2005 Quarter Horse buckskin gelding
Height: 13.2 hh
Weight: 650 lbs
Adoption Fee: $300
Arrow came to SAFE as a stallion, and we were able to make a happy gelding shortly after his arrival. He was an owner surrender, and while Arrow arrived in need of some groceries and basic care, it is clear he has had some good experiences in his past given how gentle he has shown himself to be so far. He let us curry (and bathe!) away the caked on mud on his hocks and the rain rot on his back, and he received his ‘domestic horse’ braids on just day 2 of being at SAFE. These days, he gets brushed almost daily by volunteers, and has quickly cemented himself as a fast favorite.
Arrow was a stallion when he arrived at SAFE, and while he was kind and gentle, we made plans to get him the snip as soon as possible. We are pro-gelding around here for a number of reasons, but for the sake of this article, I will specify one in particular: friends. Stallions do not make great company for other horses, generally speaking, and in order for Arrow to be integrated into a herd setting, he would have to make the switch from stallion to gelding.
We reassured him, the morning of his surgery, that only good things awaited. Mutual grooming, companionable naps, buddies to run around with, and more! all on the other side of some good drugs and a short procedure. And just like that, Arrow went down a stallion and got up as a gelding.
New geldings need some time to heal and adjust before they can safely make anyone’s acquaintance, so we let our Arrow recuperate for several weeks before making introductions to other members of our herd.
The first would be Artie, who is a perfect first friend. An ex-stallion himself, Artie is an amazing intro horse for our geldings to learn how they will behave with company. Artie adopts a very laissez-faire attitude when it comes to all different personality types. From the pushy, alpha-types to the nervous, insecure ones, Artie manages to get along with them all. Mostly by just keeping out of their way and not escalating conflict if it were to happen.
We first made introductions through the fence, with Arrow’s interest in Artie far exceeding how Artie felt in return. Then, we allowed them to graze nearby one another on halters, the addition of an abundant food source often helping to smooth over any potential issues by providing a distraction. When all that checked out, we let them go together, waiting in the wings nearby to play referee to any untoward shenanigans, should they occur.
Artie, as we expected, was fairly disinterested in making a new friend, his attention much more focused on the grass beneath his feet. Arrow, on the other hand, was fascinated by Artie — particularly what was under his tail. We made a little joke to ourselves that Arrow was familiarizing himself with the new layout of his own body by looking at what Artie had going on, but there are likely more complex rituals being conducted that go beyond our human understanding. I do always wonder what horses are saying to one another as they breathe into each other’s nostrils, and why sometimes those breaths lead to squealing and pawing. But Artie played the role we assumed he would perfectly, meeting Arrow with no fanfare, and allowing his investigative sniffs with hardly a tail swish of displeasure.
Next we brought Declan in, who is kind of the middle-man in a herd setting, a bit more of a wild card. But he, too, was mostly unfazed by Arrow’s poking and prodding. A little more keen to leave the vicinity when Arrow got a bit too nosy for his liking, but very tolerant.
Finally, Montana. A real test of how well Arrow was able to feel of other horses. While fair, Montana is definitely not afraid to dole out more physical displays of his leadership when it comes to other herd members testing the waters. He is also more likely to respond with confrontation as opposed to simply walking away from it, as Artie and Declan are more prone to do. Unleashing Arrow on him was a bit like watching a curious younger brother get under the skin of his older sibling — at first, Montana was tolerant, but gave Arrow some warning signs that the other was not the most receptive of. And then, when it got to be a little much for him, Montana said as much with some well-aimed kicks, not meant to wound as much as to inform: this is my space, and I need you not to be in it. A hoof glancing off his shoulder did have Arrow reconsidering things, and Arrow found renewed interest in sniffing around the rumps and flanks of those who were more accepting of such behavior.
For a guy meeting other guy friends for the first time, Arrow did quite well. His investigative nature and coming-in-hot personality might have been a little much for some less understanding horses, but the group we chose was purposefully a bit on the milder side of things to help him adjust to the idea of buddies — an idea we think he very much enjoys!
It’s tremendously satisfying when we intake a new horse and can speedily get them up to date with all their care and keeping. This process can take anywhere from a few days (not very common, but there are some rare times when the stars align and the horse is gentle enough that we can get them all squared away before you can say ‘wow, their intake quarantine period is already over?’) to several months, in the cases of those who are wild and untouchable. For Arrow, who was a truly gentle man, we were able to get him set and scheduled for all of his necessary appointments relatively quickly after his arrival.
The first step was to get him gelded. While he was quite a nice stallion, this only meant he would make an even nicer gelding. When the day arrived, he bravely walked into the covered arena, despite it being his first time outside of his paddock since arriving at SAFE, and sedated easily even in the strange new environment. The procedure is actually a relatively quick one, and we waited for him to wake up a bit in the arena before taking him back to his paddock, a new man.
Because he was an older guy at the time of his gelding, and also had testicles that were rather large, he had some excess scrotal material that revealed itself after his surgery. So unfortunately, he had to go under the knife again just a few days after his initial procedure. Luckily for us, he is such a champion when it comes to handling, and our vets were able to easily remedy the issue and get him all fixed up. Since that second surgery, his healing has gone off without a hitch. He stood very patiently for his cold hosings and completed his forced exercise like a champ. Now, several weeks later, his surgical site is looking about as good as it can look, and we will soon be introducing him to some friends.
While his gelding was the main item on our list, there were a few other, also very important things that our little Arrow needed in his life. Having his feet done was one of them. He had gone without a trim for some time, and his hooves were in need of a little TLC. Luckily, we were able to slot him in to one of our upcoming farrier days that happened to be shortly after his arrival. He once again proved himself to be a real rockstar of a horse, and let us trim all four feet without much hassle.
We also got him to the point where walking into the barn to have his teeth floated would be a possibility. After having gotten to know him a bit and realizing exactly how smart of a boy he was, we figured this wouldn’t be too much of an issue, but a few practice runs beforehand wouldn’t hurt. On the day of, he was well prepared to be comfortable for sedation in the grooming stall, and was a very good patient. We had Arrow vaccinated and microchipped as well, ensuring his safety in multiple ways.
It has been a real treat getting to know Arrow, made even better by how easy he has made the entire intake process for us. He is one special guy!
The first glimpse we had of Arrow was of a slender buckskin horse curled up in the back of a paddock, sternal like a cat in the ‘loaf’ position, watching over his surroundings. He rose slowly, in no hurry to greet us, accepting our invitation to come over and say hello like a gentleman – wary but not unfriendly.
When we were told we would be picking up a stallion who had not had regular handling in some time, we felt it in our right to be a bit cautious. On the side of our trailer we packed 6‑foot tall panels to chute him in, grain and hay to lure him. Having a halter and lead on hand was an afterthought, a route we did not envision being able to take.
But as he approached the fenceline, allowing us to reach over and scratch his chunky cheeks, we realized that this was perhaps not the unruly creature we had prepared for. He had soft eyes, and put up no fuss as we nosed a halter on. We’d made a panel chute, just in case, but ended up leading him right up into the trailer. He shook with nerves, his first time in the trailer in a long while, but loaded in quietly and with the utmost bravery.
Unloading at SAFE, he was calm and cool in his new surroundings. His arrival also happened to coincide with a streak of warm days here in Redmond, which made us itch to be able to give him a good bath. There was mud caked onto his hocks that we couldn’t wait to scrub off, and a bit of rain rot that was begging for a curry. So after that initial day of settling in, we grabbed our sponges and got Arrow all ready for his bathtime debut.
While it had likely been a while since he’d last seen a hose, Arrow was brave for those first sprays of water. Whatever trepidation he did have, he was able to be quite easily talked out of. So with great relish, we were able to scrape away at his mud and dirt, and get Arrow nice and tidy for his new life at SAFE. He is, so far, a very sweet and level-headed boy, and we are very excited to continue to get to know him as one of our future geldings.
He is set to be gelded later this week, and if his nature as a stallion is anything to go by, we expect him to make a tremendous gelding.
1. Scott B.
2. Kaye E.
3. Alexandra B.
4. Elizabeth R.
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