Saturday, May 14, 2011

I Wish She Could Talk

I wish Angel could talk and tell us her story. I wish she could tell us where she has been and what happened to her, so that we could understand her and help her to feel safe more quickly.

Last week I went to my mother's house in Texas for a a few days. I got to hang out with family and enjoy time with my mom and my siblings. I also slept in my childhood bed, surrounded by books from my childhood. One of the books on the shelf was a children's pictorial version of Anna Sewell's classic "Black Beauty." Inside the cover was carefully printed in my childish printing, "This Book Belongs to Martha McNiel."

I pulled that book off the shelf and the cover came apart in my hands. But I sat on the bed and read the children's version of "Black Beauty" in one hour. It made me cry, and it reminded me so much of Angel. How Black Beauty went from home to home and owner to owner. Some good, some bad. Some kind and some harsh. I believe Angel's story is like Black Beauty's. I think she has had one or more owners who loved her and cared for her. And I know she has had at least one owner who beat her and did not feed her. It really made me wish our horses could talk and tell us where they have been and what has made them into the creatures we care for today.

Angel is about 70% shedded out. What is most striking to me - besides the interesting color she is right now and how different parts of her body are different colors - are the markings that appear to be scars. With a short and sleek summer coat growing in, the scars are more visible than when she had a woolly winter coat.

I do not know what has caused these marks, whether injury, accident, illness, or what. But everyone who has looked at them in person seems to agree - they are scars, and very possibly from human abuse. Today I took photos of the three most noticeably scarred areas: her nose, under her eye and her back.

Debbie Krimsley was out today for Angel's craniosacral body work treatment. While she was working around Angel's face, Debbie noticed a scar I had not seen before. This could definitely explain one of the reasons that Angel is so head-shy. Under her left eye you can clearly see the lines of a jagged scar and the face bone is indented more than on the right side.

Since we do not know what happened, it is impossible to know if she was hit in the face intentionally and that is why she is so head-shy, or if she ran into something and injured her face and the pain of that injury made her head-shy. But you can clearly see the lines of a jagged scar and the bone is shaped differently on the left side of her face. It is very fortunate that whatever cut her pretty face missed her eye, although you can see that it came very close.

There are actually quite a few possible old injury scars on her face. On the bridge of her nose are white hairs and an indentation that looks like a halter was left on her face for months or years and it created an indentation on the bridge of her nose. The white hairs and the indentation are permanent. She also looks to have a scar on the right jaw. In the photo you can also see two white dots on her face where white hairs have grown in.

But the most noticeable scars, now that she has shed most of her winter coat, are along her spine. Because of the lighting in the photos, the white scars may be difficult to see. But in person, they stand out on her dark chestnut back. She has ragged, uneven white scarring along her spine from her withers to the tailhead. I wish she could talk and tell us what happened! We will probably never know if she scraped her back going under a trailer door or under a fence or if she was whipped or if she had a skin condition or if she got into some other predicament only a horse could come up with and humans wrongly imagine could never happen.

I must tell you, I do fantasize that some day a stranger will be passing down the street where Angel lives, and they will stop and tell me that they recognize that horse and they will tell me her story. I have a creative imagination!

So while I do not know Angel's past, I can tell you how things are going in the present. Her udder is still bagged up and now she is dripping milk. It appears that the symptoms of ulcers are all gone. I can now brush her sides without a problem. Today Debbie was able to touch her belly and abdomen for the first time. Angel is becoming very expressive and curious.
She is calmer and more trusting, though she is still very wary of people she does not know and she over-reacts to a hand raised around her head. I've had to cut her back to two flakes of hay per day, because she is such an easy keeper. Which makes me realize how long she was under-fed, to end up in the condition she was in when she came to the shelter. Based on her reaction today, it appears that she has never been introduced to fly spray.
So here are Angel's next goals:
1. To become comfortable with fly spray.
2. To agree to wear a fly mask calmly.
3. To become comfortable getting a bath.
4. To get her feet trimmed calmly.

I don't know her history, but those are my goals for Angel's immediate future. And if you haven't read "Black Beauty" recently, it's worth a re-read!