One never knows how things will turn out when dealing with horses. Much has to do with experience, and much has to do with lady Luck, and often it happens that the horse knows best.
Junior, now also known as Cory, was in need of a home. His owner was no longer able to keep him for financial reasons. He was a handsome 12-year-old Thoroughbred who had raced, but hadn’t made a lot of money. The owner said he was sound and had done some low-level dressage, etc., but was blind in his right eye and nobody would take him. So he was going to be euthanized.
GEVA stepped in and spared him the needle. A nice young woman adopted him and gave him a good home for several months. Neither she nor GEVA had ever see the horse before taking him, but alas, he was not sound. Radiographs showed he had “kissing spine,” so she wasn’t able to use him for the riding she had hoped. GEVA came to the rescue again, and Cory was going to be shipped to GEVA’s farm to retire. However, he was in need of a ride, and luckily another horse was also headed to the farm.
That horse was a 4 year-old Thoroughbred colt, barn name Ipod, who sported a massive bowed tendon on the left and an enlarged ankle on the right. The trainer in an adjacent barn contacted GEVA to see if we could save him from a sad fate. Ipod had a trip to a clinic to be gelded, and a long period of adjustment to his neutered state, after which it was time for him to move to GEVA’s farm. The veterinarian who gelded him said not to put him in a paddock with Cory because she feared he’d pick on Cory, who, being blind in his right eye, could be badly injured.
Well, we accepted the veterinarian’s professional opinion, since we’d never seen either horse and she had. The two horses were shipped up together and were stalled next to each other for quarantine when they arrived at GEVA’s farm. When they were turned out into separate paddocks, each stood by the fence looking over at the other. So, we took the chance and put them together. At first Ipod took the “alpha” role and Cory accepted. However, Ipod allowed Cory to eat out of the same bucket with him. They also ate their hay together, stood together, swatted flies together, and basically were inseparable. As the days passed, they learned to eat out of separate buckets, and Cory actually made some “warning” gestures toward Ipod, and they kind of sparred back and forth.
It became very clear that each horse was enjoying having a companion. Cory had been alone in his prior homes, and stalled when at the track, and so had not been out with other horses since he was a baby, if even then. Ipod had not been out with other horses since he was a colt, only recently gelded, and had been stalled at the track. So they each finally had a buddy, which was a welcome experience for them, as they demonstrated so obviously.
So we humans can apply all our well-learned experience in trying to do the best for horses, but very often it’s the horse who knows best. We often have a lot to learn from them.