Not all horses eat apples. This was a heartbreaking realization for me, as my entire childhood was filled with dreams of sharing apples with my horses before we took long, rides through rolling pastures. Today my dreams are still to take long rides through rolling pastures, but no longer do I picture my herd running happily toward me ready to nibble red and greed apples from the palm of my outstretched hand.
In fact, I own two horses that generally turn their noses up at apples or any treat that is not peppermint. On rare occasions, Star will give apples a chance if they are cut into thin slices. Atticus just plain walks away or spits them out. If I offer a treat that is apple flavored, both Star and Atticus will turn their heads in search of something better.
Winn Dixie is whole other story. She will scarf down any apples that are offered and scoops up those refused by her herd-mates. How could I have been so wrong about apples and horses?
Have you ever pictured giving something to someone and knew it was going to be perfect, only to have them reject or refuse the gift?
Why does it hurt so badly when our gifts are rejected? Why is it so difficult for us to digest that what we thought was just right doesn’t resonate with the recipient? Why don’t all horses like apples?
The answer to these questions is simple. Sometimes our hearts are in the right places, but our minds are on different trains of thought than that of the one we are trying to gift.
When Atticus came to us in July he was a light rusty color, but as winter approaches, he has become a horse of a different color. Not only has his winter coat added a deeper hue, but his mane has really grown out from its previous roaching, and Atticus looks like an equine rock star with his mohawk mane.
It seems the darker shade of his hair has also brought out a slightly more somber attitude in my sweet boy. After accompanying Hubby on a hunting trip in Colorado, Atticus came back without the willingness to ride. Of course, I was greatly concerned. Hubby told me that twice Atticus stopped when they were riding up the mountain and simply would not go. Hubby had to get off and lead him. (This defeated the purpose of taking a horse to the mountains and did not bode will with the hunting party.) When I attempted to ride him on the farm, Atticus calmly allowed me to groom and saddle him but would NOT budge once I was in the saddle.
No amount of kissing, clicking, or kicking could get him to go. We even tried baiting him by separating him from his girlfriend Winn-Dixie. Atticus couldn’t have cared less that my daughter rode Winn-Dixie out of the corral and out of sight. I hopped off, did some ground work with him, jumped back on, and still no steps would he take. I led him to the top of the pasture meeting up with my patiently waiting daughter and Winn-Dixie. Back in the saddle I went, but nowhere was Atticus willing to walk. Eventually, we ponied him back to the corral with Winn-Dixie.
Since his arrival, Atticus has grown quite the reputation for being a sweetheart of a horse.
He is easy to catch, lead, load on the trailer, and care for in general, with two exceptions: getting shots and leaving Winn-Dixie.
When Atticus came to us he had a terrible runny nose and a bit of a cough. The best way to treat these issues is with antibiotics administered via syringe. Horses are big animals, so the shots are really big. As we quickly learned, no amount of grain or peppermint treats could keep him calm once that syringe appeared. It took a shortly-tied lead rope and fast hands to administer Atticus’ antibiotics. When it was time to immunize him from standard horse illnesses, the shot was slightly smaller, but his reaction was much larger. We got the job done, but it was no easy feat.
Atticus isn’t just any horse. He is the horse I rescued.
Every year tens of thousands of horses are purchased for slaughter. While horse slaughter for human consumption has been illegal in the United States since 2006, and all horse slaughter houses in the U.S. have been closed since 2007, the international market for horse meat and meat products for other animal consumption is still very viable in Mexico and Canada. Horse meat buyers thrive off the low prices owners put on horses that are no longer deemed useful or affordable. The meat purchasers ship those horses across the border to be butchered and sold.
Atticus was a horse who found himself at auction and purchased by a kill pen buyer. Fortunately, he was bought buy an organization whose horses are filtered through the Peabody Kansas Horse Rescue Pen before going to the kill pen. The Peabody Kansas Horse Rescue Pen has a Facebook page where videos are shown of horses that can be saved. Each horse is featured in a video that includes its age, physical attributes, and price (the meat value). The horses are only “safe” at Peabody for a limited amount of time and cannot be saved once the deadline has passed. Atticus almost missed his deadline.
For a LONG time I have watched the videos of horses and ponies on the Peabody site and rejoiced each time one was marked “SAFE.”(Of course, I want to save them all.)
Recently, my family knew we would like another horse we could all ride. Hubby and I had been “shopping” a lot on equestrian sites and had test rode a few horses, but none fit exactly what we were looking for.