Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Horse Tails

Meet Max

Boarding horses can be incredibly frustrating, especially when the owner of the horse, doesn’t handle the horse in a manner we approve of. Sure that sounds a titch bossy, but then it should, as bossy is probably an apt description of me. Hubby would probably say ‘know it all’, but I don’t see how knowing things is bad. As far as my thinking goes, knowledge is a good thing, and one shouldn’t have to hide it. Some people are willing to learn, to take advantage of free knowledge, others, not so much.
I quit boarding horses that didn’t originate here on the farm, because to tell the truth, many are a huge pain in the derriere. Horses that were bred and born here, know the rules. Many horses that came in, were devoid of manners and had little respect for fences or people. With a little work, I could bring a horse around to my way of thinking. The problem was often with the owners. From using and stealing tack, to leaving gates open, or closed and locking horses away from their water, or feeding extra, the annoyances were plentiful. That’s not to say we didn’t have some really great boarders, as we surely did. If all boarders were great, we’d probably still have some.
Last winter, we took in a boarder for what was supposed to be a couple of months at most. The gelding had a suspensory injury, and needed to be kept in a smaller pen with a very good fence. We had one available, and as it was for a limited time, said yes. That’s how we came to meet Max.
When he first came to stay, we were a tad wary when with him. He had that something about him that said, he wasn’t entirely trustworthy. There was that potential for a sudden eruption of action, with little concern for what and who might be within contact distance. With a little time, that feeling disappeared. He became less aloof, and more interested in us. His owner opposed treats, but every horse we care for, is treated to the right kind of scratch and pat. Fed treats were off limits, but attention and affection are part of everyday handling. A horse that lives alone, misses out on the social aspects of herd life. We like to fill that gap when we can, while expecting respect and manners.
Within a few days of Max’s arrival, his owner was up on his back, and riding around a little. A few weeks after that, he was being ridden more and more, or chased around in the round pen. Then the galloping began, so much galloping. No working on collection or leads, just a whole lot of galloping and trotting.
Herein lies the reason, I’m not suited to boarding horses. If I see someone doing something wrong, I want to say something about it. There are so many things that will annoy and frustrate me. Tying a horse too long, creates a tangle hazard and is a wreck waiting to happen. Working a horse into a full sweat, then putting it away wet, is asking for trouble, as well as putting your tack away wet and never cleaning it. Then there’s the whole issue of shoeing to make corrections that are actually being worsened by the shoes. By the time his two month stay, turned into 5 months or so, Max had his hooves trimmed more than any horse I have ever known. He had trims done when there was nothing there to trim away, and he had shoes, too. Shoes that pulled off, because there wasn’t enough hoof to attach them securely to.
It must be said that I’m anti shoe. There’s nothing about standing on steel that’s good for hoof health. There’s no contact with the ground to promote bloodflow and growth, and when a shoe is lost, the horse is lame, because the bottom of the hoof never comes in contact with ground. Losing shoes is another problem. A shoe lost in a pen or pasture, can show up in ghastly ways, such as embedded somewhere on a horse. It takes time, commitment and patience to change a horse over to barefoot. Time and patience that most people, aren’t willing to give. The sole of the hoof needs to grow back and thicken, and nail holes need time to grow out.
As the months passed, it became obvious that Max had to leave. Not only were lost shoes a danger to Max, they were a hazard to our horses as well. It took sweetpea and her Beau hours of scouting the pasture to find the last one. Enough was definitely enough. No advice, no matter what it was, had any attention paid to it. Horses aren’t machines, they’re flesh and blood. They feel and think. We couldn’t change Max’s circumstances, but we didn’t have to watch it, or allow it to happen on our property either.
About a week after Max left, sweetpea and I were getting farm eggs, when we saw something that had her stopping the truck and backing up for another look. There across the road was Max. Our hearts ached when he recognized the truck, and came to the corner to see us.
“I’m sorry, buddy,” the girlchild said, a good deal of regret and sadness in her voice, “we can’t take you home. We want to, but we can’t.”
Shortly after, Max was moved again. Again, we happened upon him. Sweetpea looked at a farm we were passing and exclaimed, “There he is again!”
I don’t know what the odds are for randomly coming across a horse like that, but something was keeping him in our minds.
Then it happened. Max not only reinjured the original ligament in his front leg, now the other was pulled as well. There was also a tear in the original injury. When I say Max reinjured himself, I mean the manner he was ridden and footing, likely caused the injuries.
Tendons and ligaments can heal, given enough time. A lot of galloping and working in footing that’s too soft, puts a good deal of strain on legs. We’re not afraid of such injuries, as it isn’t the first time we’ve dealt with ligament or tendon issues. When Max was posted for sale, sweetpea’s beau couldn’t envision him going to a good home. Like us, he figured Max would eventually end up shipped. After a brief discussion with sweetpea, they decided it had to happen.
Max is now where he belongs, back with us. The hated shoes are off, never to go back on again. In six months or so, we’ll assess his injuries, but believe he’s going to be ready to begin again.
Oh yeah, he’s super pleased to be back with us. He tells us so, every time he sees us. The silent horse now neighs, he whinnies, and softly nickers to us. The once aloof horse, is snooty no more. In fact, he wants us to spend time with him. Sweetpea’s guy is going to be very happy with Max. We’re sure of it.

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB