Sometimes I think the definition of Endurance is: a test of one's resilience to bounce back from the hills, valleys, and curve balls life throws at you.
In my life, I tend to be drawn to those who have fought the battles and won. Coming out on top to enjoy another day....especially when it comes our pets!
Traveler had a mostly unknown and shady past, coming into my life at what we think was 10years old. He was a mess that I worked years to straighten out with the help of friends and trainers...what I got was a horse devoted to me. Not against others, but no one could compare to his mama. You had to really earn his trust for him to allow you love on him. But, as long as I was there to let him know things would be OK, he moved from barn to barn better each time (we endured a few moves together) and would come to meet me most times through the field.
Examples in a few of my dogs...Cherokee, who turned out to be THE BEST kids dog in the world...left at a shelter with his sister by 6months old. She was adopted quickly, being smaller, but he was left behind...7mos old and 75lbs with humongous feet when I found him there. He grew to 100lbs of pure protective love bug. You had to be "Introduced" to him properly. No one could cross the street in front of our house without us knowing it...but, he in reality probably wouldn't hurt a fly! Now, he did kill a raccoon and opossum but they trespassed! lol Boy do we miss him.
Gypsy...a stray from TX that we adopted through SSRR. Total sweetheart, interested in the attention of people above anything...well, maybe not over food! But, she will seek out a person to love on at a dog park and is a mama's girl that follows me everywhere in the house.
Then we added Obiwan...he is a whole 'nother form of messed up. Knowing of at least 5 homes he'd been through in just his first 15mos of life. He has been traumatized by leashes and scared of any loud noise, but he is gentle and has the classic "goofy" golden moments. He's improved much over the last year+ with us, and I think he's realizing things aren't going to be like they were. He still 'shuts down' to a degree on a leash, and the lights go off in his head when there is a storm, but we have our routines down on how to help him cope.
Finally, there is my Tesla. The story I heard had me at owner # 4 or 5... I've touched base with the breeder to learn more about his parents, and she is happy to know he is safe and well. But little did I know he hadn't always been...
When I was searching for a horse again several people said "give a rescue horse a chance' or buy from the auction. I was not mentally in a position to take that on after losing Traveler. I found Aubree and went to visit Tesla and others at her barn in KY. He was green, but willing and at a good age to begin again. He was (and is still) a lovable guy, playful, and proud (err, maybe that is stubborn?!). We began our journey together last November and have had rocky times, but his personality never fails to be just that.
Recently I was contacted by Sharon on Facebook. She had Tesla before Aubree...and I got more of his story. Sharon saved him from starvation; I have the pictures upon his arrival to her and the lovely soul she brought him back to be after a year of caring for him when he left with Aubree. She told me how that personality was always there, no matter how bad he felt or looked - he still ran around with his tail flagged and head high, and was the lovable puppy dog type personality always.
Rescue horses, dogs, cats, whatever, are the definition of Resilience. They bounce back. They learn to trust and love again. They blossom and grow. They teach us in the process, and heal not only their hearts but ours. Tesla is helping me heal from losing so much last year, Cherokee and Traveler. While he can try my patience, he forgives my screw ups and moves on, we try again. We regroup, we take time off, we do nothing but groom or graze. Tomorrow is planned to 'restart' our journey to a 50 this year. The weather might foil that for us, but we'll enjoy some time together regardless and bounce back again!
Great perspective put in front of me by one of my friends and training buddies - She earned her 500 and 750mile endurance patches this season - after not earning any miles in 7 years. In her words "It's never too late to pursue your dreams!" While the miles may not come as fast I want, we have time to get there :)