I met the most amazing horse a couple of weeks ago at a Parelli Natural Horsemanship clinic in Glen Rose, Texas. Lucky the one-eyed rescue horse has a story that is both heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time. We often look at horses with perceived disabilities and think "That poor horse! How will he ever live a 'normal' life?" And then a horse like Lucky comes along and shows us how silly we are for assuming they can't do all the same things they would have done before!
Lucky was found by a Midland County Mounted Patrol Officer. The officer was on his way to work one morning about 8 AM when he noticed a horse standing 1/4 of a mile down his pasture fenceline. He didn't think anything of it and continued to work. But when he returned home that afternoon, the horse was still standing in the very same spot as if it hadn't moved at all. So he grabbed a halter and 5-gallon bucket of water and went to check on the horse.
Approaching the horse, he noticed that the his entire left side and all four legs were covered in dried blood. The horrible wreck of a horse was very slowly led the 1/4 mile back to the officer's house, having to take many breaks along the way to allow him to rest. He was offered the water bucket and immediately drank down the entire 5 gallons and was then loaded into a trailer and taken to Second Chance Ranch Horse Rescue. Once there an in-depth evaluation was made to determine Lucky's medical needs and he was then taken to the vet.
No one to this day knows who abused Lucky or where he came from. It was learned later that Lucky had been reported seen 24 hours before he was found by the mounted patrol officer. Lucky's evaluation revealed that he was very emaciated and dehydrated at the time of his rescue. Due to his nutritional state the vet did not think he could possibly recover from his wounds. Lucky had 3 (yes, that's THREE!) stab wounds about his neck and chest area, the deepest of which was in the left side of his chest, his hocks were cut and he ended up losing his left eye. He had lost a tremendous amount of blood as well. The vet treated Lucky's wounds, nursing him back to health, and treated him for parasites. But the full extent of what therapy Lucky underwent is not known as the treating veterinarian would not release any details to the people that adopted him.
Lucky was at the Second Chance Ranch for a year before he finally met the two people that would fall in love with him and give him his his forever home. When Denise saw Lucky for the first time, there was an instant bond between them! She described her first meeting to me…"Lucky was at the fence standing with another horse, when I walk up Lucky began following me around in the stall. Upon entering the stall Lucky was in my personal space, wanting me to touch him and love him. The workers at the rescue said that he didn’t act that way with anyone else. My husband told me, 'You have found your horse!'".
Denise & Lucky with Lucky being his now typical "nosey" self
When they first got Lucky home, Denise spent lots of time just bonding with him and gaining his trust. Undemanding time is so important for horses, especially with a horse that suffered from the level of abuse that Lucky did. She spent a lot of time getting him used to being touched in different areas of the body. As you can imagine, Lucky had a few areas that he was leary about having people touch. After about 2 weeks of this, Denise was able to touch him anywhere on his body without him flinching and she could groom him without having to tie him.
Soon they progressed to simple following games in the stall and then moved on to the bigger area of the round pen. Eventually, they started to play a version of the Parelli YoYo Game without realizing that's what they were doing, getting Lucky to come forward and then back up.
Even though it appeared that Lucky had no "official" under saddle training, they were able to put a saddle on him and ride him around. Denise said, "I would saddle him, but he did not know any commands or how to neck rein. But we continued to ride him and work with him for 6 months. During this 6-month period Mike and I realized how smart and willing to please Lucky is. So we decided to send him to a calm young man that rode him out for 30 days and taught him what I was not able to. I was a nervous wreck with Lucky gone for 30 days. I called every day to make sure he was doing okay. The last week of his training I went out every day and rode him. He came home for a week and then we came to our first Parelli clinic with Christi Rains."
Which is where I met Lucky and the family that rescued him. I was so impressed with this kind young horse. You would think that a horse that had been abused as severely as Lucky had been would not want anything to do with people. But he was such a friendly and curious horse. He would come right up to you, investigate anything new that came into his view and displayed a huge play drive. He was so calm when introduced to all the tarps, balls, hoola hops, and umbrellas…taking everything in stride without any problems, even on his blind side.
During the clinic Christi helped Denise work on communication cues that Lucky could hear and easily understand, as well as giving Denise strategies for teaching Lucky to respect her space and to learn to be aware of where Denise was at all times for safety. They continued to show amazing improvements throughout the clinic and by the end of the weekend, they mastered every scary obstacle that was thrown at them and finished with getting on the pedastal. Lucky has no idea that he has any kind of handicap. He's just a normal, fun-loving young gelding ready to take on the world with his new partner, Denise.
Denise continues to focus on building a long-lasting and loving bond with Lucky. She is well on her way to meeting her goal of being able to pleasure and trail ride on Lucky, and eventually she has hopes that they might be able to train with the Midland County Mounted Patrol.
Lucky's story reminds us to not ever take the spirit and heart of a horse (or any animal for that matter) for granted. They are amazing creatures and we can learn so much from them. Do you know an animal that has beaten the odds and done things that nobody thought it could? Please come over and share your story with us on the Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/HeavenlyGaitsEquineMassage. We'd love to hear about it.
Lisa Carter is a Certified Equine Massage Therapist (CEMT), with multiple certifications from several different equine bodywork schools. She incorporates her knowledge and experience with Parelli Natural Horsemanship, equine bodywork, using essential oils for animals and as a veterinary technician to provide her clients with the resources they need to make informed decisions for their horses. She encourages and facilitates network building between equine health care professionals, working together to find the best combination of therapies to meet the needs of the "whole horse".
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