Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Got the Right Idea
I think I need to find one of those little widget things that tell your daily mood hehe. Yesterday I was annoyed and hot, today I'm feeling rather mild and cool. Central Air Conditioning does wonders for that, I do believe! Another great thing is that I received part of a whole bunch of stuff I ordered online over the weekend - head on over to my other blog for that if interested. Its about my journey as a freelance artist, and I'm sure there's one person out there that might find it slightly less annoying than what I write here. ;)
Blue eyed heartthrob - $500
His owners lost their home and could not take him with them so have asked me to find a new partner for him. He is about 14 years old, 15 hands, Quarter Horse built Paint but no papers. He has two lovely blue eyes and has a metallic shine to his coat in the sunlight. He has a very gentle, affectionate nature about him and gets along with everyone, mares, geldings, older, younger, not herd bound or barn sour, easy to work with, decent ground manners but will take advantage of a timid handler. Good for the vet and farrier and trailers like a dream. At present, he is a stallion, although you wouldn't know it. He rides in the arena with mares and maintains his manners perfectly BUT you are required to geld him. He is offered at $500 if you want to use your vet to geld him or $850 and I will geld him and keep him here for the month while the testosterone wears out. Presently he is housed in a paddock with 4 foot no climb with a gelding on either side of him and two mares across the way, he is by no means your typical stallion and he will make a fabulous gelding for someone. He has three lovely gaits with natural collection and seems to have a lot of training in pleasure/ equitation, could easily do competitive trail classes, and does well on the trails around here. He will not take a bit, was probably trained in a bosal but I ride him a halter with reins attached. A confident beginner in lessons would do really well with him.
So, we have a very small amount of information on him here, but the most important part to this ad is she is requiring that anyone that take him GELD HIM!
So, anyways, Yes lets all sing Hallelujah because someone on craigslist who was stuck with somebody else's unwanted 14 year old stallion is making sure he gets gelded.
Amazingly enough, and contrary to popular belief, yes you CAN geld an older stallion. I've known many, many older stallions (some in their 20's) that were gelded. Is there a higher risk? Absolutely. They don't handle stress as well as some young chipper 8 month old colt. That's where a darn good vet comes in and if they are worth the thousands of pennies you are paying them, they will make sure that your horse gets treated right.
My one and only complaint on this ad, and it would be the same one that Caitlin mentioned on her email, is why this seller isn't just doing it anyways before the horse goes up for sale - but in this case, I'm not going to be picky. She's obviously going to not let the horse go off of the property before the surgery takes place, so more brownie points for that too.
So, while we are on the topic, this is the WORST of Craigslist ads, so lets throw some "worst of stories" out there, shall we? [Edit, I just finished the story, and it turned out a lot longer than I thought! Enjoy it though!]
The worst gelding story I can think of would be from about 5 years ago, while I was a professional groom/assistant for a pleasure quarter horse barn. The couple I worked for was in a public facility (now gone to a housing development) where several trainers resided, as well as individual boarders. The barn across from us housed a old roping trainer who had been around the roping circuit for longer than I have been alive. However, he was also rather egotistical, pig headed, rude, mean, refused to change his ways, a terrible name dropper, and just beyond set in his ways. He was an 'old cowboy' that just refused to update the way he did things, and refused to believe the horse world was passing him by. We all couldn't really stand him, but it was his training methods that all sent us into tizzys.
I could write an entire week's worth of blogs on the stuff he did, but for now I'll focus on the horse he gelded.
The stud we had all heard Alex bragging over for weeks finally arrived. He was a past Palomino World Show Roping World Champion, but like a lot of roping horses, wasn't much to look at. He was a palomino, but the 'pretty' ended there - giant roman nose, thick coarse neck, unrefined legs, just thick and 'heavy' looking all over. The boy COULD head and heel like nobody's business though - during his weekly roping practice we got a chance to watch him do his thing, and he far outshone any other horse Alex had in training.
I can't remember his name as I'm sitting here, but his name was never very important anyways. I do remember though Alex telling us he was a son of Shining Spark - and if he actually WAS - I'll sell you the Golden Gate Bridge. The whole reason Alex got him in the barn was because he had a new client that had paid some huge sum of money with somewhere around 6 or 7 zeros on the end of it, and Alex was going to show the newbie owner how to ride him.
The stud was great in the arena, but his ground manners were in serious need of a brush up. He was somewhere in his late teens or early twenties, had spent most of his life on the road in a trailer, and the life of a show horse was unfamiliar to him. Things like wash racks and round pens were suddenly new and we always knew when Alex was hosing him off because the wash racks were on the side of our barn - the noise from that stud pulling back against the barn wall would reverberate through the entire barn.
Anyways, about a week after he arrived, there was an argument between the owners and Alex over whether or not to geld him. Alex wanted to (one of the few things he ever got right) and the owners didn't. The owners being the owners won the argument, and they walked away with the very loud verbal threat that if Alex touched that horse's balls, it would be HIS balls next. THAT left us all giggling madly on our side of the road - it had been just SCREAMED out by the 20-something skinny blonde owner.
3 or 4 months pass, and skinny blonde is having trouble handling her new stud. (Surprise, Surprise.) Now, for the horse's sake, he really never came across as study, or whinnied at the mares, he was very professional about his job, and once he settled in to the routine of his new home, it was as if he didn't even know the mares were there. Her issues were with him responding to her under saddle and he just plain wouldn't listen to her on the ground. The catalyst for everything came when she was trying to get him into his arch enemy, the wash rack, and he blew up on her, reared up, and she freaked out. I was standing off to the side holding another horse that was going to go into the rack next to him, watching the whole disaster unfold. She never got hurt, he never did anything other than pull back, run backwards out of the rack, and when she tried to stop him unsuccessfully, he reared about a foot off of the ground.
I will never condone a horse rearing, but honestly, I could totally see that it was complete frustration on his part. He didn't understand why he was there, he didn't get this girl at the end of the line, everything about his entire LIFE had changed, and he wasn't handling it well. (We had had some talks late at night while I was out blanketing our horses who were stalled next to him, see.)
2 days later, Alex has his old, ancient vet out. Now this guy is about as stuck in HIS ways as Alex is. I'd seen this vet work before, and I wouldn't have trusted him with a mechanical bull, much less a live animal. But there he was, and they had that old stud out in our huge covered arena.
Let me set the scene. The arena is huge. I can't remember the exact dimensions, but it was like 3 dressage arenas end to end in length, and at least 2 across. Fully covered. Very nice arena. We have children's lessons going on, another trainer has a horse he's working, and there's a few others in the arena as well as its a weekday afternoon. The place is busy. I'll also mention that its the middle of July, and under the shade of the arena its still well over 100.
Then, in the middle of all of this controlled chaos, is this palomino stud, tied to the fence with the vet sticking a needle in his neck. Alex comes limping up, and together they untie him till he's laying in the dirt with no tarp or sheet or anything under the horse. I realize immediately they are gelding him, and while I rather agree with Alex on this one, the method of attack seems a bit odd to me. The vet does the deed in the dirt, it just seemed very 'quick and dirty' and 30 or so minutes later, he's back in his stall dazed and confused. It was nothing like the controlled, clean, precise surgeries I had witnessed before.
The owners come out the next day.
My assistant co-worker and I had watched the entire procedure, (in-between and during giving our kids lessons - thankfully the kids didn't ask too many questions) and had kinda figured that the owner had changed her mind.
We were soooo wrong.
The screams from her yelling at Alex! Holy cow. Weekday mornings there were a lot slower so there weren't as many people around, but we had a front row view of the fight.
The next day, Saturday, Alex had scheduled a roping practice for his clients that started around 10 am. Trailers usually would start to pull in around 9. We were there no later than seven. The facility fed breakfast at 6am, and stalls were cleaned between 6:30 and 8:30. The feeding guys just dump the pellets without really looking at the horses. However, Moses, who was the ranch foreman, personally dumps each stall with a load of shavings when needed. It was Moses that noticed that morning during his am rounds that the old Palomino was colicking, and colicking badly. So, he pulls the horse out and starts walking him, and calls the main office to alert Alex.
We start our day's early because of the heat. Lessons start at 7 am, and keep going till the last one at 1pm. We didn't like to go that long but with the amount of clients we had, not too much of a choice. The events of that day happened in front of nearly 50 people from not only our barn, but the entire roping practice as well.
Moses is walking Paly in circles doing his best to keep him from going down. One of his assistants takes over because Moses is supposed to be doing his thing, not walking a horse. He was an awesome barn manager, but just was a bit afraid of the horses up close, if you can imagine that. Anyways, the helper walks Paly for nearly an hour while they do their best to contact Alex and the owner.
8 am, no Alex. They tie up the horse in his stall with no other choices. Helper has to go back to his crew and finish cleaning stalls. Moses keeps an eye on the horse in the stall - he's frantic trying to lay down and roll.
9 am, trailers start to arrive and horses are readied for the practice. The area they pull into and get ready in is directly behind our barn. Only ONE of about 15 clients takes notice of the horse and tried to help. He pulls the horse out and starts walking him. The other clients take notice but don't offer to help. Still no Alex or Owner. Alex lives 10 minutes away.
10 am, they start the practice without Alex. The guy puts the horse back in the stall, and goes out to the arena. Alex is late to his own lesson.
10:30 am, Alex finally shows up, stumbles out of his truck, and proceeds to walk straight to the arena and stand there watching and yelling out 'instruction' for 15 minutes. Still hasn't even gone into the barn yet.
10:45-10:50 - Alex goes into the barn, and finally pulls the palomino out. He ties up the horse to his tack area, and proceeds to groom him. The horse pulls back, and tears OUT not only the bolts in the brick wall, but also a hanging halter hook out of the brick/wood ceiling that has nearly 200 halters on it by our estimates. Its a giant accident, and makes our clients getting their horses saddled nervous. We now have to do damage control in our own barn from them just watching what is going on. I am not giving lessons that day, but rather doing other things in-between helping the students get their horses tacked and un-tacked, so I was able to see the entire drama.
11am, Alex ties the horse to the back of his golf cart and walks him out to the arena, where he proceeds to tie the horse up to the rail and completes the 90 minute roping practice. Horse is going crazy from pain - pawing, screaming, dripping sweat, pacing, biting the air, etc. We have not yet seen Alex place any cell phone calls at all, and we are all watching - including the trainers. Our clients are starting to figure out something is amiss, and are asking questions. We are being truthful and they are appalled.
1 pm - ish, Roping practice has ended, everyone is starting to leave, the horse nearly pulled down the rusted and rotting pipe railing he was tied to in the roping arena. He is now back in his stall, and we finally see Alex start to make some phone calls.
2 pm, we are done for our day, the trainers have left, and my co-worker and I are left to feed lunch and clean up/prepare the barn for the next week. We finally see a vet show up. This vet is younger, and we do not recognize him. He is beyond angry at Alex for letting the horse go this long, as we can hear him yelling at Alex. He tubes the horse, gives him a painkiller, and about 2:30, Alex starts hitching up his trailer. They load up the horse, and the vet follows Alex out. We know they are taking him to Southwest Equine Center, a well known local horse hospital that is literally 3 miles down the road.
I don't think I need to mention that the horse didn't come back. They opened him up that afternoon, but by then it was too late, the colic had already twisted half of his intestines and he had already lost nearly a fourth of intestinal tract due to blood loss. They put him to sleep on the operating table.
We heard through Moses that the reason for the colic was infection from the gelding surgery. Moses had seen the yellowing pus dripping down his legs on Friday, and he didn't touch his hay Friday night. This information had been reported to barn management, and Penny had called to leave a message with Alex, but never heard back. By the time Saturday came around, it was nearly too late anyways.
The owners filed suit against Alex, but we never heard what happened with that, we just saw Alex going about his daily life like nothing had ever happened. We never saw the owner after that day she had the fight with him over the surgery itself, I'm sure she was BEYOND furious at Alex. I'm sure she learned a very hard lesson on all of this, never, ever trust your trainer to do the right thing.
So, while I share this horror story with you in the spirit of sharing your 'worst of' stories, please keep in mind that out of the 20 or so horses I've known of that have been gelded, this is the ONLY one that ever had any issues afterward. Another stallion, the facilities teaser stallion for 25 years, was gelded at the age of 26, and had absolutely no problems afterward what so ever. With the right vet it can be done safely and successfully. He had also never been allowed out of his stall either - he had lived in the same stall for 23 of his 25 years on the property day in and day out. He is another story for another day.
Looking forward to what YOUR stories are!