Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Interesting times... A Texas Tango

So... to continue to try and catch up with all the "interesting times" that have been going on...

Let's start with the good. During my horse search, I came across a Belgian warmblood for sale very inexpensively. When we went to see him, I realized three things. One, this horse was neglected to the point of abuse. Two, with a little TLC, this could be a REALLY NICE horse. And three, that even though this horse had the potential to be a really nice horse, he would probably not be the right horse for me. However, he was too nice a horse to leave in the situation he was in. (No horse should be left in a bad situation, but realistically, you can't save them all, and it's just harder to leave things be when the horse is a really nice one.) He was kept all alone without another living creature in sight or sound of him, and being a herd animal, he had understandably developed some rather pronounced neurotic behavior. His feet were in horrible condition and looked like they hadn't been taken care of in at least six months. He was kept on ground that was basically just one big sheet of solid rock. He was obviously in pain though exactly what was causing the pain was unclear. His feet certainly looked bad enough to be causing him pain, and the solid rock footing certainly wasn't comfortable, but he also seemed to have some back pain which may or may not have been caused by the very badly fitting saddle that they used on him. Plus, he was overweight to the point that foundering was a legitimate concern. I suppose over-feeding is better than starving, but neither is good.

Unfortunately, the current owner was not going to sell him to Foxfire and I. I had made the mistake of calling after we had been to see him to ask if we could take him on trial and offering to pay to have his feet trimmed and shod and to have a vet check him out because he'd been exhibiting signs of pain. She totally freaked out, started yelling at me, repeatedly screamed, "THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT HORSE!!!!" then hung up on me.

I simply couldn't bear to leave the horse with that owner any longer, so I decided to see if I could enlist other people's help in rescuing the poor gelding. Since there aren't that many registered Belgian warmbloods compared to certain other breeds, I did some research online and sent out emails to the local Belgian Warmblood breeders as well as to friends and friends of friends to see if we could find someone who recognized and/or was willing to help us rescue this poor horse.

It turns out that a trainer/ex-breeder that we already knew and had taken several lessons from (Foxfire refers to her as the Oracle) recognized that he might be the offspring of her now deceased stallion. She contacted the owner of the mare that she thought was the gelding's dam and positively identified the neglected gelding as her stallion's son, Tango. The fact that she could look at a picture of this horse and recognize not only her stallion's lines, but also know which mare he came from leads me to believe that she might indeed have magical powers. Both she and the mare's owner agreed to rescue him. If he was sound, the Oracle would take him to become her new riding horse and if he was no longer sound, the mare's owner would care for him in his retirement.

The Oracle's daughter and a friend of ours with a truck and trailer went down and bought Tango and moved him to a temporary barn in Austin. A week later, Foxfire and I went to see how he was doing, and he looked like a different horse. He no longer exhibited any neurotic symptoms. He was calm and easy to handle. His feet had been seen by a good farrier and although it was going to be a while before they could grow back into truly good shape, you could see from his movement that they no longer hurt him the way they had been. In fact, he didn't show any more signs of pain. And it even looked like he had already lost some of the overweight that he had been carrying. The Oracle's daughter, who is also a trainer, took him out and free lunged him while we were there. He looked soooooo much better than he had at the place that he had been. Foxfire and I were both impressed by how nicely he moved. With a little more work, he is really going to be a fantastic horse. Since, it appears that he will be sound enough to ride, the Oracle is in the process of getting him shipped to where she currently lives. Her current riding horse is over twenty years old and she is extremely happy to have one of the few sons of her beloved stallion to become her new riding horse. Foxfire and I are both really happy to have helped in rescuing this horse and helping the stallion's owner to recover a son of the stallion that she loved.

Since FuzzyPony and JJ had actually been the ones to drive us down to see Tango, we stopped on the way home to visit Cash, JJ's retired eventer and the horse that Foxfire and I both started dressage lessons on. The farm that he is at is truly pony paradise! Beautiful rolling hills that even in the midst of drought were pretty and green, with stands of oak trees for shade and ponds for swimming in, which Cash had obviously been doing. You can see pictures from our visit on JJ's blog, The Saga Chronicles We brought Cash up to the barn and gave him a good bath, loving on him and giving him bits of carrot. After his bath, JJ offered to let us ride him bareback (or rather with just a saddle pad) for a little bit. (And yes we all wore boots and helmets.) Fortunately, there was a mounting block, and I managed to get myself onto his back without too much trouble. It was great riding him again and remembering how easy he was for me. He wasn't supposed to be a good beginner's horse. He is very light on his cues, very sensitive and he had a habit of running away with people. But he and I always got along beautifully. In my search for a horse for myself, I have basically been looking for one like Cash.

Anyway, that's the story of Tango with a little addendum about visiting Cash. I still have a lot of stuff I need to blog about, but I think that's all I'll do for today.

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