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A sad post...

As many of you may already know, almost a year ago I nearly bankrupted myself rescuing a troubled horse from the meat wagon, with the intention of rehabilitating and selling him.

Aughisky came to the barn I ride at a few months before that and started out on the trail riding string, but quickly lost his place after injuring two of the staff members. His explosive reaction to anything that scared him, and lack of trust in humans made him too dangerous for the job.

At that point, it looked like a strong bond with a single rider would give him the security he needed to get over his fears, but none of the riders at the barn were willing to take him on. On the ground, his manners were nervous, but willing, and he was almost desperate for love and attention, but in the saddle he was completely unpredictable. Not wanting to see such a young and sweet horse end up on someone's dinner plate, I bought him, and spent the next eleven months trying to help him. I've been riding since I was 13, but I'd never owned my own horse, and I completely fell in love with Augie's personality and charm. I've never met a horse who likes to be hugged as much as he does, wrap your arms around his head, and he'll stand there for hours.

Unfortunately, while we established trust on the ground, it hasn't carried through in the saddle. There has been progress in his training and ability, but not in his response to stress or fear. In the last month and a half I've had three bad falls, with the bruises from one barely fading before they're covered up by new ones. Last Thursday I had the worst one yet, banging up my arm and my hip, and nearly being dragged through a narrow arena doorway when my boot got caught for a moment in the stirrup.

I've given it a lot of hard thought, considering the advice of professionals in the field who have worked with me and my horse, and the pleas of friends and family who have patched me up after all the falls, and I've decided this is enough. I love this horse, but I can't continue to risk my life to ride him.

I'm not sure exactly where this leaves us right now. I can't afford to keep a horse I can't ride, and I'm afraid to sell him, lest he hurt someone else. I'm looking for a place as a companion horse, where his only job would be to keep someone else's horse company, but these positions are few and far between, and subject to change at the drop of a hat. I could send him to a rescue operation, but they would only rehome him, possibly to someone who wants him because he's pretty and has no idea what they're up against, and I don't want him bounced around from owner to owner, as so many troubled rescue horses are when they don't work out. He already has trust issues, and he's the most emotional horse I've ever worked with. I think too many changes would destroy his already fragile mind. 

I fear the most humane thing to do would be to euthanize him, and that completely breaks my heart.

I'm trying to work up the courage to go and visit him at the barn, but I'm afraid I'll start bawling and make an ass of myself in front of the other poor boarders, many of which have taken turns picking me up out of the dust and brushing me off. I'll probably go tomorrow, bring him in and brush him and feed him carrots.

I have a little time to find a good solution for Augie, so here's hoping...


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 22nd, 2011 03:36 am (UTC)
Fingers crossed
So sorry to hear this news. I hope you find a place for him.
Jul. 19th, 2012 02:56 pm (UTC)
"I can't afford to keep a horse I can't ride..." And why not? You must have known that this was a possibility when you saved him. And in saving him you should have taken the responsibility of that action. Being able to ride him is the only way you can perceive him as useful? Does his life have no worth if his entirely human imposed purpose can not be fulfilled?

I'd say I'm sorry for your plight but the only thing that I'm sorry about is the life you've even contemplated taking for no other reason than he isn't of use in a human society. Kinda like those assholes that adopt a shelter animal (or children for that matter) and don't take into account that sometimes animals and people come damaged. Life isn't always good or decent or fucking fair. Sometimes everything hurts. All the time. All you can do is try to make it better. And this... even contemplating taking a life because you've lost your "investment"? Bullshit. I'm calling bullshit.

Part of being human is understanding that as a species, biologically we don't have an actual purpose. We bring absolutely nothing to the table when it comes to the continuation of the lifeforms on this planet. We're an intelligent virus, nothing more. One of our only redeeming qualities is knowing that we can help as much as we can hurt. So please, step up and be a better human being. There really aren't enough of us going around.
Jul. 19th, 2012 06:02 pm (UTC)
Actually, if you read my entire post, you would see that keeping this horse was never an option. What I did was give him a chance to make something of himself, so that I could find a good home for him. Unfortunately, he proved too emotionally and mentally fragile to be considered safe. No one should keep an unsafe horse. I would euthanize a dog that bit, and I would do the same for any animal that willfully, and repeatedly, injures someone without provocation. Yes, Augie could be very sweet, but he could also be violent without warning, and no amount of love and consistency seemed to change that.

It would be far more morally reprehensible to sell an emotionally fragile and dangerous animal to someone else. Not only could they get hurt, but it's unfair to the animal to put them in a situation where they might be passed from owner to owner, and end up in the meat plant after all, which is a far uglier end for a horse than euthanasia.

I will also not apologize for insisting a horse be useful in order to earn his keep. Or at the very least, safe to handle.

You're right, life isn't fair. But safety comes before sentiment. I will not sacrifice the well being, either emotional or financial of myself and those who rely on me, for an animal unwilling, or unable to control himself.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )