“Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.” William Jennings Bryan

Sunday, March 7, 2010

March 7, 2010

A lot of times I write about the animals here, but have never said much about how they came to live here. With that in mind, I thought Louie’s story might be interesting. I don’t know Louie’s whole story, and it is very doubtful that I ever will, but this is what I do know…

I bought Louie and brought him to the farm in late November 2005. At that time he was called Leroy. “Lee-roy” did not roll off my tongue easily, so I changed his name. I had always liked the very early jazz of Louie Armstrong and his Hot 5 and his Hot 7, so Louie it became.

I bought Leroy from a women outside of Berlin, NJ who had what amounted to be a petting zoo that she would take on the road for kids birthday parties, parades, and fairs. She told me that she had bought Leroy hoping he would pull a carriage, but now she wanted to buy a draft horse for that instead. She had bought Leroy at an auction, and though he was not the choice she really wanted, she felt that if no one picked him up, he’d be off to the slaughter house in Texas the next day. (Unfortunately, unwanted horses are slaughtered and the meat is sold abroad) The auctioneer claimed that Leroy had been a “summer camp” horse; at a camp for overweight kids.

Leroy was not in the best of shape when I bought him. He had “bots” which are tiny flies that lay their eggs in the hair of horses, and the larvae burrow into the skin, causing irritations. Later, by ingestion, the larvae become internal parasites and can cause serious gastrointestinal disorders.

Leroy also had a hoof infection called white line disease, and a bit of thrush.

Besides that, he was lame with arthritis which caused him to stumble, and he was blind in his left eye.

Why would I buy a horse like that, all broken? I don’t know….I just liked him. It’s the only reason I had.

The only other information I have about Louie comes from his tattoo, which is in his inside upper lip. An inside upper lip tattoo is for racehorses. Louie is a Standardbred and a pacer, which means he would most likely have been trained as a trotter. I looked up his tattoo on the website of the United States Trotting Association, and found him. According to their “free” search”, Louie was born on April 15, 1987 in Saratoga NY, and was registered under the name of “Earl’s Lucky Buck”. There are no records that he ever raced.

Unfortunately, and as is the case for many horses, Louie’s whole history can’t be told – it can only be guessed. Louie has a hairless scar where the nose band of a bridle crosses his nose, strongly indicating that he spent many long days “tacked” up, either for riding or driving. His arthritis underscores again that he was a working horse, and is a clue that he has a lot of hard and long miles behind him. Maybe he was a trail hose at one time. On his right shoulder he has a small scar, and when touched there, his skin twitches because of nerve damage, which makes me wonder if he had a bad wreck (an accident) at one time. I’ve often wondered if the scar and his blind eye are related. Maybe a wreck ended his racing career? I just don’t know…Louie does, but he can’t say.

Pretty much, it’s obvious that whoever owned him at the time of sale thought his useful days were over and put him up for auction.

Louie was “lucky”. The petting zoo lady happened to be there at the right time.

Louie is doing really well here. Once he landed on our farm, we got his “bots” cleared up and after a few months of treatment, his hoof diseases remised. We put him on “joint” supplements to help him with his arthritis and inflammation – anymore he hardly stumbles, and he feels good enough to rear up, buck, kick, and sprint around, which he would not do four years ago. There really is nothing we can do for his blind eye. Louie has his own paddock because the other two horses are able to go to his blind side and “pick on him”. But when the horses are together, Louie at 23 years old can out sprint the other two much younger horses hands down, showing that he still has a lot of good years in him! And when I watch him run now, I wonder at how fast he must have been when he was young – it’s hard for me to think that he was too slow to race. He’s done so well here that Kathy and I are proud to say that he is younger now than he was when we got him!

Overall, Louie is a good horse. Sometimes he does get aggressive and we have to be careful around him. We never figured out what causes this – maybe a bad experience somewhere in his past. But other than those now and then moments, he’s pretty tame and friendly, and he has always been an easy and safe mount. He’s the horse that we put kids and first time riders on. He’s the perfect horse for me, and over the past four years he has become one of my best friends…something told me that it would all work out that first time I saw him. I just liked him.

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