Saturday, March 28, 2009
The Horses of Proud Spirit and Hoof Prints: More Stories from Proud Spirit
To-date, the lives of more than 150 horses, ponies, and donkeys have been saved because of the quiet but steely determination of Melanie Sue Bowles and her husband, Jim, who have devoted most of the hours and minutes of their days to Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary for the last 15 years.
In The Horses of Proud Spirit, and its recent sequel, Hoof Prints: More Stories from Proud Spirit, Melanie Sue Bowles recounts, with heartfelt emotion, candor, and sometimes, anguish, the stories of dozens of the abused, neglected, discarded, and needy horses who have been fortunate enough to find a permanent home, and loving care, within the boundaries of her sanctuary, now located in Arkansas.
She knew little about horses when she purchased her first one, the broken and unloved thoroughbred mare, Cody, who turned out to be the catalyst for Melanie's personal journey of self-discovery, one in which she would learn from the horses themselves what they needed to heal their wounded hearts.
Along the way, Ms. Bowles also paints a graphic picture of some of the horses who are made to endure horrific suffering at the hands of so-called "horse people" whose abuse too often goes unnoticed and unpunished, people who think that "animal communication" means showing a horse "who's boss":
"I refused to adopt this erroneous philosophy of showing the horse who is boss,
even though it was told to me over and over again by numerous horse people.
There must be respect, certainly, but
more than anything there needs to be trust.
And this respect and trust must be mutual.
Equine communication in its truest sense (means) communication that allows
the horse to be a partner and respond out of understanding and a desire to
participate, rather than fear or pain."
Without Ms. Bowles' personal intervention, scores of horses would have died cruel deaths by shotguns, slaughterhouses, or even purposeful neglect. They are safe now, and their spirits are running free.
Melanie Sue Bowles' stories are not only well-told, they are vital for anyone who wants to develop an understanding of the plight of horses in this country. Even the "bluebloods" are at risk of being cavalierly cast off when they are deemed to be no longer "useful." Her accounts of the "lucky" ones who made it out alive are not always easy or comforting to read, and I cringed in the knowledge that Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary cannot save them all.