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Draft Horse Love Story – The One That Started It All

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Rita and Rebecca Roy, the founder of Draft Gratitude.

The Love Story That Started It All

An old Belgian mare ended up at an auction.  She had worked for many years on a farm.  Had many foals. Had arthritis. And had very painful hind legs that were constantly itchy.

As one of the last horses to go thru the sale, there weren’t many buyers left.  A horse dealer from New Hampshire bought her cheap.  He loaded her up with the others he had purchased and made the 6 hour trip back home.

Weeks later, a girl driving by his farm noticed the mare standing in a small paddock that could be seen from the road.  She drove by many times over the next couple weeks trying to catch a glimpse of her.

The girl finally called and the horse owner told her that she could stop anytime to see the horse.

The first time she stopped, she just stood outside the pen.  The mare would go to her cautiously.

The next time, she went in the pen.  She brought brushes and spent some time grooming her.  The mare was very protective of her hind legs.  She would stand with her hip cocked offering to kick if needed.  The mare’s fears were respected that day, and every day forward.

The girl couldn’t stop thinking about the horse.  She would drive by for no reason.  She would stop to see her.

And finally, she talked herself into buying the horse.

Five hundred dollars later, the girl brought the mare home and got her settled in.

The horse needed everything.  She was thin. Her teeth were a mess. Her hooves needed to be trimmed.  And her hind legs needed attention, they had severe pastern dermatitis making her very protective of them.

They would spend tons of time together.  They’d go for walks.  They went for bareback rides through the woods.  There was even a pond close by were the mare loved to splash around in and roll.

Life. Was. Good.  (For both of them.)  But not always easy.

The legs were a constant challenge.  Hoof care was a constant challenge.  Keeping weight on her was a constant challenge.

The mare didn’t like the farrier. Or the next farrier.  Or really any farrier.

She didn’t like the vet.  She didn’t like the next vet.

She didn’t like the neighbor who would feed her if the girl was away for a day.

She wouldn’t let anyone touch her hind legs, even under sedation it was dangerous.

But she loved her person.  She would let the girl handle her legs, clip them, wash them, pick them up, groom them, medicate them.  Whatever they needed.

The bond they shared was remarkable.  They trusted each other.  They supported each other.  They respected each other.  They helped each other.

The mare was able to spend the last 6 years of life being loved on and cared for. 

The mare in this story was named Rita by the girl who brought her home.

The girl in this story is named Becky, she went on to start Draft Gratitude 4 years later in honor of Rita.


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