Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Rescued Arabian Horses - continued...

Rescued Arabians – continued…

The Little Stallion

Our other rescued horse, an incredibly sweet little Arabian stallion, is either 4 or 5 years old. We will not know for sure until someone locates his papers. We don’t even know his name. He is a dark bay standing about 15 hands, and appears to be in good condition. His feet, although long and showing signs of white line disease, are in much better shape than his mom’s were; between the small amount of turnout he has had, his habit of pawing when he’s agitated and mild seedy toe, he’s had more of a chance to wear his feet down. It is readily apparent that he has not been handled much. For one thing, he does not lead. Previously, in order to turn him out, they would simply open the door to his stall, stand back and let him blast off down the aisle/chute into a metal pen; this was “turnout” for a few minutes a day. I have no idea how they got him back inside. We heard that the woman who owned these horses used whips for everything, cracking them on the ground to get the horses moving. As a result, the horses do not seem to like loud or sudden noises.

When we decided to take this charming little fellow, the next step was to go into his stall and halter him. It was a double stall with a dirt floor maybe a foot below the aisle. Inside the stall, there were some huge rocks and half the stall was dug out with holes a foot deep, leaving plateaus and canyons to navigate. In addition to this, they hadn’t been cleaned in some time, and the thin rubber mats that once covered the floor had been pulled up and were lying folded on top of the bedding. Needless to say, catching him was difficult in this terrain. The stallion, being unused to the halter, and not wanting to traumatize him (or fall on her face,) it took my daughter about an hour to patiently get him to accept the halter. The next step, getting the lead rope on, took another half an hour.

The trailer episode: he had never been on a trailer, and since he also doesn’t lead, we weren’t really sure how we’d get him on. Leading and following treats into the trailer had limited success; we managed to convince him to get all of his feet on the ramp at once, but then he just parked himself there and refused to move. When all else failed, we tried cracking the whip behind him, but that too was unsuccessful. Finally, a longe line stretched between me and the girl behind his rear worked. We secured the butt bar quickly, put the ramp up, and off we went for our 3-hour ride home. I must say I was impressed by how well he behaved in the trailer for his first time.

On arrival home, he refused to back out of the trailer. He was stuck. The mare off-loaded without a problem and only then did he consent to back off. Leading him in was an adventure, and then he refused to go into his stall. Since he won’t be lead, my daughter decided to “longe” him into the stall by getting behind his shoulder and driving him forward through the door. Unconventional, yes, but it worked.

Stallions are notoriously vocal and, much to the delight of our neighbors, this little guy is no exception; he may be small but he is loud, and has a lot to say for himself. However, as for other stereotypical stallion behaviors, he really has none. He doesn’t nip, show aggression, etc. We were also happy to find that, even after his rough handling, he’s not the least bit head shy, and actually enjoys having his ears rubbed. Really, he’s kind of a puppy dog. So far he has stood quietly to be groomed in his stall, which is lucky, since I doubt that he ties. He loves any kind of attention and likes to rest his head on your shoulder and rub his muzzle on your cheek or in your hair the same way his mom does (his sweetness must have come from her.) He will take a carrot gently but so far no treats (he doesn’t know what they are… yet.)

The farrier examined his feet for a trim, but he would have none of it. Not surprisingly, it seems he has not had his feet handled much. I was happy to see how fleet of foot our farrier is; obviously he has dealt with this before. Since we like our farrier so much, we thought it best to wait until he settles in for a while and get him used to having his feet handled before trying a trim again. The vet will be out Thursday to examine the mare, and the little guy will be gelded. We weighed the pros and cons and have decided that, even though he is a sweet and very well behaved stallion, it will be best for him - and us - to geld him. We have no intention of breeding, and we are not set up to do so. Being a sociable horse, he seems lonely and is very interested in the other horses, so we think it will be good for him to eventually be integrated into the rest of the gelding herd where he can make some new friends.

He was turned out in the arena for a while tonight, but went absolutely crazy running and screaming. His mom came out to hand-graze a bit next to the arena and that seemed to quiet him down. As I said, he does not lead, and this is a bit of a problem, but luckily the arena is right out the back door of the barn and my daughter managed to get him back and forth from the arena without any major incidents. He is a real handful. We are hoping with some consistent handling he will learn the routine.

Here are some pictures of him the day he arrived; there will be more news and updates as I have the time to update his training and condition:

This little guy is adorable and he's very sweet, like his mama

He's dying to get outside and kick up his heels a little

Just look at that face

It's not easy getting good photos, he's right in your pocket

Until next time

Quote for Today

In the steady gaze of the horse shines a silent eloquence that speaks of love and loyalty, strength and courage. It is the window that reveals to us how willing is his spirit, how generous his heart.

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