Thursday, March 04, 2010

YouTube Video and What Not to Do With a Rescue Horse

Laughter is the best medicine, and nothing screams "Medicate me!" like this long, miserable winter.

As my regular readers know, I've got a bone to pick with folks who have horses and probably shouldn't. So I'm revisiting this topic briefly today.

What's happening right now in the horse world is difficult to interpret and even harder to deal with, but the bottom line is that there are tons (literally) of horses winding up heading to slaughter. Horses are being shipped will-he nil-he around the country and are being unceremoniously dumped at auction houses. Some are there with the knowledge and aforethought of their owners. Some not so much.

So let's say you're a soft touch and have felt the Call to Rescue. There are a few caveats that need to be addressed...again, and again, and again.

  • The horse you just rescued needs a nap. He may need a very loooong nap. He may need a week or two, or he may, like my favorite rescued horse, Sues Native, need a year out at pasture to regain his sanity. You are not going to necessarily be out trail riding him this weekend, so get that thought out of your head. This rescue business isn't about you and your equestrian dream. It's about an animal in danger of death or other bad endings.
  • The horse you're rescuing may be a fine animal with all sorts of good training credentials. But he's just been through hell and isn't really in the mood to remember all that John Lyons stuff someone once taught him. He's upset, angry, and probably needs some reminders. Retraining isn't for the faint-hearted. If you can't do it yourself, bite the bullet and hire someone. Deal with it.
  • Your new best friend is likely to have some health issues. That comes with the territory of having been hauled from state to state and stuffed in unclean living quarters. Deal with it. If you can't quarantine a horse, if you don't have a cement-walled barn separate from the other horses on your property, if you don't know what diseases he's sporting, find a pro or walk away before you hurt yourself.
  • He may be grateful to you. He may like you. He may not. He may be so upset and angry that he's going to do things that will upset you. He may not stand at the mounting block the first time you try to ride him. He may buck you into next week. He may bite or kick you. Deal with it.
What you do NOT do is send him back to the auction next week.

You do NOT send your new guy OR your existing horse to a rescue to free yourself and your checkbook up for future insanity.

You do NOT get angry and beat on or neglect the new guy.

You do NOT give him away to someone else without making sure you're not breaking your legal contract and that he's going to a better home than the one you mistakenly tried to give him.

Most of all, you do NOT complain.

Do your homework. Learn the ropes. Make the commitment with your eyes and ears open and your mouth closed. Do the work. If you're lucky and persistent, you'll wind up with a really good friend for a long time to come, but how this goes is up to you, not him. He didn't ask for anything that's happened to him. Don't blame him if you didn't read the manual before you opened this package.

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