An Impactful Trip to the Lower Brule Reservation

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Nov 08, 2015 by Tiffany Ring

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Today, we made a trip to the Lower Brule Reservation near Chamberlain, SD, after being contacted by a vet about some young horses who were in need of help quickly. A kind young man had come into her clinic this past week and asked for help rehoming his young horses, as he was taking a job in Texas and leaving in a week. With little information, we headed out to help.

We arrived to find a very kind, quiet, hardworking, traditional young man, his brother, and his father. In a hand built pen made from hewn logs and pallets, we found four young horses, and a beautiful mini horse. The young horses were a little thin, a little wormy, in need of farrier work. But the man showed us his good hay, the grain he was feeding, proudly showed the barn they were building by hand with the four stalls and shingled roof.

He gently told us he had taken in these horses because they were going to a bad place, and been working with them. Then he said his mother died in September, and now his family is going back to Texas, and he quietly whispered "I just want them to survive."

Prior to today we did not know we were going to the Reservation, nor did we know that their owner was Native. We intended to rename the horses, have a naming auction to raise funds to cover their expenses, excited about the chance to get to know a new vet in a new area of the country. We expected the worst, and while the babies are not in the best shape we found a very caring young man who quietly whispered to the babies to go have good lives, much as we do when they leave us, and later we realized he had cut a chunk of each of their tails.

Today was a deeply profound day for us. We received a gift, of a gift that had been given him. We saw his deep gratitude for the vet who reached out to us and his appreciation given through the gift of a beautiful handmade quilt - again something that had been gifted to him.

And before we left, I asked him to tell me their names, and take the time to make sure I knew who they were. I had expected to rename them, but quietly asked him if their names had meaning. He honored us with his respect and gifts, he sent along supplies for the horses, he honored the horses with his selfless action of reaching out for help just so they could survive, and we want to honor him and the horses by keeping their Lakota names.

So tonight, I introduce you to our five new intakes. Pictured above are Gleska, or "Spotted" in Lakota, pronounced Gleshka. He is a young gelding, 1-2 years old. Next to him is Tahni, which we were told means "old man", so called because he is the littlest, youngest, and skinniest. We suspect he may be as young as a weanling, and he was not gelded with the others because they had not yet both dropped. We will be checking that. Next to him is Mato, or "Bear", a stocky young gelding, friendly and willing, and finally, the big girl with the big blaze, Ina, or "Mother". Ina seems to be the oldest, and in the best shape. We don't know if she is bred, but will be finding out.

As a bonus, we brought home a little mini boy, Chikala, or "small/tiny". He is a boy, gelding status yet to be determined but we suspect he is a stallion still.