"Making a Difference" Stories - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 04-05-2015, 05:10 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2015
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"Making a Difference" Stories

Please share your stories of rescuing a horse, adopting an off-track thoroughbred, or a time when you made a difference in a horse's life.
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post #2 of 7 Old 05-08-2015, 02:37 PM
Join Date: Dec 2014
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Post My Love, Nickay

About two years ago, I started leasing a wonderful Quarter Horse named Nickay. She was around the age of 28 so no, she was not the youngest but she made me happy. She had not been ridden in a while and she definitely needed some TLC. She was taken care of by such amazing people but she just needed someone to regularly ride and groom her again. When I first started riding her, she was an extremely stubborn girl. She would randomly stop and would NOT let me ride her anymore. I would leave the barn so frustrated, practically in tears due to how often we butted heads.
But I never gave up. I rode her as many times a week I could and I decided to start bonding so we could start trusting each other. I did liberty tricks with her (using absolutely no force) and we started trusting each other more and more as time went by. It was not the easiest journey but after a long time, we started working together. We would challenge each other but learn so much from each other at the same time (lol). The next summer, I could gallop her bareback with no hands. All it took was trust.<3
I ended up leasing her for 22 months. We had many ups and downs due to her going lame, not being able to canter anymore, etc. but we stuck together. Everyone knew me as Nickay's and she was known as mine. We were inseparable. I had never had such a bond with any other animal in my life.
I knew that horse like the back of my hand and trusted her with my life.
She started slowing down as she got older. I was told that this summer I would not be able to ride her any longer. She was going to be a pasture pet. I could see her and love her anytime I wanted but it was time for her to fully retire. We celebrated her 30th birthday on April 2nd. I thought everything would be okay. I knew that someday I would be left on this Earth without my best friend but I forced myself to push it aside. I went to the beach the day after her birthday for spring break and when I came back, Nickay wasn't there. Turns out on April 11th, they had to put her down while I was away. I don't think I've ever been so stunned and upset in my life. I didn't know what I would do without her. How would I go on?
She couldn't breathe and they knew it wasn't fair to make her suffer any longer.
I never got to say a proper goodbye but I know that she understands. It's hard going to the barn and seeing her empty stall and her once used saddle hanging on its rack but I know that she's happy.
I know that she's completely pain free but I'm not. There will always be a hole in my heart where her love once filled it.
I know that this isn't exactly what you were asking for but I saved Nickay and she saved me.
I feel that that is enough.
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post #3 of 7 Old 05-11-2015, 09:45 PM
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 253
• Horses: 2
Green horse, green rider

In 2011 I met the most amazing horse, she was my everything. We had a connection and it was like we could read each others' minds. She was my once-in-a-lifetime horse. Unfortunately, after 2 months my grandpa (her legal owner) sent her to auction without telling me. Ever since, there's been a hole in my heart. I tried to fill it with another horse.
It took 7 months of searching to find my current mare. I had been on my way to see a different mare (can you tell I like mares?) when the owner called and cancelled. I felt like i just had to look at a horse that day. So I went on equinenow and clicked on a little Paint I'd had my eye on. We called and they said to come on by. Her ad promised her to be healthy, UTD, and pretty much bombproof. When I arrived, I was severely underwhelmed. Her coat was thin and rough, her hooves were mishapen, she had a hitch in her hind leg, she had founder rings, her teeth were sharp, and she was 200 lbs. underweight. She was far from the 16hh Dressage horse and Jumper prospect I was looking for. But we had driven all that way, and a horse was a horse.
The first thing the sellers told me was "Well, she's pretty green."
I was wondering what I had gotten myself into. I had never ridden a green horse! I wasn't even cantering in my lessons yet! So after watching the one seller ride her around a bit, I hopped on and just pretended she was a well broke horse like I was used to. She wasn't, but she was very willing. And although she only had two speeds (stop and power walk) I thought she was fun. The sellers just stared and explained she was normally flighty and nervous but with me she just went around calmly and enjoyed the ride. I laughed internally, they had no idea I was just a beginner! Anyways, I left and it took me 2 weeks to decide on her. I so desperately wanted that connection I had with my other horse, and it wasn't easy accepting I wouldn't have that again. Yet when the sellers called me - near frantic, and said a woman was coming in a few days with a trailer and cash in hand, it took me all of 3 seconds to say "I'll take her." The thought of her going to someone else gave me a bad feeling. So she vetted sound miraculously and we took her home a month later.
That's when the story really began
After she got healthy, we absolutely despised each other. It lasted 8 months. Rearing, bolting, bucking, balking, etc. But I wouldn't give up. Then after a while we figured it out...we got along, we were in perfect harmony. Every ride was finished with a smile instead of frustrated tears. And for the first time in the year I'd owned her, we got to canter! I was so in love with my Dressage pony. But her conformation is that of a halter horse... On June 10, 2014 I turned her out in the round pen. I had just closed the gate when I heard something; absolutely nothing. I turned around and met her eye, it was full of fear. During a playful buck, she managed to find a spot of deep sand. SHe tore her RF suspensory ligament. The vet called it a freak accident.
3 months of strict stall rest, another 5 of gradually increase hand walking. Walk, cold hose, wrap. That cycle went on everyday. We grew closer. Now, we're back to riding. Next month she can canter under saddle! She's still feisty from all that time off and not allowed to have much turnout, but the future is bright. Our goal is to compete in 1st level by 2017!
As for me, along with retraining and rehabbing her, I've found a jumping trainer and will start competing hunters on her OTTB this season!
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c'est la vie
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post #4 of 7 Old 05-12-2015, 04:12 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: SW UK
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Many horses and ponies over the years that I have changed their lives and they mine.

One horse came to me to see if I could find what was wrong with him. He had been bred for Steeplechasing and had shown a lot of promise his first two seasons and then had turned into a different animal, refusing to go onto the gallops and refusing to start. The Jockey Club had him under a warning in that if he didn't start in his next race he would be banned forms period of time.

So, this horse was as sour as a lemon. He was mean in the stable, refused to go anywhere except backwards and if he did go forward then he would either be shying or bucking.

I knew he had had some tough treatment to get him to go and it hadn't worked so, I did nothing except keep him facing in the direction I wanted him to go. Things improved quite a lot and he became much nicer in the stable.
There is nothing like following Foxhounds to sweeten up a horse so, off hunting we went. The field moved off and he went into reverse. For thirty minutes we went backwards round and round a field then he suddenly stopped and went forward. We caught up with the rest and as soon as they moved off we went into reverse gear!

This went on for three or four Meets and then one very boring day, we were on ground belonging to a family that evented. A girl on a nice coloured horse suggested that we popped a few of the cross country fences. I told her to lead on and away we went.
That horse had a natural pop and with a lead was keen to get to each fence, clever as a cat through combination fences and ears *****ed loving it.

After that he was fantastic following hounds. One day the field was jumping into some woods over a stream, the ground was very boggy and seasoned hunters were having trouble as the landing was well over knee deep clay. I wasn't going to risk my horse and along with some others decided to take a different line. One of these riders was the son of the landowner so we were safe!

He yelled out instructions as he needed a lead. I ended up at the front and he never hesitated jumping hedges we couldn't see the other side of.

That horse was fantastic hunting and a pleasure to ride. We Point to Pointed him and he won every race that season, never thought about not starting. The following season he went back into training with a different trainer and did very well racing proper.
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post #5 of 7 Old 05-12-2015, 08:48 PM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Ontario
Posts: 6,176
• Horses: 5
Biggest change story was an OTStdbred that was lame in both fronts (severely bowed tendons), really skinny and had been raced when lame (ya, only here could that happen). Sad. I took her home with the intention of her being a companion horse only. She threw three shoes on the way home in the trailer. There was no expectation of riding. The vet thought I was nuts for taking her in, especially in the fall in Northern Ontario. She figured I'd be trying to break the frost for a grave.

Within a year, the horse was being regularly ridden. Eight years later, she is the only horse here. A couple of years ago, I trained her for endurance riding. Since she came, two others came and went. I don't get out to ride often enough for her liking now - when I come home, or shake the bridle, her ears perk up and she's ready to go!
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post #6 of 7 Old 05-13-2015, 03:18 AM
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Ma good friend of mine was the local knackerman. He dealt with casualty livestock including horses. Horses that were fit to travel he would take to a slaughterhouse where they entered the human food chain.
When he felt that the horse had a hope for a decent life he would bring them to me. These were usually ponies that had laminitis. I would get them sound and then sell them and we would split the profit.

So, when I returned from a ride I was not surprised to find a small great Welsh pony tied in the yard. It hadn't foundered and seemed perfectly OK.
When I spoke to David he told me that the pony was marked as 'unrideable' and no one could stay on him.
I lunged and long reined him, he was fine and knew what it was about. He never minded the tack and was certainly ready for backing.
I had a good eight year old girl, tough as old boots and ultra keen. She leant over him and that was fine so she got on. I was walking by the pony's head and he did a couple of steps and bucked, his head barely moved but his butt came up like a jack hammer and the child went several feet to the side and ahead.

Three times he dropped her with very little effort. Bigger girl, same thing, he had this down to a T.

I had a ride to take so, told the children to keep getting on him in tip urns and to keep him moving. There were plenty of children there to keep climbing on board.

I returned and hour later and went to the indoor arena to see this pony drop another child, admittedly they did stay on for several strides before he got them off!

I to.d the children they were useless and that they were not keeping him moving!
I stepped onto him and immediately drove him forward hard and fast. My hands were up level with my nose keeping his head right up. At 140lbs he knew I was on board and because I was sat heavy couldn't lift his butt. I had done a couple of circuits of the arena at a fast canter when, going into a corner he threw himself down.
I rolled off and as I never expected it, was slower to get to my feet than him.
I knew it was a new trick and he would do it again. I had the children ready and sure enough when he went down we all piled on top of him so he couldn't rise.
When we let hi up I got on him and he was fine. I left the children to ride him and he stopped his antics from that point on.
I was soon using him for Rding for the Disabled,
I sold Breeze and he stayed with me. Then he was sold and went to a private home after a couple of years. He was a heck of a jumping pony amd had never really put a foot wrong since the first day of riding him.

Some years later I had moved away to work. I was home on holiday and went to a show where I could catch up with many friends. As I stood chatting by the side of an arena so a grey pony came into the arena for the minimums jumping. The kiddie trotted him to the forst fence and pony deliberately swerved and threw the child into the stands. He did this twice. I remarked to my friend, "What a mean little pony. " one replied, "You should know, that is Breeze."
I hadn't recognised him as he was now all white.
I marched into the arena and took his rein. The kiddie was drying her tears and wanted to try again.
I pinched Breeze's nostril and growled at him telling him that I would ride him around if he misbehaved!
I ran with the kiddie over three oppr four jumps and then let them go on their own. Breeze never put a foot wrong and on finishing came to me to look for praise.

I arranged to have a bigger girl to go ride him and to keep the little monster in order. He was the sort of pony that took advantage but knew if he overstepped the line there may be consequences. These people had not given him any so he had reverted to being taking advantage of a small child.

His owners kept him for many years, he taught all five of their children to ride and then was broken to harness so they could still keep him in the family. He taught them a lot.

He was well into his thirtys when he was put down, many years after he originally should have been!
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post #7 of 7 Old 05-13-2015, 01:13 PM
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Pennsylvania
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When I was about twenty I was contacted by a woman who had a horse that she said "just needs a little work." The horse was a good looking six year old gelding and I decided to just get on him and see what he knew and didn't know. That was my first mistake, but being young I didn't press her for details or ask to see her ride the horse. "A little work" didn't sound too bad and I could use the money. He had good ground manners, tacked up well, and stood to be mounted. He walked about twenty feet and exploded. I sat the first few bucks then got pitched higher than I ever thought possible and smashed my knee when I hit the ground. Small consolation to be told afterwards that I lasted longer on his back than anyone else who tried to ride him and the reason that she didn't tell me beforehand was that she was afraid I might not take the job!

Next chapter. About two years later a man heard me talking in the feed store and approached me and asked if I knew anything about training horses. I replied "Yeah, I know a little bit" and then he asked how I would handle a confirmed bucker. Now that I had a permanently damaged knee and also a bit more smarts I simply told him that I had already learned one lesson from a bucker after hobbling around for weeks doing barn work and riding in pain. There is always some risks with training but the greater risks are not worth it. He got the idea that somehow we might be talking about the same horse and asked if I would come and confirm his suspicion. I did and there he was the same horse. "No Sir, I am NOT taking that horse on for training" I received several phone calls from that man asking if I would change my mind but the answer was always "NO". Finally late in the year he called me and said he would send the horse to the killer unless I took him. Finally he offered to give me the horse with a bill of sale. For some reason I agreed.

I started that horse out with ground work as if he had never seen a saddle. Finally got on him and walked. No buck. Things went well from there except that it was now winter and the footing was not always agreeable for riding. Spring came and the horse was doing very well. I got a phone call from the previous owner saying that he heard about the progress and that I should pay him for the horse since he was now doing so well even though I had a bill of sale saying "paid in full". I told him that I would give him killer price for the horse but the extra mouth to feed through the winter was a hardship and it was only now that lessons were starting and some money was coming in. A few days later the horse was stolen. The police found him at a horse trader's that we knew! (Mom gave that man a lecture on ethics that I am sure he never forgot, since he was the one who actually came and took the horse) The horse trader did tell me that his instructions were to send the horse to the killer unless he could sell him privately first. Several people liked the horse but were bucked off quickly so he was scheduled to go to auction. So we had him back but I was really concerned about him regressing. Not so, he was fine after being home again. Around that time we moved to a better facility. I started the gelding over fences and he did exceptionally well. We really weren't in a hurry to sell him because I enjoyed him so much and we were now down to four of our own horses. We finally got a call from a lady looking for a horse of his caliber for one of her students and made the decision to let him go. The student was a thirteen year old girl and they were a perfect match. She did show him in working hunter but mainly rode in equitation and won many English pleasure classes with him.
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