Nika and The Deckers


One late winter afternoon while I was out at our stables, feeding, mucking and taking care of our two, very loved horses, my daughter approached me after she had been out visiting the other horses in our stable community. She told me about a little mare she had seen up the road that was very sweet and very sad. On our way home we stopped at her paddock and what I saw horrified me. She was tiny, so thin and frail, so sad and depressed. It broke my heart. I found out the next day that the County was looking into a case of neglect of three horses in our little community, and she was one of them.

It took two more months for the County to seize the three horses. During that time my daughter and husband made daily visits to the little mare. My husband would talk to her and pet her and tell her that he promised her he would find a way to get her out of the mess she was in. Finally the day came. The county had the horses assessed by a veterinarian and the horses were immediately seized. The little mare disappeared. We were so distraught. We had no idea what had happened to her. I feared that she didn’t make it and was gone forever. I finally was able to track down a county worker who was out feeding the other two seized horses, and they told me that she was in medical foster. Thank God she was still alive.

Two months passed. It was spring finally and starting to warm up a bit. Not a day went by without us wondering and praying for the health and safety of the little mare.  We were able to contact the animal control officer to find out what we could do to help. We were told that there was nothing we could do until the case went to court or the owner surrendered the animals. All we could do was wait. The trial was set for the end of June. We counted the days.  One lovely late spring afternoon as I drove down the road to my paddock, something caught my eye two lots down from our barn. It was the little mare!

I called my husband immediately, and he came out to greet her. She still looked really rough, but clearly had gained a few pounds. She nickered at us as we approached. We started our daily visits and promised her that we would save her. We gave her hope.

Finally, the day arrived. The county had full custody of the horses. They had two options. To either take the horses to auction, or give them to a reputable rescue organization. They chose Walking in Circles. We immediately called, we just had to have her, after all, we had made a promise to her. There was a frenzy of activity over the next few days. Getting our paperwork done, calling friends that might be interested in one of the other two horses, scheduling an inspection of our paddock, calling our veterinarian and farrier for immediate appointments after the little mare was brought to us.

Adoption day was better than any Christmas we have ever had. After our interview, barn inspection and meet and greet of the wonderful volunteers at Walking in Circles, my husband was able to lead the little mare onto our property. Once she crossed the threshold of the paddock, the look of relief washed across her face. She knew she was safe. She knew she was loved.

We learned from her registration papers that Nika is a Polish Arabian and her actual name is Hal Nika. Her parents were shipped from Poland to Canada where she was born.

Our sweet Nika (she prefers to be called Nikkita) still had a long road ahead of her. We were informed of her name that day and also her age. Our princess was somewhere around 33 years old. She weighed a whopping 650 pounds that day. She had a urinary tract infection, eye infections, ear infections, sores all over her, horrible teeth and very stiff joints. Our Veterinarian jumped into action.  Antibiotics, ointments, a feed regime consisting of soaked alfalfa pellets, senior feed, rice bran and vitamins, Adequan and Legend injections for her stiffness and various other things to ease her pain and discomfort. But the biggest prescription our vet gave us, was to just love her. And that we did.

Nikkita is a survivor. The day she walked through the paddock gate and into our lives was the day she decided to leave her past behind her and to make a new life with us. Her will to live is strong. Within four months she gained over 200 pounds.  We cared and nurtured her as if she was the most fragile and delicate flower. We took her on daily walks. She gained strength daily and could walk a little farther every day. She quickly taught us her language. She is quite direct with her likes and dislikes and has no problem letting us know just where to scratch her, or if she wants her blanket on or not. She is simply amazing.

Nikkita has taught us much about life and love. She is my husband’s first horse. Of course, she is loved by all three of us humans, and our other two horses, but her “Dad” is her person. It’s been a year since she has blessed our lives. A year full of love, and witnessing a fragile body turn the corner to strength and perseverance.  A year of finding out what the words true grit, and determination, really means.  And, a year of watching our Nikkita blossom and show us who she really is. A year of blessings and new insights and so much love that we didn’t even know was in us. A year of firsts, the first time she walked all the way up to the top of the road, the first time her stiff joints allowed her to lay down and roll in the soft sand, the first time she led us to the round pen so she could show us she knew what to do. The first time she trotted and cantered in our presence. The first time she participated in the local horse show by holding ribbons for the other horses. The first time she asked us to put a child on her back so she could show us that she knew exactly how to take care of a human and that she wanted to.  The first time we saw that sparkle return to her eyes and her fears dissipate. The firsts will never stop coming and we look forward to the many more ahead of us.

We didn’t make rescuing Nikkita a choice. We made her a promise and we have kept it. She has blossomed under our care and commitment to her. In return she has blessed us with her heart. She has more love to give than any horse I have ever been around.  She is wise beyond measure. She is BEAUTIFUL inside and out.  She is, our everything.

Please keep this story in mind when and if you make the choice to rescue. Remember that love has no age or ability. Love is love, plain and simple. The joy that this little old mare has brought into our lives is immeasurable. The biggest life lesson she has taught us is to not dwell on the past, but to make every single moment count.  Listen to your heart, it will tell you which horse needs you the most.