This is My Trailhorse: Moose’s Story

I found Moose on Craigslist in July 2011.  The reason he caught my eye was I KNEW this horse.  He had been a halter show horse in his younger days when I was showing palominos.  I went to see him the next day and my heart was BROKEN.  He was in a small (no bigger than 20’X20′) enclosure, standing knee deep in muck and mud.  He was angry, crippled and underweight.  I made an offer which was rejected.  With tears flowing my face, I called his former owner and told her of his plight.  I had left my contact information with the young man, hoping he would reconsider my offer.

The next day, I received a call from his former owner with this:  “Moose is in the trailer and we are on our way to your house!”  JOY!!! JOY!!! JOY!!!  BUT, the challenge was just beginning!  First call was to the farrier to get his much neglected feet taken care of.  Next was a trip to the vet for x-rays to see what structural damage had been done.  Moose was still a stallion, so once the x-rays were complete and I knew he could be sound eventually, we also gelded him.  After giving him several months to heal, I began trying to ride him.  For the first few minutes, he would be wonderful…  THEN, the explosion would come.  Not a big explosion, but more of an annoyance really.  He would pitch and rear and throw a temper tantrum.  EVERY TIME!!  So, this became our routine…  I’d work him and ride for a few minutes in the round pen, he’d throw his tantrum….  We couldn’t seem to move past this.  I was trying desperately to be patient and not be too aggressive with him (Lord only knows what he’d been through over the past 6 years!)  Then in Feb 2012, I tripped jumping off the bed of my pickup while unloading feed and shattered my left leg.  It was a 6 1/2 month recovery for me now.  I was wheelchair/walker bound.  Once I “recovered,” I knew my leg didn’t have the strength I needed and my confidence was weakened considerably, so I sent Moose to a trusted friend and trainer.

Quite by accident, he recognized that Moose does not like enclosed spaces.  While not minding a trailer ride, he does not like riding in confined areas.  (I had been trying to ride him in an enclosed round pen)  We were suddenly on our way to success!!  Moose was still having issues with his front feet from the neglect.  This resulted in having gel pads on him.  I got a call from the trainer with some “bad news.”  They had been out trail riding and Moose had a mesquite thorn that had went through the gel pad and punctured his sole.  For a couple of weeks, he soaked his foot twice daily but he wasn’t getting better.  Off again to the vet.  We found the thorn had created a toxic gas pocket that was eating away at the sole from the inside.  ANOTHER 3 month recovery!!!  By this time, I am extremely discouraged and people are beginning to ask why I haven’t put him down.  I would tell them with tears in my eyes, “I just feel like there is this great horse inside there and we just have to let him find his way back out!”

He is now recovered and while Moose will likely never again be a competition horse, but we are now enjoying our morning rides out into the pasture and, with a little help from bute for him and aleve for me, enjoy exploring new trails to ride.  I am a psychotherapist who works with kids who are involved in the juvenile justice system.  I am starting a pilot program this year to include equine assisted psychotherapy and having a personal trainer begin working with me to help these kids develop better social skills and increase their self esteem and self discipline.  I’m looking forward to having Moose involved with this program, as many people were ready to give up on Moose, just like many people have given up on most of these kids.  Moose’s Story, by Becky Harris

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