Life in our Foothills February 2023 – Beau, My Valentine
Published 2:17 pm Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Every equine that enters our rescue, Helping Equines Regain Dignity (HERD), possesses some type of old baggage, be it a behavioral issue, or a simple case of neglect by the previous owner. We do our best to take these horses under our Cupid-like wing, rehabilitating and training these down-on-their-luck souls to find them new careers.
I of course was only carrying the finest Louis Vuitton bags upon my arrival. My only vices were being hard to catch and being a master escape artist. Yes, small ponies can get through tiny openings. Who does not love a gallop through the woods when a gate is not properly closed? “Catch me if you can,” is still in my deck of cards to play when I desire to stay out in my pasture. However, horse cookies lure me over to accept my halter so I can be escorted into the barn nightly with my sidekick Sedona.
In contrast to my stellar condition, a tall, chestnut-colored thoroughbred colt named Beau arrived to us at just over a year old with considerable baggage to address. Beau was disposed of by his breeder, with no tattoo or microchip identification to trace back ownership, because his leg bones were growing much faster than his tendons. This condition resulted in a slightly twisted front knee. He was also sick with a respiratory infection resulting from his stressful auction experience. Beau was aloof with people and preferred the company of horses exclusively.
On the advice of a local vet in North Carolina, we gelded Beau immediately when he completed quarantine. We also purchased the lowest protein horse feed we could find. The lower protein food helps slow down the bone growth so his tendons could catch up and lengthen. For two years, we kept Beau with various pasture pals, including Windsor, Polaris, and Leo. The constant moving around in a big pasture was beneficial for his proper maturing process. We were also vigilant about having Beau’s feet trimmed to help with the growth angles he was experiencing.
Despite his youthful age, Beau did not play very much, avoiding the chase games with the other young horses. His coordination was awkward compared to his smaller companions. He appeared clumsy and his head looked too big for his body. Some volunteers referred to him as “Baby Huey,” a nod to Paramount Pictures 195o’s gigantic duckling character. By the age of two, he was 16.1 hands tall, towering over his young quarter-horse-size pasture mates.
Time and patience were clearly on our side for Beau. We started light groundwork with him at age three, as his knee had corrected itself. Beau finally was growing into his large head and substantial frame. We all pondered why he was such a timid fellow taking into consideration his massive size. Beau resisted participating in the obstacle challenges in our playground for equines. He did not want to cross the wooden bridge, walk under the suspended tarp or complete navigating the horse teeter totter and swimmer’s noodles attached to the jump standards.
Beau was also a hard keeper about putting on weight. Despite all the good hay, grass, and grain, it has been difficult to cover his ribs. He was the only thin resident in HERD after being in our care for such a long duration.
This late bloomer of a horse also despised the horse trailer and wanted no part of getting into one again. We have tried numerous tricks, like horse cookies to bribe him, and putting Beau’s meals in the trailer so he would have to self-load to eat. He is not food motivated so none of this has been working for us. All the HERD volunteers gave it a go trying to coax Beau onto the trailer with no success. What we could not fathom is why he would not load up easily. He had trailered to the sale auction in Texas, to North Carolina to quarantine and then to us with no issues.
Scott Homstead, who helped found HERD with my mistress Heather Freeman, was finally able to load Beau, but it was a difficult feat. Beau seemed genuinely frightened once both back feet were up inside the trailer, and he got off by backing out and refused to reload again. It appears that this big horse is claustrophobic in the trailer and finds it a scary place.
One thing we know is that Beau must load to leave for his additional under-saddle training to find a new home. His fluid movement and newly discovered coordination make him an ideal candidate for three-day eventing, dressage or a career in the hunter show arena. Beau is also quite handsome these days. More than one skilled rider has contacted us about adopting him when we posted his movement video from training sessions on HERD’s Facebook page.
HERD was recently given an incredible gift from Houseware Ireland that directly benefits Beau. This renowned equestrian company donated large winterproof horse turnout blankets, halters, and fly masks thanks to their North Carolina-based Marketing Coordinator Erin Gregory. This luxury brand for equines has the nicest quality horse and rider apparel. When Beau leaves us shortly to head to under saddle training, he will have quite the wardrobe (nice designer baggage) to accompany him on his journey.
Beau is well-loved by all of us, both two and four-legged, here in the rescue. He has warmed up to humans and seeks them out for affection. He continues to put on the weight and build muscle. Our Beau has found his footing to become a much more balanced and confident horse. At 16.2 hands to date, he is imposing, and this thoroughbred will continue to grow in height over the next year. We believe there is an ideal sweetheart out there for Beau. One lucky equestrian will become smitten with him, Cupid will see to that.
And so, my funny Valentine, Beau, every day is Valentine’s Day with you.