Word Count 500
Eyelashes Finds Love
by G. Ackman
Eyelashes McPhee had to be the stupidest name ever for a horse. I quickly renamed her I-girl and since she didn’t know the difference between “eye” and “I” it worked out for all concerned. I first met I-girl last October when I got a desperate call from Animal Control. The local ACO and I work together often since I run a sanctuary for senior dogs, but I didn’t usually take on horses. I-girl needed help, all right, but I didn’t know if I was up to the job. After Karen, the ACO, called to tell me that if I couldn’t take her, then ACO was going to put her down, I hopped in my truck and went to see her.
Tears still spring to my eyes when I think of the emaciated, defeated little animal standing there in the filthy corral, head down, legs splayed, dull coarse coat of an indiscriminate color. She neither acknowledged nor shied away from me. I could tell she had given up. Karen told me that Eyelashes used to be a racehorse – harness racing – but had not won any races and her owners, seeing her as a failed investment, decided to quit spending money on her, not for vets and not for food.
My initial instinct was to tell Karen that the humane thing would be to put Eyelashes out of her misery and I started to say just that, but I got no further than, “Karen, I think maybe it would just be best if…” when Eyelashes glanced up at me. It was a quick glance and then she looked back down, but that glance said it all. “Go ahead. Kill me. You can’t do any worse than what everyone else has already done.” I stopped and before I knew it, I had finished with “I take her back to my place and give her some TLC.” Karen, a knowing smile on her face, stepped up to help me guide Eyelashes into my beat up old horse trailer. As we swung the gate shut, Eyelashes became I-girl and my girl.
I live just behind the race track but never paid it much attention. My dogs and now my horse take every waking moment and shred of energy I have. But then, one day in June, I noticed something strange. I was outside grooming I-girl and the bugle sounded at the track, signaling the start of a race. I-girl, now filled out, shiny bay coat and luminous eyes, was excited at the sound. It took another year, but I let I-girl decide and sure enough, she wanted to be a race horse. She just wanted to be a loved race horse, and that she is. When she wants to stop, that will be fine too. Right now, though, every dime she earns goes towards the animals at the sanctuary – currently 24 dogs and 4 former racehorses. My little I-girl is a beautiful, caring animal who just needed a real home. I sure do love her.