The call came early one cold December morning. I was still in bed. Eric woke me to tell me of the call.
"A lady called and says she has two horses that she can't take care of anymore and she needs to find a home for them. Are you interested?"
"Of course I'm interested," I replied.
I called the lady back and got all the information that I could over the phone. The lady had the horses for a couple of years but because of recent developments, could no longer care for them. They needed new homes -- and soon, they were out of feed and hay.
I told the lady that I probably wanted the horses, but would like to come out and see them first. We agreed to meet later that day.
I arrived at the location and the lady met me outside. We began to walk down a wooded path to the "paddock". As we approached the paddock, which was just some barbed wire strewn around some trees in the woods, two horses came wandering up to greet us. Both were in poor condition.
The taller gray mare (named Hailey) was not as bad as the smaller sorrel stud. The mare needed to put on at least 100 pounds. Her coat was dull and crusty and her hooves were in desperate need of a farrier - having no heel at all and very long toes. But, she had alert eyes and a friendly manner. I looked her over and found nothing that a lot of love, food, and care couldn't fix. She had good clean legs and despite the condition of her hooves, moved out soundly. She was about 15.2 hh and large-boned. I knew that given the chance to fill out she would be a nice looking horse.
The sorrel stud (called Thunder) was another matter. He was about 14.2 hh and at least 150 to 200 pounds underweight. His coat was falling out in patches from lack of care. He also was in desperate need of a farrier. I could tell immediately that the mare was dominant and that he was probably not getting to eat when there was food out there. On top of all of that, he had a crooked nose from an earlier accident. It made him look as if he were smirking.
I checked him over and decided that despite all of this, he had potential. He had the biggest, most gentle eyes I had ever seen on a stud. He seemed to say "Please give me another chance." I liked him immediately.
I decided that I had to take the horses and try to rehabilitate them. I drove home and made arrangements to bring the additional horses on to the place and then waited anxiously for the day that we were to transport them.
When we arrived to get the horses, the lady said that it had taken five mean several hours to get the mare in the trailer when they had last hauled them, and that she had reared repeatedly and done all sorts of things in protest. It took me and one other person about 20 minutes of coaxing to get the mare to walk onto the trailer without any rearing. She just needed to be allowed to get in in her own time and her own way.
The stud walked right on - of course the hay bag helped.
We got them home and began the long process of rehabilitating them -- farrier visits, vet visits, worming, and lots of hay and grain (well we started with small amounts of hay and grain and slowly worked our way up).
It has now been almost two months since we got the horses. Both have put on around 100 pounds each. Hailey looks pretty good - though it will take a few more visits from the farrier to get her hooves back to normal. I have ridden her twice and discovered that she doesn't know much yet, though she didn't mind my being on her.
Little Man (old name Thunder) is beginning to look like a normal horse now, though he still has the crooked nose. I have not ridden him yet because I want him to put on a little more weight. But, I am sure that he will not mind. He loves people and just hangs around the gate whenever anyone is out there, waiting for attention.
I enjoy just watching them in the pasture running and having fun. It gives me joy to know that I was able to give these horses a second chance in life.