Usually when you think of rescue animals, you think about dogs and cats. However, many other animals are in need of rescuing, even horses. Horses taken off the racetrack are often in need of rescue to avoid euthanizing them. These stories do not always have a happy ending. One horse’s story has a Fairytale ending, because he ended up with wonderful ‘parents’ who cared for all his needs and love him.
Chip was a 3 year old gelding who had been doing really well at the racetrack. He was winning money and coming off a great year when he was injured while being moved to Minnesota to get ready for the next race season. According to tradition, he should have been put down, but instead his trainer with a heart decided to try a rescue farm in Minnesota.
He had just arrived when he was visited by Lloyd and Betty B. According to Betty, “He was very thin, had an injured eye and nerve damage down the side of his head. He had a racing hair clip so he was cold and miserable.” The new caretakers had to double blanket him due to the harsh Minnesota weather and Chip’s haircut.When Lloyd stepped inside his pen to meet him, the horse came up to him and put his head on Lloyd’s chest. That was all it took. Betty says, “The rest is history.”
They took that horse home and began the long haul of bringing him back to health. “Anytime you take in an injured rescue it takes money for vet bills and medications. You need to be prepared for that,” Betty warns us. It took them 6 months to treat his injuries.
Other lessons he had to learn included standing still when being mounted. Betty said that is because “at the track they push the jockeys up while the horse is moving.” Being a race horse, he had to learn to lead and turn in both directions since he usually just went in one direction. He was so fearful to even come out of the barn and the sight of grass scared him.
Betty reminds us how large these animals are and how powerful. Chip stands 16.5 hands and for you non horsey people that means each hand is 4 inches. That is measured at the withers, a point where the mane ends on their back according to this owner. Betty admits it takes a lot of time and patience to understand these horses.
Chip also had to get rid of a trait valued on the track, but not so when they ride him. He tried to push the other horse against the fence, as though he needed to get by them on the outside of the track, to him it was just a rail and he needed to move past. Betty said, “When he raced he always came from behind and ran on the outside.”
These owners speak of the rewards of saving a horse doomed to slaughter and say they are amazing. Chip has absolutely captured their hearts. Retraining and rehab are time consuming, but these owners are rewarded because Chip went on to be recovered to normal health and has become a good cow horse for this couple. It is true that many horses rescued do not have such a happy ending and some just become expensive pasture pets, rather than saddle horses.
Betty added that “through their rescue farm, his former trainer received photos of him bringing in the cattle and going for trail rides.” She is sure it warmed his heart to see Chip now has a normal life.
It is suggested that not everyone can take in a rescue horse and afford to treat it and bring it back to good health. Betty suggests since all rescue farms need money to care for their horses that you consider donating a few dollars a month to help them save more horses. Let’s try to do that so more horses can have happy endings like Chip.