Tuesday, March 24, 2009

time to heal

After the burst of adrenaline from the move wore off, it became apparent just how stressed and tired and hungry she really was. She was easy to chase off her food, she would snatch a mouthful of hay and run if disturbed when she was eating. She was either on full alert or asleep most of the time. I started cleaning up cuts, especially an infected one on her hock and tried to keep grass hay in front of her all the time.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

the move

I brought her to a boarding barn near where I live. I didn't see any reason to spend the money on a show/training barn until I found out what I had. I rented a large square pen with a large shed where she would not be within reach of other horses.
After many safety precautions - just in case - she unloaded quietly from the trailer and was turned out in a sand filled pen to stretch her legs and roll. She was starting to lose her winter coat and unbelievably had a little shine to her new hair. But even under a winter coat her bones were visible. She was pretty leery of us but overall had behaved better than I had expected.
And she was in her new home with a pile of hay in front of her.

Monday, March 9, 2009

one born every minute...

I couldn't get the black mare out of my mind. Standing in the mud, covered with bites and kicks, looking regal.
I had discovered out that she came off the track at a cheap horse sale and had been originally sold as one of a lot of horses sold to a dealer in Wyoming. She been handed around to 5 or 6 homes as a 'trail horse' and was generally labeled unrideable pretty quickly, so she was bred, produced a foal and was sold. I wasn't sure why she hadn't gone to slaughter already. Maybe luck. Maybe because she was a classic looking TB people thought her foals, even unregistered, would be worth money.
I found out through the trainer network that she and her current owner were on a downward spiral and the owner had been advised to sell her.
She was one bad step away from a very bad end. She was very skinny, very distrustful and might be nuts. She also still had a soft eye.

I went back again and asked to see her ridden. Her owner, with obvious trepidation but courage born of desperation, climbed on and trotted her around a little. I got on and found that she didn't know much, but wasn't totally crazy. I gave her owner less than the going price for meat and got a receipt.

I called a friend with a trailer and a few days later we went and got her. Watching her refuse to be led and refuse to get on the trailer should have discouraged me but when I took the lead she walked right on willingly, stood quietly and we waved goodbye to her past.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

craigslist horses

I found Nina on Craigslist. Not an ideal place to find a horse, but there are lots of cheap horses there. She was listed as a Thoroughbred mare, not for an inexperienced rider. I called on the ad and the owner told me that she had listed this ad months ago, never got a call and never relisted it. That was strange because I found her at the top of the ads. Serendipitous computer glitch.

When I went to see her I was hugely unimpressed. Her owner was exercising her in a round pen. She was skinny, had her ears pinned back, kicked out occasionally and appeared lame on one hind leg. On closer exam, she had a deep infected cut on one hock. She was also barefoot and moved footsore. She stayed turned away from the person, but stood quietly when I approached and took a close look. She was a shabby, unhappy looking horse, but she also looked like she dished out as much abuse as she took. Her owner confirmed that she was unable to ride her much as she had a tendency to rear and to bolt. She had purchased the mare bred and raised the foal, which was now 3 years old and a sweetheart to work with. She was over her head with this mare, knew it and was ready for her to just be gone.

I followed when she took the mare back to the pen where she lived with a small group of mares, including her daughter. She had bite and kick marks on her and when she went into the pen she shied away from the other horses, who all pinned ears at her, confirming that she was low on the pecking order. She walked over to a corner of the pen, raised her head and stood looking like the aristocrat she was bred to be. Humbled but unbowed.

I thanked the owner for her time and drove away. I didn't need a horse that needed as much rehab as this one did.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

first, Scotty

Nina came into my life because of Scotty.

I have owned several OTTBs (off-track-thoroughbred). This is the sport horse world's shorthand name for these horses.
The most recent before Nina was a horse called Highlander, his barn name was Scotty.
Scotty raced until he was nearly 8 years old when a bowed tendon forced his retirement.

He was one of the fortunate ones. His bloodlines were known to jump trainers as being talented in show jumping. So he was purchased by a trainer, turned out to let time heal the tendon, consigned to another trainer for sale, where I purchased him.
Scotty was the love of my life. 17h, 1500# he was occasionally reminiscent of a runaway freight train, but he was honest, didn't have a mean bone in his body, loved to jump and taught me much.
Scotty died of colic at age 15. I had just let his insurance drop as the rates go from inexpensive to astronomical when a horse reaches that age. His death was devastating emotionally and financially. He was my friend, my partner; I spent hours everyday with him. Without insurance there was no way that I could afford to replace him, and I had the vet bills to pay.
Being without a horse to ride was not an option. I tried leasing, I rode horses for my trainer, but I really needed a horse to ride and school on my own.

So I started looking at cheap horses. That is a most depressing way to spend time.
Horses that were crippled or crazy, owners who thought they were worth money even though the owner couldn't catch them or ride them, didn't feed them well or take care of their feet. The list goes on and on. There are diamonds in the rough, it just takes a lot of digging.
This is how I found Nina.


This is the story of one Thoroughbred mare who came into my life. Her story is not uncommon.
At the time I am starting this blog, we still don't know that there will be a happy ending, but we are hopeful.

Keep in mind as you read about Nina that only a handful of the many Thoroughbreds who wash out of racing every year go immediately to homes where their new owners love, admire, and most importantly, understand the Thoroughbred. They are the lucky ones.
Many others have stories similar to Nina. Often handed from home to home, from owner to owner. Most Thoroughbreds off the track are not suitable for the average backyard rider. But the average backyard rider is often seduced by their beauty or their history and buys a horse that they cannot handle.
Many more go directly to slaughter, unwanted and unseen.

Nina has had an unhappy history which I will tell you more about. Much of it is unverified, but her story, as I have already said, is not uncommon.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...