Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Thing About Compassion: An Aristotelian vista

This is the entire story of a girl and her horse. 

Some of you have read parts of it, not many know all of it. 

I'm sharing, through photographs, the full story of Chemakoh's rescue from the first day of his rescue to a recent and important ceremony to recognize so many people whose 
love and compassion played a role in his rescue and his physical recovery.

Compassion, to me, has always felt like empathy in action.
 So while this is the story of a girl and her horse, it's also the story of one of the most profound demonstrations of collective compassion I've ever personally witnessed.

I want to thank all of those involved, even in the periphery. 
This was a collective effort that took more than a hundred phone calls, sleepless nights, early mornings, days off work, rescheduled clients, medical bills, medication bills, and time and energy from so many who saw more deeply into the experience of Chemakoh's rescue.

This is the story of a girl and her horse, indeed.
More than that, it's the story of humanity at its best, the vulnerability of us all, and the capacity to heal from trauma given love, compassion, time, and space. 

Deep bows to everyone pictured here and many not pictured. My heart is a wellspring of gratitude.
(To read the history of this rescue, see this link here)

Chemakoh on the day of his rescue

His bones came through his skin, as he was so badly emaciated

When he walked, he hung his head and slowly took his steps

Both sides of his girth were open revealing flesh

He was not only badly malnourished and abused, but his wounds had not been tended

The only care we could provide for his wounds was a mud pack to protect them, initially, from flies and fly larvae

The other side of the girth

Over time, the skin grew back over his hip bones. This took a few weeks of constant wound care.

He had lots of love and attention, and friends from all over visited him. During an early Spring thunderstorm, I stood over him so he didn't get cold and wait. He appreciated the gesture.
His veterinarian Jim Bleak said that Chemakoh would have been dead in less than a week had we not rescued him. He didn't come to tend to him until a week after the rescue because we weren't sure Mako would survive.

Chemakoh had access to hay 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We also slowly introduced ground, organic flax seed and coconut flakes so help him start to gain much-needed weight and strength. 

A week later, we began the task of building a corral. Steve, one of Mako's initial rescuers, brought in 15 tons of dirt for the task.
All these little rocks had to be picked out of an area of about 1200 square feet before we could move the 15 tons of good dirt to the corral.

This was laborious work to say the least.

Meanwhile, we are measuring corral panels

And Mary's dad, Larry, is helping dig out scrub oak and cutting low limbs from trees.

Cam, Wyatt, and Dawson are helping relocate boulders.

Man vs. Boulder
8 tons of dirt now relocated, wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow

Birds eye view of the progress.
And the corral is done! And Chemakoh gets to come home two weeks to the day after his rescue.
Walking him home, to the place he's always belonged.
He lays for the first time ever. He is home, he is safe and loved.

Josh, self-appointed "favorite brother" watches Mako eat.

He is happy. This day, he trots for the very first time, watching me to make sure I'm looking. I wept.

Don't I look fine in red? 

More visitors, Michael & Anthony's mom. Mako is now a therapy horse.

Every day, he is getting stronger and stronger, his (physical and emotional) wounds slowly healing.

Javelina visitors

Some Mbug mama love for Mako

New skin!

Hips are almost healed, week 5
The look of gratitude for all the love and compassion in his eyes.
Seven weeks after his rescue and I get to meet the officer who helped me rescue him. We held a private ceremony to honor him and all of those who played a role in his rescue and recover, those who embodied compassion.

Rick of High Mountain Trail Rides, JJ's dad, who along with his partner Eddie provided the driver, truck and trailer.

Reception guests meeting one another

Helpers meeting each other

Auntie Adele's care was crucial in the early days, and Samantha's support and guidance so helpful!

Lisa's mom and little girl - because we know Lisa helped with the rescue from where she is!

Rick and Lisa, and some Charlotte, in spirit, too

The very important people in Chemakoh's life

Children represented on the memorial wall

A reminder to us all: Love + empathy=compassion

Thank you Rick, thank you Auntie Lisa!

I presented an award, first, to Officer Parnell, but as you can see, I was having difficulty with the words.

Recalling that day, on the trail, when I looked into Mako's eyes and promised him,
"I'm going to get you out of here, baby."

Giving him his award, representing Mako and all the other horses who need our help.

Officer Parnell's boss from Washington D.C. giving him the Director's Award for his compassion.

Explaining the meaning of the award, and that its an award he's never previously given.

Emotional for us all.

Standing gratitude for his commitment to helping me.

The Director's Award

Adele gifted me with the most beautiful silver horse pendant I'd ever seen.

I am very grateful for all her help!


Steve, Coya Renee's dad and Mako's original rescuer, saying a few words. I'm still crying.

Office Parnell and his cousin with Mako

Two willful people who wanted to save a horse!

Rick with Mako, their first meeting.

Steve and Nanci

Jacob's mom, Nowch, visiting with Mako

Rick gets a kiss

What a loved version of Chemakoh looks like.


The soul still sings in the darkness telling of the beauty she found there; and daring us not to think that because she passed through such tortures of anguish, doubt, dread, and horror, as has been said, she ran any the more danger of being lost in the night. Nay, in the darkness did she, rather, find herself.

--St. John, Dark Night of the Soul

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