Saturday, September 8, 2007

I <3 my Fugly Horse!

I said I'd do this and today's the day. I asked my readers for submissions of their own, much-loved fugly horses (or just non-breeding quality horses!) and their stories. Enjoy!

"I've attached two photos of my husband's horse. The one where he is facing forward is a photo taken when we went out to look at him. You can see the horrible shape of his feet and the fact that they are severely pigeon-toed. The one from the side is after he was at our place for a couple months.

The people we got him from said he was a 4 year old they rescued from auction over 6 months prior. They claimed they spent so much on feed and since he was just a rescue they did not want to waste more money to get his feet done. Our vet said he was more like 2 at the time. He will never be sound for anything but light riding which is very sad for one so young."

FHOTD: Yeah, those people who had him? Classic b.s. rescuers who want to talk about how wonderful they think they are for saving him from the auction. Listen up America: You DID NOT rescue a horse if you dragged it home from an auction and let it sit with feet like this. DO NOT try to rescue horses if you are going to bitch about the cost of feed and trimming, or not do it because of the expense. The person who sent this to me is the horse's rescuer - she rescued him from YOU. He certainly looks better in every way now.

This cracked me up. This girl reads the blog so much she's already drawn the lines on her own horse, and she's evaluated him very honestly. As she notes, he is a bit back at the knee, he is on the long side, and he does have a short neck. I'd say he's a great example of having some faults that would make him not a breeding stallion prospect (and yes, he is a gelding!) but not bad enough faults anywhere that I would be at all worried about his ability to work for a living and stay sound doing it.

And indeed, he is doing very well, as you can see! He is an unregistered Percheron who is darn lucky some dingbat didn't snap him up to sire "sport horses." Instead, his owner purchased him to be a trail horse but it soon became apparent he was every bit as capable of doing much more as the Thoroughbreds she had been riding. And so she has a pure Percheron eventer!
She also makes the EXCELLENT point that conditioning and proper hoof trimming can make a huge difference for a horse. As evidence - his "before" picture is below. He wasn't underweight there, but look how much prettier he is with muscle on (above) and feet trimmed to the proper angles.

He really looks like a different horse now than he did back then. Look how much better the topline looks in the top shot, now that he is fit. I find that many, many riders still do not understand proper conditioning and the role it plays in keeping a horse healthy, sound and well behaved (yes, that too!) I will have to address that topic one of these days.

Good job on this boy, all the way around!

I just love this one.

"Here is my fugly horse, she is no longer with us, I had to have her put down a year ago in March, she was 38 years old and I had her for 30 years.This picture was taken in November the year before she died.
I bought her as an eight year old from an old horse dealer when I first got into horses. He honestly told me she had heaves but was beginner safe and since he knew she wasn't sound but I could take her to learn on and
then to bring her back at the end of summer and he would buy her back and he would
ship her. As you can see that never happened.
She was the sweetest mare alive and kids loved her and she loved them. She was
responsible for teaching three generations of some families to ride. She also worked in a therapy riding center before she retired. I moved to town and she lived out her life at a friend's farm, where the woman's grandchildren
and my honorary grandson lightly rode up to a year before her death. Although she doesn't look like it here she received excellent care to the end of her life. FHOTD in: Are you nuts? For 37 she looks SPECTACULAR!
During hot weather she spent most of her time standing in front of a fan in the barn. She lived the last few years on equine senior, and when my friend called and said Lady was down and it was time, I went out to find my friend had her lying a big pile of straw while she sat beside her comforting her until the vet got there to put her down. She was buried on my friend's farm.

FHOTD: OK, re-read that last story. THAT IS GOOD HORSE CARE. THAT IS RESPONSIBLE OWNERSHIP. No, it is not cheap to keep a horse until age 38. It is not cheap to feed an old horse with no teeth a pelleted feed for two full years. But this owner got it right. Not only did she rescue this mare 30 years ago, but it was a real rescue - a permanent rescue. That mare never had to worry again.

The owner never dropped the ball, not once, and I'm guessing if we ask her that in those 30 years, she had the same sort of problems any of us have in our life. I'm guessing there were times money was tight. Or there was drama in her personal life. Or she was unemployed. Or she was stressed out about something and caring for this mare was one more responsibility. But she never took the easy way out.

The last time I was at an auction, I saw an old horse that looked almost exactly like this one. I think it sold for $35. I kept walking by its stall and apologizing all night, because I knew I couldn't afford to bring one home for myself (I was there shopping with/for a friend and she needed a resale project). I'm so glad this old girl never had to know that kind of an ending and instead went with peace and love. She will never know the fate she missed at age 8, and I really think that's as beautiful a thing as you can do in this life.

More of your much loved fuglies tomorrow, I need to go ride before it gets dark out!