In February 2012, SAFE was contacted by Pierce County Animal Control about 16 horses seized from an Arabian breeder the previous November. SAFE rallied to the call for help, agreeing to take five of the horses, including two stallions. What we did not know at the time was just how difficult those two stallions would prove to be. We made arrangements to transport them directly to Northwest Equine Stewardship Center (NWESC) where they could be safely housed until they were stable enough for gelding. Upon their arrival, however, Dr. Hannah Evergreen immediately determined gelding these two absolutely could not wait. They were extremely aggressive and “studish” towards humans and horses, having lived out their lives in extreme isolation and handled only for breeding. So much so that it was initially only safe for Dr. Hannah to handle them. Hannah personally handled their daily post-gelding forced exercise and worked with them on basic ground manners.
SAFE takes the safety of our volunteers and potential adopters seriously. If we feel a horse is a danger to itself, other horses, or to people, we will opt to humanely euthanize the animal rather than risk injury. In this case, since Dr. Hannah felt confident handling Scooter and Oscar, we agreed to give Scooter and Oscar 30 days to see whether gelding them would turn them into manageable horses.
We shared Oscar’s incredible turnaround in May. At the time, many of you asked about Scooter. We weren’t sure what to say because the truth was that Scooter was a more challenging case and his path to rehabilitation was not nearly as clearly defined. Not only had his difficult behavior persisted, he wasn’t sound. Adding to that, his age (15), and lack of socialization made him a poor candidate as a companion horse. We felt we were running out of options for Scooter and that a difficult decision might have to be made soon. The board discussed and debated how to move forward with Scooter. As rescuers, we face a lot of difficult decisions but the decision to let a horse go is, by far, the most difficult.
It was about this time that we received a phone call from Lisa at NWESC. Their volunteer, Heather, had a friend with a lifetime of experience handling Arabians and Morgans, including difficult to handle stallions. Lorinda had heard about Scooter and wanted to meet him. After spending time handling him, Lorinda felt a great connection with this horse, who reminded her quite a lot of a stallion she trained in the past. Lorinda loves a challenge and she decided that she and Scooter could be a very good match. She came to us with several great ideas to combat his soundness issues and to establish his trust in order to improve his behavior. And best of all, Scooter seemed equally amenable to this new relationship, and responded very positively to Lorinda.
And so we began the adoption process, all the while marveling that we’d been so close to making the decision to euthanize this horse and now we were sending him off to a wonderful and safe new home. Lorinda has high hopes that she’ll be able to treat his soundness issues and give him a future as a saddle horse, but if that’s not possible, Scooter has a permanent place to live out his days on her beautiful farm.
We are so thankful for the amazing community of support we have, especially our partners at NWESC. The reality is that without their support horses like Scooter would be beyond our ability to help. So please join us in wishing “happy trails” to Scooter and Lorinda as well as our deepest gratitude to our friends at NWESC for facilitating the perfect match for a very difficult-to-place horse.