Thursday's Child ... has far to go ... (0nm10wn2feet) wrote,
Thursday's Child ... has far to go ...

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Last Friday...

After seeing the dentist on Thursday, I decided that I would cheer myself up and kill two birds with one stone. Melanie has been bugging me since I gave the horses up to go and see them. Jessica found out that Doc was being worked regularly and really wanted to try riding him. So, why not go see the boys, hug on some sweaty horseflesh and feel good for a while, right? Well, it was a good idea IN THEORY.

I already knew, courtesy of my friend, whose daughter was the catalyst for my giving the horses to this particular person, that Socks didn't seem quite his chipper self of late. I wasn't too overly concerned since no one mentioned anything about a drastic change in his condition or anything. I ASSUMED that Doc's condition wasn't much different, since my friend was going on about how beautiful both of them were without their winter coats... all pretty and shiny, like Palominos are in the summer.

I saw my ex-farrier when I arrived. We exchanged some friendly banter and reminisced on past experiences, but he seemed in a bit of a hurry to leave. No matter. I had brought my show tack with me so I could get pictures of it on a horse - makes it a little easier for prospective buyers to envision the stuff on their own animal if they see it on someone else's, y'know? Jess brought her own English saddle too, hoping to us it to ride Doc. Unfortunately, Helen had other ideas. She wanted her daughter to ride him first, so Jess would have to make do with Helen's saddle.

After I grabbed my tack, I headed off to the barn where Doc was stalled... and got the SHOCK OF MY LIFE. Mind you, I have been involved with the equines since I was 12 yrs old, and am turning 55 next week. That translates to a chunk of time, even if one wishes to discount possible experience points here. I have NEVER, in my entire LIFE, seen or owned a horse that looked as STARVED as my poor Dockers. I know I gasped. I bit my tongue. I couldn't keep myself from observing, as an aside to Jessa, that he "certainly looked a bit ribby." Envision major sarcastic tone here.

Doc may appear to be built like a Thoroughbred, but he is an American Quarter Horse. His sire, Trouble In Town, was 90% Thoroughbred, yet he had some very definite Quarter Horse features that Doc appeared to share - before I gave him over to Helen. Not the least of which are heavy forearms and gaskins, along with a well-padded and muscled Quarter Horse butt. Hell's Bells, his chest didn't look any better than it did when he was a 2 yr old. What the HELL did that woman do to my horse??? I cringed every time I looked at him. His neck... oh, god, his NECK, looks pencil-thin. I'm still cringing. I'm posting this one because anyone can look at his flanks and see just how thin he looks:

Doc condition 8/18/09

And this is a view of his poor neck, admittedly from a distance, but when you look at the last pic as a 2yr old, you will see what I mean:

Doc & Jessa 8/18/09

This is the same animal when he was a 2 yr old:


For the sake of comparison, here's what Socks looks like now... it boggles my mind:


Trust me when I say that the pictures don't do justice to the severity of the situation. And that you should ignore the seat and posture of the rider, cuz she hasn't ridden in about 6 years (and never really liked English anyway). I'm wondering, though, can the average viewer see a difference in the two ages?? Doc's overall condition, when he left here in late March, was much the same as it was when he was two. Not a lot of excess fat, needed some work to develop muscle, but generally, the horse looked pretty much as good when he left as he did at my trainer's barn.

After a certain amount of delicate questioning on the part of my friend, who let on to Helen that I was appalled by Doc's appearance, we discover that Helen has been cutting Doc's feed so that he will look more like the "Thoroughbred body type" she thinks he has. Excuse the hell outta me. He's a double-registered Quarter Horse. Even IF he were mostly Thoroughbred, he would STILL have Quarter Horse characteristics. He would still have an ass. He would still have a chest. He would still have a NECK. Holy MOSES. I haven't been this upset in YEARS!!!! My poor, devious but sweet, baby horse is STARVING.

The other shock came when we were discussing Socks' club foot and the need for corrective shoeing - which still hasn't been done. Helen again fell back on the same excuse she used before - that the farrier said that the arena footing was good enough that they didn't need shoes. I TOLD the woman that the footing wasn't the only reason Socks needed shoes. I TRIED to tell her that he needed corrective shoeing, with a wedge, for his club foot. I guess I didn't get strident or specific enough, because that woman has been using him for lessons for a HORSE CAMP, where I counted pictures posted of no fewer than a DOZEN little kids on him. For Socks, the weight of the rider doesn't matter as much as whether or not he's short-striding on that club foot.

The short-striding throws his spine out of alignment - and has done so most obviously. Once it gets to a certain point, poor Socks almost looks lame. When it goes beyond that point, the poor animal IS lame. I used to have to have the equine chiropractor adjust him at least once a month when we were showing, and that was WITH corrective shoeing. I didn't notice much trouble when I tacked him up in my show tack and walked him around. Helen kept telling me that he was going FINE in the arena, without any trouble, and that he was only being used for two or three lessons a week. Then she made the mistake of telling me that they love TRAIL RIDING on him. You don't ride a horse like Socks - 26 years old and in need of corrective shoeing - on a GRAVEL ROAD without SHOES. Grrrrrrr. Then I tried haltering him in the indoor arena with his show halter on. I immediately quit jogging him when he tried because it was so TERRIBLY PAINFUL looking. My dear, sweet, I'll-do-anything buddy was LAME. That made me want to vomit.

For the rest of the time I was there, my head was swirling with all kinds of thoughts... what do I do? What do I say?? Helen has other clients here, do I mention it at all at this point? What CAN I do?? I gave them to Helen because I couldn't afford the vet or farrier... but isn't THIS worse than letting them vegetate in the pasture? At least Socks wasn't lame when he was here. At least Doc wasn't starving down to his basic skeletal structure when he was here. I was so upset, dazed, shocked, horrified... I had no clue where to START. So, I went home and tried to reason through WHY things were that way, what possible motive would Helen have had for not feeding Doc properly? After I talked to my friend, it made a little more sense, but I don't think even Thoroughbreds are supposed to look that emaciated, y'know?

I wrote a very long, detailed, relatively calm letter to Helen, detailing exactly what I want to discuss with her, why, and what I'm prepared to do if things don't change. I got an email back telling me that she'll call me on Monday.

I sincerely hope that, in the meantime, she STOPS SOAKING THEIR GRAIN. What the hell does she think that SOAKING their grain with water is going to do - other than allow Doc to bolt it faster than he already did??? What on earth purpose does it serve to soak their damn grain anyway? Can anyone tell me that???? In all the years I've been around horses, the only times I've EVER seen anyone soak grain is when the horse has virtually NO TEETH. That is NOT the case with either Socks or Doc. People boggle my mind when it comes to how they feed their animals. And some of the totally goofy stuff they pull doing it - like the neighbor who fed her Great Pyrenees cottage cheese all the time. I never did figure out why.

After I calmed down and sent Helen the email - and figured out what was wrong with the hitch jack on my trailer and how to circumvent it - I felt a lot calmer. My boys may still have to deal with the discomfort for a little while longer, but I know I can change it at any time... I still have a signed 'temporary agreement' that states that the terms are in force until such time as a permanent agreement is enacted and signed. I'm good like that. I also still possess the boys' registration papers, still in my name. Plus, Helen never got anything that remotely resembled a bill of sale from me, and my agreement specifies that I be held harmless for any expenses she incurs while the horses are in her care. It also specifies that they are to be maintained on ADEQUATE grain, hay and pasture, with ample fresh water. I like CYAs.

There you have it, Number Two post in the trilogy to bring me up to date. The next one is another doozy, and completely explains why I didn't get to go out of town for my "birthday" getaway after all. I might be a little less whiny in that one, but who knows? Like I said last time, you people shouldn't be wasting your time reading this stuff anyway!! *snicker*

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