I’m the kind of girl who feels much more comfortable behind the reins of a horse than behind the wheel of a car. Horses have been influential to my development as a veterinary student and animal activist, as I have been horseback riding since I was five years old. Being surrounded by horses my entire life gave me the exposure to learn of some of the injustices that horses nationally and internationally endure. The most widespread problem of horses is their abandonment and abuse, which either results in a painful life fraught with disease, decay, and misery or in their slow death.
So I, at age 15, took the bat and went to the plate, proclaiming that I would not simply complain about the misfortunate condition of horses: I decided that I was going to make a difference. This difference led me to Essex, England where I trained, cleaned, monitored, and fed a variety of abused horses, ponies, donkeys, mules, chickens, goats, and sheep at Ada Cole Rescue Stables, which has since merged with Redwings, the largest horse sanctuary in the UK. Although the work involved a great deal of mucking stalls and pens, most of my time was consumed in recuperating and training horses that would hopefully one day be adopted.
I was able to work with an equine veterinarian throughout the duration of this adventure who instilled in me the value of “one-the-spot” critical thinking. When your patient cannot communicate an issue, and you see its eyes fading, you have no choice but to act quickly.
The experience, both working at the rescue farm and with the veterinarian, introduced me to one of the most fascinating cultures: the Roma culture, also known more informally as gypsy. Often their was a disconnect in communication between the local people and that of the local Roma. The Roma possess little to no property save their horses and what they carry. During the day, many Roma leave their horses tied to a rope with enough length to allow the horses to eat grass and reach fresh water either from a stream, pond, or bucket left for the horses. The horses tend to look unkempt, as the Roma cannot afford to trim the hair of their animals, and often they cannot afford veterinary bills. Regardless, though, the horses are well-cared for, despite a different manner in which the care is done. This exposure to cultural clash is one theme that echoes in a great deal of my international work: we must work together and respect one another’s differences in order to limit animal abuse and ensure animal comfort.Back to top