You may have heard the saying "Saving one horse may not change the world, but it will change the world for that one horse." Well, we can tell you at California Coastal Horse Rescue we have a slightly different saying, especially when it comes to one very special horse who was named Hercules. His saying goes like this: "Saving one horse will change the world for that one horse, and it will change the world for many other horses."
A sweet but very shy gelding, Hercules, was rescued after he had been abandoned with several other horses. Experiencing some soundness issues, we figured that he would live with us as a sanctuary horse and that is exactly what he did until he passed away several years later. The words that would probably describe Hercules the best? Nobility and beauty.
This very shy horse touched many hearts in his quiet way. In particular, he touched the heart of a friend of the rescue. Hercules' "light" was such a beautiful force that this friend of the rescue did something so incredibly generous that it made it possible for CCHR to purchase the property it has lived on for the past fifteen years.
The day in 2013 when we said goodbye to Hercules was a very sad one for all of us who loved him and shared our lives with him. As is the case when we say goodbye to our horses for the final time, there was a group of volunteers standing by him. As we slowly led him over to be euthanized by our veterinarian, we told him how much we loved him and how we would always remember our sweet and beautiful boy. He got some of his favorite treats as he stood next to an orange tree. He passed from this life very quickly and peacefully.
For some of us, Hercules' passing was not only the loss of a dear and treasured horse but also a moment when we realized that we had lost our champion, the horse who had made it possible for so many others to have a safe place to call home. It is these kinds of bittersweet moments that strangely combine such sadness with something amazing that we think illustrate the beautiful complexity of life whether you are an equine or a human. Hercules had lived through abandonment, but he had been rescued and had been given a happy and safe life. We had just lost him but look what this treasured horse had made possible for his current and future equine brethren at the rescue ranch.
So what do we do now when we think of our chestnut boy? Very simply we smile and remember how sweet and handsome he was with his surfer-boy forelock and long wavy mane. We also remember how he personally inspired the reality of a beautiful and very special permanent home for CCHR and the horses it rescues.
And, finally, the meaning of the name Hercules in Greek? Glorious Gift. How perfect is that? Our Hercules certainly was a glorious gift to us and to all of the horses who live and will live on the land he made possible.
Photo: A. Howe