The world is filled with horses that have either been abandoned, mistreated or simply thrown away after their “usefulness” has run out. Speak with anyone who has adopted a rescue horse and you’ll likely hear a story that is as uplifting as it is heart wrenching. This week, I managed to catch up with a woman who has a very unique story regarding her horse, Midnight Soldier, that truly touched my heart.
Monica Fuentes and “Midnight Soldier”
“Before you ask, he came with the name, and I call him Midnight,” Monica said with a chuckle. I met Monica some years ago through a horsey friend. She actually spent her younger years showing, but hadn’t owned a horse since she was 19 years old. “I got a call one morning from a friend who said she knew of a horse that needed some help. She knew that I had recently gotten divorced and was going through some emotional issues, and even though buying a horse was the last thing on my list, I decided to go and have a look at this ‘amazing animal’ that my friend told me about. He was at a local boarding facility; someone had abandoned him. I can still remember walking up to his stall that day and seeing a black bag of bones,” Monica recounts. “I was shocked, but when he looked at me, I saw something in his eyes that shook me to the core. He really ‘looked’ at me, more than any other horse ever had.”
Monica bought Midnight on the spot, for $1; the boarding facility owner gladly turned him over to her.
The Road to Healthy Again
She took him to a stable closer to her house and began to take steps to get her new horse healthy again. “When I first walked him out of the horse trailer at his new barn, several of the boarders gave me ‘looks’…you know, the kind that said ‘did you do this to that horse?’; I was embarrassed at first, and for a long time I had to tell every person who saw him the story of how I had rescued him,” Monica said. That first month, Midnight coliced and had to see the vet twice. “The vet told me it was likely due to him simply having such poor nutrition for so long. I thought I was going to lose him.” But, things turned around rather quickly, and Midnight started to gain weight and his coat began shining a little bit more. A good diet, some supplements, lots of hand walking and turn out did the little black and white gelding good; six months after he was rescued, Midnight was looking like a regular horse again. Here’s where the story gets really interesting.
“When I got Midnight, I was in a bad way emotionally. I was depressed, tired and felt pretty lost. I had been going to a therapist and taking medication to try and level out my mood, but nothing really worked until I found Midnight. He gave me something to look forward to every day; something to care for. Honestly, when I first saw him, the last thing in my head was riding him; I couldn’t picture putting a saddle on that sad body ever in the rest of his life, even though he was only 12 years old,” Monica said. “But, after about 6 months, the vet came out for a check-up and told me that he looked fabulous and asked when I was going to start riding him, so I guess I just decided that I should.”
Remembering the First Ride
Monica still remembers the day that she first put a saddle on Midnight. “I think I expected him to protest, but he looked at me almost as if he was thinking ‘it’s about time’. It was a little funny how tentative that I was when I first swung my leg over his back. But the amazing thing was how great he was about everything. He stood quietly, walked off when I asked him to, set his head with the slightest of rein pressure, and even though I only planned to walk around the arena a couple of times that day, he was so good that we ended up walking, trotting and cantering. I knew right then that this was an extremely well trained horse,” Monica recounted. “I called my friend that evening and asked her to find out everything that she could about him, as she had connections with the stable owner where he had been abandoned.”
Researching Midnight Soldier’s Background
As it turns out, Midnight was a purebred Arabian that came from the *Bask++ line. He was bred and trained to be a Western Pleasure horse, and somewhere down the line, he suffered a minor injury that put him out of work for a period of time. During this time, his owner moved on to another horse and gave him to a friend who promised to allow him to rehabilitate in her pasture, but unfortunately, the woman ended up going through a divorce and Midnight was awarded to her husband. The husband, knowing nothing about horses, just let him sit out in the pasture and lose weight for years; he got no vet care and barely had his feet trimmed. Eventually, a neighbor took pity on him and gave him a home, but her situation changed with the downturn of the economy and she was unable to pay for his board. That’s where Monica came in…she found Midnight only 2 months after he had first been brought to the boarding stable where he was eventually abandoned. The stable owner had no part in his ill treatment.
Both Horse and Rider Rescued
“So, there I was, riding this horse that only 6 months earlier was just a bag of bones. I was actually ‘riding a horse’, when six months earlier I could barely bring myself to get out of bed. He saved me just as much as I saved him,” Monica said. I could see the tears in her eyes. “Now I’m getting ready to take him to his first schooling show. Sure, I won’t be able to go to Regionals or Nationals, we were never able to get his papers tracked down, but I can’t wait to just get back into the show ring, no matter how big that it is. Midnight and I are partners for life, and of all the horses that I’ve ever owned or ridden, he’s the one that I feel really gets me, you know?”
Monica and Midnight saved each other, and this is often the case with rescue horses.
There are countless forgotten equine souls out there in the world right now who are looking for someone to come along and change their lives. Of course, you should always think very carefully about any horse that you rescue; you have to know what you’re getting into, as not all stories are like Monica’s. But if you do happen to have the time, money and patience to bring a horse back from the brink, it can be one of the most rewarding things that you ever do.