Friday, October 9, 2009

Out to Prove Them Wrong

As many of our regular readers know, this summer we brought home a homely-looking gelding to live with us. For those of you who are new to this blog, I will summarize his story here for you all.

We picked up "Linus" from a bad situation on June 2nd. It was obvious by both his physical appearance and depressed behavior that he hadn't been cared for in quite some time. He was over 250 pounds underweight, infested with lice, and had open wounds all over his body. His legs and hips were riddled with scars. His previous owner had tranquilized him so frequently that his penis was paralyzed, infected and abscessed.

This was Linus on Day 1:

Linus arrived to us with an unknown history and a faded lip tattoo. Through research, we learned that he was a 17-year-old retired racehorse. His small career earnings of $6,785 put him on a truck to the auction. He was then bounced from farm to farm, holding jobs as a trail mount and eventually a beginner lesson horse.

When he first arrived, our vet evaluated Linus thoroughly and gave us mostly positive news: he was sound and should easily recover from his trauma. Most of Linus's issues were easily treatable. The bad news was that he needed penile amputation surgery. Without the surgery, the massive infections would spread, and then euthanasia would be the only alternative.

We weighed our options about his future. I couldn't justify putting this horse to sleep. He was serviceably sound and had a wonderful disposition. But at the same time, the $2,500 cost of surgery was out of our budget. We had already put everything we had into rehabbing Faith, including our vacation fund that we had been saving for over 3 years. We couldn't afford his surgery and put the word out for sponsors.

Linus already had quite a few online friends and the donations slowly came in. However, not everyone agreed with our plan for Linus. One woman from a local online bulletin board said that we were wasting our time and money on him. "A 17-year-old horse just isn't worth it," I was told. "He shouldn't be saved." I countered her comment by stating that this horse was completely sound and usable, and with a little luck, would quickly return to being a productive member of the equine community. She stated that she would believe it when she saw it.

That one comment gave me the extra push I needed. From that point forward, Linus and I were out to prove them wrong.

Four months and five days after to arriving to our farm, this is what Linus looks like...

He is up to weight, the lice are gone, the wounds are healed. The scars he had when he arrived will never fade away, but at least now they are somewhat covered by a shiny, healthy coat. He doesn't resemble the horse from those first pictures, and for that, I couldn't be happier!

Aboard Linus is one of my students' mothers. Liz has been a huge part of Linus's recovery. She has spent countless hours grooming him, bonding with him and feeding him lots of carrots and ginger snap cookies.

I have wonderful news to share with everyone - Linus has been adopted by a wonderful young lady named Sam! Sam adopted him to be used as a light trail horse and companion for her other gelding. She and her mom will be trail riding them a few days a week together. He is only about 45 minutes from my farm, and I plan on visiting frequently with Dan and my students!

Thanks Linus, for overcoming your past and proving the naysayers wrong. You were always worth it in my eyes...

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And even more wonderful news... Since Linus has been placed we now have an extra stall available. I am finalizing plans to take in a blind Appaloosa mare next week. More details and pictures to come!



  1. My daughter's aged appaloosa gelding has seeing-eye donkeys in his 24-acre pasture that keep track of him. They bring him to his evening feed and call to him if he grazes away from where they are hanging out. If he doesn't want to go with them, they herd him with nudges and nips to keep him from blundering into danger. They are very attentive.

  2. Yay! Linus! 17 is not at all old for a horse. He'll have many good years yet.
    Great job by all involved.

  3. Wow~~You guys have done an amazing job with him!! It makes me want to cry... his life is going to be wonderful now~~all thanks to you and the faith you had that he would overcome his neglect and be a useable, rideable horse! Great Job, thank you!!!

  4. Rescue horses - once you adopt, you just can't stop!

    So glad Linus's story is ending well. You've been extremely lucky to take two elderly horses in bad shape and end up with two serviceable riding horses. Hope it continues for you!

  5. I also saved an "ex-horse" from starvation and had people tell me it couldn't be done! He is now round, spunky and his old self. He is 27 this year and can still our trail ride horses 1/2 his age!

    So, GREAT JOB and thanks for not listening to the naysayers!!

  6. Thank YOU for being the person you are and having the faith you do! This world is a better place because of you! I speak for all loving caring horse owners that wish we ourselves could do so much more.

    Thank you for having the streagth and knowledge to understand that negative people speak of what they do not know or fear there of. You are a gem to the equine community and a blessing to future equines in need.


  7. Is that the mare from the fugly blog?


  8. I bet the naysayer won't ever step up and say anything either. They always feel they have the right to tell people how wrong they are but they never will admit when they, themselves, are wrong.

    Kudos to you!!! Not for proving the naysayer wrong...but for just saving the two lives you have saved. All it takes is one horse at a time.

  9. I have a blind paint mare (my avatar), bless you for taking in a blindie! Please join our blind horses group on Yahoo groups, you'll be amazed by what blindies can do (trail, search & rescue posse, dressage, jumping, parades, drill team, etc...). We are all also happy to help with any questions you have or issues that may arise. Hope to see you there!

    And great job with Linus! People like the woman you mention are the reason we have all these neglected, cast-off horses.

  10. Great job Julie. And to whomever it was that said that Linus shouldn't be saved...I bet they are eating crow now, HAHAHA!!

    Julie, you truly are one of a kind! I saw your ad for help, and wish that I lived closer. I would be honored to work at your barn.

  11. Another happpy ending for a beautiful horse! Hope they have many more years with him and his previous neglect does not mar that. Good job all. Best wishes for your new project. Do post once in awhile and keep us up to date with Linus and Faith.

  12. Let me guess: that naysayer is the break them at 1, jump 'em 4 feet at two, piaffe at three type and hock injections at four type? I didn't jump my horse with a rider until he was seven years old; he's fourteen and never had a lame day in his life. Gee, I wonder why! There are a lot of people who push them too fast, too young and end u with soundness problems. Naturally, to them, a 17 year old horse is ancient. I wonder what they would say to see my friend's 26 year old still going strong without a problem? Or that endurance Arab (I can't remember his name) who is still a champion well into his 30s? Horses are not as fragile as some people seem to think. It just takes horsemanship and does of common sense to have an animal sound through most, if not all, his life.

  13. Way to go! LINUS was worth every effort, every Penny! I am glad you followed your heart!

  14. The endurance champion you're thinking of is Elmer Bandit - he's actually pastured at the barn I board at and is (I think) 38 this year and still riding competitively. Plus, he managed to act younger then my 7 year old on most days, which is always a crackup.

    Linus looks amazing! I can't wait to hear more about the blind appy, my previous boarding barn picked up a blind pony at auction once for free, because no one bid on him, the owners didn't want to take him back home, and we don't have meat buyers around us, thank goodness. He was at our barn for 6 months, was halter broke, socialized and gelded and we could turn him out in the indoor. However, all our outside fences were hot wired across the top, so we couldn't turn him out outside and it wasn't the best situation for him. He ended up going to a sanctuary that specialized in blind horses and is still there today, we still drive by every once in a while and he'll be out grazing in the front pasture, you'd never know there was anything wrong with him!

  15. YAY!!!! Congrats!!!! Here's wishing many happy years for Linus and his new family!

  16. WOW---WOW---WOW
    If only they could talk, what a story they could tell...How good Linus must feel knowing you gave him a second chance & now going to a loving home, he looks great, Good Luck SAM& LINUS,
    I knew from the time I read your first e-mail that you loved horses, but also that you loved a challenge.Keep up the good work, can't wait for the next story.
    We still need our updates on our # 1 FAITH, what she will be doing in her retirement years.

  17. Dear Saving Faith,
    I realize this post is a bit old, but I was wondering if you could inform me where you found a veterinarian to perform the surgery for 2,500?
    My horse was just biopsied, but the vet is leaning towards his issue needing a penile amputation. We're also in New England.
    A referral to a vet would be greatly appreciated.

  18. Your story made me tear up. He's such a beautiful horse, and I'm glad to see someone gave him a chance to prove it to everyone. It's sad to think that people see 17 as old. One of my mares is 28 and acts like she's 10. Horses are beautiful. <3