Sunday, 29 December 2013

Henry's Story: A Leap of Faith

When I think about Henry's story, I always think of a leap of faith.

Although I can be impulsive on smaller things in life (choosing a haircut, painting my bathroom etc) I am a very picky when it comes to horses. I have never wanted to purchase a horse with the intention to "flip" or resell it.  Although I can understand that this might be possibility in the future, I try to only purchase horses that have long term potential as my own personal horses.  Height/temperament/breed are all important factors.  Horses have been in and out of my life since age 7 (my first lesson!) and I branched into horse ownership responsibilities at age 17.  I've been working in the horse industry as a stablehand on and off since 2009.  I feel pretty confident about my horse handling abilities but I prefer a quieter type of horse with a basic halter-training foundation.  I sent my adoption application in on Mystic but didn't get a response for 2 months (I think it took a bit longer in the mail or I made an error with the address).  I assumed she had been adopted and I was a little heartbroken.  I didn't really resume my horse hunt - I hoped I would hear something from her rescue.  Something crazy come over me and I did the most impulsive/irrational thing I have ever done!

I was part of a group on facebook titled: Horses Needing Homes In Canada.  They shared horses for adoption from various rescue groups and some being re-homed by owners as well.  In December 2012 I clicked on to my facebook and was absolutely bowled over by what I saw.  I saw a small bay colt and from his description - he was in a feedlot.  According to the information he was one week away from being sent to slaughter if he was not purchased.  He was located in Ontario and within seeing his photo I had purchased him within about 5 minutes.  Certainly the "emotional" part of my brain took over and I could not imagine a world where a 6 month old foal was sent to slaughter.  I was now the proud owner of a 6 month old warmblood foal who was completed untouched.  I had my work cut out for me!

Here is the "lot shot" of Henry:

I cannot fully express how I felt when I saw this photo.  I immediately had tears in my eyes.  I knew I had to do something.  There were 12 other horses in his group that were looking for new homes (and also would be shipping for meat within a weeks time).  Some that would have been more suited to my skill level.  But this was my horse, I knew it from the first second I saw his photo.

He came two days before Christmas and was absolutely terrified.  He fell off the trailer and took off at a gallop to get away from us "scary" people.  Even with his filthy coat and atrocious body score I can say within question that he is the most beautiful horse I have ever seen.  He absolutely took my breath away.

It took almost a month to get a halter on him.  He seemed to really like Todd (Todd actually halterbroke him as I sat on the fence and gave him directions!).  He was more nervous of women.  It didn't seem that he had been abused but he was just unhandled.

Here are some photos of Henry first wearing a halter and hanging out with his new buddy, Todd.

Todd told him that I wasn't so bad and he let me come in for a pet too!

Henry is a very sensitive horse, and he is definitely a thinker!  Henry likes to give things a good look and think before he acts.  It took a long time to earn his trust but now that I have he will follow me anywhere.  He is so sweet and kind.  He has the biggest heart!  

 Here are a few pictures of Henry through out the spring and summer:

He moved to the barn I work at in the fall and is adjusting well to a much busier environment:

There is an interesting twist in Henry's story.  I found out before he arrived in Alberta that he was indeed a warmblood - a very well bred one!  I have tracked down his breeder and will be registering him as Harfleur B.  He is 2/3 Selle Francais and about 1/3 Hannoverian.  Originally I wanted to call him Junior but I find that Henry suits him much better. 

Here is his sire, Piper B:

And his Grandsire on his sire's side, Ilian de Taute (Henry's face reminds me so much of Ilian de Taute, it's uncanny):

And his Grandsire on his dam's side, Frenchman:

Here is the link to his pedigree: http://www.allbreedpedigree.com/harfleur+b 

This was a huge leap of faith that was absolutely worth it.  What a wonderful journey and learning experience it has been.  I love my Henry! I appreciate and am honored by his trust in me more than words can say.

This quote from the movie Sea Biscuit really rings true to me in Henry's situation. Sometimes we are the underdogs.  Sometimes we have a rough start.  Everyone deserves a chance.


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