Our BO (who's family is a very close friend of mine) used to own a beautiful, show quality peruvian paso mare named Indi. She was the prize of the pasture...everyone absolutely adored her. She has perfect manners, the most beautiful gait we've ever seen, and an obvious love for her owner. I've never seen a horse and rider bonded as closely as this man who was supposively a 'rough and tough' horse person. Indi was bred once, mothering a beautiful chocolate colored pasoxarab colt. The colt- name Duke- also seemed to be very strongly bonded to our BO, and the three of them were an amazing thing to see. Duke would follow happily as Indi and the BO worked together, calmly standing for anything that he was asked to do. He loved our BO.
Unfortunately, hard times struck us and the colt had to be sold at a year old. We tried very hard to be sure he went to a good place, selecting a woman and her husband who wanted to use him for show once he was older (he is gaited, as is his mother).
Four months later, Indi was mysteriously attacked and found dead when we came out, obviously beated and dragged. Our BO was furious.
For nearly two years, BO has refused to buy himself another horse, or to even ride- save for correcting a young horse here and there. He seemed so...sad. Withdrawn.
About seven months ago, the BO's wife, the farm's trainer, I, and one of the other regular volunteers decided that we were going to find Duke- his beloved Indi's only colt for him.
For months and months we tried every idea we could think of. We had pretty much given up.
One day a month and a half or so ago, the trainer and I went to a small auction two towns away in search of a small pony to add to our training program. As we were looking at a little grey, we suddenly started hearing a thrashing and squealing at the very end of the shed row, and turning around- we were astonished to see a beautifully built, chocolate and dappled, mirror image of Indi- rearing up as tall as he could possibly go, screaming.
Looking at eachother, we both instantly knew. Our quest had come to an end. We had found Duke.
He was a monster. He was sleek and shiny, obviously fed well- but something about him screamed hate. He was shoved back into his stall as two men yelled profanities at him, and left. Cautiously we approached, only to be lunged at with bared teeth by now-three-year-old Duke. We instantly noticed thin welts all over his face and scars marring his legs and hindquarters, and we knew he had to come home with us.
He flipped over in the ring at auction time, almost breaking free twice. It wasn't hard to secure him for $400. By now were were extremely worried about his temperment, having already noticed that he was still intact and very strong, dispite being barely 14hh.
It took five men to get Duke into our trailer, but finally, we were off.
When he returned to the farm with us, he had bruised his foot, cut his jaw, and kicked more dents than I can count into the trailer. We regretting bringing him back. The BO isn't an old man, but he's approaching his mid fifties, and a stud colt with this much hate burning in his eyes...it seemed disasterous to pair the two of them together.
He lunged and kicked and reared and bucked as we struggled to get him into his pen, dangerous and strong. We left him alone.
For two days we tried to get the BO to come and see the new colt, telling him that there was something about him that he would like. He refused. Meanwhile, Duke rampaged- trying to attack us when we went to feed him, screaming at us as we retreated, throwing himself into the fence trying to escape. We were so near giving up.
Then it happend. By chance, our BO happened to walk by Duke's pen. No one was there to see them meet (though we sorely wish that we had been) but an hour later when I went looking for him- I noticed someone in Duke's pen....completely at ease and crooning quietly...as duke laid completely calm and relaxed, with his chin propped lightly on our BO's shoulder.
I swear, I almost cried. Both looked so happy and at peace...and they are. Only a month later, Duke has changed into a COMPLETELY different horse. From the hate filled demon to a velcro pony, he follows the BO everywhere and nickers excitedly every time he sees his friend coming. He was gelded last week and our BO miraculously already has him wearing a saddle, going along happy-as-can-be, doing whatever our BO wants. He is a beautiful animal with the same floaty gaits that his mother had, and quite obviously- the same love for the man she called her master.
I am so excited to see their training progress, and I feel so blessed to have been a part of their happy ending...or beginning ;)
'do you have any cookies?'