I have a friend that has REALLY been wanting a horse for a long time. They finally live on a nice little place with good grass and good fences. She always tries to get her dogs from rescue organizations, and this is where she began looking for her horse. She would text me questions like “how big is 15 hands” and “what does green broke mean”. And I happily answered them all because it made me sound really smart. Horses I know. After many days of this she finally finds a rescue about 30 miles away in Egan, TX that has several for us to go and check out. (We went first and just met Angela that runs the place, and she told us about each of the horses.) We like what we saw, so we decided to come back and ride another day.
Because I’m the “expert” as my friend calls (I really got my bluff in on her), I am going to check out and ride each horse to determine if it is safe for my her and her family. I load up my saddle and a few bridles, pull on my riding boots, and off we go. We usually have our two youngest boys with us at least-ages 3&4, and today was no exception.
The first horse I wanted to ride was a 10 yr-old, very thin, long haired sorrel named Troy. He had good strong bones, was a great age, and though he wasn’t the prettiest, he had a great temperament. Angela said his only problem, and it’s a big one, is that he’s barn sour.
She wasn’t kidding. He wasn’t too hard to catch in the pasture, and he was very quiet to saddle and bridle. I pulled his left rein around and he wasn’t the softest horse, but he knew what to do. I tightened my cinch just tight enough to be safe, but not too tight so he could be comfortable. We went for a ride and all was well-until about a hundred yards from the barn and he just wouldn’t go any further. I’m sure with spurs and some hard kicks he may have went, but that’s not how I roll. Instead, I turned him around which he happily did, and we continued-backwards. Once we passed the point where he stopped, we turned around and continued on our way. Every time he stopped and turned around I would allow him, and them we would continue the way I wanted to go, backwards. Ol Troy was pretty quick to learn that there was an easy way and a hard way to do this. Neither way was causing him and harm or stress. But he finally gave in and walked the trail forward. There wasn’t a trail for real, just the one I had pictured in my moms so that I knew exactly where I wanted to go. There was a huge puddle of water he crossed just fine. I decided he was going to be a lot of work for my friend, but he wasn’t written off, yet. I had noticed his gums were bigger than his teeth, so we left Troy for Angela to have the vet check him.
I pulled up another horse named Rowdy. His story was that he was a trained barrel horse. He was in much better health than some of the others, had a good coat, feet, and teeth. I was excited to try him out. Well, as anyone in the horse world knows, anyone can call their horse anything. He saddled okay, took a bit okay, but it was obvious he hadn’t done much more than that. When I pulled his head to the left he would not give to it at all. Same on the right. Well, a stop is a left and right turn at the same time. If he doesn’t have that, he isn’t going to stop. I opted not to ride this horse. We decided to travel down the road to check out a little Arab named Luke.
Luke was perfect! He was willing to go anywhere! He had so much training on him that I could not believe that he was a rescue. The only pictures we had seen before we met him was of him as a skinny little thing. Not the case anymore-he was fat and sassy. I just loved Luke and new he was going to work out. We were told he didn’t load, so we returned another day with no tile frame so that I could take as long as necessary to load him.
It took me about an hour and a half. In the beginning he wouldn’t even walk up to the trailer, but he was okay if we circled around to it. Whatever. If this was his comfort zone, we would start there. After some time there became a difference between him being uncomfortable with the trailer, and him acting up a little bit and getting a little aggressive toward me. I assume that in the past this kept him from having to load. Well, on this day he met patient, persistent, consistent, and self-controlled Mandy. That’s me. I even lifted his foot up for him to show him how high it was. I had my friend help Le keep him in line with the trailer by making sort of big motion when he true to back to the side or away. We had a little whip, but only to tap the ground with, and only for her to use as an extension of her hand. We didnt know this horse and wanted my inexperienced friend a little distance away just in case. Anyway, suddenly Luke decided all was okay and loaded his front end. I backed him out. He really liked jogging so I would jog him around. Kind of funny, but it was on opus he enjoyed that, so that becme his reward. Shortly after I had him loading and unloading with no problem.
Our test came after he had been in the trailer for 3 hours and then had to get a shot at the vet as well as an inspection. After all that he loaded right back in the trailer with no hesitation!! I’m the greater horse trainer in the world!!! Lol, just kidding, that’s just something I have always yelled after I taught a horse to do something and it worked. I’m humble like that. 🙂
I wish I could say that Luke has found his forever home, but that is not how this story ends. The vet asked if Je was a cribber. We said we didn’t think so. And he said we would know soon enough. Sure enough, once Luke got settled, he was a cribber. You can learn more here. We will never know for sure, but his poor health when he arrived at the rescue could be from cribbing, or cribbing could be result of his poor health. Whatever the cause, he was healthy now, but his future was too unknown, and he was the worst cribber I have ever witnessed first hand. Wood fence while I saddled him, metal posts as soon as you turned him loose. So sad. Even though my friend thought she could get past this addiction, the truth was that he was just too athletic for her and always wanted to go faster. Her saddle also didnt fit him well and she considered getting a new one for him, but the truth is there are sonny horses out there that she is going to try another. Also, Luke is VERY spoiled at his foster home and they cried to see him go and were so happy to hear of his return! He’s just a big pet there on a large acreage ranch with Jenny’s and Henny’s and donkeys and mules and goats and dogs. It’s like something out of a James Herriott novel!
Tomorrow we return Luke and she has decided she is going to foster Troy for a while. He’s more her speed and the saddle should fit. She can at least give him the extra care and riding and nutrition he needs. I will keep you posted.
The pictures are from me training Luke how to load.