For almost two years Coal has graced the general pasture - boss mare, beloved of Red, object of desire for all the geldings. For almost two years she has survived with minimal care. She receives no supplemental feed during the winter months when grass disappears in the general pasture. Her owner rarely visits. He cannot catch her so he chases her with a motorcycle to wear her down (even though he has been warned not to). She has become wary, very wary, of human contact. Yet she engages me each time I enter her world, approaching respectfully, asking for a carrot gift with her large soft lips.
I believe that Coal was once a captive in the hell of the Premarin production industry. She wears large, freeze-branded numbers on her left flank. Her current owner bought her from a draft horse broker in Lynden, Washington. I don't know that the human world has done much for Coal - much good that is. Yet Coal has somehow retained the sweetness of spirit that so often survives in the even most neglected equines. It is evident in her gentle approach, in her willingness to let the motorcycle-chasing owner ride her when he is able to catch her.
Why am I writing about Coal? Because Coal is for sale. Because she haunts me. Because I have a relationship with her and therefore I feel, reasonably or otherwise, a degree of responsibility for her fate. This is not a post to explore the feasibility, the practicality of owning a third horse. Be assured that process is happening behind the scenes. This post is for Coal. She is one of millions of horses, bred, misused, and neglected by human caretakers. In the general pasture she has had, at least, the sanctuary of a herd, the admiration of geldings (especially a certain red gelding), and the consistency of the seasons. There are far worse fates. That is what I'm agonizing over. Worse fates.