Monday, June 29, 2015


Repurpose. A favorite word of mine. From the time I watched Molly Ringwald’s character stitch two unfashionable dresses into one masterpiece in Pretty In Pink I’ve loved the concept. Perhaps in part because it requires a certain flair of imagination, and because it gives new life to something that might otherwise be retired. Useless. Thrown out.

Yes, I’m a pack rat. A collector. Not quite a hoarder. But more than that, I enjoy giving things a second chance, as if at the end of one life they appear used up, but if you squint and really look at this object, you can come up with a second life for it. A new purpose.

My cousin Sandy lives with me. She is the cook in our family and by that token, she rules the rather large kitchen in my older farm house. Even with a table and chairs in it, my kitchen is too spacious not to have an island. We’ve had several, all of a temporary nature as we weren’t sure what we wanted.  Recently, Sandy purchased a small server that she found on Craigslist. The rest of its fellow dining room brethren had been sold and this little server stood alone. The cherry laminate was starting to buckle a bit on the top and it needed a good sanding and a touch of tong oil, but it was just the right size for my kitchen as a retro-repurposed island. My cousin's friend who is a wizard with woodworking created a butcher block top for the server. It is stunning and unique! Everyone who sees it, falls in love with it. Alone, it was a $25 server that was closer to being kindling than a useful piece of furniture again. Now, it’s a conversation piece, as well as a functional center to my kitchen.

I feel this way about animals too. Five years ago, I was scrolling through pages of photos of horses that were currently on a kill dealer’s lot. The horses had a week to enchant someone over the internet with their pictures and videos before being sent to slaughter. Every week I looked at those faces, some of them being photographed for the last time. I wanted to bring them all home but I had to be realistic.

Until November 2010.
While munching away at my usual breakfast of eggs and toast, I saw him. Liver chestnut, reportedly a Morgan without papers, wide, oddly shaped blaze. I pulled up all his pictures. I watched his video endlessly looking for lameness, attitude – anything that would explain why he was on the lot. Nothing. I thought about him all day. And the next day. And the day after that. Something about this liver chestnut gelding was sticking with me, but what was it? Nothing specific that I could pinpoint. All I knew was that he could not ship to slaughter – my gut told me that I could not let that happen.
And it didn’t. He was christened Galahad. The first time I saw him was after he’d made it safely to quarantine. He’s just a horse, I said to myself, trying to be rational. He won’t have any idea what happened or how hard I worked to save his life. And yet when I met him, he seemed very comfortable with me. He let me wrap his legs and blanket him. He followed me onto a trailer without a second thought. Within the first week, he accidentally opened his stall gate and strolled out. Before I could stop him, he was headed down the driveway toward the road. I thought I was going to be sick. It’s funny to think about it now. I yelled “Galahad!” from the barn and he stopped, turned around and came back to me.

I have no idea what his name was in his previous life, or why he answers to his new moniker but he always has. Perhaps it’s that he knows he’s mine and I’m his. Perhaps he’s just highly intelligent – he is always pulling something new from his bag of tricks. He bows and counts, much to the delight of guests. He neck reins and moves off my leg. He was an Amish buggy horse before I acquired him – his shaved forelock and road shoes gave him away. He has intermittent lameness issues and my equine dentist put him right around 20 years old. I fear one or both of these factors caused him to fail as a road horse and dropped him into the auction circuit.

But there are so many wonderful things about Galahad! He adjusts his mannerisms to his rider and only gives them what they can handle. I assume because of his Amish days, he never thinks to canter under saddle. It’s relaxing to know he’ll never try to take off with a green rider or a kid. Galahad is currently teaching my 7 year old nephew that horses aren’t something to be afraid of, but rather something wonderful and safe. He tolerates multiple sessions of my nephew just sitting on him, learning how to steer. He is patient and solid. Galahad has also taught my niece about herself. At times, he is the calm in the center of her turbulent teenage years.
And for me? Something spoke to me five years ago – something called out to me that this horse belonged on my farm. I didn’t need a driving horse, but then again Galahad’s driving days seemed behind him. I had no idea that he would be the horse I’d climb on bareback just to clear my head. That he’d be the horse I would start riding after I suffered a back injury that required time out of the saddle. That he would help heal the loss of my heart-horse in so many ways. That soon, a once Amish driving horse will be my partner in team sorting.  Something told me that that liver chestnut gelding needed a second chance, a new purpose. I listen to that voice every chance I get. 

1 comment:

  1. Kim - Hats off to you for rescuing a horse from the kill pen, and for finding a treasure in doing so. I'm glad that you listened to that little voice in your head, and I hope Galahad has many long years ahead of him. Bravo to you both!