I went to check him out in person yesterday. The person I was to borrow a trailer from fell through on me, new arrangements have been made for Thursday. Though at this point I doubt I will be able to wait that long so will be trying in the meantime to find something sooner.
Because......yikes. I have a few updates to share.
First, the timestamp has to be wrong on these photos. His feet are HORRIBLY long, nearly as long as Freyja's when I got her, though not curled around like hers were. Completely stretched forward, flattened, and squared off at the ends. I wish I had taken the camera with me yesterday. I'll get pictures up as soon as he is home. They look about like this, but longer at the toes:
(note these are NOT his feet, just a picture from an image search that look about the same)
He's skinny, muddy, in a dirt/manure pen, mane and tail a matted mess.
That's actually not the worst of his problems though.
He is practically untouchable. Absolutely, completely and totally terrified. When the owner and I entered the pen, he ran to the back, shivered and blew at us. The owner claims to have ridden and driven him, and she does have a real cute little pony cart there, but I question it as she wasn't even able to catch him. The pictures she sent me, which are on here, were taken from outside the pen with a zoom lens. I took a half hour, finally got him to approach me, and when I got him he promptly snapped the lead I had put on. I asked the owner to leave the pen, and spent a good amount of time getting him comfortable with me and didn't try to get a hold of him again. He finally approached me, allowed me to halter him (though he trembled and puffed the entire time) and allowed me to lead him around a little, the entire time ducking his head every time I moved quickly, raised my voice or reached up to stroke him. If I tried to touch him anywhere but his neck or shoulder, he would bolt. If I touched his face, he would bolt.
I ended up spending three hours in that pen with him, letting him come to me to catch him up and then releasing him, and just handling him without trying to push anything. By the end he softened his body language, would lead and back for me, approach me readily, and allow me to scratch under his matted forelock. He never once threatened to kick, bite or act aggressive, even in the beginning he just wanted to run away. He hung his head over the fence and whinneyed when I left. It took everything I had to walk away and leave him.
I don't know if he's been abused or just lacked handling. He continued to come up to me, even after he'd spook and run away, and he ran shorter distances each time, came back to me sooner each time. He was very curious and seemed to be eager for contact despite his fear, so I don't think he's necessarily been beat up constantly, at least not by the people that have him now....but he hasn't had much kindness either. The current owners have had him for about 7-8 months. These people had a ton of animals, and none in great shape. They were breeding their dogs - a "new breed" they created by crossing an akbash with a neopolitan mastiff. Just what the world needs. They were definitely uneducated in the care of their animals, and neglectful, though I don't think intentionally harmful. I spent a while trying to help them see that they had more than they could deal with and needed to downsize. They seemed in agreement, though we'll see I suppose.
I got to get him out of there, and soon. Anyone in Northern Indiana have a trailer I could borrow?