This morning, I received word that a blind Appaloosa mare named Keller had passed away at Shiloh Horse Rescue in Nevada. I couldn’t help but shed a few tears, because Keller touched my heart.
Here she is as I first saw her, in a pen at a livestock auction yard not too far from where I live. Something about her drew my eye. The tag on her pen said, “Well broke, good kids horse, daughter has lost interest.”
“I’ll say,” I remember thinking to myself. “This horse’s feet haven’t been trimmed in years.” I stuck around to watch her sell.
Except she didn’t sell. Not even for $1. From the moment she came onto the auction floor, it became obvious to every onlooker that this horse couldn’t see. The person who’d brought her to the auction, consigned her, and dropped her off was nowhere to be found (and never heard from again, though notified by auction employees that the horse hadn’t sold and needed to be picked up.)
So back into a yard pen she went. I got back in my car, drove home, and wrote a blog post about the horse nobody wanted.
This is what triggered the amazing rescue saga that became almost like a blog-reality-show while it was happening. You may remember it, from September of 2008.
I know that I will never forget it.
A blog reader Mikey Uldrickson, left—stepped up, and secured the mare a home with Shiloh. Then she drove 2,400 miles, on her own, across some of the emptiest country in the West, to get it done. Her truck plates say FEARLESS, and that she is. Mikey is also the opposite of a ‘bleeding heart.’ She puts her beliefs into action.
The blind mare couldn’t have ended up at a better place than Shiloh founded, incidentally, by the late Hollywood actor Tony Curtis and his wife, Jill. Jill is the one who named the blind mare Keller, after Helen Keller.
Keller spent her last years in comfort at a sanctuary with experience in caring for sightless horses. I’ll bet Tony even visited her a few times. I was able to keep up with Keller via the Shiloh blog and Web site, and before his passing, enjoyed seeing Jill’s photos of Tony with the Shiloh animals.
So it’s not that I teared up over the mare’s death itself. Time takes all our horses, eventually, and I’m sure Keller had kind care to the very end. This makes me happy, not sad.
The misty part was really more about the whole big story of horses’ fates and how they’re controlled by human decisions, and not by horses themselves. Keller symbolized that for me. A chain of decisions got that mare to where she was, and another chain got her out..
Here is Keller the last time I saw her, standing so obediently in the front stall of Mikey’s trailer after allowing us to guide her in. I remember stroking the top of her tail, still sticky with glue from her lot-tag number.
As horse fates go, Keller, the abandoned blind mare, had a good one.
Yet it could have been so different.