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...