Yesterday I drove 14 hours round trip to pick up King the Foster Horse. I could have hired a hauler to bring him to me, but I really like being involved in the entire process. I learn so much about them by watching how they react to getting in the trailer, whether they eat and drink well during the ride and how they act when they first get to their new home. You can learn a lot about their personality by watching whether they get nervous or just roll with it.
My first impression of him is that he is BIG. It isn’t that he’s tall, although he is tall, but that he is STURDY. He has big feet and strong legs and a big ole noggin. My thoroughbred Baron is a little shorter, but he’s also daintier. One of them looks like a show pony and the other looks like a work horse. The difference in build is really obvious, even with King so underweight. King reminds me of my mule, Ellie. She was blocky and strong just like King.
My second impression is that he is sensible. He walked right on the trailer, no hesitation, with no food involved. When we got home at 2 am in the dark, he marched right into the barn and introduced himself to the other horses over the paddock fence. Then he rolled in the sand and groaned the whole time, like he was thoroughly enjoying himself.
On his very first day, he was acting so chill that I decided to pony him off of Baron and walk around the property a little. Keep in mind that before this, they had only met over a fence. But I got on Baron, put a halter and lead on King and draped the lead rope over his back. I rode Baron out of the barn, called for King to follow and he did!
He followed loose at first. We walked to the back of the property, grazed for a while, and then I was able to pony King off of Baron on the way home.
King didn’t really get it, and there was a lot of switching sides, but that was a BIG DEAL for both of them. They both behaved so politely even though they had barely met each other!
Third impression- King is tore up physically. He is so thin, especially in his back end. All the muscle in his butt has wasted away. You can see his ribs and hip bones prominently. It makes him stand oddly and walk a bit weird. He isn’t lame; he’s just weak. There’s barely any muscle to support all that big bone.
He also has pin firing scars on both hocks. If you’re not familiar with pin firing, it’s one of the most barbaric things that people do to horses. It used to be standard practice at the racetrack, but it’s mostly gone the same way as leeches- totally useless medically and extremely painful for the horse. It’s supposed to improve joint injuries. They take a hot metal rod and burn the horse with it. It’s supposed to bring white blood cells and blood flow to the area, thereby healing it faster. It’s basically hurting the horse worse to heal it faster- total garbage. Baron has pin firing scars on one leg; King has them on both hinds. The scars are very distinctive. King also has a scar on his withers from an ill fitting saddle or harness. He’s only 15 years old, but he’s been through a lot.
My overall impression of King is that he’s freaking fantastic and in no way should have ended up in a kill pen. I put him in cross ties, but only used one side in case he freaked out (you never know how they’ll react to things). He stood there just fine and let me pick up a front hoof and clean it out and rasp it. Then I walked to the other side and he picked the other foot up without me even having to ask. Then I unclipped him so he could leave if he wanted, but he stood there and let me groom him all over. I even sprayed his mane with Show Sheen to get the tangles out. He sighed and relaxed while I was brushing him, clearly enjoying the attention. He’s great. We’ll put a few hundred pounds on him and people will be lining up to adopt him!