“You might have to put this one down.”
I’ll never forget when trusted, well-meaning friends suggested Ralphie, at the tender age of 2, was too far gone to save. Broken, starved, sickly and abused, he was afraid of his own shadow when we he arrived from a kill pen just after Christmas 2017.
Traumatized from some incident that broke his tail, Ralphie wouldn’t let humans near him for weeks. He couldn’t stand to be touched – as if, in addition to the sheer terror, it physically hurt. Try tending to the painful broken tail of a terrified horse that won’t let you near him.
It was hard enough to desensitize Ralphie to where he’d allow me to put a hand on his neck; but I also had to train a horse that was beaten into yielding his hind quarters to allow me to handle his tail. Daily.
It’s hard to explain what I saw in Ralphie that wouldn’t allow me to give up on him; but when I looked deep into his eyes, I can only describe what I saw looking back at me as an eager warmth, earnestness and desperation to try. He knew he was crazy, and he hated it.
Knowing a little something about crazy, I knew I could help.
Now I’m grateful for the injury, which required lengthy sessions of washing, treating and dressing for more than a year. During those rain-or-shine sessions, Ralphie and I had the opportunity to build a deep bond; and I watched that feeble, terrified baby blossom into an amazing, trusting and trustworthy companion.
One of my favorite parts of the day is when I call for Ralphie and, no matter where he is, he rushes to me and allows me to love and rub all over him. It doesn’t hurt anymore.
Today, for the first time in more than a year, our trainer was able to saddle and ride Ralphie – the $350 horse with a $6,500 tail. What this precious creature does for my soul makes the investment worth every penny.