I was reading another forum way back in 2007, there was a posting leading to a link with a rescue organisation, i contacted them about a pony, but it did not work out, later i got a call asking if i could consider taking on one of 2 breton youngsters as they had been badly let down.....
a mushroom farm was closing, the owner was fattening up his stock of equines ready to ship to italy on the meat run, the organisation had stepped in and arranged buyers for most, among them the 2 bretons,
AFTER the waggon had left England the original buyer of the bretons backed out, this left the organisation with potentially an angry farmer, a part empty waggon and the 2 bretons certain for the next meat run.
OFF WE WENT like the wacky races across France, we had to get there, decide and pay BEFORE THE WAGGON ARRIVED a 3 hour journey (the directions were not great) each way. on the way my husband said, we can't buy 1 & leave 1, if they are ok we had best get the 2, you could have hit me with a pole & i wouldn't have noticed after a surprise like that! him encouraging me to buy = unheard off!!!
on the way the kids and us decided the names knew both were chunky & both chestnut :- Gerrard (gerry)
since i am a liverpool fan and gerrard is a red haired player who scored a last minute victory over the italians in the cup! & Chance
- full name Chance 2, we had an auction rescue we called 'take a chance' before and so this Chance was chance 2 both because it was the 2nd horse of the name and also because he now had a 2nd chance to live.
the colts had spent their lives in a pen about 20ft square, never going out, never being handled, once they got too stallion like they got shipped off to the butcher, their purpose was to make poo for growing mushrooms.
We got there, arranged the buy, called to arrange the waggon to detour to us, and set off home...... NOW all we had to do was rig up somewhere to put them!
a long pole, some rope, a wire site mesh pannel, 1/2 an ikea bed frame & a black dustbin later the emmergency barn convertion was done. it wouldn't win a design prize but we estimated we only had 2 hours to make it before 2 unhandled entire colts were due to land
so we waited....... & waited............& waited....... then we got a call, the waggon was lost, not coming to me but finding the mushroom farm, he had gone over his hours and had to pull up for the night, now the horses would be arriving sometime next morning, phew
next morn.......next lunch.......mid afternoon????????
a call... the waggon had arrived, but Mr mushroom was sick and had gone to the doctor, only he knew the details of what was sold so the waggon had to wait, when the old guy got back, he insisted on his lunch 1st (french!!) then they all 'helped' load the horses.
by 'helped' they meant just as the experienced waggon guys almost
got them in, the french began flapping and swinging sticks etc so the horses panicked and ran/jumped away, the waggon drivers did not speak french and badly wanted to tell them to errr 'go away'
many hours later they were all on, my 2 arrived about 9 pm, the waggon guys were great, they had kept their paitience both with the french and the horses, despite having been working/on the road for almost 3 full days, they changed my head collars for theirs so i had a hope of handling and unloaded the boys straight in to the barn. the guys couldn't even have a meal as they needed to get to the ferry before their hours ran over again.
SO here they were, safe, now began the fun.....................
the boys were 18mth old standing about 14hh, but they weighed over 550 kilo each!!! they are now full grown rising 4 and are not much heavier, back then they looked like balloons! way over weight, Gerry being less mature was starting to have distortion to his spine through shear weight, the reason? the mushroom guy had them on a rapid weight gain diet ready for the meat run.
my vet warned me the diet was dangerous to horses, being designed more for beef cows too much copper etc in it and that it would have sent their metabolism nuts, that they would lose weight quickly on normal food,
oh boy did they
, it was scary they lost weight like someone had took the plug out of an airbed! we put them on a worming programe as they also had worms and bots.
later they stabilised but some months later they began to lose ground. the weird diet had caused liver inflamation, they were very poorly the liver function tests were not good, and we faced the prospect of losing them.
a long haul later they are ok, slightly pot bellied but the tests show all is functioning.
Chance i think had early handling, but not Gerry, he would not be touched at all, even over the barrier, if anyone entered the barn he shot away to the far end, shook all over, if you tried to approach he lashed out or reared and struck out, he was like an extra off black beauty the TV prog. it was more than 3 months before i could touch him in the barn....sometimes,
by then we just had to get him sedated so the farrier could trim his feet, they were a mess and starting to break up, poor Gerry.NOW
Chance is backed and ridden away, coming on nicely & in great condition, not nervous and all is ok, i hope to break him to harness too, he is about 15hh
Gerry took longer, much longer, he was by far the more disturbed, it took almost 18 months before **
Gerry decided to trust me, he is still iffy about everyone else, Gerry had more health problems and we have delayed his breaking until the vet was happy his spine was ok, he is 4 soon and we are starting him once the weather picks up. Gerry is and i think always will be a handle with care expert only horse, it would not take much to shatter his trust and then he would come out fighting, we have had kicking out, rearing, striking the works from him, all defensive, but all dangerous, he wanted to be cuddled, fussed and petted, you could see him a few meters away, watching the other horses and thinking, ears flicking back and to, but he just did not have the nerve for it, he just could not handle it.**
Xmas 2008, the barn doors were open so they could go out while i mucked out, Gerry came in alone, watched me then walked over and put his face, in to my front at waist height, eyes closed, & just stood pressing up, like a foal does to their mother for reasurance, i stroked him and talked, could he have said it any clearer he wanted to trust me?
since this he has made rapid progress, feet up, easy to catch, no running away, grooming all over, mostly relaxed, a completely different horse, now he comes for a fuss when he wants it & he wants it a lot.
he also put weight on once he relaxed - just as a bonus!
onwards and up wards now we hope! bye