On Horse Stories

August 5, 2010

Early in my oh-so-young journalism career, I learned a very valuable lesson: animal stories are dynamite.

I first met Pearl about an hour before her surgery.

My earliest realization of this nugget came during an internship at the Edmonton Journal in Christmas 2008. A pair of abandoned horses were found buried in snow near Renshaw mountain (west of Jasper), and a group of local volunteers from McBride, BC, worked tirelessly to free the animals.

The story had a happy ending. The horses were adopted and recently walked in McBride’s town parade. And I got an amazing clipping: an exclusive interview with the Edmonton lawyer who had left the animals during a fall trip.

That story has been with me ever since. A large number of visitors still come to my website looking for information about the case. It’s also given me a glimmer of recognition during job interviews. And one of these days, I’ll get out there and meet Belle, Sundance, and a few of the people I talked to that Christmas.

I also jump at the chance to write about animals: the passion they inspire, their connection with their owners, and how a simple story about an animal tells a lot about a community.

I’ve recently become the Journal’s crime reporter, meaning I rarely get to tackle animal stories anymore. Last week, however, I was handed another horse story. It was a fascinating one.

Pearl is a 8- or 9-year-old mare that was rescued last winter from neglected and dire conditions at a ranch near Carrot Creek. She was placed with Sherwood Park’s Rescue 100 Horses Foundation, a group that takes on horses seized by Alberta SPCA.

Pearl had a large hole in her face. We’re not sure how she got it, but the hole was substantial. You could look right into her sinus. And the group responsible for taking Pearl in and nursing her back to health raised money for surgery to fix her face.

I went out last Friday to see Pearl get the surgery to fix the wound. The day was fascinating – I had no idea what horse surgery looks like – but it’s an amazing thing. Since there was little to do but watch what was going on, I ended up shooting a video of the preparation and earliest parts of the surgery with my Canon G11 camera.


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