A horse with no name

Since arriving in Italy I have often been frustrated at the lack of animal protection in this country.

In the south of Italy, black kittens are still killed at birth for their unlucky status, dogs all over the country live miserable lives chained up or in dirty cement cages. Horses. Even before the economic crisis hit, we viewed horses much worse than this one in the pic above - lame, back sore, wounded and with broken spirits.

What can be done? Horse rescues are the first to say that this is the problem in Italy. Mistreatment of animals happens everywhere in the world, but at least in other countries there are rescue centers, there are RSPCA's and Animal cruelty organizations. Here, its often the media that has to get involved to get these horses help. Montaione has the first horse rescue in Italy, a place where sequestered horses can live in free herds.

The pictures here are of a horse with no name.

One of my rescue horses in 2009.

A guy from Pistoia had called me up about him. 15hh, good for kids, and a cheap price (which in hindsight wasn't that cheap after all considering the vet bills spent on him).

The girls in the picture above were two of our helpers from the US and Holland. The guy holding the mule was the owner.

The pictures don't show how bad he was. His legs were lumpy, his face had a big ugly calcification on it (that looked like a cyst), and he was full of worms.

He did however trot up sound, and he was fine out on the road and worked well in the field when we viewed him. He was cheap in those days, and hey - I felt sorry for him.

I took a video back to Paolo (my ex husband), and discussed in depth the idea of buying him. Paolo agreed, and he was trucked over by his owner a week later. Paolo wasn't at home when the seller arrived. He turned up just as the guy was leaving - and stormed inside to tell me that years earlier he had gone to see another horse at the same mans property, that was so thin it couldn't walk... he had called the authorities, which of course had done nothing, and now I had gone and paid money to the guy for a suspect horse.
This guy was not the kindly 'grandfather' selling his grandchild's horse that he made out to be... but actually a dodgy horse dealer, selling horses with fake passports.

By that stage we had the horse on our property, and I didn't want to give him back to the horrible man;so we kept him.

The passport (which I hadn't checked over thoroughly) had been tampered with. The horse in the passport was a chestnut with distinctly different markings to the horse outside. He was also overdue for a codgkins test (compulsory in Italy and a big deal if the horse comes back positive) so we kept him at our house rather than the stables with the other horse just in case he was infected. When the passport authorities came to check him over and take his blood test, they were appalled at the 'twinked out' passport. The original owners details were taken down (I hope they gave him hell) and a new passport was written up for the horse in front of us. "What do you want to call him?" they asked. Paolo replied "Since his origins are dubious, lets call him that Dubbio".

He was dubious in nature too, and after three weeks grazing in our back yard (see pic below) two worming sessions, and a good bath... he became a different horse.

His test came back negative, and eventually he was moved to the stables with the others.

He was a good saddle horse if he was following. If not he could react strongly - especially if he was asked to do something he didn't like.
He was good with kids and beginners in the arena, and he was a nice general school horse if he was only expected to ride circles follow the leader. He hated to ride out alone, or to change routine. His legs were so bad that he could only go on the easy hacks (we were still in Rufina at this stage, where 90% of the riding was tough mountain trails), and he was picked on by the other horses so badly that he had to live alone or with Evita (the old grandma of the herd). He was essentially an ugly horse - but akin to the runt of a litter of puppies, this only made him more popular with his riders.

Realizing due to his soundness issues, that he would never be a great trail horse, he worked only a few times during his time with us. He always vetted up fine, but there was something about them that was not right.

Our vet thought he had probably had been a racehorse (possibly a trotter) and then worked as a western trail horse. He neck reined well, worked off the buckle and leg nicely. Someone, somewhere had worked him very hard though and his legs showed this.
Eventually he was sold on (for very little) as a lead rein horse to a friend of ours, where he eventually passed away.