Can He Be Ridden? El Chorro
El Chorro is my grandfather's 14 year old stallion. He raced until the age of 4 when he bowed a tendon. He was brought off the track to rest and was never put back on. My aunt got sick and passed away followed by a deep depression, sickness, and the passing of my grandmother. My grandfather's plate was full and El Chorro just sat out in the stud pasture for the next 10 years. He was bred to 2 mares 8 years ago and one live colt resulted from that breeding. That colt had the most amazing temperament I've ever seen in a TB.
Long story short, Grandfather is sick now, I take care of all the horses and have decided to geld El Chorro. I'd like to see if I can be riding him by next spring. I'll do ground work with him this year to see how his personality comes along after gelding. So this "journal" will be our journey. At this point El Chorro is a big kitten when I handle him (still a stud). He calls to the mares if he can see them but doesn't try to run me over or get away. Probably helps I've been giving him treats for 7 years :D
Anyway...today is the start of our journey. Just dropped him off to be gelded.
Yesterday's experiment was a huge flop. We figured, when Chorro came home from the vet after being gelded we'd put him in the pasture next to the two geldings. Our thoughts were he'd be half sedated and not feeling so hot so it was probably a good time to introduce them across the fence. Ha ha! Chorro was all worked up and tried to bite their necks and mount them over the fence... didn't seem to care that they WERE NOT mares. So we put him back into his stall/run and will move him back to the stud pasture for a bit while his hormone levels and anxiety levels come down. Then we'll try introducing him to the geldings again. I hope he's able to adapt to herd life but I'm not sure, at this point, that he ever will. He's been separated from other horses for so long. He's always been able to see and hear other horses just not interact with them. We'll keep trying.
As far as he and I go, he was worked up yesterday but still respectful to me so I see that as a good sign. I'll go down and exercise him today to keep the swelling at bay and we'll just keep working at a slow and steady pace.
Chorro joined up today. After walking him in the round pen (just walked today, dad tried to be helpful and ran him too hard yesterday and his injured leg is not good today) he came in to the middle then followed me out of the round pen, down the walk, into his run, turned with me to lock the gate, then into his stall. He's never done that before. Hubby was also surprised when Chorro walked right up to him for some love. Chorro usually hates hubby. I think the gelding is starting to show up a little bit here and there.
Chorro still needs to put on a ton of weight. Actually he's lost weight since his injury rather than gaining it being on stall rest and eating non-stop. It must be since I'm working him each day. However, I only work him for 10-15 minutes and it's at a walk and easy trot.... I've got to get his weight up. He goes back out in the pasture this evening so maybe that will help. He'll have 24/7 grazing.
We put Chorro back out in "his" pasture away from the other horses for a couple more weeks. He's been in the barn but I thought getting back out to his green pasture and wandering to graze and get water would do him some good. His swelling is down a lot now. I was only able to work him once a day so I think that the constant movement in the pasture is working better for him. Plus he's so thin that the "all you can eat buffet" that is his pasture should do him some good. And I can grain him now that he's not all cooped up in a stall.
You can already see changes in his personality. He will now walk right up to my husband and that NEVER happened before he was gelded. He's more worried about seeing what the humans are up to than standing at the fence making sure the mares are still there. Yes he still calls the mares and is interested in them if we have to walk him by their pasture but he doesn't try to get loose to get to them.
My biggest focus right now is getting some weight on him. He looks horrible. I had the vet check his teeth and asked his opinion on why Chorro is so thin. He said he's pretty sure it's just from running himself stupid along the fence all the time. He also said that after he's gelded and calmed down some it should be easier to keep weight on him.
Keep up the great work :) I'm sure you know this already, but for any reading that may not know - be careful how much he is following you around/marching up to you/etc. A clingy horse is a dangerous horse. I would look for signs that he is confident being alone, and comes up to you respectfully to say "hi" (not just for treats!), and is fine going away when told to/when you leave. Especially having been a stallion for so long, gelding him may not completely remove any stallion tendencies he may have, including seemingly irrational aggression, particularly when jealous (ie you're leaving the pasture and he wants you to stay, he could throw a fit). Just be cautious :) Looking forward to more updates!
Thanks for the reminder. He is not a clingy horse and the only time he follows me is from the round pen to his stall. Out in the pasture he walks up to say hi then is usually off again. I'll keep an eye out for him becoming clingy. I do still keep a close eye on him so he doesn't come up to me from behind out in the pasture. We haven't been working long enough for me to trust him yet :)
I had to bring Chorro back to a stall and am working him in the round pen every day again. He started swelling up again. The round pen has been good for both of us. He now turns towards the fence to change direction without "extra" encouragement from me. He stays on the rail the whole way around no longer trying to cut in and take short cuts. Best of all you can tell that he respects me a lot more now than he did before. He never tried to run me over or anything but he would pin his ears and hop with his back end when I'd make him work harder than he wanted. Now he just puts his head down and does what I ask. You can tell the exercise is helping him heal. He was really stiff in the back legs when I brought him in a few days ago. So bad, in fact, I wondered if he would ever be sound after going over the fence. But after 5 min of walk/trotting you could tell he was loosening up. Now he has no problem going into a trot after only a time or two around the round pen at a walk.
Chorro is still REALLY thin. I've got him on beet pulp, corn oil, a senior weight building feed, and all the grass hay he can eat. The vet said he has a few things going against him while he tries to gain weight. 1: stress from his injury and being gelded 2:still being a little high strung and "studdy" 3:being a TB over the age of 10 and 4:right now we are trying to get him to gain weight while exercising him. If anyone has any miracle cures to get him to gain faster it would be appreciated.
Now the bad news, my aunt has decided that if I can't find someone who wants Chorro in the next couple of months she and her husband want him to be destroyed. My grandfather was put in an assisted living facility yesterday and since she has power of attorney she is running with it. The biggest problem is Chorro will still be a skinny mess in 2 months. No way can I get him fully healed, his weight up, AND find someone who wants to work with a 14 year old, recently gelded, OTTB.
Did she say why they are wanting to get rid of him?
Now that you're working him and taking care of him it doesn't seem like it would be much of a worry to them...
Have you tried Canter.org? I don't see any affiliate chapters in Utah but there is one in Colorado. Those people are very dedicated to rehabbing OTTBs and they may be able to help you find someone to take him
Julie: They don't want to pay to feed him. There are also 3 brood mares that they want to give away or have destroyed as well. Yes I am the one that feeds and cares for them but "Grandpa" is still paying the feed bill for them. We only have to buy hay 1/2 the year because he has lots of pasture. The truth of the matter is my aunt doesn't like El Chorro. She is scared of him. Always has been. Her only experiences with him were when my grandpa let him out and we needed to separate him from the mares and catch him to put him back in his pasture. He wasn't exactly easy to handle but no stallion would be if he was suddenly in with 4 mares and you were trying to take him away from them. He never got aggressive though. Just tried his hardest to keep away/ get away from you.
I will try canter.org. We were going to try to find a rescue as a last resort. I know rescues are overrun right now so I was hoping to find them homes. We will see...
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