A Legacy Lives On...By Karen Everhart On December 28, 2010 we said goodbye to our dear friend, Nia. When we arrived at her paddock for breakfast, she was lying near her run-in, peaceful and still. She was gone from this world but she could finally see again. Ny Philly, a beautiful bay Arabian mare, was the first rescue horse ever admitted to Rainbow Meadows Equine Rescue and Retirement, Inc. in 2005. She arrived at Rainbow Meadows without fanfare or parades. Rather, she arrived after she received a death sentence, which her executioner refused to carry out. In the winter of 2004, after years of serving as a broodmare, Nia, blind for many years, was taken to Meadowbrook Veterinary clinic in Andover, KS because she was unable to become pregnant. Already 24 years old, Dr. John Brooks determined that Nia could no longer conceive and needed to be retired from her servitude as a broodmare. The owner, unable to see any value in the mare, authorized her euthanasia when it was clear that no additional offspring could be produced. Fortunately, Dr. Brooks saw an otherwise healthy horse which, because of her blindness, simply needed a ‘safe place’ to live out the remaining years of her life, and refused to put her down. He felt that Nia had something to offer to the right home. A wonderful woman was notified of Nia’s situation; her owner wanted her euthanized, the Vet did not want to do it, but the mare needed a safe place to land, could she help? As she began searching for opportunities, Garen was told that there was a couple who were planning a small rescue in the near future. That was all she needed to know. Soon she placed a call to Karen Everhart. Karen and her husband David were making final preparations for a move in the spring of 2005 to a 240 acre ranch near Sedan, KS. It was their intention to rescue a couple of horses each year of their retirement, rehabilitate them, and they find new homes. Garen was straight-forward: Could they help Nia? The idea of a blind horse was intimidating for the Everhart’s. In addition, they had no place to house the horse until their move. They did not feel they could help unless a location for temporary custodial care could be secured until facilities were available at the Sedan location. Garen immediately began searching for a custodial care location and found an angel in Alex Harmon, an Arabian lover, who agreed to house Nia until she could be transferred to Rainbow Meadows. On September 15, 2005 Nia was delivered to Rainbow Meadows. A lovely mare, Nia demonstrated a behavior which indicated that she had resided in a small stall for years. She was unable to walk straight at liberty, always turning in a tight 10 foot circle to the right. The first order of business was to provide a safe enclosure and to begin teaching her that she was no longer in a stall. She was initially housed in a large oval round pen, and repeated teaching sessions were held to begin expanding her ability to move in a larger circle and, eventually, in a straight line. After a few days, she was beginning to understand that her world was no longer limited to a 12 foot stall and she began to explore the pen. As a result, panels were added to her enclosure, increasing the space she had available to her. As her confidence increased, she was more and more curious about her new space. Her hay and water were always kept in the same location and she knew exactly where to locate them. Soon it became apparent that she could move to a paddock of her own. For the first time in a long time, Nia had her own pasture. It was over one acre in size with its own run-in shed. For a time, she had a pasture mate, another blind horse, and they got along very well. Eventually, Rainbow Meadows acquired a third blind horse and a decision was made to partner two of the horses and allow Nia the paddock on her own. She had neighbors and she had access to the pastured herd on 3 sides of her enclosure; she was never alone. There were always challenges in the management of a blind horse. But through each challenge, Nia was always steadfast in her willingness to be a stalwart teacher for her care. She was patient when we made mistakes and responsive when we called her name. She would not do more than startle if we came upon her too quietly. She would listen carefully if, when leading, we alerted her to changes in the terrain, and if we failed to prepare her causing her to trip, she would forgive us immediately. Dr. Brooks was right, Nia had a job to do long after her previous owners wanted her killed; she needed to teach two rescue workers how to properly care for blind horses because blind horses need rescued too. So, her legacy lives on and will allow Rainbow Meadows to continue in the care of blind horses forever. Thank you, Nia! We will miss your low nicker each morning as we pass by your paddock. Thank you for teaching us what we needed to know to make you feel safe.