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  • Writer's pictureTina

Giving Back And Making Amends

I have decided 2024 is going to be a year of giving. The Bibbed Wonder and I are still hashing out the details, but this will be a year of giving to our favorite charities and those of our soap family. For my birthday this year, I set up a fundraiser for a charity that truly speaks to my heart. Colby's Crew Rescue is a horse rescue based in Charlottesville, Virginia. The girls who run the rescue work tirelessly to save, rehabilitate, and often find forever homes for horses rescued from the slaughter pipeline. Many of the horses they save come from the Amish. These horses are used for their bodies treated like equipment and a commodity. When they become too old, tired, or damaged from years of use, neglect, and abuse, they are discarded at auctions to die horrible deaths and suffer extensively before said atrocious death.

Why is this important to me, you may ask. Because when I was a kid, my pony came from an auction, and we bought him out from under a kill buyer. Golden Nugget was the best thing that ever happened to me as a child. Riding him, working with him, and caring for him taught me life lessons, gave me confidence, and broke me out of my shell. Some of my best childhood memories were made on the back of that fat little sorrel pony with the flaxen mane and tail. He was incorrigible. He bit everyone except me. He would drag his back legs like he was on his last leg until he was under saddle. Then his tail would fly high in the air; he would leap, unleash a long, loud fart, and off he would go to whatever adventure awaited us. I think he enjoyed our rides; he hated leaving the barn, pasture, and food.

When I turned thirteen, my dad moved our horses to the farm that had become his company headquarters. This farm was thirty minutes from our home. There was a large barn, three large pastures with a creek running through them, large trees, and plenty of space for Nugget and Benji, my dad's quarter horse, to roam. It seemed like a great idea. However, at thirteen, I couldn’t drive. I had two busy parents who didn't have the time to take me to see Nugget during the week. At first, my mom would try to get me to the farm once a week through the week and then on the weekends. However, as time passed, she couldn't find the time to take me through the week. As so often happens with kids, my interests changed. I joined cheerleading, had friends, and became interested in boys. I saw Nugget every weekend at first. Then it was every other, and soon it became a few times a month. I would groom and sometimes ride him, but riding alone wasn't much fun. My dad fed them daily and had the farrier come in every six weeks, but the boys had become lawn ornaments, as my dad called them.

My dad was good, and I love him more than anything, but sometimes, he did things I consider not nice or good. My dad sold Nugget and Benji to a horse broker without telling me. My parents found more excuses not to take me to the farm when I asked. My dad waited almost a month to tell me he had sold the horses. He said he didn't tell me he was selling them because he didn't want a fight. I never got to say goodbye. Nug went away not knowing how important he was to me, how much I appreciated our time together, and what he did for me. Poof! Just like that, he was gone. My dad told me the horse broker had Nugget sold to a family with a little girl who would give him a good home. This little girl lived in Ebensburg. Benji, my dad's quarter horse, supposedly went to a young girl who barrel-raced. When I asked my dad if we could visit Nugget and Benji in their new homes, he always had an excuse why we couldn't. I didn't believe my dad then, and I definitely don't believe him now. I feel in my soul that our horses probably went to slaughter. This idea haunts me, and the guilt I feel is heavy.

When I saw what Colby's Crew Rescue was doing for these poor, unwanted horses, it spoke to me. Often, the horses who end up at auction are like Nugget and Benji. They were once well-loved pets until their kids grow up, size out, and move on. Some horses were used at riding stables to teach little ones the skills they need to become confident riders. Their years of loyalty, patience, and kindness are rewarded with being dumped at an auction to be sold to the highest bidder, whether a personal buyer or a kill buyer. These horses are abandoned and discarded like trash or used equipment that has worn out its usefulness. It's not fair and not right.

Over the weekend, the Colby's Crew Rescue team was live at the kill pen in New Holland, Pennsylvania. The pens were full with over one hundred senior, injured, neglected, and abused horses and mules. The girls do a live feed to raise funds to save these horses. Each horse they save requires approximately $ 3,500 to buy, vet, test, and rehabilitate. They earn the money for the horse and its care upfront. Colby's Crew has access to several state-of-the-art equine hospitals, seven veterinarians, top-of-the-line farriers, and several qualified trainers. Once rescued, the horses undergo quarantine for several weeks and must test negative for infectious diseases. Once they pass the first round of tests, they go to various facilities with more than 2,000 acres available. Some horses can't be saved and are humanely euthanized. This is better than making a horrendous trip and dying violently in Mexico or Canada. Some horses are sent to sanctuary to live out the remainder of their days in peace and comfort with plentiful food and companionship. Others are rehabilitated and are adopted out to vetted good homes. The horses are microchipped, so they can never endure such dire circumstances again. Adopters must provide monthly pictures and proof of vet and farrier care. Also, Colby's Crew Rescue will take back any of their horses at any time, no questions asked. If one's circumstances change, the horses return to them and are always cared for.

Colby's Crew and their followers raised enough money to save all the horses in the kill pen in forty-eight hours. This was a significant undertaking and a miracle. It was not a minor miracle. They saved over one hundred innocent souls. By clearing the pens, they stopped the transports to Mexico and Canada. There won't be another kill pen auction until after the first of the year. I donated this past weekend multiple times. Each donation I made, I made in honor of Golden Nugget. It's not enough; it never will be, but it's something. It's the only way I know how to honor my friend. It's the only way I know how to try to right a terrible wrong. A big part of me hopes my dad did not lie to me. I pray that Nugget lived out his days with a little girl who loved him as much as I did. I pray he lived a good, long life with kindness, food, and comfort. I pray he did not meet an abysmal end. I can't ever be sure, but I pray.

In less than an hour, my friends fulfilled my charitable fundraiser on Facebook for Colby's Crew Rescue. If you donated, thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are amazing. Overall, I contributed $380 to the cause from personal funds and my fundraiser. It bought several horses their freedom ride. This I do in honor of the gentle, cantankerous gentleman Golden Nugget, who was my best friend for years. He gave me the confidence to believe in my abilities. Who was always up for an adventure and gave me hours of peace and happiness.

I am trying to work out all the details, but I hope to run a fundraiser, and the money earned will be donated to Colby's Crew Rescue when the next kill pen auction arrives. I hope to make in the thousands, but anything is better than nothing. I will let you know as soon as we have the details ironed out. In the meantime, check out Colby's Crew Rescue on Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok. These girls and their crew are the real deal. I love their passion, their commitment, and what they do. Ten thousand people said, "Not. One. More." They cleared the pens. I hope to help in the next go around. Do your research. Check out their legitimacy. Do your homework.

Check out Animal Equality's website if you need to see what I'm talking about, what haunts me about my pony, and his potential demise. Be forewarned; you won't be the same after watching this. It's brutal. It's painful. It's the stuff of nightmares, and it goes on every day. It's the reason I say, "Not one more." In honor of my Nugget, not one more.

On this chilly October day, stay safe, be smart, find a cause you believe in, do what you can to help that cause, and keep washing your hands.

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