Picture a being created to roam the highlands, to travel in a family band, each having their place, their role… Yet there she was, locked in a small stall like a chute, forced to carry foal after foal, year after year without once seeing green grass, the mountains, the sun, or feeling the breeze. Let alone enjoying time with the baby! Is she broken inside? Or does she manage to just endure what’s happening to her? What about the little ones, conceived for no other purpose than to keep the mare pregnant? What does the foal suffer with such a burdened start in life? Most them end up in slaughter, but a few lucky ones get rescued by people who understand the tragedy and are willing to interfere. Equine Voices in Arizona is one of those sanctuaries that now harbors a good number of gentle giants that escaped the PREMARIN (PMU) industry in Canada.
One of that herd was a beautiful gray gelding. He was rescued by Karen Pomroy of Equine Voices as a six month old in a larger group together with his mother. For the next nine years he spent a quiet life in a pen with a handful of older PMU females. Although he was the most impressive by size, his gentle nature was no match for the mare’s distinct determination, probably fostered by years of not having a voice at all.
Reach out to Horses (ROTH) chose this rescue for the Holistic Horsemanship Certification course. The gentle gelding named Kodiak Raja was on the list of horses that got a student assigned for some daily attention. His history included a vague story of some early training attempts gone horribly wrong with him escaping through a fence in panic and a human getting hurt. He had not experienced much training after that. The approach was thus very cautious especially because the horses were in a large pen together during the sessions.
Kodi showed little interest in being the object of a human’s attention but he was very polite and stood as much as he could until he walked away apologetically. Ropes were not his friends. An introduction to the horseman’s rope exploring the whole body was pretty much the culmination of the first week of class.
A rumor started murmuring that he would be a great candidate for a new home. It is likely redundant to point out to the readership of this newsletter that Anna Twinney (the founder of ROTH and instructor of the class) has a special gift in matching horses to students. Kodi went home in the heart of the assigned student and became part of the student’s story. Before the second half of the class started several months later, the family decided to apply for adoption with the owner of the rescue.
During the second part of the class the daily program with Kodi included grooming and work with the emotion code by Dr. Nelson. Kodi was still very reserved but politely allowed to be approached. He was not integrated into actual class work because he was not ready or trained to even be led to the “classroom”.
In the meantime, the paper side of the adoption procedure was completed. The class was over and it was up to the rescue owner and the student to get to the actual transfer. Because of Kodi’s history and his lack of training, there was worry regarding the trailer loading. Would he bolt? Hurt himself or bystanders? After a lot of consideration, one of the rescue’s regular trainers proclaimed that she would be able to load him into a trailer. A date was set and the future owners headed South early on a Tuesday morning for a five-hour ride. It was exciting! At Equine Voices the trailer was backed up to the stall where Kodi was waiting. He did not seem too concerned as he easily glanced over the tall wall at the preparations.
The trainer took over, opened a door to the outside world where fence panels led to the trailer entrance. She went into the stall and softly coaxed Kodi to move towards the opening. Nobody else moved. For about three minutes he explored alternatives: move left, move right, look for another gate… Then he stepped outside. He hesitated for a moment and approached the trailer. Both front feet went up and the trailer floor made a hollow sound. His head was now really high in this position. He bent his neck and looked back over the fence at his mom and the rest of the ladies he had spent all these years with. Then he straightened up and walked calmly inside the dark, shaky box. Helpers quickly closed the trailer doors but there was no need to hurry. He had made up his mind, he knew.
Considering his history and his experience, it is astonishing how sure his demeanor was to leave his herd behind.
A discussion erupted in the truck on the way home regarding the name. Should he get a new name now that he was headed for a new life? The decision was made to call this beautiful tall man Odin Olaf Kodi Raja.
The trip was uneventful. Judging from the quiet behind the truck, he was not particularly agitated in the trailer. At his new home the trailer was backed up to a gate that led into a corral. He walked towards the open doors and then almost fell down because he had forgotten that there was a step up into the trailer and now there was a step down. He immediately headed straight for his new family on the other side of the fence. This is an eclectic mix of rescued drafts, nervous gaited horses, BLM mustangs, and a laid back BLM burro. All together a group of nine, waiting for number ten. He respectfully offered his nose over the fence for greetings. Then he was herded into his new stall next to everybody, including a clan of alpacas. Not all horses are fond of these funny looking creatures but he wanted to say hi to them as well and stuck his head fearlessly and friendly over the fence for some mutual sniffing. A great start!
This does not seem to be the same horse that I had gotten to know at Equine Voices. He always comes up to the fence when anybody shows up. He loves attention and sticks his head into my chest for scratches around the ears. He is also very vocal and whinnies with a heartwarming bluesy voice at his new equine family, as well as at humans. He is majestic yet gentle, very friendly but still polite and not pushy. Training has started slowly with more rope work and halters. He now follows willingly on a lead into the round pen where the first sessions are going very well. He is definitely very smart and the concept of learning is no problem for him. At this point he would rather just hang out with his humans and snuggle rather than having to “work” but I am sure becoming proud of his achievements will make him look forward to lessons as much as we do. I can imagine slowly moseying through the desert on this gorgeous gray that has a magnificent soul that makes his impressively sized body seem like a tiny box.
We have yet to find his trigger points to know exactly what to work on. The plan is to have him enjoy the rest of his long life with this new family, with learning, with essential oils, with games, with good food, with good care, and above all with a purpose! You are all welcome to come and visit to meet him at our ranch. It is worth a trip.
The humble new parents.
Kodi(left) at Equine Voices: Odin1
Odin (formerly Kodi) first time meeting his new family: Odin2
Odin looking good in the morning: Odin3
Odin and his new friend, BLM burro Zavorine, enjoying a Sunday afternoon at the slow feeder. He is very Buddhist when it comes to standing his ground. Especially my low pecking order horses take great pleasure in chasing him around. Zafi is the only one that just won’t waste energy with pecking order games. So for now it’s the two until he learns to manage the pesky little Paso Finos. We are practicing that whenever I am around to keep an eye on things. Carolina