Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Horses and Hope: Rosebud's Story

"Don't Bustle me. Don't now-then me."  Eeyore, The House at Pooh Corner

No visit to Central Virginia Horse Rescue is complete without a photo session with Rosebud. Rosebud embodies wisdom, patience, and sensibility. She is such a pleasure to photograph, because she interacts with handlers and photographers in a unique way, regarding everything with casual interest. The usual attention-getting devices used on horses elicit an eye roll from her, but if something entertains her, she's a divine photographic muse.
Rosebud is the official mascot of Central Virginia Horse Rescue. Originally an Amish work mule, she was purchased at auction for $50. She was described as a "bag of bones". She's in her late twenties/early thirties. She even has her own Facebook page, where she states her personal info, "I am a senior mule. It doesn't have anything to do with age but a lot to do with maturity and experience. They tell me I am a critic but I think I just have a very strong opinion." And her personal interests: "Grass. It's one of my favorite things. I like to eat it and sleep in it and roll around on it. My second favorite thing is Triple Crown Senior feed. It is wonderful and is responsible for my new girlish figure."
When CVHR's Cynthia Smith was asked to describe her favorite mule, she explained the charm and complexity of Rosebud:

"Rosebud is the heart of Central Virginia Horse Rescue and she has my heart as well. She can make me curse, laugh and fill my heart with love all within minutes. I believe that Rosebud came to us to teach us something about ourselves. Her first job was to teach me that mules were not horses with long ears. I believe her second was to teach me to be as stubborn as a mule while still being a lady.

Rosebud is always a lady although sometimes she is a bit opinionated. She never bites, kicks, rears or does anything impolite but if she doesn’t want to go somewhere, she doesn't. If she wants to go the other way, she does and if you hold onto the lead, you go with her. She is as gentle as a kitten. Her love of jelly donuts and hats is famous and she can gently take a donut from the smallest hand with lips that are almost like fingers. It always amazes me that children who are intimidated by horses and ponies will crawl all over Rosebud. I think her hats and her gentleness are the reasons that they love her. We often let small children groom her because as soon as you pick up a brush, she becomes
a statue. She will stand and not move a muscle while she is groomed."

When mules were trained in the Army to be pack animals, they had a single "Bell" cut into their tail. When mules were trained further to be driving animals, they had a second "Bell" cut in their tail. When mules were trained finally trained to ride, he had the third "Bell" cut in their tail. Only the most trained animals (riding/driving/packing) would earn 3 bells. Rosebud must be the most highly-trained mule of all.

 Rosebud is one of the many horses, ponies, donkeys, and mules featured in my 2013 Horses and Hope calendar. With the help of Gina Keesling of HoofPrints, my 2012 debut calendar contained over 100 photos of auction horses. Thanks to the support of horse lovers all over, it raised over $40,000 for One Horse At A Time, helping hundreds of horses in need directly, and untold others indirectly through increased public awareness. Now that we have one calendar's worth of experience to draw upon, the 2013 version promises to be even more exciting, even more creative, and as always, inspirational and positive.


- Sarah Andrew  

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