Gentle Giants: Bolt

We at Snarky Rider love a good rant and Christine of GGDHR doesn’t fail to deliver 🙂

Meet Bolt.  Bolt is very typical of the suffering at the hands of humans we all see in rescue everyday.  Not neglect and starvation, but the more insidious suffering that humans inflict that, in just a few easy steps, can turn a good horses life into a nightmare.

Bolt was born “Creekside’s Blazing Glory”, and Bolt had it all. (I changed his name from Blaze, as that name is unlucky to me.  Long story)  Bolt was bred from excellent stock, was registered, had all the right markings, and was set on his way into the show ring and to earn his name.  He didn’t do as great as he could, because he never got that towering height the judges like, and he only stayed a stallion until about 5.  Bolt then earned his keep as a well broke gelding who could ride and drive, and was a gem to handle and be around.  Someone poured their heart and soul into some slow and patient training, and it shines through.  Then along the way, someone fucked him all up.  (Can I say that?  Because that’s what they did and I hate to soften it.)  Someone in Bolts history took this horse and worked him so hard, likely in pulling competitions, that he had a lumbar sacral pelvic fracture.  This injury is common with “horse pulling” competitions, where contestants weight a sled heavier and heavier to see how much their horse or team can pull from a stand still.  At this years Draft Pull in Harrisburg, PA, a Belgian gelding collapsed and died during a pull.  Now I can’t say for absolutely certain this is how Bolt got injured, but I can say it’s a common injury in that sport, and it’s a hard injury to get any other way.  But someone broke this nice horse, and basically left him crippled.  This is Step One of a good horses life turned bad.

So what did they do?  Retire him?  Put him down?  Make him light riding use?  NOOOO!!!!  They went to Step Two of destroying a horse!  What they decided to do was sell him on the internet sight unseen to some unsuspecting person who has a dream of owning that perfect Clydesdale!  They campaigned his as a foxhunter, as a trail horse, and as a beginner safe lesson horse!  How do I know?  Because if I goggle his registration number, the old sale ads pop up, you morons!

In Step Three, Bolt got purchased by a family far away with stars in their eyes.  He seemed perfect.  Now it was time to iron out the details.  That’s where Step 4 comes in.  Get a smarmy local vet to sign off on the vet check.  How that happened, I’ll never know.  But the papers were signed, and Mrs. HappyNewHorseowner cut one big fat check and was shipped one busted up horse.

In Step 5, Mrs. HappyNewHorseowner was shocked!  This was not her dream horse!  This horse was spinning when ridden, and she was getting really scared!  One time he actually fell with a rider up!  This was supposed to be her dream horse!  She wrote several more big fat checks to consult with well reputed trainers, who said he was absolutely dangerous, and she needed to get rid of him immediately.  They said his mind was broken, and he would kill someone with his unpredictable behavior.  None of these “reputable” trainers recommended a vet check to Mrs. HappyNewHorseowner.

Now, we all know Step 6 typically ends up with an auction and a long trailer ride to a horrible death.  But here is where Bolts luck changed.  Most horses don’t get this lucky.  His Mrs. NowBrokenHeartedHorseowner picked up the phone, and started calling people for advice.  She somehow called me, and typically that’s not such a great thing to do, as I have a limited amount of sympathy for people who do dumb things and then want others to solve their problems for them.  But this Mrs. NowBrokenHeartedHorseowner was different.  She was trying everything in her power to do the right thing, she just didn’t know what the right thing was.  She was willing to reach out to professionals, but they failed her.  She was in a rural area, and had exhausted the resources known to her.  We said Bolt could come here.

What arrived here was the quietest and sweetest horse who, due to injury, physically could not make tight turns without falling.  He had EPSM, and not being fed the proper diet left him with severely atrophied muscles and little control of his already weakened back end.  I don’t know what vet could ever say this horse was sound, or what “trainer” could look at this horse and not see a huge problem even if they weren’t  sure exactly what it was.  His disability was noticeable a mile away, when he walked both hind legs trembled precariously under him and he swayed.  Bolt underwent some testing, a diet revision, and massage therapy.  A few months of rehab later, and here he is now.  He can safely ride with a moderate sized rider over easy terrain for about 30 minutes.  He’s never going to do more than that.  But he’s happy, sweet, spectacularly trained, and a total joy to be around.  His manners are impeccable, and his sweet nature makes you want to move him into your house.  He needs a home that can retire him and respect his riding limitations in exchange for a truly pleasant horse in every way.  Dangerous?  Only because he’ll steal your heart.

He lucked out. But how many horse don’t?  His breeder failed him.  His trainer failed him.  His sellers failed him.  His Mrs. NowBrokenHeartedHorseowner didn’t fail him, but all of her support people failed her.  What if she had taken their professional advice?  How many sales would he have gone through?  How many people might have been hurt?  How often does this happen every day at every sale?  It only takes one weak link in the chain, and a good horse ends up on a truck.

So, the point of my rant is, don’t drug horses, cheat, or lie in an attempt to try to sell busted up horses to make a buck.  When you do that, YOU SUCK.  Don’t be the weak link when someone reaches out to you.  Take a look.  Help them out.  Give them a hand up.  Otherwise, YOU SUCK, too. 

Check out Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue for more rants… errrr horses for adoption 😉


About snarkyrider

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Posted on February 15, 2012, in Featured Rescues and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Thanks again for featuring GG. Bolt is such a sweet boy, but when he first came to the rescue he looked like one of those two-people horse costumes–hind end totally not doing the same thing as the front.

    Collegial Equestrian blog

  2. Thank you so much for writing this. I have 2 drafts with similar stories and I am taking in another on Friday. She’s a half starved, lice infested, 26 year old Belgian mare. She gave 20+ years as a plow horse, a riding horse, a parade horse and a loving companion. Her reward…. to be left in 3 ft of mud to starve to death. People suck. I’m not a rescue. I’m just a person that loves draft horses and is willing to give up my lattes to save them.

  3. Oh goodness, he looks like a snuggle face! I think I love him. I wish I had the space/money needed to adopt a horse like him. I’m glad his story ends well.

  4. Whoa – lump in the throat time! Thank you, Gentle Giants, for this happy outcome to all the fail.

  5. “Oh no, he’s kidnapped someone!”
    That totally made me lol 🙂 His story had me in tears, though. I love GG. I’m not close enought to physically visit them, but I’ve been keeping tabs on them via facebook (I’m a bit of a stalker!).

  6. All I can say is “Amen.”

    And also thank whatever supreme being you happen to believe in ( or the fates if you don’t believe in a supreme being) that people like Christine exist to do right by horses like Bolt.

  7. It’s so nice to hear a story with a happy ending, for a change. The people who ruin them deserve to be hit by truck and then become injured for the rest of their lives.

  8. It only takes one determined soul to make a genuine difference in someone’s life, be they equine, canine, porcine, ovine, or human.

    Bolt is one Lucky Love Bandit.

  9. With the equine world awash in tragic tales, it’s always refreshing to read a story that actually ends well. Personally, I’ve always felt that Anna Sewell (Black Beauty) was absolutely “spot on” with the way things are for so many horses. Nice post.

  10. What a beautiful boy, so glad things changed for him 🙂
    I was at a hose pull once, near tyhe end one of the contestants withdrew his team, the announcer said “Mr so and so has decided to withdraw as his horses have pulled well and he does not want to injure them”. They were one of the smaller teams. I do not know the man but that warmed my heart and I respect people like that.

  11. Hose pull…lmao one day maybe my hands will catch up to my brain….:-P

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