Thursday, October 2, 2008

Rescue Horses or The price of being a responsible breeder

I just got back from 20 hours on the road, going to pick up 2 horses that had been abandoned. One was a colt I had bred and sold 2 years ago, the other a pasture mate of his that I knew. The person who had owned these horses is a decent, hardworking soul, who bought the colt in better times with excellent intentions. Times changed, her life changed and I get a call (very indirectly) from the person boarding them that their board hasn't been paid in 4 months and he doesn't know what to do. He said he hadn't heard from the owner in months, had tried calling, writing and finally got a hold of an old boyfriend of hers that got me through the grapevine. He said he didn't want to send them to auction, as they were nice horses and in the present economic climate that pretty much is a death sentance. His other option was the big cat sanctuary in his area...not so great either. No rescues would take them, as they were in pretty good condition. What to do?
No question, I had a road trip ahead of me. I asked him if I could contact a friend in the area to come pick them up - no problem. My friend picked up the two horses I was taking and saw no signs of the other 4 that had also been abandoned. Not all were from the person I had sold the colt to, although she had a mustang boarded there that I did not want to take, as he was only very green broke and a very difficult horse. 3 others were young QHs that were supposedly out of 'assorted mares by a nice, big stallion', bred by another person who had fallen on hard times. I have no idea what happened to these horses and I just won't think too hard about it.

So, my friend picked them up, took them home and gave me a report. They were thin, looked wormy, but not starving. Their feet hadn't seen a trim in at least a year (not surprising, as that was how long they'd been there). She said the colt was very small and very depressed, but looked nice overall. She dewormed them, trimmed their feet and put lots of food into them for the week or so she had them.

I drove down Tuesday with a good friend and our 10 hour trip flew by. We discussed horses (of course!), husbands, world affairs, breed affairs, and many other topics. We arrived in 95 degree weather, which was wonderful, as Seattle has definately gone into FALL weather. We were invited to eat wonderful organic food and we talked and caught up until my eyelids started drooping. We didn't get out of her farm until late the next morning, as we kept finding new things to talk about, but finally hit the road at about 10:30 am. The two boys travelled like troopers, with Andre (the Teke colt) eating and drinking like a seasoned traveller. Shotzi (the Arab) wasn't quite as happy and didn't drink at all and only ate a little. I wasn't all that worried though, as Shotzi had plenty of reserves and it wasn't very hot. Another 10 hour drive, lots of talking and we arrived home at about 9:30 pm. Both boys were happy to get out into the arena and had a nice roll. Today I took Shotzi over to where he'll be staying for quite some time, hopefully showing a new trail rider the joys of riding. Andre is out with Danny, one of his buddies from when he was a baby, and he has settled in quite nicely. He is a little shorter than Danny and much, much narrower, but I think he'll catch up in time and attain his genetic potential of being about 16 hands. He looks pretty good from the side, just under muscled, but is so narrow it's almost comical. I intend to take some photos tomorrow, then in about 2 weeks and then every two weeks after to show his progress. I groomed both boys a bit tonight and Andre hasn't lost his sweet, friendly attitude and seemed to really, REALLY enjoy the currying and brushing. Danny wasn't so sure that Andre should get any of that, but gave in with fairly good grace.

So, two horses saved, but it really does raise questions about expects that when you sell a horse to a nice, hardworking person for a reasonable price, this sort of thing won't happen. Wrong. I have no foals coming this next year, because of several issues, but I will really have to think about the future. I know I'm not the only one that has had this sort of thing happen and when I do produce a foal I commit to it for it's entire life. I've gotten back a few horses, for one reason or another, but I've never had this situation before. With hay topping $300 a ton and me feeding a ton a week, it's very thought provoking.

Anyway, Andre is out in my paddock right now, chowing down on lovely grass hay, just had a nice grain feeding and is warm and dry. Shotzi is over in a big field with a few other horses, with someone that knows and likes him. The mustang and the QHs...I don't want to know.