By Cathy Best, Columnist
Cowboy, a chestnut colored horse with a sweet disposition, was 15-hands high. I rode him once a week during the three years my father was stationed in El Toro, California at the Marine Corps Air Station.
We arrived in California the latter part of my fifth grade year and remained there until my father returned to Vietnam.
My mother packed up the four girls and moved back to Texas for the duration of his 13-month tour of duty. Cowboy was the hardest part of leaving California.
He did not belong to me. I paid 50 cents per hour to ride him at the base stables; he belonged to the base recreation department.
I’d walk the half mile to the stables, in hand-me-down boots, ride, and brush him down after circling the pasture until my 50 cents or, if I was lucky, dollar was up.
It felt like he was mine; I pretended he was.
I loved him.
For a girl who desperately wanted a horse, that didn’t fit into military life, Cowboy was a Godsend. I’m reminded of him often, and the joy he brought me when I pass chestnut quarter horses in a field.
Most of the horses I see ambling through the fields are healthy and loved but some are neglected.
The neglect can be for a variety of reasons, including the downturn in the economy. GERL (Georgia Equine Rescue League, Ltd) is available to help rescue and place horses for adoption within the state of Georgia.
Susan McCullar is a foster parent to horses rescued by GERL. In her words, Susan shared GERL’s mission with me: “Georgia Equine Rescue League is a non-profit organization with the focus of rescuing abused and neglected horses as well as educating the public on these issues.
When GERL learns of a situation of abuse or neglect, trained volunteers are sent to check out the situation.
If possible, the owners are educated about how to better care for their horses so they can keep the horses.
If this isn’t possible the owners often sign the horses over to GERL. At this point “foster parents” like myself take the horses into their care at their farm to rehabilitate the horses. GERL raises funds to pay these expenses including feed, hay, and veterinarian care.
My love and tender care is provided free of charge. The horse stays with the foster until it is rehabilitated at which time it is put up for adoption.
The prospective adoption process includes an interview with the prospective owner and a visit to the farm to insure that the horse will be in a safe and healthy environment.”
Volunteers, like Susan, do this out of love for horses. Her current rescue is a two year old that lacked much human contact. Susan loves on this baby so that some day it will make a wonderful horse to adopt.
The GERL website offers important facts and suggested guidelines for people struggling to care for their horse in this current economy.
You’ll find information on marketing the horse for sale, pricing, advertising, getting the proper paperwork together, vaccines and screening potential new owners.
Email your advertising flyer to email@example.com and GERL will circulate the flyer for you.
I encourage anyone that has a love of horses and an interest in using their empty field to foster an abused or neglected horse, or would like to support the organization, to contact GERL.
As you take a look at charitable organizations to support this New Year, consider GERL.