Sunday, March 7, 2010

Red Arrow

A lady who told me that his owners had abandoned him at her stable gave me Redro. He walked into the horsebox with no fuss, and I took him home. His name was Red Arrow, but we called him Redro. He had been terribly abused, and I have a fair idea of how, because about a year after I got him, I decided to take him for a little ride - although he was old, he was as fit as a fiddle - a red hot chestnut with a lively bounce in his stride and a proud head carriage. It was a case of curiosity got the better of me. I had a feeling that he was a super ride, and I just wanted to try him out. As I saddled him up he got more and more nervous, and by the time I climbed on his back, he was trotting on the spot. As I settled into the saddle he was cantering on the spot, and already starting to sweat.

I climbed straight off again, gave him a hug and apologised, promising never to do it again. I never did. That pony had been ridden into the ground by some horrid person, and expected to be beaten the moment someone got on his back. How I hate people who abuse horses in that (or any) manner. Whoever did that to Redro ruined a lovely, gentle natured pony. I never had a moment's trouble with him. He was always willing and well behaved, boxed like an angel, never bit or kicked, didn't run away when I wanted to catch him. He stood like a dream for injections, farriers, grooming, etc. Even when I had his teeth rasped, he was so good. I felt so sorry for him afterwards, though, because he stood drooling and looking miserable for hours.

Something terrible had happened to his tongue, because when the vet rasped his teeth he discovered that it had almost been cut in half. It had a cut that ran halfway through it, long healed, but horrible to think of how it must have happened, and how much he must have suffered, since it had clearly never been treated or stitched up. It was probably the memory of that trauma, brought back by the tooth rasping, that causedhis depression and drooling afterwards. Poor boy... I didn't have his teeth rasped again, and he managed fine. I can only guess that someone rode him with a piece of wire for a bit ...

When I first got him, he would retreat to the back of his stable if anyone came to the door and watch them warily, and didn't like to be petted - or maybe he just didn't trust people to pat and not hit him. He did eventually learn to trust me, but no one else. I tried to help him get over his fear of sticks, because the very sight of someone carrying a twig or a riding crop sent him galloping away if he was in the paddock, and rushing to the furthest corner of the stable if he was inside.

I went into his stable with a riding crop and stroked him with it, to show him that I wasn't ever going to hit him with it, but he never stopped shuddering and going rigid with terror, so I stopped. He was just too old and too badly scarred mentally to change, and trying to just frightened him.Most horses, if they were abused that badly, would resort to defensive tactics like swinging their hindquarters at you and threatening to kick or bite in order to keep you away, but not Redro. If he couldn't run away, he'd just stand there without protest and let you do what you wanted, but with wide, frightened eyes.

He used to break my heart, for when people came to the fence to give treats and pats, he wouldn't come close, and my horse got all the attention. When I was there alone, I could tempt him close with a slice of apple, but in the beginning, if I tried to stroke him he would pull away. Gradually that changed, and I was able to stroke him in the paddock for just a short time before he walked away. I wanted so much to give him the love and affection that he'd clearly never had, and it was hard when he wouldn't let me. He was terribly head shy, and if you reached for any part of his body, to stroke or pat him, he would flinch and bunch up his muscles in anticipation of a blow.