It's with great pleasure that we add Francesca to our list of regular contributors. Francesca will be posting on this blog once a month. Welcome, Francesca.
There’s a little black stallion at my stables. His name is McKenzie, he’s a Shetland pony, and he needs a friend. Not a girlfriend, mind you; we don’t want any hanky-panky going on up there, at least, not for the moment. We don’t want any fighting, either, so another stallion is out of the question. What McKenzie needs is a nice little, even tempered, sexually-snipped companion to help him keep the daisies and dandelions under control. He needs someone other than Chelsea, the fluffy white Swiss sheepdog, to play with him and race him up and down one of the vast, lush, impeccably fenced paddocks. Yes, McKenzie needs a friend, and yesterday, when my friend Steph (who owns the stables) and I hopped into the lorry and set off for a small village in Burgundy, about two hours from home, we thought we’d found him one.
We were introduced to Rusty. Maybe he wasn’t toast-rack thin, but he was heartbreakingly apathetic, and the state of his coat made us cringe. He was clearly suffering from some sort of skin disease as vast areas of his body were balding and rubbed raw. When we asked what was wrong with him, we were told the pony had recently been examined by a vet who had been unable to figure out what the problem was, and that therefore it wasn’t anything serious. But wasn’t it contagious? we wondered. Oh, no! Look at all the others; they’re perfectly fine!
We drove away thoroughly depressed. I couldn’t help thinking of those sordid stories you read in the newspapers once in a while about animal protection services discovering cat-crazed individuals sharing tiny living conditions with hundreds of felines. Is Rusty’s “home” in Burgandy a case for the animal protection services? Probably. But there’s only so much the animal protection services can do, and most horse rescues are already overcrowded.
Should we have bought Rusty? Should we have taken on this sad, mangy looking Shetland pony, diving head first into mountains of vet bills in an attempt to nurse him back to health? Should we have risked infecting our healthy horses with some obscure skin disease? The passionate, idealistic, thoroughly incensed horse lover in me is jumping up and down screaming “yes”. But common sense and years of experience as a horse owner insist we were right to walk away from what was bound to become an emotionally draining, financially taxing, long term problem.
Lovely little McKenzie still needs a friend to help him keep the daisies and the dandelions under control. And one of these days we’ll find him one, through word of mouth, or via a reputable breeder.