How this famous quote runs through my mind as I relive the memory of finding my beloved horse Dancer dead in the pasture. Dancer made the last ten years the best part of my life, and as my friends try to console me, they say that I made his last ten years the best of his. I would give anything to have him back, my special horse, my dream come true.
For those of you who don't know me, Dancer was my inspiration for starting Front Range Equine Rescue, which is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit dedicated to stopping the abuse and neglect of horses.
The only thing that I wanted in my whole life was a horse. In the Fall of 1991, I found Dancer in a filthy, rundown facility where horses were rented out seven days a week. They came from local auctions and when used up, returned to auction, most likely bought by killer buyers. I saw how these horses were kept standing in narrow, manure filled stalls while waiting to be rented out for a ride, usually by people who were extremely ignorant regarding horses. Many of the horses would return to the barn lathered with sweat, then barely cooled off before the next ride. Flies and rats were abundant in the open sided barn area. The rental horses suffered from saddle and girth sores, lameness, and were whipped by the owner if they didn't obey.
When I first met Dancer, I saw a skinny, overworked sorrel gelding with a large scar on his nose. At the time, I didn't realize the impact that he was to have on my life. I didn't know that he would be my mentor and the best friend that I ever had. The word rescue wasn't in my mind, but I knew something was very wrong. As I realized his plight and eventually persuaded his owner to sell him, I knew that I could not have imagined a better horse in all of my childhood dreams.
I am flooded with memories of our time together. Trail rides through the woods in Virginia where Dancer and I would have a gallop through an open field…the joy of the day when he first nickered in recognition of me…how we would stand together in his cramped and dirty stall with our heads pressed together, dreaming of somehow having a better life…the joy of riding that he brought to kids and adults when he served as a lesson horse during our early years in Colorado…and the glorious day when Dancer came to finally live with me on our own horse property.
In the early evening of October 18, 2001, I arrived home to find my magical Dancer dead. The shock is still with me. There are not enough tears in the world to be shed for the grief that I feel. Friends tell me that he was a gentleman; it was his time. Dancer dropped in his tracks so that I would not have to see him suffer if he became ill nor would I have to make any decision regarding euthanasia. Dancer never gave any indication that his life was about to end. Approximately 30 years old, he was still running and bucking with the best of them.
In loving memory and with steadfast tribute to Dancer, I carry on with the mission of Front Range Equine Rescue. While no horse can ever come close to what we had, Dancer's special purpose was to become my "Black Beauty" and open my eyes to the suffering of equines. Because of this unique horse, my life took a turn for the better.