Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Scipion's Adoption

It has been awhile since the last update. I have had a lot going on in my own life, the search for a house to rent in a different area of France, moving and getting adjusted in a new place. I am just starting to turn the corner from all of that. But before I started relocating in December I took care of one very important thing, finding the right family to adopt Scipion. I also waited to post the news until enough time had gone by to be sure the adoption would work, having learned from past experience.

Foot X-rays were done in October and  we had good news that the damage to Scipion's  hooves was not excessively severe.. meaning I could move forward with his adoption to create an ad for posters and the internet. Then came the hard part,  filtering through all the calls and emails.  I tried to be clear that Scipion had special needs, that he had issues with his hoofs so that he could not be doing long difficult treks, and that he had been saddle trained only recently and needed continued training and experience. I had many calls from people of questionable intent. When I talked to Caroline after receiving her heartfelt email, I had a good feeling. They had already adopted a mare, Hestia,  rescued from the racetrack. They planned on waiting awhile before getting a second horse but when her 11 year old daughter saw Scipion's photo...well you can imagine the rest

Luckily, they live close enough so that I could easily make a pre-adoption visit. Everything seemed just what I had dreamed of for Scipion. Caroliine and her partner have renovated a  small stone house with a outbuildings in the country where there are lots of hiking and riding trails. Caroline is an experienced cavalier since childhood, and they have pasture available aound their house plus space for stable stalls. The area where they live is ideal for Scipion because it is on "La Causse" the limestone plateau where the grass is naturally sparser and not a rich,  which will help Scipion avoid more hoof problems from laminitis. But the best part of their place is how the horses live in constant contact with the family, right next to the house and always in view. Another positive was how welcoming they were to me, inviting me to come whenever I wanted spend time with them and Scipion.  They also assured me that they would continue his training, and  that eventually I could ride him as well.

So it was arranged and Caroline agreed to the terms of the adoption and signed a contract saying that she would give Helping3Horses Association the right to re-adopt Scipion if ever they couldn't keep him in the future.  I had learned that this is how horse rescue organizations avoid adopting horses to people who will turn around an resell tham for a profit.

It was love at first sight for Scipion and Hestia when he arrived; so much so that they refused to be separated at night and had to be put in the same stall. (They hadn't yet made a second stall) He was adorable and affectionate with all members of the family, but Caroline soon found how much Scipion needed more serious training before everyone in the family could ride him in total security....he still had a lot of adolescent attitude,  and was not always willing to do as asked, For example, he didn't want to take the bit and couldn't be trusted to give his back feet gently for maintenance every time. So she sent him to a professional for a month of intensive 24/7 training. I was really happy to see that they were willing to give him the education he needed to reach his full potential. During the month his food intake was monitored and he lost weight, another thing that will help him avoid hoof problems.

When I saw him afterwards it was amazing the difference. He was always good looking but now he absolutely stunning, sleek and muscular. During the month his food intake was monitored and he lost weight, another thing that will help him avoid hoof problems.

And now everyone in the family can ride him. I love the photo of the daughter, Marie, with Scipion in full gallop; truly inspiring also to see how gentle he is with Marie and how much he adores her.  Thanks to your support, this handsome intelligent young horse has been transformed, and now has the possibility of a life full of happiness and good health.

As for Blanchette and Negrette the story is still uncertain.They are still being boarded at the previous location which is an hour and a half drive from where I live now.  Last Summer I learned, when I had put up posters in the window of my gallery at St Antonin seeking homes for all three horses, that people were only interested in adopting sadlle-trained horses.  I have been told that Negrette and Blanchette are too old at 15 to be saddle trained. I am not sure if this is 100% true in all cases.  But even is it is possible to continue training them, where to find the resources to repeat the process for two more horses? The association's available funds are at zero and am paying the boarding cost  myself at this point, 120€/month, a considerable sacrifice in light of my small personal budget. But at this time I don't know if  I have the wherewithal to continue a lot more fundraising work; it takes so much of my time and it is difficult to repeatedly ask people for money.

Blanchette and Negrette seem happy enough where they are but it is not the best situation in terms of their health.  For Blanchette the problem is that she has gotten very fat!!! At their current location they have unlimited access to hay all year and unlimited access to rich pasture in Spring/Summer/ Fall.   It is much better to give  a horse a measured amount of hay daily and to limit access to pastures of rich grass by fencing alternating parcels. But in an inexpensive boarding situation with many horses together in the same immense pasture, it is easier to put out bales of hay available to all and to allow free access to pasture.

For Negrette her health issues are not being addressed either. As I have explained before, with her skin allergies, Negrette ideally needs some protection or shelter from insects during parts of the day in the insect season,  not possible tin his kind of boarding situation. Even  if I managed to find an existing horse refuge who would take them, the situation  would be the the same as where they are now, many horses together is a large pasture. Anyway, as far as the exsting refuges go, they are all overfull and there is a long waiting list for horses that are not in emergency conditions.

My dream now is to create a small refuge just for Blanchette and Negrette on land that is owned or rented by the H3H Association so that I can really meet their needs myself. If they were close by, where I could see them everyday and where I could control the situation, this would be possible, and I could continue their training gradually over time with the help of friends. I think in the end that if only I could find someone willing to offer some land for them as a donation or for a small rental fee, I could afford to keep them. At this time it is the boarding cost that is too much for me. If I could just find  some land for them close to home I think the rest, hay and hoof maintenance, would be within my means.

But currently I am far from this dream. When I moved to this new house and saw that there were pastures all around, I thought it would be easy to find a bit of pasture for the two ponies. But sadly I have found that this is very difficult because all the pasture land here is used by the agriculturers for beef cows. So far I have found no one willing to lend or rent just a small section of land  to me, even if I offer to pay the going price. I think this is partly because of the prejudice that the rural locals have toward foreigners.  I find this sad and unfair and I ask myself if I will stay here for the long term surrounded by so much of this mentality. Maybe I am wrong; but I admit I am feeling discouraged at the moment

So at present I am still researching and trying to get info. I plan on researching what is involved in creating an official horse refuge and if is is possible to get some aid from the government. And I continue to look for a place for Blanchette and Negrette close to where I am now, even a temporary one. The insect season is upon us soon and I need to be able to treat Negrette for her dermatitis on a regular basis. Right now I am working on making an attractive flyer to advertise seeking a place for 2 ponies in this area.

That's all the scoop for now. Happily Scipion no longer needs our financial support. But Negrette and Blanchette are needing help pay the boarding and hoof maintenance costs. I especially would like to see the participation of new donors. I know many people who have not yet offered even the affordable participation of $10, which adds up to a significant amount when enough people participate in this way. Many thanks to those who have already helped with donations both large and small. Remember the donations are tax deductible since H3H is an official non-profit organization.