Sophie’s Choice

 ….. Sophie reveals her deepest, darkest secret: on the night that she arrived at Auschwitz, a sadistic doctor made her choose which of her two children would die immediately by gassing and which would continue to live, albeit in the camp. Of her two children, Sophie chose to sacrifice her seven-year-old daughter, Eva’’s_Choice_(novel)

Any person involved in rescue has to make choices.

So often it is said, ‘But you cannot save them all’ (with the sub-text ‘So why save any?’). No we cannot save them all, we cannot change all lives, but if we can change the life of one animal that is something.

One quote that I love is:

I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.  Helen Keller

Rescuing Sophie was a matter of chance, a matter of choice, and like the novel Sophie’s Choice, the journey has been a dark journey of betrayal and cruelty.

I first ‘met’ Sophie as post on a Facebook page dedicated to rescue. Every two weeks photographs of horses in the saleyards on the night prior to the auction, would be posted, to encourage attendance at the sales and for appropriate people to bid and secure the future of as many of the animals as possible.

Sophie Echuca May 2012

At the saleyards. ‘Laura Jane’ the Wednesday after failing to win at Geelong on the Friday.

To understand the reality of saleyards here is a film by a rescuer of horses.

The truth abut saleyards

The night following the sales was always a mix of joy, finding out who had been saved, and depression at those purchased by the ‘meat men’, to be driven onto trucks and sent to a knackery, for slaughter.

The question was asked, ‘What happened to the chestnut mare?’….and the answer was one we all hated…’She was bought by the knackery’

Rescuers know the meat men and it was established that Laura Jane had been bought by a Melbourne knackery.

This same knackery was the subject of an undercover investigation.

Beware footage here is very confronting.

Natures Child

The story of Nature’s Child

and also see

In man we trust

In man we trust

After a number of rapid telephone calls, a rescuer offered to take Laura Jane, with some financial assistance for the purchase price.

We made contact with the knackery and secured Laura Jane.

She still had to make the journey to Melbourne and had to stay at the knackery until she could be collected.

On the Sunday she was collected from the knackery. As she was being taken from the yards a  grey mare tried to follow….see

Here is how Laura Jane looked now just nine days after her last race. Transported from Geelong to Echuca, at the saleyards, trucked from Echuca to Melbourne and kept in the yards.

Sophie, kicked and bitten

Laura Jane, kicked and bitten

Laura Jane was given a new name and went off to be rehabilitated and to be trained as a riding horse, with the contractual requirement  she would be rehomed under a contract to protect her future.

The months passed and there were positive updates regarding her overall nature and progress.

Then it became apparent, through the rescue network, that there was a problem.  The full story is confidential, but Honey’s Pledge became aware that Laura Jane was at a property known for issues in regard to animal welfare.

Fortunately we were able to arrange immediately to collect Laura Jane.

We found a listless horse, looking aged for her years, covered in bites and kicks, with pressure sores, and a low body score. Even her manure showed that she had been eating dirt to ‘survive’.

She was taken  direct to our vet practice and left  as an inpatient to make sure she had the best care while she was fully checked, restarted on food and water and treated for parasites. This is a critical stage with rescue as horses can go downhill rapidly with colic. We also changed her name as a symbol of a new future to Sophie, meaning ‘wisdom’.

Sophie at vet

Sophie then came back to Honey’s Pledge to gain condition. She settled in well and over time her bites and kicks healed, and after two months her pressure sores resolved.

Sophie 1.4.13 (2)

Sophie has one fear, being without food. This leads her to be aggressive at ‘defending’ her food, and unfortunately she caught her hind fetlock in a loose strand of wire. The injury  was severe, cutting to the joint.

Our wonderful vet’s attended and with their care and some prolonged nursing Sophie’s leg is healing. The damage means Sophie can never be ridden and will have a possible weakness in the fetlock joint.

It does not appear to slow her down as she prances with paddock mate Ruth, her ‘twin’.

Every day I look out of my window and see these two together, both ‘wastage’ from the racing industry. Sophie could so easily have been Nature’s Child if fate had not intervened.  I rejoice in watching their life now free of fear, with plentiful food, water, shelter, companionship.

The next stage is now underway. A wonderful family wants to adopt Sophie as a companion. They are happy to care for her in exchange for love, nothing more, nothing less.

In order to rescue, it is essential that there are new safe homes out there, to make room for the next ‘choice’.

No we cannot save them all, but with your help we can save more.

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