This story is one that The War Horse Project’s Registered Psychotherapist, Wendy Lange-Faria, tells in her sessions with our participants. The photo above is one Wendy provided of Legend as just a youngster. Where necessary, we’ve changed names to protect privacy.
Let me tell you a story about Legend.
He was a magnificent coal black stallion, just a yearling when I was forced to sell him. He went to a young couple, one of who had horse experience – the situation seemed ideal.
Fast forward ten years. Things had deteriorated in the couple’s relationship. They separated and Legend went to the wife who knew less about horses than her ex-husband. He was a magnificent creature but full of spirit and gradually that relationship went sour too. . . He was a little bit “too much horse”.
One day a friend and I were talking. Tom had heard that the lady who owned my old friend was thinking of having him put down. Tom had heard he was thin and probably had some disease. Curious about this rumor we went to visit the farm where the horse was being kept and were both startled with the sight that met our eyes. The once glossy black coat of this amazing animal was matted and gnarled. The horse was knee deep in his own manure in a small paddock of about 20 ft. x 20 ft. The pen’s walls were built up to 8 feet high with barbed wire sitting on top of the fence. The gate was bolted with a deadlock. An old rusty bathtub held a tiny bit of blackish water and some mouldy hay was squeezed through the wires to feed him.
Turns out the owner had become terrified of the horse. To be fair, he had grown into a 1500 lb. 16hh stallion with plenty of energy and attitude. Afraid of what he’d become, she kept him locked up in the pen – a hostage – because of her own fear. The isolation had an effect. . . he would pin his ears back and come flying towards anyone who approached with teeth bared and in sheer fury. One day when he tried to push past her during feeding time – that’s when the lock was added to the gate and feeding took place between the tiny spaces between the fence planks. When he started kicking the planks loose, larger nails were used to bolt the planks into place. A wire fence was added just behind the plank fence to double the level of protection.
Part 2 of Legend’s story will be posted in the next few days. Stay tuned!