November 5, 2015. A day that changed my life. I purchased my first horse at the ripe age of 23. Oscar was an 18-year-old Thoroughbred that I had leased for a few years before he was sold to a new home to be a lesson horse. About a year into his new home, his owner could no longer afford to keep him and asked his old owner if she would take him back. Having just bought a new horse herself, she couldn’t take Oscar and forwarded the text on to me. I remember the exact moment I received that text. I was in a meeting with my boss and glanced at my phone. Once I saw those words, I let out a gasp. I explained the situation to her and needless to say, after that, I was much less productive for the rest of the day...trying to figure out if I could afford him and how to get him home to me ASAP.
After I brought Oscar home, it was a rocky road. He had soundness issues, behavioral issues and was extremely skinny with overgrown feet. After resolving the soundness issues (with hock injections), behavioral issues (with consistent riding and groundwork), hoof issues (with a consistent farrier schedule), we were on to his issue of skinniness. This has been the most difficult of the issues we were faced with. I tried feed supplements, feed boosters, alfalfa, etc.
I wrote my first article for OfHorse, 6 months after buying him and figured it was time for an update.
A few months ago, I made the difficult decision to move Oscar to a new farm. He had already been taken from his herd twice in the past 2 years (first when he left his first home, then again when his new owner couldn’t keep him) so I felt terrible about moving him again. But I felt that Oscar (given that he is a somewhat hot horse, and large) would benefit from being outside 24/7. I found a new farm 35 minutes from my house (a far cry from my current 5-minute commute to the farm) but they had an indoor, a huge field for him and trails over to a park that had cross country jumps and a huge outdoor arena. So we jumped head first and made the move….Oscar has been so happy since the move. He loves his herd and gets to eat hay and grass 24/7. We have finally figured out a good regimen for his weight as well. He gets Fiberized feed and Purina Ultium and when he is in the stall (for tacking up, untacking, etc) he gets alfalfa. He is slowly putting on weight and (with our access to trails and hills) building his muscle nicely.
I have been a horse person since I was 8 years old, so I knew that horses are sensitive creatures and their environment/happiness can really affect their overall personality but even though I knew that was true, I was not prepared for the change I have seen in my horse. He is a total pleasure to be around. He is happy to see me, animated and a total goofball again. I think he has finally found his herd and his forever home. We have even been able to ride bareback lately in a somewhat calm and controlled fashion (yes, even at the canter! Who would’ve thought, my big-strided, hot, anxious TB could be ridden without a saddle!)
In the year I have owned him, Oscar has taught me more lessons than I could have ever imagined. I have learned about commitment - even when it is not convenient (such as driving in the snow for 35 minutes at 8 am to make sure he has a warm enough blanket on), making sacrifices for those you love (the countless things I have decided NOT to buy because my money is otherwise tied up in him), and staying positive even when it is extremely difficult (when we spend an entire trail ride jigging because he hasn’t been alone in the woods in years but I find a way to smile and give him a pat anyway). He is in no way an “easy horse” and he tests me at every turn but I love him for it and know it just makes us a stronger team. I full leased him years ago but there is something to be said for the bond that forms between a horse and owner ... when you know that 1,200 pound animal’s life totally relies on you … it’s pretty insane. I am so happy to have Oscar in my life and I hope he can tell and finds comfort and security in the fact that he is home … forever.
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