Ten years ago we went to look at some horses at a local horse rescue. Other organizations know that we take in animals no one else wants, so they call us when they have an animal who is too old, too sick, too lame, or too scared to be adoptable. They told us of two twin horses, brother and sister, who are way too much for a normal adopter to handle, but are not doing well separated. They wondered if we could take them to keep them together. When we met them, the fear, sadness and frustration in their eyes was all we had to see to know that they would be coming home with us.
Zoe and Lazar were born in Canada to the Premarin Industry. Premarin is a hormonal replacement drug for menopausal women, made from the pregnant urine of horses. Hundreds of mares are impregnated and kept standing for 10 months with a catheter extracting the pregnant pee. At the last stage of pregnancy the horses are released into a pasture to have their babies. They are allowed to stay together for one month. At a month old the moms are impregnated and imprisoned again and the babies are rounded up and sent to slaughter for the Asian and European meat market. Zoe and lazar were born in a pasture that was twenty degrees below zero. All the other babies were dying on the spot, but miraculously Zoe and Lazar survived. At a month old they were taken from their mom and sent to slaughter, where they were rescued at the last minute and brought to California.
At just a few months old, Zoe and Lazar were adopted out to a family of their own. But instead of giving them love, affection or stimulation, they were kept in a small pen alone for two years. They were then returned to the rescue. By this time, Zoe and Lazar were big, unsocialized, angry and afraid. They were too much for a normal person to adopt them, so the rescue separated them thinking that they might be able to train and adopt out Zoe and leave Lazar in their wild herd. But when the two were separated they were inconsolable; Zoe became angry and violent, and Lazar became even more feral. The rescue asked us to take them so we could keep them together and mend their broken hearts.
It took years to rehabilitate Zoe and Lazar. After being taken away from their mom, Zoe had stepped up into the leader role in order to protect them. She was in survival mode trying her best to make decisions and take care of them both. She was very dominant and aggressive, and it took us years to show her that we would take care of them and she could be humble, relax and feel safe. Lazar was so scared when we brought them home that he would hide behind his sister and shake. We could not brush or pet either of them. But over the course of the first three years we boosted Lazar’s confidence, got Zoe to be vulnerable and soft, halter trained them, taught them to be groomed and have their feet taken care of, and they turned into lovely, delightful horses and members of our family. Our promise to them was that they would always be together and would never be separated. We groomed them, walked them, fed them, and brought them in and out of the barn together. They would spend hours each day grooming each other, in their own little world, just the two of them.
After living with us for 10 years, and being immensely happy, Lazar fell ill with pneumonia. The high fevers, poor circulation, and swelling in his body caused his foot to separate from his hoof wall and the coffin bone to rotate and separate from his muscle. Lazar's condition was irreversible and he was suffering, so we made the excruciating decision to help him out of his body. As we prepared Lazar for his passing, he groomed my arm with his mouth, thanking me for his life and the home we gave him. He kept
reassuring me that it was the right decision and that he was at peace. Even at the last moments of his life, instead of feeling afraid or conflicted, Lazar marched forward with confidence, with gentleness, and with peaceful surrender, caring for me while he left. Lazar took my breath away! He was thoughtful, considerate, loving, demonstrative, and a gentleman, we will love and remember his always!
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