So today I spent the morning doing a bit of roping. Nothing special really happened until we headed to the trainer to pick up Precious. Then our hearts broke for her. It isn’t that she isn’t fine. It is just that we didn’t like the report we got. I guess I better explain.
When we asked our Trainer to work with her we knew she spooked quite often but we weren’t sure why or how to correct it as there was not one single thing that set her off but everything seemed to set her off. Mounting her scared her to death and if we couldn’t mount her we couldn’t really work with her. She seemed comfortable more with Mom then anyone else but still she spooked at anything we introduced her to and it didn’t seem to ever get any better no matter how many times she encountered it. That is when Mom decided it was time to call in Kevin our trainer.
Today Mom had made arrangements for me to work with Kevin on my riding a bit when we went to pick Precious up. I took Storm as she has been just a little off. Kevin worked with us and found that Storm’s back leg muscles were a bit sore. Mom and I had tested her but she hides it so well it took even his trained eye an hour to figure out her issue. So he had time to use Precious to teach me.
Now for the bad/good news. Precious is still spooky. The good news is bad news though. Kevin found out why she was so spooky. As with any good trainer Kevin spends time getting to know a horse and building trust by grooming them. However, Kevin doesn’t just brush them. He is a professional show horse trainer so they get the full treatment. Their mane gets shaved between their ears and they tail gets shaped and her feet clipped and just about everything but her hooves painted … LOL Anyway, as Kevin clipped and primped her, he didn’t like what he found. There are scares behind her ears and those perfect white marks under her chin are not God’s work but scars as well. These kinds of scars are mostly found in older horses that have been incorrectly trained with what is called a Brain Chain. Most Brain Chains are homemade and are not really safe if not used correctly.
This photo is of a correctly used Brain chain. As you can see the chain goes behind the ears and in front of the ears. While the rope goes down between the legs just tight enough to train the horse to keep the head at the right height for the event in which it is being trained.
The first problem is that most homemade Brain Chains have something that holds then in place under the horse’s chin. This is not the correct way to make or use one. Another issue is that Precious is to young and not so advanced in her training that a brain chain should have ever even been on her head, let alone used to train her. Used incorrectly in all to many cases and you end up with the scares found on Precious. As Kevin worked with her he also found that it wasn’t a thing upsetting and spooking her but instead it is a motion. The motion is simple … it is a hand that rises and falls. You can’t raise your hands to grab the saddle horn to mount her, you can’t raise your hands to put the bridle over her head, You can’t raise a hand at all without upsetting her. So Very Sadly, this can only mean one thing. None of us want it to be true. None of us wanted to really even say it. This fact is a motion that brings Mom to tears and breaks her heart is the fact that Precious has been beaten. Not just corrected or occasionally hit but … BEATEN. Beaten in anger, beaten to the point that a brain chain cut into her head and chin as she tried to react to that pain. Beaten to a point that she was probably screaming in pain and confusion. Beaten to a point that right now she can’t even be patted in praise without getting really upset.
Mom isn’t happy and her and Kevin both agreed that they neither one know what happened or if she will ever really get over it. Kevin says that she does flash back from time to time and it scares her. So what is the Good news in all this? Well, the same man that figured out Precious’ pain is the same man that wants to bring her joy. Kevin really likes Precious. So much so that if we can’t get her to a point of being a somewhat normal horse where she can at least have a job of some sort, He wants her. Mom and Kevin both agree that she will NEVER – EVER – Be beaten again. She will either live our her days with us or him. She is now GUARANTEED a wonderful home for the rest of her life. No matter which home she resides in.
Some how Mom and I both get the feeling that for Kevin this is his first true rescue horse that he has worked with. Precious wasn’t just abused but she was emotionally abused and she was under weight as well. The reason we think this is Kevin’s true first abused horse is simple. When we took Precious to Kevin he asked several times if she was breed. We assured him that she had been ulta-sounded and that she was not. He later admitted to Mom that he has seen under weight horses but never to the tune of 500lbs before. The first way that a horse regain weight is what we call hay belly and that is what Precious had when we took her to him. He also admitted that he spent the better part of an afternoon watching to see if he could see a baby moving in her belly … LOL If you have never seen a horse regain large amounts of weight you, and horse professionals alike, would think that a horse might be with child as it regained it. Top all this off with the fact that he figured out that Precious had been beaten and the scars he found and I think it really got to Kevin. I think his heart broke just the same as Mom’s and Mine did for her. Mom always tells me the first rescue is always the one that sticks with you, No matter how many you do. This leads us to believe that Precious will never be very far from Kevin’s heart or mind.
Today Precious came home. After 30 days of hard work with Kevin, it seemed only fitting to turn her out to be a horse for a few days. To let her graze and run and play. Since Storm is sore we also let her go out to graze and be Precious’ buddy for the next week as well.
Doesn’t Precious Look wonderful. She is a far cry from the pitiful horse we brought home about 6 months ago. She will continue to get better. I just hope that she can now start to heal on the inside as well.