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Why I Do What I Do

Kevan Garecki
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Why I Do What I Do

Postby Kevan Garecki on Wed Dec 14, 2011 3:12 pm

I have a recurring nightmare ... I am surrounded by horses; they are all wasting away, yet I cannot help them. None of them have eyes, so they cannot see the path to the barn. They have no ears, so they cannot hear me calling them to follow me. Their noses are swollen shut by disease & infections, so they cannot smell the sweet hay I offer. They stand motionless; I can sense they know I'm there, and are waiting for me to help

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I transport horses throughout North America, and dabble in photography whenever possible. The travel offers exposure to situations I could not have dreamed of otherwise, and being in control of my own business affords the ability to aid the SPCA & many legitimate rescue foundations. Donating my services to these causes has offered some extraordinary opportunities; some exhilarating, while others are heartbreaking. I have chosen a few of the most memorable events I have experienced. There are many, many more ...

I feel very strongly about giving back to the community from which I make a living; from donating to local clubs & charities to fostering rescues & participating in local awareness & fundraising events. Every aspect is rewarding in its own way, every horse I meet offers something new, every soul I encounter touches mine as well.

I would like to extend a standing offer I make to all legitimate equine charities. Local transport is "on me", and longer moves involving adopted or fostered horses is done at cost. Please feel free to contact me with any inquiries. I operate throughout North America, but concentrate primarily on Western Canada/US, the Yukon & Alaska

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Why do I do what I do?

It's for the ones who make it, and brighten more than their own lives in doing so

It's for the ones who don't survive, and take a big piece of our hearts when they go

But most of all, it's for the ones still out there ... waiting

Image
Last edited by Kevan Garecki on Thu Dec 15, 2011 3:25 am, edited 6 times in total.
"We are responsible forever for that which we tame."
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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Kevan Garecki
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Re: Why I Do What I Do

Postby Kevan Garecki on Thu Dec 15, 2011 2:53 am

This scene is forever burned into my memory. I found this horse literally starved to point of collapse, while standing in a field of grass. His owners could not bear the thought of parting with him, instead they watched him waste away to a skeleton. His condition was shockingly simple; he needed his teeth floated, yet the owners knew nothing of horse care. There are many forms of "abuse".

Image
This is why I do what I do ...
"We are responsible forever for that which we tame."
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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Kevan Garecki
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Re: Why I Do What I Do

Postby Kevan Garecki on Thu Dec 15, 2011 2:54 am

" Tech" had been cast off in a series of misplaced situations until he finally came to New Stride Thoroughbred Adoption Society in horrible condition. He had gone through the auction but was passed up by the meat man as he was too skinny to even fetch a decent price at slaughter.

The cat in the picture shared a similar past; "Callie" was found in a dumpster behind a restaurant, barely clinging to life while her siblings had already perished after been discarded in a plastic bag. Both Tech & Callie arrived at the barn within hours of one other. As soon as Callie was strong enough to walk her first foray was over to Tech's stall, the horse weakly responded to her visit with a quiet nicker, as if welcoming an old friend.
As they convalesced together, their friendship deepened. This image will forever remain one of my favourites; the invisible bond between survivors!

Image
This is how I keep on doing what I do ... and it makes that nightmare go away, sometimes.
"We are responsible forever for that which we tame."
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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Kevan Garecki
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Re: Why I Do What I Do

Postby Kevan Garecki on Thu Dec 15, 2011 2:55 am

I pulled "Noel" from what was to have been his tomb; he was boarded up between 2 walls in an abandoned barn, left to slowly starve. He weighed less than 300 pounds when I found him, had been licking condensation from the walls to satiate his thirst & ate his own feces in a last-ditch effort to survive. He has what we call "big head disease"; he was so emaciated that his head appeared two sizes too large for his body. Noel showed signs of being tortured as well; his body was covered in sores & burns, it appeared someone was pushing lit cigarettes through the cracks in the wall & stubbing them out on his body.
Image

Six months to the day later ...
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He came running to my call, whinnying all the way. His story has recently entered an exciting new chapter, as I gave to Noel to my good friend & brilliant horseman, Jonathan Field. His progress has been nothing short of phenomenal, despite being fraught with despair & setbacks during the first 2 years of his recovery. Noel is my most amazing success story!
"We are responsible forever for that which we tame."
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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Kevan Garecki
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Re: Why I Do What I Do

Postby Kevan Garecki on Thu Dec 15, 2011 2:56 am

Falon was part of an SPCA herd seizure from a bogus "rescue" farm in British Columbia, Canada I assisted with during a torrential rain storm in November 2006. I had just loaded this sopping wet, emaciated little mare onto my trailer & awaited the next group to be led out to the road. As I looked in at her I tried my best to garner some response from this stoic pony. I stroked her forelock as I spoke softly to her; at length she finally raised her head & her eyes met mine. The look she bore chilled me more thoroughly than the wind & rain already had. The mind that controlled those hollow eyes had long ago given up hoping for anything better & resigned to just wait quietly for a forgiving death to ease her suffering. I tried to say something, anything, to her but no words made it past the knot in my throat.
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I managed to make that little grey mare a promise that night. I had no idea how it would happen, but that somehow her life would get better. Whenever I closed my eyes, I saw hers, that lifeless stare would invade even conscious moments, leaving me little else to think about but what would become of her.

I brought her home soon afterwards, fully expecting that she may not last out the week, but determined that even so it would be a week she would live without fear, hunger, thirst or abuse. Within the first few days, her blank stare had softened into that of cautious acceptance. With almost constant company, lots of petting, scratching, love & attention she regained an expectant look in her eyes. In fact, I would almost hazard to call it a tiny gleam. Three months & many heartbreaking moments later, Falon gave me the best gift I could have received: she lifted her head & whinnied to me as I stepped up to her paddock!
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Falon did indeed last out that week, and stayed with me for 5 years until she finally succumbed to age. In that time she taught me more about the spiritual side of rescue & rehabilitation than any other horse I've met. Travel well little grey mare; I'll see ya down the trail a ways ...

That seizure was one of the most painful & emotional in my life. I laughed out loud at little more than having my hand licked by a horse, because I didn't think he had the spirit to trust anyone enough to do that. I had also completely broken down from just looking a little mare in the eye, when I saw nothing but a hollow, lifeless stare; devoid of any interest in living anymore. Those few days have proven to me that at times a "rescue" can be little more than an inexorable journey from misery to hopelessness.
"We are responsible forever for that which we tame."
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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Kevan Garecki
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Re: Why I Do What I Do

Postby Kevan Garecki on Thu Dec 15, 2011 2:57 am

The following is inspired by "Lily" (I am not using her real name, as I do not want to compromise the ongoing investigation into the conditions under which she was found); an older Thoroughbred mare with whom I had brief contact. This mare probably had a story common to many OTTB's; a race career, ending for some reason or another; a "rescue" thereafter, only to fall into a state of neglect, depravity & hunger. Subsequent "rescues" followed that, until she came to be taken to a place I'll call "The Haven", where she was finally cared for, loved & regarded in a manner in which she deserved. One day, someone came to adopt "Lily". She was to be cared for, loved & be with other horses. It sounded like an ideal situation for "Lily".

I suppose up to this point I might be describing a few thousand OTTB's around the country. So what makes this mare so special? The day I arrived at "The Haven" to take "Lily" to her new home, she was quietly waiting in the driveway with her handler. I hopped out of the truck & approached them, extending a hand to "Lily" & trying not to make her nervous. She quickly sniffed my hand, then began to nuzzle my arm. I returned the favour by scratching her withers; a gesture that she made no small effort to let me know was deeply appreciated. "Lily" was unlike many other OTTB's I had met; she had a spark in her eye, & a youthful spirit that seemed unquenchable. She was a real "people horse". I grew very quickly to like this kind, elderly mare & wished her new owner well as I handed the lead rope over when we arrived. I left feeling hopeful that "Lily" had found a home in which she could retire in comfort.

I suppose the worst thing you can do to anyone is to take away the one thing they want or need most. In "Lily's" case, she craved attention, and that was what she lacked most in the last months of her life. Almost immediately, "Lily" was banished to a small, mucky paddock by herself, from which she could neither touch nor see the neighbouring horses. She received virtually no care, very little food & worst of all for her, no one for company. Over the months that ensued, she tried to survive physically by eating whatever she could to stem the steadily growing pain of malnourishment & starvation. No one will ever know what went through her mind as she whiled away the time. All through this, her tormentors sat mere yards away, eating regular meals & living their own lives surrounded by each other's company.

At length, "Lily" was rescued from her living hell, but even then her rescuers thought they were too late, as she appeared for all the world to be dead. Her flanks were horribly gaunt, & almost every bone in her body was visible through her shrunken & matted hide. I was called to bring "Lily" to a rescue facility where she was given the best medical care available. She was so emaciated I didn't even recognise her at first. She however, apparently remembered me, as she greeted me with a nicker & soft touch of her muzzle to my arm. Regardless of how bitter her exile was, this horse was still willing to seek comfort from a human. Not caring about holding up a masculine facade, I cried all the way to the trailer. I saved the sobs for when I was alone on the way to the shelter where "Lily" would be cared for.

"Lily" was greeted by almost every volunteer at that shelter. She was suitably fussed over, and thoroughly examined by a vet (who graciously donated much of her services & time). At each step of the examination, we discovered yet more evidence of her cruel mistreatment. We all hung on every word the vet spoke, as she cautioned us about the many pitfalls involved in rehabilitating a severely malnourished horse. Despite her caveats, we all parted that night with high hopes for "Lily's" recovery. Three nights later, "Lily" died quite suddenly despite the best efforts of everyone involved. As if her nightmare weren't complete enough, her final horror was to go as she had lived her last months; alone. It was neither a peaceful nor dignified passing. "Lily" savagely resisted whatever demons pursued her through her last hours. She fought valiantly, and quite likely thrashed until the last breath escaped from her dying lungs. She was found the next morning, her body hideously misshapen & surrounded by evidence of her violent battle with death. I suppose I'm still describing a common story ...

I am at a loss to explain how a human being can sit complacently by & allow any animal to waste away to such a degree. What is it inside such a person's mind that allows them to think "This is OK"? How does someone become so callous, so uncaring about life that they wilfully cause an animal to suffer through the pain, humiliation & emotional cruelty that is neglect? What justification do people have for making this happen? I have no answers for these, and many more questions. I do however have an idea for at least a partial solution.

Those who profess to care seem to clearly outnumber those who evidently do not, yet those who are uncaring prevail far too often. It is not the numbers that determine the outcome, but whether those who claim to be good are willing to do something about it. Edmund Burke said "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Well folks, "Lily's" fate was almost surely sealed because "someone" did nothing. My testament to this gentle, loving mare will be this; I will not sit idly by & do nothing. I will not pass by a horse in need & think "Gee, that's too bad. But s/he's not my horse". We hear stories about this horse or that who was left to starve in some barren field, or another was abused or mistreated. None of us are powerless to help these creatures. If you see a horse in distress or living in severe neglect, I urge you to call the SPCA. If nothing else, at least a professional assessment can be made of the situation. At least "something" was done.

If you don't think just one person can do much, think about this: I am only one person, but you & I make two ...

Image
Lily; broken & abused, but never forgotten ... Walk well, my Sister; for you blaze the trail I will follow
"We are responsible forever for that which we tame."
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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Carol Lynn Coronios
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Re: Why I Do What I Do

Postby Carol Lynn Coronios on Thu Dec 15, 2011 11:58 am

Dear God, Kevan...what amazing tales of woe - juxtaposed to one of love and caring. Bless you.

I have just finished reading "Snowman - The $80 Champion" - his is, obviously, a huge success story for one of these horses.

Carol
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Re: Why I Do What I Do

Postby Adrienne Shoopman on Thu Dec 15, 2011 8:30 pm

The "before" photos brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for sharing these stories and your amazing photography.

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Re: Why I Do What I Do

Postby Diana Duffy on Fri Dec 16, 2011 11:37 am

Kevan,

I've tried several times to post a reply to your project with some difficulty. Your images are so raw, they can stand on their own as testament to the insufferable cruelty so many horses (and other animals) endure. When such eloquent words such as yours are added, it is a compelling article, and indeed, explains so vividly why you do what you do. Thank you, and God bless you . . . for they are all His creatures.
Diana

"Ask little, expect less, praise more."

http://www.resurrectionfarmphotography.com

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Re: Why I Do What I Do

Postby Diana Duffy on Fri Dec 16, 2011 11:39 am

P.S. - I love the first image of Tech and Callie!
Diana

"Ask little, expect less, praise more."

http://www.resurrectionfarmphotography.com

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Re: Why I Do What I Do

Postby Barb Young on Sat Dec 17, 2011 10:23 am

Crying buckets. Awesome piece!! Thank you for doing what you do! :hail:

I am going out to feed and cherish the 17 health horses here, and make another promise to go over my Will and make sure the info is current, so all the critters have another home and instructions, should something happen to me.
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We have to stand a little rain"
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Re: Why I Do What I Do

Postby Virginia Brown on Tue Nov 13, 2012 1:04 am

I know to well that blank lifeless stare a horse gives you when they have been so neglected by those caregivers that are either to stupid to learn how to take care of them properly, or those who really just do not care. That lifeless stare when they can not even bring their head up to look at you, because the very people they loved, depended and counted on for their very life has so blatantly neglected them that much.

When I was about twelve I bought my first pony by myself, Flicka was her name, but I always wanted a horse. I use to go to our county fairgrounds and look in the stalls to see all the horses. That is where I encountered the first neglected horse I had ever seen. My friends sent me to feed a couple horses hay. They did not own them they just felt bad because the horses owners were not taking care of them. When I looked into the stall I could not believe my eyes. There were two horses in the stall, the colt looked fairly good but the filly was in horrible condition. Her coat was a couple inches long with big patches of hair that looked torn out. I went in to pet her and I could feel every bone in her body it felt like her skin was just wrapped over her bones. She gave me that lifeless look. Just like the ones in your pictures. Shortly after that my mother and I bought that one for $50.00, Oh my mom gave that man all kinds of hell for the way the poor little filly looked, I named her Star.

When I was 15 yrs old I watched, for the first time a neglected horse die from malnutrition. The next winter at the same fairgrounds where I bought my filly Star. It was winter there was never very many people at the fairgrounds at that time of year. No one in the surrounding barns even knew that anyone had moved the horse into the stall. We did not find the poor mare until it was to late. I had never seen anything in my life so sad. That poor horse, locked away in a stall depending on her owners for her very existence. It is such a horrible way to live, and sadly die. We tried so hard to save her, she could not even lift her head to eat, whats worse is she tried to eat. They finally got her to eat and she was lifting her head so they winched her up so she could stand, shortly after she passed. I can not believe that anyone could do such a thing to any animal.

In my own way I have kinda had my own rescue center. I have always taken on that sick horse no one wants to put any more money into, or the one at the horse sale, with no papers, looks horrible. Every horse I have ever gotten has been neglected in one way or another. I am so glad there are folks out in the world like you. Great Job, Thank you :salute: :thumb:

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