The dilemma every horse rescuer faces eventually


The reason I’ve been so quiet here is that I’m saving up on my VLC stories for my Horse Illustrated column. He’s going to be prominently featured later this year in a column so you’ll get to read the update there! For those of you who can’t wait, he is doing great. We have had numerous delays in getting to our first show for various reasons but this month for sure.

I do have an update about another of my rescues. You may recall previous posts about Lucy, the black Thoroughbred mare from the July 2008 Enumclaw auction. Lucy came back to me because of a job loss this past fall (she had been adopted out to someone very experienced, but he got deployed to Iraq and then his dad lost his job), and I really had that dilemma all rescuers face eventually. Here was a mare with a fairly serious fear bucking issue. I’d ridden her once and she didn’t buck but she felt to me like she thought she had a cougar sitting on her back – she was waiting for the axe to fall. I didn’t feel comfortable giving her another try, and I didn’t know of anyone else who wanted to take that on. Was it time to give up and put her to sleep? Or was that person out there who could get through to her? I don’t have an easier time making these decisions than any of you — I procrastinated, rationalizing that she wasn’t costing me much because she was on pasture board, and, well, I’d think about making a decision on her next month.


I’m glad I waited. I’ve had a young trainer offer to give Lucy a try, and she’s really clicking with the mare. They had a successful first ride yesterday and now I’m hopeful that things will continue to progress. We’ll see. I don’t have a moral issue about putting down a horse that is unsafe to ride. There aren’t enough homes for horses that ARE safe to ride. Conversely, I’ve seen the right person turn a horse into a rideable horse enough times that I don’t feel right about not giving a horse plenty of chances with different people. Look at Whiskey, that SAFE horse – once pronounced unrideable, she is now a terrific trail horse for her current owner. All she needed was some hard work and a job to do. So this is another chance for Lucy, and we will see how it goes!

Who else has been faced with this dilemma? Did you find Mr. or Ms. Right for a difficult horse, or did someone just get hurt and then you regretted it? Mugwump has blogged a lot about an unpredictable horse she had like this – I think his name was Captain. She thought she had him sorted out, and then he put someone in the hospital. It’s just the worst “rock and a hard place” situation to be in, isn’t it? But the fact is, they’re not kittens…most people don’t want to feed them if they can’t do a job, so sometimes you wind up right where I am – asking myself how many chances to give, how much risk to take, and how much risk to let others take.

Your thoughts?

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Published in: on February 1, 2010 at 5:58 pm  Comments (23)