He was standing shivering in the auction pen. Fine coated from being in a barn and still had his sliders on his back feet. The temperature was down in low forties, and this horse was doing it hard.
That is what Matt was confronted with as he walked along the yards. The horse was panicked and becoming a danger to himself. Matt describes “I walked over to the rail and started talking to him to calm him down and he just ignored me. A beautiful paint horse with a bold white face. I could not understand why he was there. As I looked him over, he had great conformation and seemed like he was a well-bred horse.”
Matt is not a horse rescuer nor a person that typically would purchase a horse. A long history of ranching he was there to help out a friend who was selling some gear that day.
Matt when on to say ‘I was there for about ½ hour and it was playing on my mind. I kept looking over at him, and that horse was suffering real bad. I went back to my truck and had an old rug in the back, so I went over to hook him up and put the rug on him. No horse deserved this treatment.’ The yards were busy, so no-one was going to be too bothered. As I approached him, the horse spun around in shock, and I noticed he had a slightly loped ear. I walked over quietly, and he dropped his head. He was a kind soul. He appeared relieved as I slipped the rug on him’. I checked him over, and there was no apparent damage that I could see, but he must have a story. His sides were hardened from spurs, and he was compliant with every move as I walked around doing up the rug. Checking his teeth, he appeared to only about three years old. Why was he here?”
The sale started, and I wandered along with the crowd. When we got near his pen, this horse began to bounce on the fences he was petrified. Someone in the crowd yelled out ‘that’s one of them deaf Gunner horses. Some reining guy dumped him here this morning and said he was useless. He was as mad as hell with the horse. I’ve seen him a few times down here.’
Matt goes on ‘Not knowing what a Gunner horse was I was a little lost, but the deafness became clear. That poor animal was as deaf as a doornail. Before I knew it, my hand shot in the air and I had purchased him for kill prices. I could not leave him, and the last thing I needed was a deaf horse.’ There was something about him.
I found a guy that was heading back out our way, and he agreed to trailer him to my place. When the horse arrived, he immediately looked at the old barn as much to say that is where I am supposed to be. My wife came over and had a fair bit to say about arriving home with deaf horse. We gave him a good feed and let him relax in a stall for the night. The next day we brought him out and turned him out in a yard. He trotted around and seemed okay. We pulled his shoes off, and they were one big set of metal under him.
The next day we saddled him, and he was fine. After a couple of days we hoped on, and he was dead quiet. He immediately dropped his head down behind the bit the moment we touched his face. He reacted to your leg as though he was expecting pain. With all the spur damage to his sides, we knew what had happened. He was nervous and desperately wanted to avoid pain.
We headed out the gate, and he was worried but kept trying to go forward. After a few hours, he relaxed and let his neck go natural, and the rigidness started to go away. We rode him for a few days just jogging along; then he went lame. His stifles were sore as was his back.
A friend dropped over that had a bit to do with reiners and confirmed he was most like a Gunner and out of a nice mare. The way he rode, he was out of one of those big trainer barns.
To make a long story short, we got the vet over, and the report was his hock joints were damaged, and the back soreness was from trying to protect his back legs. He was probably getting his hocks injected by the trainer to keep him going. The horse had been trashed.
The vet said it not uncommon, and they chatted about what happens to these horses. From a prized horse probably sold for a fine price as a yearling to end up trash in an auction pen and only just 3. The can start a few hundred horses and only a handful make it through.
Matt learned a new thing about horse people. It was Reining Trainer Trash. Young horses pushed too hard and broken down at 3. Owners that only care about winning prize money at any cost.
Matt closed our conversation with ‘the horse deserved better.’ ‘We put him in a pasture near the house with another old horse. A good rug for warmth and a shed for shelter. He had a few nice months in life before we do what a responsible owner or trainer should have done. We euthanized him respectfully.’
My wife said it right, how could a person call themselves a horseman, trainer or care for horses when this is the product of their effort.