t's been three months to the day since Kristina got Mocha back and started working to get him back to a healthy place. When I went back to my first post to grab images showing how he looked when she first got him it almost hit me harder, knowing how much healthier he is now. A few weeks ago I went to the barn with her to take some photos of his progress and it's just incredible what love and proper care can do to bring an animal back from the state he was in. The sad part is, that while she did immediately take measures to reverse the path of neglect he was on, simply caring for him the way a horse owner should was all that was needed. It's even more clear in retrospect how, despite the prior owners' assertions of how well they cared for him and fed him, that they were abusively neglectful. To think that a 250 lb man was riding a horse in his bare bones condition... I just can't.
At this point Mocha is gaining weight nicely. His food ration was doubled, and then they doubled that amount, so he's gained a couple hundred pounds and is approaching his healthy goal weight. The farrier has properly shod him and trimmed his feet to help them grow in to healthy hooves. The dewormers worked and his system is completely free of worms, so he's actually getting nutrition out of all his food now.
I asked Kristina if she wanted to share anything with you guys and she did!
You guys, if I was given the chance to talk about Mocha, this ongoing experience, my dreams for this horse, and the deep well of gratitude in my heart for every word of encouragement and dollar donated to us, I could talk for days. But first: thank you. Thank you for every form of support. Looking into the past, exactly three months ago today, the radical steps I took to rescue my horse didn’t even seem extreme to me, they was simply no other option in my mind. I am confident I would have found a way to make getting Mocha back possible no matter the odds, but all of your support not only made the process possible, but relieved enough stress for me to find space to fill with relaxing into joy.
The first month Mocha gained weight excruciatingly slowly, though after one month the vet said his improvements rendered him unrecognizable in the best way, he actually asked me which horse this was when I led Mocha out. I has so many people asking me how Mocha was, often followed with “When will you get to ride again?” I know everyone had the best intentions with that question, but my answer was always “When Mocha lets me know he’s ready.” I spent the first two months with Mocha just sitting in the pasture with him as he ate, or grooming him, learning quickly he was not ready to be asked for more than taking steps to health. This gave me a lot of time to observe him, and to notice that the relationship we were building was much deeper than it ever had been in the past. We spent a lot of time doing nothing together, much like horses in a herd together do, just holding space together. There is a relationship with a horse one can have that is completely inexplicable until you’ve been forced to spend months looking at each other eye to eye, seeing the world together from the same level, learning how and when to ask and when to just let your own will be.
Rebuilding trust and a relationship with neglected and abused horse has asked for more patience, quiet observation, sensitivity, and intuition than any other experience in my life, and continues to ask me to go deeper as I ask more of Mocha. After a couple rounds of bodywork and an appointment with a chiropractor, professional insight was given on how to help Mocha feel comfortable in his body again, after all, losing that much weight causes the entire skeleton to drop, and he has to learn how to carry his body again with weight on it. He needs to be comfortable enough to be able to pay attention to his body before he can pay attention to me, and we can begin to learn to dance together again (which is the foundation of riding: the exchange of energy and will). This works in much in the same way that if you are in a lot of pain, no amount of massage will be beneficial because you will not be able to relax enough for the process to be effective. Learning how to ask Mocha to pay attention, and sync up with me without any use of force, just my own energy and gentle touch, forces me to slow down in a way I never have been asked to before.
The vet told me Mocha is a fighter, which is why he has survived so long, and now it is my job to help him learn to let the stormy seas of his soul calm. Any time someone attempts to tell Mocha what to do he responds with demonstrating how strong his own will is. This behavior may be seen by many as a negative trait, but I know what he’s been through, and I’m proud of him for being so strong. So Mocha and I are learning to play together again. He is praised for the smallest amounts of attention and collaboration with my requests, and is quickly gaining confidence and an eager spirit to engage with a human again. I look back at the photos of him from three months ago, and am humbled at how fragile he was. Today, as I write this, I am sitting in his pasture, watching him run around, eat, and roll, and I am just as deeply humbled at the majesty of this creature. I am humbled and grateful that I have to opportunity to be the person who gets to excavate her own soul to find that quiet place that can connect with a horse, and build a relationship on that ground. Thank you, each and every one of you.
With his previous owners Mocha had been kept in a very small stall with no opportunity to hang out with other horses, so she's working on getting him more socially healthy. Horses are herd animals and used to highly social lives. He definitely feels a bit lonely, even though there are horses in neighboring paddocks, so right now she's searching for a local herd where he could go to run around and be social with other horses. If any of you are local South Sound area people who know of a herd who could take on another horse, let me know and I'll pass it along to her!
Following my initial post about Kristina's journey to getting Mocha back and beginning his rehab, you guys donated over $3,000 to help with Mocha's vet, farrier, boarding, food bills and more. I can't tell you guys how much your generosity has helped. In the midst of working to rehab Mocha, regular life happens and along with that stuff like cars breaking down multiple times, bills, and groceries, which cost money. Without your help it would've been really hard to make ends meet while getting Mocha the care he needs. With the donations, Kristina was able to give Mocha all the attention he needed, from vets to farriers, to food and supplies. A huge thank you goes out to all of you who donated money to help get Mocha back to his happy, healthy self. There's still work to be done, but with the donations Kristina is fully able to give Mocha what he needs to make a full recovery.
Kristina shared this video on her Facebook the other day and I thought it was a really great short film sharing what it's like to interact with horses on their level and how deep and meaningful the horse-human relationship can be. For those of you who haven't had the opportunity to have a relationship with a horse, it gives a little insight into the profound impact horses and humans can have on one another's lives.