Guest Ranch dilemma of rescue/retiring horses!
Our Guest Ranch dilemma of rescue and retired horses, put us in a difficult situation Last August 2018. We made the hard decision of letting go two beautiful horses and find them a forever home.
This is the story of Travi and Zeus.
When we bought Travi a 14.2hh qh mare, 5 years ago, she was quite herdbound and had a high flight response. Her owner told us she was halter-broke and had some exposure in the past to natural horsemanship. After giving Travi time to get settled in our herd, we started saddle training her, and noticed a bit of tenderness in her front. When she was ready for accepting the rider on her back, we felt her stiffness and lameness in her front at the trot. We decided to hold off with her training after consulting the Vet.
Her diagnosis was Atrophy in her chest / shoulder muscle. Training would do her good we were told.
So we tried, but poor Travi could just not handle to carry anybody on her back, plus mountainous terrain, without showing lameness. We went back to previous owner, and reluctantly she told us more about Travi’s history.
Travi had an ingrown halter when she was found in a very big field. She also had been caught in barb wire and so had quite the injuries on her whole body. After she was rescued, Travi became a broodmare with the previous owner, since she has great quarter horse bloodlines. Her full name is “Travelina Princess’. This info was never disclosed to us when we bought her. We decided to retire her, and were aiming for the right forever home although we were not actively looking.
Beautiful Fjord Horses:
The second horse: Zeus a super sweet 20 yr old Fjord gelding came to us only 3 years ago, and developed in a very fast tempo a huge arthritic knee in his front. We bought Zeus and Thor together (a 7 yr old halterbroke Fjord and his buddie at the time). Zeus was quite obese and had a little swelling on his hock, but we were told he was around 13 yrs old, and together with Thor great driving horses who would pull the wagon or sleigh!
At the ranch we noticed Zeus was not used to herd life and most horses would pick on him plus our youngsters tried to play-fight with him, so he became a bit of a loner. Thor adapted well and made new friends.
We retired Zeus and every day we would bring him around the house to give him a break from the herd. He would always look for company and even nap inside the corner of the arena. Many kids loved grooming him, laying down in the sand and spending quality time.
Dilemma with rescue / retired horses
We are a guest ranch with quite a few retired and rescue horses on a limited pasture and forest acreage. For this type of business we need good, solid horses who can carry guests on our trails. In the middle of August 2018 we got the chance to add two gorgeous Percheron / Canadian horses to our herd.
We put our feelers out for a forever home for Travi and Zeus and found a family just outside of Kamloops, with an autistic son. The mom was very enthusiastic when she saw both horses here at the ranch, and kept reassuring me, that it would be the perfect fit for her little ranch and her son.
Martin and Johanna delivered Zeus first (Travi didn’t want to leave and had problems, trailer loading) and the week after Travi finally accepted she was going on a trip!
After unloading Travi and having her ‘reunited’ with Zeus in a small field, we talked a bit with the new owner, which gave me an uneasy feeling when I noticed a different attitude towards horses. (Saw Zeus and mini stallion both had halters on in field)
When we drove away I saw Travi running along the fence next to the trailer and I felt sick in the stomach. (I think I realized deep in my heart, that I had made a mistake to leave both horses there)
‘Canadian Fjord Horse Rescue’ comes to the rescue!
In January 2019, we got a phonecall from the Canadian Fjord Rescue network that Zeus was surrendered to their care, due to ‘aggressive behaviour’ of Zeus.
Kate from the Rescue org. told me that Zeus was quite underweight and a big sweetheart when they delivered him at a temp. foster home in Kelowna!
I immediately called the lady I sold Zeus to in August, to ask if Travi was still in her care, and she told me that her son rode Travi daily and permanent injury was no longer an issue!
Next day, I got a message on Facebook, that Travi was sold mid December to a lady in Langley as a ‘Drill” Horse!
So I contacted this lady who bought Travi as a ‘7 yr old well broke riding horse’, but she had noticed the injury while ‘trying to ride her’!
“The moment I put a bit in her mouth she reares”, she told me! “Travi has never had a bit in her mouth, because she is green broke with very minimal riding experience due to a permanent injury”, “and btw she is at least 16 yrs old”, I told the new owner.
She told me about her disappointment but needed Travi gone asap to make ‘space for other horses’ in her stable. She suggested we take Travi back and we were happy with her decision.
We found a Horse Transporter and January 24 2019 and brought Travi back home after picking her up at Sun Meadows in Barnhartvale where she was dropped off!
She nickered when she heard my voice while looking for her in those dark stalls! I put a halter on her, and she followed me like a puppy into our horse trailer. (She is not an easy trailer loader at all)
After unloading her at the ranch, all horses came running down the fence for an abundant greeting. We took Honey out of the herd to reunite with Travi. She always had a strong bond with Travi!
We are now in mid February and The Canadian Fjord Rescue network have been screening people for a forever home for Zeus, but have been unsuccessful so far. We hope to get Zeus back as soon as the roads are safe to drive with a horse trailer.
We are very grateful that there are still sincere rescue organizations out there that address horrible situations for horses.
Because horses are innate prey animals and their need for survival depends on herd life, with an alpha mare and a lead stallion, most dominant unreasonable people can get away with how they treat the horse. The horse, most often locked up in a stable environment and deprived from those basic necessities, becomes quite dull and robotic and eventually a true victim!
Their dependency on the ‘kindness’ of their human is a far cry from how they lived once in the wild!
Manipulating animals and their deplorable living conditions on a large scale, for our food consumption and hobbies have become the norm and are largely accepted in our ‘civilized’ society.
We learned a HUGE lesson through our horses and made a promise to our herd, never to part with any of them so they can live out their lives in harmony with our herd!
Sometimes I wonder, are we exaggerating when it comes to feeling for the horse, when there are so many people suffering in this world?
But then I think, animals have no voice and are helpless in almost all situations. Also the under valued joy and peace horses can bring to troubled or sick people is a gift and a very powerful therapy.
In the end we all do get a calling when we listen to our inner voice, open up our hearts and embrace our Horse journey as good as we possibly can.