Friday, April 2, 2010

Skipper's Story Part Three

                                                     Skipper's Story Part Three

The Hubs had purchased a nice training harness from Smuckers and we got everything adjusted to Skip, all except the bridle.  He stood patiently while we hooked and unhooked each part, someone had taken the time to really work with him on standing still while being harnessed which was good.  Then we took everything off him and tried to adjust the bridle a bit before we put it on him getting it as close to what we thought would be a good fit.  When we went to put it on him, with all of blinkers and straps that a driving harness has he went right up in the air on his hind feet. 

Oh my, what could have caused his reaction to this we wondered.  We tried again with me putting the bridle on and the Hubs holding a lead rope which was attached to his halter which was off his face but hooked around his neck.  Again he just went all to pieces trying to get away from us and totally terrified.  We put everything away and just stood there with him rubbing his face and talking to him and all was well until we got to his ears.  The second we got near his ears he just went crazy, shivering and trying to get away from us.

Now we know that they twisted his ears to get him to stand still while they clipped him and anything else that they wanted to do to him.  It is very painful for them to have their ears twisted and horses don't forget.  We worked with him for days and just very patiently rubbed his face slowly working up to his ears.  He would relax but when we got near the left ear he still freaked out.

Finally we thought we would try something different so I took a handful of grain and put it by the bit and it took his attention away from his ears long enough to slip the bridle on.  We lavishly praised him and then harnessed him up.  Down the road we went with the Hubs walking beside us just in case something happened and I needed some help.  Everything went beautifully, he drove like a dream.  This was to be the situation over the years.  The bridle was always an issue and even though it got a little better as the years went by it never was good by any means.  We had his ears checked to make sure there wasn't something going on but they were fine.  Our vet could tell that he had been abused around the face by men which wasn't any surprise to us.

The Hubs would walk along with me just in case I needed some help.

We like to go out in the barn after dinner and spend time with the boys, riding, brushing and just loving on them.  The Hubs would sit in a lawn chair and Skippy would go over and stand by him and over time would allow his ears to be touched.  We did this by the hour.  Just scratching his head, talking to him and working our way up to his ears.  Even the grands knew this was something that was important and would stand on a bucket outside his stall and just scratch his ears while talking quietly to him.  He didnt' seem to be so threatened by them, probably because they are smaller then an adult and less intimidating.

Dad and Hubs getting ready for some ground driving.
I'd like to say that the bridle issue was eventually solved but it never was. (Even with six months away for training with a trainer)  It was better but never the way it should be.  A bridle that could be unbuckled and put the strap over his neck and then hook it would work fine but a driving bridle had to slip over the ears.   We learned how to really do it fast and to distract him with a sugar cube or grain and that helped and we spent many, many happy hours out driving around the neighborhood with the grands and the neighborhood children.  They all loved Skippy.  One little girl used to come over and set outside the fence and read to him, they knew he was special and had come from a hard life.

We decided to get a cart so that we could drive Kip and Skip together as by that time Kipper had joined our family.  The Hubs purchased the proper team harnesses and we got them all adjusted.  I ground drove them for a few weeks before we hooked them up and they seemed to do well together.  Skip knew a whole lot more about it the Kipper but they fell right into a good rhythem and I got some much needed exercise walking behind them!

We knew Skip had been used as a pulling pony at the fairs and we also knows what goes on at home when some people are trying to get them to pull their guts out.  Not all, don't get me wrong, but some people are very cruel about it even using electric cattle prods to make them pull.  We don't know if this had happened in Skip's case but once we got them hooked up to the cart together he just reared up as I was holding him back not wanting him to take off!  Scared the wits out of me I will tell you, also the crew that was building the cupola on the barn roof, I think they thought I was dead meat.  Thankfully the Hubs was right there and we calmed him down and just walked around the pasture area for them to get used to it.

That was going well so I thought I would go out in the neighborhood to use the streets as we didn't have our carriage trails back then.  Out we went.  I must digress a bit here and tell you about a gentleman in our neighborhood that dislikes horses and was the only one that went to the city to complain when we went through the process of getting a permit to have what he called 'barnyard animals' here in the neighborhood.  Even thought we have over 400 acres we are in a subdivision as most all of our land is in the back.  He really talked this up around to all of the neighbors trying to get support for what he called an invasion of stinky animals into our somewhat snooty neighborhood.  He failed as everyone else loved the idea and even wrote letters to city hall in support of us.  Okay back to the story.  Out into the street we went at a pretty good clip.  I wasn't used to driving two and was a bit nervous and guess who was walking up my street??????  Yep, the neigborhood watch dog. 

Kip and Skip started getting a bit excited being out where there was plenty of room and were getting a little strong and we were headed right towards Mr. Watch Dog!  I yelled to him that I thought he'd better get out of the road and I never saw him move as fast as he did that day!!  Being the bad person that I am I was chuckling on the inside, just couldn't help it.  At least I didn't run over him...........

Anyhow that was my last time driving with both of them.  I just didn't like it and didn't feel I had the control or knowledge that I needed to do it correctly.  So I went back to driving one at a time and the neighbors would come out and hop in with me or have their picture taken and Skippy got lots of treats and hugs.  He was my mother's favorite and she would take carrots and apples out to him keeping the other horses away with her broom so that he could get them.  He was low man on the totem pole, as you know herds of horses always have a pecking order but we made sure he got his share.

This was before we had our back pastures cleared so please ignore the mess.

The last part won't be as easy for me to write, not that this has been particularly easy but I feel I need to.  Maybe it's closure, I don't know, but to be continured.......... Thank you to those of you who have commented on this.  It has meant so much to me to read your kind words.  I know in a case like this sometimes one just doesn't know what to say but believe me anything helps.  :o)


Sorry no spell check and I don't have the energy to look everything up in the dictionary!  :o)


Julie Harward said...

I loved the 2nd part of the story. Sad though about his ears. I have run into many horses that have that same problem. I hate it when stupid people ruin a good horse. So many, out of frustration..not knowing how or what to do, loose their temper and ruin a horse. I had a paint once that would flinch..found out the guy who broke him would hit him over the head with a brick!!!
You are such nice people and have such a great glad I've connected with you. Come say hi :D

Terri said...

Am so enjoying Skip's story, just dreading the ending.
Can't believe there are people in the world that don"t like horses! Who knew? You are a much better person than me. I believe I would have run flat over Mr. Fancy
I may have to skip your last installment. I know I
will cry with you.
Blessings, M
Terri Baker

Ms Martyr said...

Blogger is giving me problems trying to leave comments on various sites but I'll try again.
I'm sure Skipper really enjoyed his time with you and it hopefully helped to erase some of his bad memories with people. He sounds like a special little guy. Thank you for this rescue. I wish there weren't so many animals needing good homes.

Ora said...

Hi...I am so loving this story about Skip...and I really do think you should have a book of it...not a big one...but it could be on kids level telling about mistreating animals...and it is OUR Skip..what a memento to have laying around the about me getting lotsa work for you to if you didn't have enough to do??? LOL...I never knew Skip...but feel I would be one of those who would surely make him spoiled but happy...God Bless..hugs from Ora in KY

Carroll Farm said...

I am glad that Skip found you and that you were able to find him. He sounds like he had a great ending to a rough life!

hippo chick said...

I'm so sorry you are having to go through this terrible loss. Thank you so much for sharing this story with all of us. My heart is so touched by Skipper. He was a wonderful pet, I can tell.

I know your heart is broken. People who don't have pets just don't realize how they worm their way into our hearts. They are truly family members, as your boys surely are.

Some of this is hard to read, but I am just so happy that Skip had such a good life with you.

Have a blessed EAster.

~hippo hugs~

Valerie said...

I loved reading about Skipper but I have to tell you that I am speechless and feel for you.

PEA said...

Happy Easter to you and yours, dear Louise!! Having had Corey home the last few days and making my Easter dinner yesterday, today I am relaxing and catching up with my blogging friends:-)

I've now read part 2 & 3 of Skippers story and I can well imagine how hard it is for you to tell his story but as you say, it's also helping you get through the grieving process. All I can really say is I'm soooo glad that you took Skipper away from that hard and abusive life he'd been having. With the way he'd react to some things tells of the harsh treatment he'd become accustomed to. You and your family changed all that for him and he was finally part of a loving family:-) Love you! xoxoxox

Needled Mom said...

What an interesting story it has been so far. I am sure the last part will be difficult to write, but I am sure that it is helpful to do so.

Despite the fact that Skipper could never tell "his story", it is amazing how much he spoke to you. I am glad that you were wise enough to get him through his ear issues and even though he was never completely resolved of the problem, it sounds as though you were able to deal with it in a way that worked for him. I am sure he was well loved by all and what a blessing that was for his final years. I simply cannot imagine abusing an animal like that.

R&L and kids were home for the weekend and life was pretty hectic. It was a delightful Easter here and hope yours was the same. I hear you had some warm and beautiful weather.

Have a great week, my dear friend. xoxox

Dawn said...

Poor Skip had a rough beginning, but a blessed life with your family. I know it'll be hard, but I'm glad you plan to finish the story. It will be a good thing.

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