Navy came to us in 2013, at the age of 16 with severe arthritis in his front legs. We've tried different medications, massage therapy, exercises, and Navy responded minimally to all. But then one day Reilly Rose found Unbridled Spirits, and fell in love with a horse that used to be called "Navicular." The bond between them blossomed, and I would catch Reilly Rose stroking his mane, whispering into his ears. Navy began waiting for Reilly Rose at the gate everyday after school. Perhaps because of his limitations he was left behind or neglected unlike his two brothers who are confident and proud. Everyday we turned the curve and Reilly would yell, "Navy!" If I honked, he would peak his head up and look towards the highway anticipating her running to him into the pasture. Both souls were wounded and through each other began to heal.
Winter of 2014 I was unsure if Navy would make it another year. Unable to trot or keep up with the herd, I was facing tough decisions. But then, he turned a corner, and began to move more freely. The first time he trotted Reilly gasped, "Tina look! He's trotting!" Both of us hugging each other and laughing. Then he began to gallop. Yes, GALLOP. Often the herd would let him get a running start to be first through the gate before passing him. It's a very powerful feeling to witness the social respect amongst the herd.
Fast forward to last week, and a great sense of pride washed over me seeing Reilly Rose type personal letters to our donors. She could fish, paddle board, 4-wheel, horse-back ride, bake cookies, however she wanted Navy to be cared for while she was away.
I've attached her letter, that she wrote with her favorite photo. She hand addressed each envelope and personally mailed them. She hugged Navy goodbye and said to me, "Please send me a photo everyday and tell him I love him."
Hey everybody! This is Reilly! I wasn't a volunteer when Navy came in. So I never experienced the tear-jerking process that Navy had to go through to get to Unbridled Spirits. So here is Navy's story.
Navy, along with his two brothers Pal and Moon, were at a ranch in Iowa City. Navy was trained to be a cutting horse. Which he was successful at. Pal and Moon were never trained to do cutting due to their owners death. So, Navy never got a break from his job. That's what formed his arthritis in his knees. Once Navy couldn't do cutting anymore, he was left alone. Just like his brothers. These geldings were technically feral when Tina received them. Navy could not walk at all. It was surprising that Navy could stand. Navy couldn't bend his knees at all. It was very very difficult to get Navy in a trailer. Once Navy was able to get his feet on the trailer, his front hooves slid forward and Navy hit his chest on the edge of the trailer. It took 1 hour to get Navy loaded. Once he arrived at Unbridled Spirits, it took another hour to get him off the trailer. It was extremely difficult for Navy to get off the trailer because he couldn't bend his knees. A month after Navy's arrival, Tina called Navy's previous owner. Saying that Navy was probably not going to make it through the winter.
Last year, at the beginning of September, is when I started volunteering at Unbridled Spirits. This is also when I fell in love with Navy. I knew the second I saw Navy's big brown eyes, he was a special horse. I could tell he wasn't doing well. Navy wasn't walking, could barely pick up his hooves, and was always the last one in from the pasture. As I got to know Navy, we started to form a strong connection. I got Navy to the point where he was walking a little more. Only because he couldn't stand being away from me, Navy had to follow me everywhere. By the time it was spring, we let the horses out into the pasture for the first time since fall. Navy, of course was walking out instead of running with the herd. It broke my heart seeing him not being able to run with the herd and be free. Our connection was still new, it wasn't as strong as it is today. Everyday Navy would be getting better at walking. One morning I decided to go out with Navy when I let the horses out. I started to run and something unbelievable happened. Navy started to trot behind me! This made me the happiest person in the world! Soon after that, Navy started to gallop like the rest of the horses! Navy went from not walking at all to finally cantering with the herd! I love coming to the ranch and standing at the gates that go into the pasture to see Navy's head rise. Navy then makes his way up from the pasture to greet me home.
Navy has made leaps and bounds since I met him. The first time I heard his story, I couldn't believe it. Seeing the horse that Navy is today makes me overjoyed.
Navy was gifted to Reilly at a special event as a surprise for Reilly Rose's dedication to volunteering at Unbridled Spirits.
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