Wednesday, December 22, 2010

We Promised Charlie We'd Be Back . . .

. . . and thanks to all of you, our friends and volunteers, we were able to keep our promise!

On the shortest day of the year HRHR made the longest rescue
we may ever do - our first rescue as a new team. Charlie.

Charlie was born in 1993 in the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area (HMA)
in California. His ancestors include Iberian, morgan, gaited, and draft breeds.
Twin Peaks mustangs are noted for their size, beauty, and wonderful temperaments
From the moment we met Charlie, we knew he was a special horse.

Charlie needed no persuasion to hop right into Becky and Scott's trailer.

Our first stop was North Coast Veterinary Hospital in Arcata where Charlie had an
appointment with our friend Dr. Branch. Even though Charlie has a wonderful
temperament, there are just too many needy horses in the world these days to risk
maintaining a horse as a stallion that might sire one more baby. Charlie needed to be gelded.

Charlie has the most amazing manners. Even though he came from living on
two acres of mud, he waited to graze until invited. Carey stood by, enjoying his company.

We wondered how long it had been since he enjoyed the sweetness of fresh grass.

Throughout the long day, Charlie remained calm and took everything and everyone in stride.

Becky offered a few words of encouragement as we prepared to turn Charlie over
to the kind and capable hands of the NCVH staff for his operation.

While part of the team went to prepare the pasture to welcome Charlie,
Kira kept him company during his recovery from surgery.
He kept showing her where he hurt, first one side, then the other.

Our second stop of the day delivered Charlie to the pasture where he will recuperate and
live for a time while we assess his level of training and prepare him for rehoming.

With great dignity Charlie explored his new "home", the beautiful 12 acre pasture
that HRHR has use of, thanks to the generosity of our friend Doug Shaw.

Becky explained to Charlie that for the next few days he would need to stay in the 60
foot round pen we use as a "greeting" paddock for new horses. We want to give Charlie
and Ben time to get used to each other before they share the same fields.

If there was anything better than kind humans with crunchies and a spacious pasture
full of green grass, it was the sight of another horse. Charlie met Ben and for the first time
in a very long time experienced the relief of an equine companion.

Ben is a very alpha horse and Charlie is recently gelded, yet their show of equine greeting displays was understated and quickly shifted from pawing and snorting to synchronized grazing.

When horses are accepting of each other and bonded, they will match one another's
posture and rhythm as they move and eat. Ben and Charlie were eating side by
side and mirroring one another within minutes of their first meeting.

They sniffed noses and then . . .

. . . they shared a tasty bite from the same pile of hay.

After a few minutes of sharing hay with Ben,
Charlie gave a huge sigh, stopped, and looked around his new home.

Slowly he walked around, sniffing the ground, looking for the perfect place to roll.

Or so we thought. Charlie was ready for a nap after his long day.

Kira and Ben watched the mustang sigh, and visibly relax.
Kira told him, "Don't worry Charlie, we've got your back!"

And his body softened. And his head lowered.

Slowly his chin came to rest on the ground and his eyes closed.
For a horse to lay down and sleep, they need to feel safe.

On his first day with HRHR, Charlie rested safe in his pasture,
watched over by his new herd and friends at HRHR.

Stay tuned for the next chapter of Charlie's healing
and rehab as he gets ready for his new family.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Story of Charlie

Two weeks ago we got a call about Charlie, a 15 year old mustang stallion. Charlie had been rescued by his current caretakers from a very bad situation in Redding. It was reported to us that Charlie had been kept on a chain. He bears scars where his halter had become embedded in his face. Charlie's current caretakers are to be commended for stepping up for this horse and for recognizing that they do not have the level of horse keeping experience Charlie really requires.

Charlie has an amazing presence - kind, lonely, sad, and somehow very, very wise. We wonder how long he has lived without the comfort of his own kind and what he has suffered since his "capture" someplace in Nevada. It is rather unusual for a mustang to be adopted as a stallion.

Becky found that someone, once, had done quite a bit of work with Charlie. He put his nose
in the halter, was very soft on the lead, and responsive to Becky's requests doing ground work.

We will be voting on Charlie entering the rescue this Tuesday. For this horse, our vote in pretty certainly going to be YES. His entry into HRHR does have a unique set of problems. Our first stop will be a visit to North Coast Veterinary Clinic for a gelding appointment. Charlie will then need confinement in a paddock when he has adequate movement to ensure proper healing of his gelding incision.

Taking any horse into the rescue requires a complex team effort starting with an evaluation of the kind of questions we really hate to ask . . .
  • What will be the drain of HRHR's resources?
  • Do we have the funding, volunteers, and appropriate facility to meet the needs of the horse?
  • What will be required for the horse's rehabilitation? For how long?
  • What is the re-homing potential for the horse?
We cannot rescue horses without a solid team of volunteers. Fortunately for Charlie our recent volunteer recruitment drive was a HUGE success and many wonderful people have recently joined our team.

I simply cannot imagine looking in Charlie's eyes and saying, "Sorry, we are full" or "Sorry, we don't have enough people to help you." Fortunately, that is not the case right now. Thanks to the incredible group of people that comprise HRHR, thanks to the many, many people who support us through donations, we have have a solid organization and are able to again respond to horses needing our help.

We know that we will not be able to serve every horse we are called upon to assist. Yet we will never say the words "sorry, we are full" and hang up the phone. When we are unable to take in a horse, we will work with the owner to find alternatives. Perhaps we can help develop a plan to deal with a crisis situation through our Winter Horse Response Team. Maybe we can help find referrals that will be helpful. We can certainly help by listing the horse on our "Horses in Need" page on our website.

On Charlie's behalf we want to thank the community that enables us to continue to rescue horses. YOU are responsible for making a difference in the life of this special horse.