17 Nov Tail, trunk and thoughts
Earlier in the trip we spent a day with rescue horses outside of Chiang Mai called Second Wind Horse Rescue. The horses we met were retired racehorses from around the world, ending up in Thailand for the purpose of being meat. This is the story for most horses, once they start losing their races they are slowly starved until the owners can sell them to a butcher. This tragedy runs deep through Thailand but luckily there are a few who see the pain these animals go through and strive to help.
Our main purpose on the ranch was to volunteer wherever they needed it but the day turned into so much more when we met Jen. Jen was a founder of this rescue and runs it successfully because of her beautiful connection with these creatures, she used this connection as a rope to pull her out of her own personal trauma and turned it into something so intoxicating that others were captured by her passion. The story of the ranch is incredible and I would encourage everyone to read into it as well as the history of horses in Asia. Looking into those large eyes, feeling the muscles easily carrying me, the day calmed me all around but I did not linger on my experience, thinking it a minor occurrence, until we also had the opportunity to visit an elephant sanctuary.
Our group stayed three days here, spending almost all our time with the elephants and staff. The elephants have a similarly heartbreaking story of abuse and mistreatment through the years starting with using domestic elephants for the logging industry, riding camps or younger ones can be used for the circus, which are all equally horrific. The techniques used by trainers vary but always involves absence amounts of abuse and cruelty. Currently there are many elephant rescues around the country but we visited Elephant Rescue Park and had a lovely time, as well as being incredibly impressed by the level of care they execute and their passion for these hurting animals, we also had many opportunities to sit down and talk with the owner and founder of this organization, asking all the questions we could think of, we sat and talked for hours, with each question growing more curious for this disturbing world. After a few hours of conversation about elephants and days to process what happened with the horses I saw a pattern forming.
Abuse is all around us. We all need rescuing.
As humans we mistreat animals out of convenience for ourselves and a lack of compassion towards other living beings which carries into how we interact with each other. Animals can spend their whole lives beaten, worked, treated lesser than and as humans we see this as a tragedy, we start sanctuaries and rescues, donate money and our time, we want the lives we think they deserve but cannot ask for themselves. I see this as compassion, a kindness. But I forget that occasionally we need to treat ourselves with this compassion, kindness.
We can spend our lives in abuse as well, we can have times of pain and times of verbal whips controlling us, but when we get out of this we don’t always seek rehabilitation. We believe we can fix it ourselves and must never rely on others again yet when animals come out of their trauma we all open our arms and would never believe they could do it alone. Why would we demand it from ourselves and others? Why would we not seek care from those who are willing, as the animals do? I wish to learn from the animals in this way. I hope I remember these beautiful creatures when the opportunity arises when I need to trust again.
I dream that I will be able to re embody the beaten elephant, the neglected horse, and I will be able to accept care, love and finally trust again.
** All photos taken by Branden Conley