Back at the beginning of February I heard about a gelding that had been relinquished in a high-profile neglect case down in the lower part of the state. It was indicated that he was an Irish Draught by Rockrimmon Silver Diamond. Immediately I was intrigued as Guinness is also by Rockrimmon Silver Diamond. I knew that finding RSD babies around the Carolinas wouldn’t be that uncommon since RSD stood in NC for a while, but I was still curious. So I called and talked with the vet in charge of his care and discovered that he had been standing as a sporthorse stud for a farm in the Charleston area and was slightly underweight and in slightly poor condition but would be gelded soon and they really wanted him out of their facility as soon as possible.
I was not in the market for a new horse. Heck, I hadn’t ridden all winter. So I politely asked if there were any photos and she sent me this:
Well… doesn’t that horse look a bit familiar? So I politely asked her to keep me in the loop and quietly walked away feeling that surely some other person would come forward for an ISH. A week later I again hear from the vet. The gelding had been done, evidently no one else had come forward and was I still interested?? Ugh…
Tentatively I spoke with M and J and we reached the decision that this boy had been put before us for a reason and started making the arrangements to bring him home. We rearranged paddocks, set up his quarantine pen and started to fish around for a trailer to use. I will not go into the horrors of trying to find a trailer to bring home a recently gelded stud horse that I don’t actually know. Understandably nobody was eager to have him onboard. So we made the decision to just use the old beat up green trailer. Our wonderful neighbor David did a quick check over it to make sure it was safe and that all the electric components were working and even tho it was a mess cosmetically, it was safe and tall enough to bring home our new boy.
Valentine’s morning we headed out! J and I had a good drive down and realized rapidly why the gelding needed a new home asap. Living between the interstate and an airbase/airport isn’t exactly the most ideal life for any horse. So we pulled up and after parking amid what I think was a dog/cat adoption event and overhearing more than one person ask “how big is the dog you are planning on getting??” we were redirected to the barn were I met our new gelding.
This was my first look at him.
What I saw was a profoundly depressed and unhappy horse. Obviously he and G share a common look, but where G has the look of a horse that has lived the padded life of a privileged, beloved show horse, the new gelding, while polite, looked tired and weary. As J put it “he looks like he’s seen some things”.
So I filled out all the legal paper work while J changed out his halter and put on his travelling clothes (cooler and boots). I wasn’t entirely sure what he would have to say about loading up on the little trailer but after a look around he walked up meekly and munched on hay while I secured the ramp. I couldn’t decide if he was that “OK” with the whole thing or if he just didn’t care anymore.
An so we began our journey back home only to realize that we were insanely hungry and needed to stop immediately for lunch. J, the intrepid puller of trailers, negotiated several multi laned highways to get us into a large parking area behind a Chik-fil-a. I decided to hang out with the gelding while J went in to order. I opened the escape door and stood talking to him, nonsensical blathering of nothingness, just to let him hear me and hopefully keep him calm. Immediately I noticed a change in him. He nosed all over my face, whoofed through my hair, nuzzled my cheek and really latched on to me as a person he was interested in. I took out my phone to update M about our progress and this happened…
I continued to talk and babble on to him and suddenly a car pulled up beside us! I was a little nervous as I had read a lot about his case on our way to Charleston and I knew that there were some hot opinions about it. The couple in the car stopped to comment on how much my horse must love me because they could see how relaxed he was when I talked to him. I told them that he was a new acquisition and they were surprised as they had thought that we were a long bonded horse and rider combo. They wished us luck and safe journeys and again I noticed how the gelding was definitely warming up to both J and me.
So we continued home with me asking J every 5 minutes if the gelding was ok. I think it made for a long trip for J even if he didn’t complain :)
Somewhere along the drive home I decided that Fawkes would be a perfect name. I did not like the name he came with and I felt like he needed a new name to start his new life. So Fawkes, the name of Dumbledore’s phoenix, seemed perfect!
Anyway, we made it home before dark and spent a good 30 minutes hand walking Fawkes around to work out his travel stiffness before putting him up for the evening. He was polite and courteous, even with the wind blowing fiercely.
Then next day we spent shoring up shelters as wintry weather was forecast. As I was feeding Fawkes his morning feed I noticed his sheath was grossly swollen. I placed a couple phone calls to the vet and ended up driving to TR as the sleet and frozen rain started to pick up medicine at the vet’s office.
The weather tanked during the night and we awoke to an icy wonderland!
Fawkes didn’t seem to mind at all. He didn’t even think the children sledding on the ice was all that interesting. He did spend some time making kissy faces with Noorah.
Already looking like a different horse!!
The swelling in his sheath gave us several days of concern as did his very ugly gelding incisions. I’ll spare you the pictures, trust me they are gross. I had pretty much daily phone calls to the girls at the vet’s office to make sure we were on the right treatment path. It was a tough time as my instinct said that I should cold hose his sheath area, but my common sense said that cold hosing in single digit temps was potentially dangerous!
A week or so in Fawkes turned grumpy and moody. He was unhappy with the horses in his neighboring paddocks. He was unhappy with me. He was unhappy with the boys changing his water. He was unhappy with J feeding him hay. Everything caused penned ears and unhappy eyes.
I spent some time just observing him and noticed that he was repeatedly pulling at his turnout and biting at his shoulder. So with a modicum of trepidation, he is a big boy after all, I walked up to him and started scratching his shoulder under his blanket. Initially he had his angry face on, but then it melted away and he started leaning into my hand as I scratched. So I took off his blanket and started scratching all over his shoulders and as far down his back as he would let me. Initially he would let me go as far as his withers but after a few minutes he was ok with letting me scratch him pretty much all over. Unfortunately in the middle of our bonding session a car pulled up in our drive-way and I had to leave him but as soon as I came back to the fence he backed up and invited me to scratch his butt. We have daily scratching sessions now and the unhappy grumpy mood has disappeared.
Fawkes has also been having weekly sessions with Nicole of EquiZen Horse Therapies. I really have to say that these acupressure sessions have worked wonders on all my horses and Fawkes is no different.
Fawkes is learning what it means to be a pampered and loved horse and seeing him really blossom has been amazing!! He’s gone from being a dull and grungy, unhappy horse to being a shiny, personable, gelding with a little bit of a sense of humor that pops up from time to time. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him!