When I lived in Savannah, my horses spent two out of the three years in Claxton with Beth Dillard at Lucky 5 Ranch. Even though it was an hour drive from where I lived, once I met Beth, I couldn’t imagine boarding them anywhere else. Beth is one of the most loving and genuine
horse people I’ve ever known. She’d care to the extent most others wouldn’t, such as hosing off horses by hand on a hot Southern summer day just to cool them off, as they’d wait in line for their turn. Although, eventually, a sprinkler system became more efficient and relieved her tiring arm. At Lucky 5, they love their horses as family, all of the same herd. In her care, I never doubted that mine would be well cared for and watched over, as well as doted on. I never had to worry.
Their mare, Vicki, was always “her own person,” and having come from a tough past before Beth and Don found her, she was very selective over which humans she gave a second glance. Beth and her family brought Vicki into their lives and hearts and eventually Vicki allowed them into hers as well. She was a special mare. You knew if she let you so much as touch her, it was a rarity. If/When she finally did, her eyes shone an acceptance and understanding that you’ve finally gained a status as equal. Her trust was not freely given, only earned. It was a gift- the greatest she could give. Until now.
Vicki was in foal and I was sad when I moved to Florida last summer that I wouldn’t get to be there when the baby was born. Beth’s excitement was contagious even months ago, and I was eager to see baby pictures and hear news after Beth’s Facebook update that labor had begun. But a surprise was in store, and Vicki had twins! Twins in horses are incredibly rare. One in 10,000 have twins, with only 9% of those cases leaving just one surviving twin. Horses aren’t built to have them. It’s incredibly hard on the mare’s body and the twins share the nutrients and space meant to strengthen one. Many times all 3 involved don’t make it past the first night. This night though, only Vicki’s life was claimed. She now officially left behind the greatest gift she could give- her legacy.
When learning of Vicki’s fate I couldn’t stop the immediate tears. I couldn’t help but think, “Why her? Why Beth? Why does heartbreak happen to the best people?” I knew how much Vicki was loved, and for her to be taken in what was supposed to be such a purely joyous time, I couldn’t imagine what it must feel like for the human members of her herd. I could feel my own heart break for them.
But as events unfolded, it has become more clear that there must be a bigger plan, that in the midst of hardship, hope was even greater. I realized, that as Vicki was laid to rest, God must have been right there in that stall with them, and he must have cried with them, hearing their prayers with open ears and a knowing nod.
People always ask, “Where is God, in the midst of suffering?” I propose: right there in the middle of it. I know God doesn’t cause the bad things in life, though he allows them to happen. I know he cares about what we care about and our hearts are of utmost importance to him. And while he didn’t cause this, he did allow it, because he knew he could use it, and had something in store bigger than all of us.
These two precious girls are a living miracle. Fighting and surviving against all odds. And sometimes, in our little human daily lives, we need to see a miracle.
I think things like this happen as a way to unite us all. To give people something to hope for, to fight for, to allow community to come together and people the blessing of being a blessing to others. A chance to make friends out of strangers and remind us what we are all capable of when we become hands and feet and unite to meet a need. It reminds us that compassion and love aren’t dead. It gives us an opportunity to lift up one family and as a result become part of a bigger family that crosses lines drawn by blood and DNA. A family as we will someday be in heaven, brothers and sisters. In the midst of mortgages and politics and dirty laundry-pausing to raise up a chorus of prayer asking a Father to have grace and mercy on these two little beings. It’s a pause, that brings us back to the simple things- simple, yet perhaps the most important at the foundation of our humanity. The fight for life, the power of hope, and the strength to never give up. The importance of giving of yourself to make life better for another living thing, and finding in that, an inevitable and enriching reward.
Even after a few days into their journey, I think of Vicki on her last night and get choked up. I feel as if I could close my eyes and be transported to the living room couch with Kleenex in hand and a Lifetime movie on screen. That’s kind of what this is like, a Lifetime movie- strangers giving unconditionally and love conquering pain. A script proving that good still reigns in this world. A script I can only imagine having been tossed in the trash, then salvaged and given a new climax and a new ending (we are all still praying for that new ending) by the hand of a Father, the one who writes the best stories of all, usually unexpected and always forged from some kind of heartache.
The twins aren’t out of the woods yet. It’s only day 4, and the first two weeks are critical. They are doing well right now but it can change at any time. If you can help financially, even $5 helps, I promise you. Even $5 gives God something to multiply, and adds up quick. This helps toward mounting vet bills and special feed for the mare and foals as well as additional milk replacement they need every hour. If you want to donate, they set up a gofundme.com account here: http://www.gofundme.com/75li5c
To any who want to follow the twins’ journey, here is their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Claxtons-Quarter-Horse-Twins/540756846022796?ref=br_tf
To see their story on local news, go here: http://buff.ly/1jFSR17
And most of all, anyone who reads this, please send up a prayer for strength and growth for the babies, for peace, comfort, and joy for Beth and her family, and for helping hands to continue to show up and meet each need.