Saturday, July 14, 2012

Musings From the Funny Farm

Waynesville Daily Guide

By Jennifer Bressner

I've been hearing a lot of different ideas and opinions about the horse meat industry trying to set up shop, here, in Missouri. I'll be the first to admit that my thoughts are clouded with emotion when it comes to this topic. Please, let me tell you why.

In the summer of 1989, I turned 9 years old and met Shawna. She was a 19 year old sorrel mare who was, literally, skin and bones. Shawna was inbetween being purchased by a horse dealer and being resold again at auction. We were told by the horse dealer that he'd rather sell her because her fate was  to become dog food if she did not find a loving home. That loving home was ours! And so began some of the most magical and wonderful moments of my young life.
Shawna was the perfect kid's horse. Once my family got her up to her fighting weight, she would do anything for us. I was a dark haired, freckle faced, "Punky Brewster" type little girl. I always felt chubby and awkward. But atop my sorrel mare, I became the woman in the maxi pad commercial, on the beach, bareback, wind in my hair!
One time when I was a boy-crazy 11 year old, I took Shawna to the river. Everyone was out that hot summer day relaxing in the water, swimming and playing. I was the only one there on horseback. Naturally, the kids, many who were boys, were pointing at us and excited to see a horse. This encouraged the show off in me. Shawna and I raced up the bank, putting on quite a show. She trotted through the knee deep water on the river's edge, picking her feet up, in, what felt like to me, an exotic prance. Caught up in the show I was giving to all (thinking, "you're welcome"), I missed the fact that Shawna had taken a pretty large dump. This atrocity was bobbing up and down in the water, following the current, along the edge. The only thing that brought my attention to this, was the screaming mothers who were snatching lawn chairs and squealing babies out of the water while running for dry land. Shawna and I made a glorious, galloping exit that day. She always had a way of making me feel special but at the same time, keeping me humble.
My favorite memory of Shawna was me laying on her back in the sunshine, finding pictures in the clouds, while she chomped on grass, unbridled, in our yard. She was as trustworthy as a horse could possibly be. Her nose was as soft as the petals of a rose, and she had huge, honest, brown eyes.
When I was around the age of 16, my beautiful friend's health started to fail her. Her teeth were worn away next to nothing and she had started to lose weight, even though the grass was high. The day the vet came to put her to sleep, my little sister and I braided blue corn flowers all throughout Shawna's mane and tail. She looked so pretty, although her body was roughly in the same shape as the day we saved her from the auction house. The vet who put her to sleep was a huge, trucker type of man. He looked tough but I remember his eyes welled up with tears as my sister and I surrendered our friend. We couldn't bare to stay and watch him inject her but I knew from the gentle way he laid his hands on her that he would be kind.
Shawna's death was a dignified and peaceful way for her to leave this world. When I think of horse slaughter, I picture the little sorrel mare my family saved and the gentle way she died. I think about the fear she never had to experience. I think of her never having to be loaded into mass transport.  And I think of her never being forced down a conveyer belt towards death. When people tell me that I'm just being emotional, I agree with them. Love is emotional. I loved Shawna and she created, within me, a love and respect for all horses.

No comments:

Post a Comment