We receive some pretty amazing requests for horses. Admittedly, after browsing through a fourth of the pictures on our website under “Adoptable Horses,” I’d be inclined to just throw my hands up and send an email. Heck, those folks in the adoptions department should be able to pick out a perfect horse for a …uh… perfect person. Right?
Here’s a list of needs one person provided:
“The horse has to be bomb proof.”
We’ve pretty much taken that off all the profiles on the advice of a number of people, including our insurance agent. A horse can jump through rings of fire can just as easily freak out over a fly on its nose. My favorite story is about one of our “bomb proof” horses that we took on a Christmas Parade. At night, sirens blaring, lights of all colors flashing, kids throwing candy, a band in front of us – all that and our horse was an angel until he saw a left turn arrow painted on the road. The poor guy totally lost it and had to be walked the rest of the way.
“Quiet on the ground and in the saddle”
Ol’ Doblin might be very quiet for you and I, but put a 280 pound guy on a 800 pound horse, or put a screaming 8 year old “cowboy” in the saddle, and all that training just went out the window. It helps sometimes to put yourself in the place of the horse. If you would object, why shouldn’t the horse?
“No vices – biting, bucking, kicking or cribbing.”
I guess we need to give a guarantee on these items when we adopt out a horse. I wonder if it matters if the new adopter comes out wearing spurs and gives the horse a good slap on the butt before mounting. One of my favorite old horses, calm as a smooth sea, kicked me when I walked past him in the middle of the night and ran my hand over his rump. I didn’t realize he was asleep. He didn’t realize it was me. I’m sure he felt sorry for kicking me because he stood very quiet while I was sitting on the ground at 3am with extreme expressions of pain.
“Gets along well with other horses.”
Wow, since we don’t know your other horses, that’s kind of difficult. Do you have angry mares? Food aggressive geldings? Have they completed a personality profile? Is there a Match.com for horses?
I don’t know how many times we’ve seen newly adopted and, before they left the ranch, very sound horses come back crippled. Hint – a horse that’s spent the last three months hanging around a hay bale and walking over to the water trough for exercise isn’t ready for four hours of jumps or running Junior and his friends up and down the road all afternoon.
Is this the right horse?
Then the request gets specific – “A black and white paint mare, no more than 8 years old, but no younger than 5, 14.2 to 15 hands, should be registered and highly trained. Most of your horses can do barrels, right?”
Oh, and as always, the final kicker – “I can’t afford to pay anything but I can take a horse off your hands so you have room for other horses. I know of a great boarding facility for her – it’s only about five miles from my house – and I’ll see her on the weekends.”
When we get emails like that I can’t help but smile, knowing that some folks just don’t get it, whatever “it” is. While we make exceptions to our rules, in this case I don’t think we will.
We want our adopters to make a commitment to the horses: that they will respect
and care, that they just aren’t in it just for what the horse can do for them. The last owner didn’t care, that’s why the horse ended up at Habitat for Horses. We want the adoption to be the beginning of a relationship that continues far into the future, where old age and weak muscles just mean extra care. And some day, when the light of life is fading away, the adopter and the horse can look at one another, feel good about the miles they travelled together and know that their love made life so much richer.
That’s what having a horse is all about.