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  • Writer's picturedainty rascal

Their Hearts of Gold

Targaryen and Cooper make peace.

This was Cooper, the large Chestnut (red) gelding's arrival day to Heart of Gold Sanctuary. My trainer showed me an online ad on craigslist asking for help to save this beautiful show horse from the riding program at UC Davis. At just 10 years old, he was going to be put down by due to an undiagnosed neurological disorder which weakened his hind end and made it impossible for UC Davis to insure him as a riding horse. They suspected he may have a parasite called EPM which attacks the nervous system and spinal cord. I offered to take him as I consider myself an expert in parasite cleanses. When the trailer came down the long bumpy driveway, I heard him whinnying and kicking at the metal walls of the trailer. He was a giant trapped in a metal box and he wasn't having it! The trailer drove straight into the pasture and the kicking stopped. He bent his huge head down to peer out the little windows to see where he was. We opened the door and he jumped out. I was shocked to see that he looked about 10 feet tall, so excited to run free in this 2.5 acre pasture. We released him and he did a victory gallop around the property. Earlier I had secured River and Targaryen, the two 1 year old stallion rescues in the barn behind a metal gate. They were so excited to meet a new friend that they pushed with all their might against the gate until it fell under their weight! They leapt over the fallen gate and ran full speed ahead to meet Cooper. Targaryen was especially obsessed as before Cooper came, he had been the biggest, baddest horse around here. For three days they galloped the pastures, testing who was the fastest, who could n the longest, who was the best at kicking, rearing, and finally, who gave the best back scratches.. Now, the three are best friends, and the young boys trust Cooper to watch over them while they nap, and they watch and imitate his every behavior. Cooper loves being horse daddy to Targaryen and River. A few weeks after his arrival, it was time for the boys to be castrated and we had to put the boys in the barn for their surgeries, and lock Cooper out. He was terrified for his boys and knew something was going to happen to them. He screamed with all he had, which was deafening, he stuck his head in every little space he could fit it to try and keep an eye on them. He even dug like a dog trying to make holes under the barn so that he might tunnel his way in to save them. It was so sad, and yet so sweet that he was so worried for his friends. Of course they were ok, and we let Cooper stick his head in so he could watch both surgeries. He never stopped mumbling and never took his eyes off them for a second. The boys had to stay separated from Cooper for two weeks. Of course that didn't work for Cooper either.. One very early morning while my boyfriend, Mike and I were sleeping, there was a loud knock at the door. Yet, when I went to answer it, there was no one there, or anywhere.. I went back to bed and then Mike spied out the window that our neighbor was chasing Cooper around the yard! He had escaped to be closer to the boys! We put him back in the pasture and decided to install electric fencing to keep him in. Before I could finish, Cooper, the giant 17.1hand horse walked right over the old wooden fence, crushing it beneath his heavy hooves and ran around free in the neighbors property, calling out to his boys who were in the paddock next to him. That was it, I put Cooper in with the boys, and the healed happily ever after, together! When we released them all into the big pasture, they ran around and played like boys do. What a happy life. Horses, like all creatures, deserve happiness and a full life regardless of their ability to serve humans. They are not a tool, they are living beings with love and worry and desire, and having the space and freedom to live their life is something I take pride in giving them. When horses are adopted out, the new owners are carefully selected to ensure the horses are never again put in a place of suffering or stifling slavery.

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