Free to a Good Home: The Best Horse in the World

There isn’t a sale ad, as such, just a Facebook post and later a note that’s titled, “FREE TO THE RIGHT HOME: 18yo Mustang Mare.” The title fails to encompass everything that that sentence means. It could just as easily say, “Free to a good home: my best friend” or “Free to a good home: life-changing equine” or “Free to a good home, because I can’t do this anymore.”

Posting the finished ad feels like giving up. It feels like abandonment. It feels like breathing again after drowning. And that’s all well before a single possible home has presented itself.

When it comes to the subject of finding a new home for my horse, my Juno, I’m about out of words. I didn’t have many to begin with. It might seem melodramatic to be so wound up over the sort of transaction that happens every day, but Juno and I have always had a relationship that runs down to the bone, at least from my side of the equation. There were days when the only thing that got me out of bed was having to drag myself down to the hay barn to serve her breakfast. She’s been the catalyst of a tremendous amount of personal growth for me, and I honestly can’t imagine the person I’d be right now without her.

So now that I’m facing the prospect — the reality — of a future without her after eight years with her, and I can’t really imagine what it looks like. Sometimes I think the idea of not being able to drive down to the barn and see her will drag me deeper into the depression that I’ve fought all my life. And some days I can’t help but guiltily think that once she’s making her home in someone else’s barn, I’ll be able to breathe more freely than I have in eight years. There’s no way to know, really, until it’s done.

Of course, finding a home is in itself a challenge. The list of people wanting an 18-year-old, green-broke, undeniably beautiful mustang mare is remarkably short, and shortened further still by the fact that I’m picky about where she goes. On the other side of the equation is the list of exhaustively trained, child-safe, experienced, excellent saddle horses under ten who are being given away or sold cheap in the face of a truly awful horse market. Factored together, these things add up to what can only be described as a really crappy situation.

I can’t afford to keep my horse — have, in fact, never been able to afford my horse, and have been steadily digging myself deeper and deeper into debt to keep her. The end of all this is both sudden and inevitable. So it figures that right now, at a point where I could be looking forward to a summer season of riding for the first time in our partnership, instead I’m looking for a new partnership in an impossible economy. She might have a place with a friend in Oregon, a really ideal placement with a great person in a place with abundant pastures and relatively affordable hay supplies. I wouldn’t have to worry about her.

I want more time.

I want it over with.

I don’t want to talk about it anymore.

So I’m spending what time we have left enjoying Juno’s company, and I’m making an effort at moving on, pre-emptively. I’m changing my blog and my shop and every other piece of me — well, except the tattoos — so that every minute of living my life isn’t a reminder of a face I’ll miss like mad. I felt I should probably also do something to reflect the fact that, although I’ll still be driving a carriage and probably eventually be getting into riding lessons or something else, it’ll probably be quite a very, very long time before I own a horse again.

So, you’ll shortly find this blog continued in all its random glory at BrightStrangeThings.com, and from there you’ll be able to find my art, photos and other endeavors. It’ll take a little time, but hopefully it’ll be more organized this time around. Thanks for reading so far, and for following my chronicles with Juno, and I hope you’ll continue to read. I solemnly promise that I won’t usually be this maudlin.

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35 thoughts on “Free to a Good Home: The Best Horse in the World

  1. Check your email–let me know if you don’t get one from me.

  2. No words Mac, only hugs. I carry you in my heart for now… xxx

  3. Oh you made me cry all over again! I can’t even imagine what I would feel like to give up my horse. I know how much you love Juno. I have followed your journey back in the days where you worked at Parelli and had her started by a PP. I remember your first ride on her! Dam it I wish I didn’t have such a good memory!
    I don’t know you Mackenzie, except from what you have shared of yourself on FB. I am sure you’ve thought it all out even if I don’t understand. Good luck with it all. My heart really goes out to you. You must be much braver and stronger than me!

  4. I am so sorry to hear that… I understand what it feels like to be “drowning” to want it over with, to not be able to pay your bills… One of the reasons Poseidon is still here might be because that everytime I look at him I wonder when I will just give up on him, call the vet and have him put down. I wont know who I am without him and sometimes I just want so badly to get it over with, to find out, to be the me I will have to be on the other side of this horse. Which is why he is still here, because I refuse to take his life because I am drowning.
    so, I am really sorry. I never thought you of all people would end in this situation… (trying not to cry here) I hope you will find a great home for her…

    • I completely understand, stenfalk… when I worked at a rescue I usually ended up holding the horses for the vet when we ended up having to put one down, and I was there at the end for a few of them. There’s a kindness to it when it’s the horse’s time but it must be infinitely more difficult when it’s your own animal. I put off my decision about Juno for a long, long time because I always felt I shouldn’t make the decision while I was depressed or overdrawn or whatever else, feeling like I’d decide in haste… and then one day I found that I’d just made the decision and it was time. I hope you’ll know too when it’s time to make a change. Give me a holler any time you want to talk.

      • Thank you and Right back at you. I am kind of waiting for that day to come wiht Poseidon, because it always comes at some point. I knew when we put Amalia down two months ago, I had been looking at her for months and one day I woke up and realized that I had made the desission, I just needed my vet to back me up so my boyfriend could understand it. That does not make it easier, but it makes it… right in a way… And if thats how you feel about Juno, then it is the right choise, but it is not going to be easy at all, letting her go. I wish you both the best.

  5. I dunno. I wouldn’t look at this as a failure. Animals share our lives for a reason, many times to help teach us something about ourselves that we need to know. Horses don’t judge that whatsoever. So try to keep in mind that wherever Juno goes, she’s meant to be, and she will teach that person the lessons they need just as she once did you. The greatest honor you could bestow her memory and legacy is to go forward and use the wisdom she shared with you, whatever that may be. Godspeed, Juno!

    • Thanks a lot for the perspective. I try not to twist myself up too badly over it because the big moment for making the decision was admitting to myself that Juno wasn’t going to lose sleep over being in somebody else’s care. We have a great relationship but she can have that with someone else, too… or she’d be perfectly happy to be standing in a field with some other horses, not being bothered.

  6. OMG Mack my heart and all the positive energy I can send… I’ve been there on so many levels. It was horses, or the thought of bring horses back into my life, that brought me out of my last depression episode. Like you, I have struggle with depression my whole life. This last episode was a pretty bad one and lasted a year+. Anyway, last year I had to say good bye to a Tbred that I was helping to try and rehab. Irish wasn’t mine but he and I were the only ones that didn’t understand that because our connection was so strong. When I had to say good bye it ripped my heart out.
    The upside is Irish gave me so much and from his company I was able to move back out into the world. Now that horses are back in my life I don’t believe I would ever fall backwards. I’m still not in a position to have a horse of my own. Someday, but, for now I will get my horse time by volunteering, lessons and doing whatever I am able to have horses in my life.
    Be Well,

    • Thanks, Martha. I’ve actually given up a horse before (I only had him for a few months, and it didn’t take long to see he was way more than I could handle both behaviorally and financially), and I’ve had to see a lot of training horses and rescue horses come and go, but Juno’s always been special, so this is just particularly hard. I know you know exactly what I’m talking about. Maybe your experience with Irish was just so you’d know what that connection feels like when the perfect horse of your own comes along!

  7. Oh, Mac, I’m sorry. You’ve done your best, but we are not required to ruin ourselves to care for our animals. And I do think there must be a place for her, where she can be cared for as she deserves. I hope you can find it.

    • Thanks, cofax. It probably shouldn’t have taken getting to this particular point, but eventually you realize you can’t do your animals much good when you can’t afford their basic care. I wish it hadn’t taken me quite so long to face reality but I get there eventually.

  8. I am right there with you and can totally relate. It’s hard letting go of something that has so profoundly changed you, I know. The thought of that big sorrel guy getting on a trailer brings me to tears. I am trusting that once Shadow is in his new home, there will be a sense of relief and my heart will warm knowing that he is getting played with and loved on with a great new partner. Feeling your pain friend.

  9. Thinking of you and praying for you both xxx

  10. I’m a great lover of all animals and this post makes me so sad for you. I’m certain that the universe will allow for the perfect placement of a horse as wonderful as Juno. I’m also hopeful that things will get better for you, and am sending positive thoughts your way. :)

  11. Please check out Facebook’s page ADOPT A LIVING LEGEND. It’s purpose is for rehoming mustangs. I have shared this on my FB page. Alli Farkas asked me if I could take her and I can’t. If you could cover board, I could do free training and we could work something out, but I can’t bring another FREE horse to the farm I manage/train out of. Check us out http://www.i2k.com/~willow
    Feel free to contact me with any questions. Sorry for your situation.
    Wendy Fisher

    • Thanks Wendy! I may have a placement for her but if it doesn’t work out I’ll check out the facebook group. I’m hoping to be able to rehome her through my Parelli network but it’s great to know I have options if I need to broaden the net. :)

  12. My heart breaks for you and Juno….I am so deeply sorry. I hope that the place in Oregon works out….I have lost horses before and it goes deep. My thoughts are with you that you will find a perfect home for Juno and can still visit her when you can.

  13. My heart (and eyes haha) cried for you the other day when I first read this. I hope you find peace in your decision and that you are able to find Juno the wonderful new home that she deserves!

  14. I recently had to give up my favorite cat. Granted she went to my wonderful sister, but not a day goes by I dont think about curling up with her in my arms. She is my animal soul mate, so I can relate. All we can do is take care of our animals for as long as we can and then we must let go at some point. Just think of the great life you did get to provide your friend for as long as you could.

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