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When last we left you, we had shared our heartwarming little story of the Paint mare my wife had adopted, which some of you said left you feeling as good as it did us.
We’ve had smiles and tears and hugs and plenty of handholding through this process, but today, in homage to the great Paul Harvey, we must share “the rest of the story.”
On Wednesday evening, before many of you even had read about my wife’s largesse, she arrived home from work and said rather nervously, “Did you have a good day? I have something to tell you.”
My wife has a beautiful, captivating smile. And she gave me her best, colored with that bit of sheepishness that can chill the heart of any husband.
But for me there were no shivers.
I knew what was coming next, so I stole her line:
“You adopted her buddy, too, didn’t you?”
She looked at me in wonder, but just as I had predicted resolutely weeks ago that the Paint was headed our way, I was only mildly surprised that we now would be the new family for a Quarter Horse gelding, too.
A little background – or perhaps, for some of you, some catching up – these horses had been abandoned on a farm in Missouri by a family that moved to Colorado.
Neighbors continued to feed the horses – she is about 6 years old, and he is 10 – and confirmed that the owners were not returning. They were taken in by the Missouri Christian Livestock Rescue.
These horses had been inseparable during at least recent years, and some believe they even may be related. Photographs we saw bore similarities between them.
So if you’re taking one unwanted child, how could you break up the family?
That’s what my wife thought, and, God bless her, she did the right thing.
Those horses arrived on Saturday, shuttled with others in a van that originated in Texas and would stop in Midway to pick up a horse and then head home to Bowling Green, Ohio.
They calmly left the van and were led across a snow-covered barnyard into a circular corral to call their own, and then they proceeded to walk in tandem around its perimeter for a few laps until they were tossed about half a bale of hay, the first food other than grazing they had tasted in perhaps years.
Their camaraderie was obvious, almost as if they were parading in a circus. They were protective of one another, and on our various visits to them they even alternated personalities, sort of like good cop, bad cop, one of them allowing certain personal attention one day, the other the next time.
But in their gentleness and their demeanor these horses showed an immediate connection with my wife. They loved the attention, they were mannerly and responsive to her training techniques, and they seemed to appreciate everything they had been given.
Sort of like you would want any adoptee to be.
The real treat for them was when they were fitted with new blankets against the cold – and put up no fight against that cumbersome process – and then were led into stalls to spend the night indoors and feast on a bucket of grain and minerals, goodies they probably found exotic if familiar at all.
Beautiful new relationships were abud, and the flowers of the spring promise to be a blaze of wonder and color.
But the story does not end there.
By adopting these horses, my wife provided funds for the owners of the rescue farm to visit the kill pen in their area and rescue 10 more horses, including four mares in foal.
That means that with our two, a total of 16 horses’ lives had been improved by one great gesture of kindness.
And there is sort of a strange personal connection that is as circular as their corral, what I call a “red rein,” sort of like the Chinese “red thread” belief that says some souls share a spiritual link.
For not only have these horses connected with our family in new yet familiar ways, the land where they currently are standing is a boarding farm just north of Simpsonville that long was known to me for its stately brick residence and the fact that my paternal grandmother told me she was baptized in a pond there.
When I described this to my dad, he said it was, in fact “Grandpap’s farm,” the residence of former Shelby County Sheriff and Jailer Ben Perkins, who was my great, great grandfather and who died a decade before I was born, a connection I did not know or anticipate.
So in visits to the farm to build our relationship with the horses, I get to survey land where my ancestors once lived in a house so old it had its own slave quarters.
And yet there is one more thing to ponder.
You may recall that the Paint shares the same name as our 3-year-old daughter, Savannah, her own “red rein.”
Now we have to decide if we will have to change our son’s name to Buck.