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A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. March's Theme: "Pets"
Volume 4 Issue 3 ISSN# 1708-3265
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Kindred Spirit
by Jennifer Danner

It is a rare occurance, but sometimes, if we are lucky, we meet a friend that we literally feel incomplete without. This friend can be human, yes, but for many of us that kindred spirit manifests itself in animal form.

It was mid 2005. I had gone to my friend's farm for a visit; she breeds horses and always has upwards of 40 or so on her property at any given time. It was a cold night, and we were bringing in the herd for their nightly respite from winter in the warm barn. The building came alive with the hollow sounds of horse and cow feet, the occasional squeal when someone went into the wrong stall, the grunting of the cows settling into place to munch grain, the cute bleating sound of the goats.

I noticed a new face in the herd; it was a solid Paint mare called Cuesta. The strangest thing happened; I felt an instant kinship with this mare for no particular reason. This little mare had something special. Though her body was such a shame to look at, there was a fire in her eyes which was not mad fear or even relief; it was an uncanny intelligence. I could tell right away she was one of those rare horses who possessed an unflappable sense you cannot train into a horse who does not have it born into her.

We went home that night as usual; we already technically owned one horse we were keeping at their farm, and were not really in a financial position to buy another one yet. Weeks went by, and my friend decided to sell Cuesta to a woman who apparently had "a lot of horse experience." I was distraught to see Cuesta being trailered away; I literally felt like a piece of me was missing. I would have dreams of riding the little red mare around, of seeing her gallop through our pasture, of having her for my own.

Fast forward a few months later. Mark and I went back to my friend's place to help out. And there's Cuesta again, only it was not the Cuesta we had known before. She was the complete and utter picture of what a horse should not be. She was so thin her bones were readily visible through her skin. Her coat was a dull mat of lusterless hairs, and her mane and tail were sparse and strawlike. Her hooves were horribly overgrown and toed-out, and I could tell right away whoever had owned her was not getting her feet trimmed and cleaned as is necessary with any horse. Her head was bowed down into her tub of grain. She had been in the barn only a day or two; my friend had rescued her from a neglectful owner. My friend often took in neglected horses, looked after them, fattened them up and found them homes. But this was a shame, because she had to buy back Cuesta and another mare from this neglectful, hurtful woman who had owned them. From what I was told, they had been stabled in a stall which was actually a vat of mud and manure. They were obviously starved, as it takes a long time for an otherwise healthy horse to get into the shameful condition Cuesta had gotten into.

I had the wild idea to buy Cuesta. Not because I always root for the underdog (and I do) but she just had this spirit and character in her which would never die. However, finances were still tight, and the winter ended up going by. I would see Cuesta in the large herd outside at the farm, and she always stood out to me for some reason; it was nothing to do with looks, though I could tell she had some awesome breeding just by looking at her. It was her character!

My friend fattened Cuesta up, fixed her warped feet, and eventually bred her to one of her Quarter Horse studs. Now, around this time, we brought our other horse, Emma, from the farm to our place; we had built two stalls and fenced in a nice field for her, but we hated leaving her alone all day and getting home at night to find her alone. Horses are herd animals, and they need fellow equine friends to be happy. So we decided the time was right to add another horse to the family. And guess what. My friend offered us Cuesta! We ended up trading a brand-new log splitter for her, and we are blissfully happy to this day.

Sure, life with horses is not all fun and games; it involves tons of work daily and a lot of vigilance and responsibility; gone are long nights out and frequent vacations! But I don't care, because my dream came true. It was a long and windy road, but I love where it led! Every night, Cuesta is there when I get home from work, to listen to my prattling about the day's trials and upsets, and to help me remember to be more serene, less frazzled, and to remember there is more to life than the rat race.

Cuesta gave birth to a beautiful foal in 2006, who we sold to a wonderful person. There is no more breeding in her future though, and I plan to let her live a life of ease and trail riding for as long as she lives!

Jennifer Danner lives in rural Western New York. She is an avid nature lover, and has many pets, including horses, fish, snakes, and a cat. She works fulltime at a desk job but loves painting, drawing, and ATVing in her spare time.

"Art by Ginevive" offering commissioned paintings, computer designed business logos, animal drawings and paintings. Contact her via email.

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