As posted on Facebook April 3, 2017
A YEAR WITH GUMMI:
I feel confident on speaking on behalf of fellow board members, volunteers, and campers when I say that Gummi is one the most beloved members of Hickory Hill Farm. I’ve reflected a lot on Gummi’s time with us the past few days because I realized that April 2 marked the one year anniversary of her arrival. It is amazing to think that she has remained a permanent resident with us for a year already!
In the midst of this reflection, I’ve come to realize just how much Gummi has really taught me and our Hickory Hill Farm family, and I wanted to share those lessons and experiences here with you. The very first of many lessons Gummi taught me was to never judge. When we initially received the request for assistance for Gummi, I was immediately flustered. A 29 year old horse – owned by same person for 25 years….I instantly jumped to the assumption that this was another person who used their horse up and now wanted to pass on the responsibility of caring for their companion – until the end – on to someone else. Sadly… not at all an uncommon request we receive. I soon learned that Gummi’s previous owner loved her very much, but fell very, very ill. Now Gummi needed our help. She loved Gummi very much (and still does), but things had quickly gotten out of control. It’s so easy to jump to the worse case scenario in situations. Thank you Gummi for being a gentle reminder to see the good in every situation. Next, Gummi also taught me to be patient. If you are not familiar with refeeding emaciated horses, it is a very slow process. You start with small amounts of feed and work your way up to larger portions. Now throw in the fact that our “patient” had no teeth, was depressed, and really had no interest in feed and the process can take a little longer. Impatient me wanted so badly for Gummi to gobble up her feed and at least pretend like she wanted more! Much to my dismay, it took a solid two weeks for Gummi to even flick her ears in my direction when I brought her her feed. We also walked her water to her each day for these two weeks because she was so depressed (and tired). She would not even walk to the water trough at the front of her pasture! It was during these times when we thought maybe Gummi was just too tired to come back from this. I mean, she was 29… that’s pretty old for a horse, right? But Gummi showed us how wrong we all were. As her stomach grew and got used to the consistent soaked meals, the life in her eyes came back, too. I was so excited the day she met me half way to receive her soaked senior feed that I could hardly stand it! She now meets us at her stall each morning and night, patiently waiting for her feed. Thank you, Gummi, for reminding me that not all things happen in our time, but to continue on doing the right thing. The next thing Gummi taught me was the power of resilience. We all say this all the time…”Never Give Up,” but Gummi brought this lesson to life for me in a way I had not experienced yet. To be completely honest, it did not look good for Gummi when she arrived at Hickory Hill Farm. Now, our vet is absolutely wonderful and excellent at being realistic situations like this one. He prepared us to serve as a hospice facility for sweet Gummi. He commended us on “saving” her and helped us set up a re-feeding plan, but at the same time he softly advised us that we might only be providing this mare with a soft…final…landing. When I let him know that she was finally eating all of her meals and her appetite was returning, he was ecstatic right there with us because that meant she had a chance! Twelve months later, we are still so blessed to have her in our lives. Gummi, thank you for showing us what true resilience means and for setting a fine example of what it means to keep fighting. Lastly… a comical lesson that Gummi has taught me…. simply put, sometimes kids are just better than adults, and in my case, they are not at all intimidating. Gummi is not an overly social horse when it comes to people. She understands that we bring her her food, comb the knots out of her mane, and de-shed her immensely thick coat when it’s hot, and…. yes…that’s where her use for us ends for the most part…… until a child is present. Gummi adores attention from the little ones. She will hang her head over her stall all day to get pats from an excited camper or stand patiently while being read to. I, however, must come bearing gifts (the edible kind) to get the same reaction. Even so, it warms my heart when I see her receiving and enjoying the attention. At 30 years old, Gummi is giving back so freely, spreading a type of love and understanding to children that only a horse can do. Thank you, kind mare, for allowing me to witness seeing and cherishing the happiness and innocence of a child through your eyes!
I still struggle with each of these lessons that Gummi has taught me, but I’m reminded of them every day when I see her in our pasture. I asked some of our volunteers that know and love Gummi too, of and what she had taught them. “Gummi has taught me to NEVER give up,” many volunteers replied. Jenna, our Camp & Assistant Director and I reflected on our time with Gummi. Jenna’s time with Gummi has taught her that we all have so much to give, until our time comes. She further summed it up so well by saying, “she’s teaching us all what defying the odds looks like every day!”
I know Gummi will not be with us forever, but I cherish every day we have together. I look forward to the many more lessons she will undoubtedly teach me and the rest of the HHF family. Yes, the 30 year old horse, that some said should have been put down, that we ourselves did not think would make it another month, taught all of these life lessons in just one year. She’s taught me more about life, in general, than my very first pony. She’s taught me more than the very first colt I trained from the ground up. Gummi has taught me more than any of the horses we’ve rescued to date. Open your mind to the lessons being sent your way each day. If you have room in your pasture, make room in your heart for a senior horse. They deserve it, and you won’t regret it. Gummi is proof of that!
Thank you, Gummi.
Link to post with video: https://www.facebook.com/hickoryhillfarmtn/videos/1344936912226804/