I've known only one crazy chestnut mare...and it wasn't entirely her fault.
She came from a big-name Arab breeding barn down in Scottsdale. You know, the ones who are notorious for abusing their horses to get them to "perform right" in the ring. She was going to be sent to auction as a long yearling because she didn't make the halter cut. She was more *le gasp* a riding horse
. Well, my friend heard about her from a her boss and went to pick her up. She had her a year before she almost lost her to a horrific pasture injury.
She had her boarded down in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area while she was up here working and when she went to pick up the filly and her gelding to move them up here (we're two hours away from Phoenix), she pulled in to find her filly barely able to stand with a DEEP puncture wound in her poll and a horrible infection in the bone. The lady my friend had the horses boarded with insisted that nothing had happened to the filly while on her property.
Anyway, the vet was called and he gave her a less-than 10% chance of surviving, but said if she, by some miracle, did
survive, she probably wouldn't be able to walk again. My friend took the chance and had her treated, including removing part of her first vertebrae to help get a handle on the infection in the bone. Several months later, the filly was still alive and doing okay. The vet then said that she'd make it, but if
she did learn to walk again, she'd never make a riding horse. Again, my friend took that chance. Six months later, the filly was released from strict stall rest and was able to be turned out. She still had a ways to recover, but the worst was over.
When I started working for my friend, Remi would still walk with her head up in the air, trying to balance herself. If you could get her to trot, she made a giraffe look normal because she'd have to throw her head up to balance, plus her movement was very stiff-legged and side-to-side. Part of my job was hand-walking her in the arena and getting her to walk, then eventually trot, over ground poles to remind her where her feet were. She made a lot of good progress, but she still had her issues. The pipe had done irreparable nerve damage and had done neurological damage, as well. She would spook hard
at her own shadow. Anything new was the end of the world, even if it was just a different halter.
Then we moved from the barn we were boarding at to a barn my friend started leasing. There was a nice barn with 12' by 12' inside stalls. We put Remi in an inside stall during the winter because she couldn't grow much of a winter coat...and she turned into a neurotic mess. She paced, she pawed, she dug. Eventually, we realized that it reminded her of the stall she grew up in (Scottsdale breeders are notorious for keeping their horses in small, dark stalls all the time, only taking them out for shows, to keep them on high alert to everything outside of that stall and thereby achieving that sought-after look and movement in the halter ring). You could not clean her stall with her in it because she would constantly spook and bolt blindly whenever she saw the apple picker (found out later that the Hispanic guys hired to clean the stalls would beat the horses with the apple picker if they didn't move out of their way in a timely manner). We taught her to lunge and as long as the arena looked EXACTLY the way it looked the day before, she was fine. Move a jump or some ground poles, and it was literally the end of the world to her.
After I left my friend's employ, she offered to give me Remi, but I'm just not a mare person and I felt I was too heavy for her light build (I like heftier, chunkier horses
). A few years later, I found out that Remi had been started under saddle and she had outgrown some of her spookiness. I saw her again a year or so ago when the girl who owns her was boarding briefly at my barn. Remi is still a neurotic mess at times and can have meltdowns over seemingly innocuous things, but she has apparently turned into a nice little riding horse.
This is Remi when I first met her: