Gideon, an 18 year old gelding had been donated to the ranch. We drove several hours to his home for the pick up and although we knew he was blind in one eye, we hadn't anticipated that he would be covered with sores. Bite marks scattered all across his back, on his face and cuts on his legs gave him a contagious looking appearance. We knew we couldn’t restore his sight, but we could give him a time to heal and rest. We could provide a good life for him so even though he was not what we were expecting, we agreed to accept him into our herd.
Arriving home after the long return trip, we unloaded him from the trailer and walked him into his new paddock. He quickly took a mouthful of hay and hurried off to the other end of the paddock to eat it . He threw his head from side to side watching, and waiting to see if he’d be allowed to eat in peace or suffer another painful bite or jarring kick.
He had his own pen with his own water and his own hay but it would take time for him to know he was out of harms way.
My heart was set on showing Gideon that in this place, his new home, he would be safe and he would be loved. Grooming Gideon, I slowly and gently worked around each scab and every bloody sore. My thoughts ran from sad to angry as I thought of Gideon’s current condition. I was overwhelmed with emotion as I carefully brushed the matted mess of his mane. I untangled the knots and smoothed each strand of his forelocks. Gideon didn’t look much better after all my efforts but I knew he was thankful for my presence. With the grooming done I sat in the dirt of his paddock next to his hay, watching him eat and simply spending time getting to know each other
Gideon, at his previous ranch, was rock bottom on the herd’s pecking order. Chased away from food and water he had grown thin and nervous, and the persistent bites and kicks had left him defensive. His past owners accepted the herd’s aggressive behavior as normal, and with private place to move him they had not stepping in to separate him or protect him from the ruthless, never-ending dominance games.
Cruel demeaning behavior is all to common these days. It’s in our schools, at our places of work and even in the pastures. What would happen is everyone decided it was not okay. If we all had a ‘not on my watch’ attitude, could we make a difference?
Our vet, Dr. B., came to see Gideon. All the open sores would be easily treated with a topical ointment. But sadly his teeth had been aggressively filed down and very little remained to help him break down his oats or hay. His legs were arthritic and it was Dr. B’s opinion that our 18 year old was probably in his mid 30s.
What ever the age and what ever the condition, Gideon deserved to be loved and to feel safe. We organized a diet and care schedule, and his recovery began.
We placed him right next to Charlie our 8 year old Appaloosa gelding who was also blind in one eye. Charlie had a devastating diagnoses of Uveitis and he was starting to show additional signs of failing health. We thought the two were a good match and we were hoping they would become special friends.
It wasn’t long before they shared a spot in the ’special needs’ paddock and for the rest of their retired days. They ate peacefully nose to nose and always had each others back.