Monday, April 5, 2010

Rescue Horses


"Rescue horse" is a term that I never heard of years ago when I was in the hunter/jumper show world (we're talking 30+ years ago here), and it's something that I keep coming up against day after day now. As a trainer, one of my jobs is to help my customers find horses that are suitable mounts for the job intended, be it dressage, trails, goofing off, whatever (my days of H/J are over). As a result, I spend a lot of time online looking at all the various sites where horses are listed for sale, and more and more there are really nice horses that have been "rescued" priced at next to nothing, or poor souls who have faced abuse and/or neglect who are offered for free. I must have lived in a fairy-tale world back then - I never even thought of what happened to the thoroughbreds on the race track that we didn't buy to turn into jumpers, or the mustangs who were being rounded up and slaughtered in the most cruel fashions imaginable, let alone the horses that just plain got neglected on the roadside or in the pasture.

Well, it caught up with me over a year ago in the form of a horse named "Serafino" - a Palomino gelding who was starving and neglected due to a divorce. I knew the woman who had kind-heartedly promised her uncle on his deathbed that she would take care of his beloved horse, little imagining that her life would be turned upside-down within the year because of that divorce. She was beside herself when she got a call from the owner of the pasture where the horse was kept (a couple of hours away from here), saying to come get her horse, as he was about 200 lbs underweight, and the pasture owner didn't want to deal with it. The last thing I needed was another horse on the property that would, at best, only be a "hay burner", but it was obvious this woman was not in any position to do a thing for the horse herself. After one of my famous sighs, I said we needed to go get him and see what we could do. I kick myself now for not taking any photos of him in Dec of '08 when he arrived - he truly was emaciated - ribs and backbone clearly visible- and was showing the beginning signs of founder as well. Knowing that you can't feed a starving horse a lot of food at once, we just made sure he had plenty of good quality grass hay, clean water, and a blanket to keep him warm. His attitude and his weight slowly improved, but his founder did not. In spite of all our best precautions, he was foundering. He would stand in one spot and shift his weight from one foot to the other due to his discomfort. It was decision time again - he was not a young horse - guessed to be anywhere from 17 - 24, and I was not in the financial position to pay for vet expenses and fancy shoeing on a horse I was already feeding and housing in a place where a paying horse could be staying (sounds bad to say that, I know, but I have to remember that Blue Fountain Farm is a business for me, and it would be nice to occasionally make money :) ). In stepped "Sammies Friends" - whew!!

Sammies Friends - - is a wonderful non-profit organization who helps pay vet costs on rescued animals, and then helps find homes for them. Our great vet, Mike, came out to treat Serafino, and with medications, special shoes (donated thanks to our wonderful farrier, Mark) and lots of love and time, Serafino is a happy boy now.

"Serafino" in the snow
this last December

Question is, what do we do with him now?? We were told that he was a trick horse - does this mean that he did tricks like bow, rear, etc., or was he a trick rider's horse. We've never ridden him - and he probably shouldn't be ridden. He's such a sweetie, and loves attention. If I still had a breeding establishment, he'd be a great nanny for weanlings, as he gets along with everyone. I guess I just feel a little guilty, 'cause even though we saved him and he's got a great home in a lot of ways, I feel he's not getting the attention he really craves - or am I just anthropomorphizing (sp?) the whole thing?? I will not list him, along with all those other horses on the web sites, for free or for cheap, because I don't want him to ever be in the situation in which we found him. I guess he'll just stay here, and maybe someone who has more time on their hands than we do would love to come out and groom him, graze him and play with him, and love him ..........are you that someone ??
"Serafino", dirty but happy!

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