Almost 10 years ago, Beau came to TGC. He was 17 hands of bones. Beau, and lost friends Jack, Belle and Lucifer, were the last horses of those seized by Animal Services from California Horse Protection, a rescue who more closely resembled hell to the creatures they were supposed to care for. You know it was bad - AS seized 70 horses, something they rarely do in California. They’d housed the horses in Nuevo for 14 months. Auctioned off any horses they could; returned those they could to prior owners; and had rescues and private parties taking any horses they wanted. And Beau, and his three friends, were the last - the ones no one wanted. Beau was several hundred pounds underweight, and his legs trembled underneath him, from lack of feed, from the cold, from the damage done to them in his racing career. When I went in to see if he could make it, he got up off the mud and picked up his feet for me. As I walked away to see the other horses, I realized this giant guy had followed me closely, unwilling to be overlooked. He said clear as day - please help me! I rubbed his forehead and promised him I’d be back, and he watched me leave. When I came back, he couldn’t get in our trailer fast enough - although that may have been due to the enticing smell of alfafa and senior feed.
You’ve heard from me many times describing a horse as one who made a friend or two in the herd, and never looked at a human again. That happens. An ability to interact with their own kind is one of the few things TGC offers horses that they haven’t seen, some for all their life. And I don’t want to give the wrong impression - Beau was the consort of the picky Shawnee, and best buddy of Navigator for his whole time here. He played with the young thoroughbreds, and taught manners as necessary. He liked horses, and they liked and respected him.
But Beau was one of the different horses - he was so engaged with humans, so interested, so friendly. And for that reason, there is no doubt in my mind that at one point in his life, at least, he was very much loved. I would have given so much to be able to identify him, but even when he first came in, his tattoo was faded too much for me to read. I believe that if I could have identified him and contacted former owners, they would have been there for him.
Whoever those people were, that loved him in his youth, they spent so much time with him! They trained him, you know, to pee outside his stall. Every day, he’d walk back to his in-and-out stall, and wait till I was coming with the food, and position himself, and drop, and .... sometimes he peed, and sometimes he just held the pose as if to say, "Mom, I’m trying! I just don’t need to go!" and try to squeeze out at least a drop. Every day, he did this. In 9 and a half years, he lived in the same stall and never once, not even in the worst weather conditions, did he ever pee in his stall.
And he really liked humans. He loved scritches and attention and dropped his beautiful head to look in your eyes .... what’s going on? He’d ask. How you doin? And he really wanted to know! I called him Beau-Beau, pronounced like Bobo the clown, because he could be so goofy.
BoBo the clown...
C'mon Casey, you can do it, bring that feed!
He had the funniest little wuffly-whickery sound he’d make to gently keep me focused on feed delivery at night, encouraging me to hurry without being the least bit demanding. And he was happiest if I would chop his carrots in his last few years - partly because he would hang his head outside his stall while biting a carrot (thus, dropping half of it out of reach), and partly for the attention. If I forgot, and whipped out my knife to cut them in his feeder, he would stand watching, carefully, until I was done, to go for his first bites. SUCH manners!
His training and experience were excellent. He walked anywhere you wanted him to go - in his first week here, he walked right over a plywood panel on the ground and didn’t turn a hair. He’d been there, and done that, in his time. In all the day to day tasks, he was lovely to handle. He loved to have his blanket on - typical TB with a thin slick coat even in winter. He behaved for the farrier, although always pawing the ground to encourage us to hurry up and get done. I was surprised when he didn’t seem to want any chiropractic or body work, because he LOVED to be groomed and massaged by me when he was munching on his dinner.
Here he is mugging with his faithful Sponsor Fi.
How did this loved beauty end up at CHP, starving slowly? How did he race so hard that both of his legs were pinfired up and down, and not earn someone’s gratitude? How did this pocket pet end up here, in a small poor rescue, so happy to get plenty to eat and a warm blanket in the winter? This was a prince, a veteran of the Sport of Kings, lost to a pauper’s village. And with all of the class in the world, he fit in and enjoyed it. Smart enough to remember it could be worse, he wore his pauper’s rags with grace and style, and sincere appreciation.
And here, searching Kasey for treats
It hardly seemed like almost 10 years would be enough time to make up for the horrors he’d been though, but honestly, it didn’t take 9 days for him to forgive humanity. He was LOVED in his time. He knew that his pain, his crippling, his starvation, were all aberrations, and that people were good.
Yes, he was a typical Thoroughbred. His gorgeous good looks, deep red coat, big liquid eyes, soft wiggly nose that huffled at me every night; his love of attention, and expectation that he would be treated a certain way; his competitive nature that kept him running out on cool mornings with younger and more able horses; o yes, he was typical - but truly extraordinary too.
On his last night, as he walked back to his stall with Shawnee and Navigator, he detoured as he always did so I could run my hand down his neck and along his back and rump, as always. He expected it, and I always did it. As I walked down the row feeding, his head was out, munching, waiting for me to squeeze his chin as I always did. My palm can feel his warm soft chin right now. I didn’t do more, because I didn’t know he was going to leave. I wish I could have hugged him and told him how much I loved him. How privileged I felt to have been his caretaker for the last 9 and a half years. He would have accepted that, and told me he loved me too - because that’s who he was. He always gave as good as he got.