(I just came across this letter to the editor in The Anderson Valley Advertiser (AVA), Mendocino County, California on July 28th, 2010)
To whoever accused me of being “severely neglected”—
My name is Filly and I am the equine equivalent of a 95-97-year-old woman. I know you have this beautiful image in your head of what a horse should look like: smooth muscles rippling under a glossy coat perhaps. Just strike that from your mind! Unfortunately, I am never going to look like that again.
I am a skinny, bony old lady with wrinkles, a sway back, stringy muscles and some gray hairs. But if you had taken the time to look me in the eye you would have seen the light in them that has nothing to do with pain and neglect. Maybe you did look but just couldn’t see.
I am still enjoying myself. I have a roof in winter and 75 acres of freedom and grazing during the dry season. My humans keep an eye on me to make sure I have all four legs under me and am not in pain. I am wormed and have all I can eat. Despite my arthritis, I am still quite mobile. Being skinny helps with that. I can even still manage a short canter on occasion.
I wish the general public was more aware of what a normal appearance is for a truly old horse. There once was a time when people had “horse sense,” and it was synonymous with “common sense.” That seems to be in short supply now. Having this unrealistic expectation of equine beauty for all horses is unfair. I don’t look like the horses on the cover of Horse Illustrated with their young, muscular physiques, glowing coats and lush manes and tails.
If it offends your fine sensibilities to find me in your viewshed, look somewhere else. I don’t go into your human rest homes and complain about your 95-year-old great-grandmother, so don’t come into my pasture and complain about me. I am enjoying what little time I have left to me. My human would like me to live out my days and die a peaceful, natural death if possible. As long as I have a happy expression in my eye, she says she’s not going to bump me off. My fear is that if people make too much of a stink about having to look at me, she may have to put me down.
So, please, I know you probably meant well, but give an old lady a break. You could have asked anyone who works and lives at Ferrington Vineyards about me and they could have told you I’m just ancient. I don’t want to be rushed into my grave. I may be getting senile, but I am not stupid.
Severely Old at Ferrington Vineyard
Filly (via Colleen Kobler)
PS. Oh yes, the Animal Control officer said I look pretty good for my age.