inhumane evil of the process absolutely cannot be tolerated. The godawful tangle of abuse and neglect, cover-up, unpunished brutality and profit-taking should be stopped. We risk our humanity by letting it go on. Excess horses, like dogs and cats, should be humanely put down if they cannot be transported and killed kindly, not abused until they are completely ruined, then tortured all the way to the slaughterhouse and a terrified death. It is unthinkable that the meat from such an animal could be in any way nourishing; it should poison the eater instantly and I cannot understand why it does not.

And anyone horrified by the slaughter of horses who still eats cows, pigs and chickens, had better think hard about what he or she is doing. While it is true that these domestic animals have been bred to be more phlegmatic than horses, they also suffer terror and despair in the face of the press box, the stun bolt and the saw. For those who might try to believe otherwise, I recommend to you the website www.mtgplace.com/magazines/M_c468.asp for a brief article on the problems involved in getting cattle to walk willing to slaughter. While they also die in fear, the cows and pigs, at least, are treated well throughout their lives because it makes good economic sense to do so. But the horses? Good God. Now THAT is obscenity.

Where does that leave me and Syr Darya, the beautiful grey mare saved by RoseAnn, John and Claudia (who rightly called her "Delta Dawn"; to symbolize her rescue and her hopes for the future) and now, I am proud to say, mine? When she was taken from the slaughter queue, another horse stepped forward, all unknowing but hoping for the best, to take her place. No one actually saved a horse's life that day; they only saved that particular horse's life at the expense of shortening, by weeks or days, another horse's. To buy them raises their value and strengthens the market. To let them die kills the human conscience.

RoseAnn is correct -- she must be correct or we are all doomed -- that we must act, even in the face of imperfect consequences. We must do what we can do today, and again tomorrow, and look forward to the day when such actions are no longer necessary.

Syr Darya will live with RoseAnn until I finish my assignment in Moscow and come to claim her. At AHRN, protected by RoseAnn's fierce love and by a board and training allowance and a trust fund, this lovely lady will learn that the terrors she experienced are finally and forever over. RoseAnn and a trainer, using the Parelli method, will teach her, as slowly as she needs, some important new things about humans: that we aren't all like that; that it's safe to be touched; that it's safe to trust after all. And then she will come with me to my house in Virginia, will join a rowdy family of adults, children and dogs, and will have a thousand miles of trails and green hills to explore and a place of her own for the rest of her life.

Tonight, safe and warm at RoseAnn's, she and Phoenix may tell each other their private horror stories in the dark; stories that only they will ever know. Arthur and Merlin will remind them that all is well now, so would they please shut up and go to sleep? And down the road, not far away at all, a loaded semi truck will pull to the end of a driveway, wait for traffic to pass, downshift and turn onto the highway, rolling quietly through the night toward Texas.

11/21/98: A Letter to Syr Darya, from Kathryn

Dear Syr Darya:

I know the tragedies and the changes in your life have worried you terribly. So perhaps this letter will give you some confidence in your own future. I will tell you a little about myself, who owns you and loves you already, and your new family.

We are five or nine, depending on how you count us. There are five humans: myself, my bio-son, my two adopted Indian daughters, and the husband I acquired last of all. There are three dogs. First is Petey (Black Jacket Pete Shaseet) an eight-year-old purebred Dachshund who, in his younger days and before neutering, won many dog shows in India. He will keep the rats out of your stable. There is Muggins, the elderly poodle who is the last survivor of an American who was murdered and unmourned except by his dogs, in Korea. There is Cookie, the wild red Jindo, member of the rare, extremely primitive breed that is a Korean national treasure. And finally there is you, Syr Darya, the beautiful Arabian mare who is everything I ever dreamed of owning in a horse and who was rescued from certain death by RoseAnn, the Angel of Mercy, and by John and Claudia, who selflessly funded your rescue, wanting only that you have a second chance at life.

I am a Foreign Service officer, and have essentially lived overseas for the last 14 years. I live -- and bring my family to live -- in places most Americans would never consider staying overnight. I love my endless, grinding, thankless, tragic, never-a-dull-moment, never-off-duty profession. But with your coming I am suddenly completely committed to finally working at the State Department's main headquarters in Washington for, perhaps, the rest of my career.

With your coming I suddenly count myself among the privileged, and I already include you when I sum up the great joys in my life. I could not believe it when I saw your pictures on the AHRN web site; that something so beautiful could be mine simply by reaching out and taking it. I can already see your lean gray head snaking in through my open kitchen window to snitch muffins off the breakfast table. I can already feel the reach of muscle under my thighs as we canter bareback through the gorgeous green of a Virginia spring. I can already see how you will brag and prance when you wear the red leather Tunisian halter with tassels I plan to buy for you as a Christmas gift (after you get over pretending it's a horsehead-eating monster). I have already -- laugh if you will -- started losing weight because, although not fat by any means, I have, at 50 and 5'10", become slightly podgy and that simply will not do; I refuse to look bigger than my horse.

I am already wondering how well my Jeep will pull a horse trailer, what's the safest kind of hitch to add, where to find a good used trailer in dark blue. How long it will take to drive from Virginia to California and back to collect you. I know I'll drive that Jeep for a lot longer than I'd planned before; I have a horse now and must economize. Instead of the Sony super-lightweight computer I wanted for Christmas, I only want a certain picture book about trees. Forgoing the computer alone will pay almost a year's board bill, and I do not feel in any way deprived. I can't promise to buy no more books, but I will buy many fewer clothes; I have so many already I don't have to actually buy anything else for the rest of my life, except the occasional replacement jeans. And jodhpurs. I'll need some more jodhpurs in a color to complement your lovely grey coat. And, later, a lovely English saddle and a bridle, in darkest brown, for you. The wooden deck I was planning for my house will have to be a flagstone patio instead; easier to clean off the horse poop, less dangerous for you to walk on. Yesterday I wore lean-legged pants and a riding jacket to work; I'm a horseperson now.

Syr Darya, Delta Dawn, you have won my heart already. You will never feel an ill-fitting saddle or a spade bit or a riding crop, and only rarely an unfair word. Want my lunch, my sweater, my down pillow? They're yours. Are you cold? The warmest, furriest blanket is yours. Need company? Come on in. Make the dogs move over to give you room. Lonely for your own kind? I will go up to New Holland and find you a hopeless, kind old gelding to be your companion. And for now, don't be afraid to turn to RoseAnn as a true friend. Let the trainer touch you; it will be all right. All the bad is over. The good begins right now.

All my love,
Your very own human,
Kathryn

For Further Information:

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P.O. Box 4603
Sunland, CA 91041-4603
Phone: 818-353-9577

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