Because we canceled many fundraisers due to COVID-19, we were not in a position to take on another rescue. We agreed to take Prince for two weeks, but he was later abandoned with us. With everything this poor guy has been through, we could not turn our back on him. He deserved a chance and YOUR donations has made this possible. Casey's may have saved his life the first time, but Mitch is saving his life the second time. None of this is possible without your help. YOUR DONATIONS are the reason we can continue to have Mitch come back and the reason we can continue to provide proper care for Prince. YOU are also saving his life and for this, we thank you deeply. If you are new to this story, please scroll down to Introducing Prince and then we have "PDF's of his continued 'Healing Journey'.
It was January of 2020 when Casey's rescued Prince and saved him from euthanization because he was deemed a very dangerous horse. It was supposed to be temporary, but the circumstances have changed and he is still with us! For those that have not followed Prince's journey since arrival, he attacked Sue, our Co-Founder, on his first day. As Sue has said - "He meant to take me out!" We were stuck with a dangerous horse at our rescue where no one could safely go near him.
Along comes Mitch Bornstein, trainer, clinician and author of "Last Chance Mustang". Most of Mitch's training is with dangerous and troubled horses. We have had a history with Mitch as he has come to some of our past fundraisers to sign his book and support us. We called him and the rest is now in real-time.
Mitch has been training Prince since May of 2020 and their story has been documented on Facebook on Casey's Safe Haven and also on Last Chance Mustang. Prince's story is also on our website and in our 2021 calendar which is narrated by Petunia Donkey and now 50% off on our shop page!
Above are Prince's first day and current pictures where you can see his physical change. When Prince came to us, (photo on left), his hair felt like wire and was dull and lifeless. Besides poor nutrition, Mitch felt his wiry hair was because of being locked in a stall for ten years and lack of Vitamin D from the sun. Look at him now, (right photo) and that is his winter coat taken in December. It is like velvet!
Stay tuned for upcoming "Meet Mitch and Prince" Raffle tickets where you will have a chance to see one of Prince's training sessions! We will be selling raffle tickets in March and three lucky winners will have the opportunity to sit in the arena and see Prince's progress in action. Watch for more information.
This is the story of Prince - rescued in January of 2020. He has been with us since the end of January but there were so many moving parts to his story, we just didn't know how they would land. As fate would have it, he is still with us and now has become part of our family and we'd like to start sharing his story as it is pretty incredible. Here is Part One of his story...
On Jan 30, 2020 our co-founder and Director, Sue Balla, received a phone call from an out of state person that was desperately looking for a rescue in our area to save the life of a horse who was scheduled to be euthanized in an hour. The caller was from out of state and wanted the horse who was in the Rockton, IL area, but couldn’t get to him for a couple of weeks. They told us he was a big 10 year old Andalusian cross stallion that had just recently been gelded. He was scheduled to be euthanized because he had attacked his new owner and was deemed dangerous. We were told that he was owned by the Amish, gelded, and left in a stall for 30 days without cleaning the stall area (which is the worst thing to do as you want the horse in a clean environment and out moving as much as possible to help heal). This horse was then taken to an auction and purchased by a woman who sold him to his new owner all within two days.
The new owner took him to her boarding barn in Rockton, IL and started working with him the very next day. As his she was holding him in the ring, her mother was rubbing him all over to "desensitize" him and he snapped, attacking the owner's mom by biting her in the shoulder, which knocked her to the ground, then he tripped over her while trying to flee. He was deemed dangerous and was scheduled to be euthanized. It sounded to everyone that he just hadn’t had a chance to settle- it was all too much too soon- as he was taken from one strange situation to the next and retaliated like a stallion might do. Casey's really wasn't in the position to take in another rescue due to funding, but this was a short term situation, so we agreed to go get him. The next day, we drove the hour and a half to Rockton to pick him up. While there, they showed us the video of him attacking the woman and they were very honest about everything. We loaded him up, and fortunately, he trailered like a champ. This poor guy, however, did not know how to back out of the trailer so we had to move the divider and let him turn around in the trailer. (It wasn’t pretty but we got him out!) Once out, we noticed that not only did he walk into the barn one unsteady step at a time appearing as if he was drunk, he was also uncertain of how to even walk down the aisle. We put him in his new temporary oversized stall with two windows. It was clear he was so insecure about everything and was on stimulation overload. We gave him his space and let him settle in with a clean stall, fresh hay, his automatic waterer (that he quickly figured out how to use), and lots of natural light. Sue called his new owners-to-be and said he had landed safely with us. They asked how big he was and Sue said not big – he was maybe 15.2 hands and she could tell by the silence on the other end of the line that they were expecting much bigger. Since he was just recently gelded, Sue put him in the stall next to her big boy Rio who gets along with everyone. Later that day when we brought all the horses in from pasture, Rio and the new guy met through the stall bars and it was perfect! No ear pinning, no squealing, no drama whatsoever - thank goodness! Later in the day, Sue was standing outside his stall with the stall door open about two feet and the stall guard up, telling him he was safe here at Casey's and no one was ever going to hurt him. He was looking at her very pleasantly and then with ZERO warning (no ear pinning, no posturing – nothing), he lunged at her and bit her in the chest and knocking her over backwards! It was a full on attack without any warning. Thankfully, she had three layers of clothes on and he did not break skin but there was a throbbing red knot the size of an egg on her chest by the time she stood up and composed herself. Not wanting the situation to end like this, Sue then went into the stall and stayed by the door with a lunge whip as a "defensive tool" and when he made a move at her again, she swung the whip towards him and he made the decision to back off. She had to end his attack with her respectfully having the last word as she knew by experience he would continue his aggression as a first resort whenever he felt threatened. It was then she realized that he was never, ever treated with any respect or kindness in his stall and in his mind her standing in the doorway became a threat to him. She came out of the stall and let him decompress from what had happened. This was so horrifically sad to us that he thinks he has to act this way to defend himself from humans. Later that evening, Sue called his future owners and let them know what had happened. She told them she did not blame the horse as we believe he was aggressive due to terrible human treatment over the past ten years. They then started talking about how he wasn’t as big as they were told and they really couldn’t use him for what they wanted. Sue could sense it coming – they were going to abandon this horse with us at Casey's. So here we were not in a position to permanently take in another horse and now as fate would have it, he just may be with us for the long haul. We were not going to give up on him though, we had to help him. And now we had to figure out how to take care of a horse that no one could go near him.
Stay tuned for Part Two of his story...
Prince, first day in his stall checking out Rio!
Prince Part 2: And Our Rescue Gets a Name...
So in usual style, Sue laid awake all night her mind thinking and thinking about how we could help this horse. Of course, the biggest concern now was safety for all (more on this later). We are a volunteer run 501(c)3 non-profit and some of our volunteers have horse experience and some have never been around horses until they came to Casey’s. Nevertheless, all of our volunteers have huge hearts and want to help all of our equine no matter the breed, age, size, color, or abilities. Every equine at Casey's is a soul in need of help, and that’s why they are here. So, the energy at our barn is that of happy horses and the new horses can definitely pick up on that good energy. We usually change the rescued equine's name and give them a new halter when they arrive. A new life, a new beginning, a new name. We chose Prince, giving him a regal name hoping no one would abuse him or lock him up again.
Prince came to us with a runny nose and was on antibiotics. (Thank goodness Prince ate his antibiotics in his food, otherwise, we don’t know how we would have given them to him!) His previous owner’s vet cleared him to leave as he had no temperature or other signs of sickness and his mucus was white. And, thankfully, Prince was down in the end stall by the entrance into the indoor ring. The plan was to just let him decompress until his new owners picked him up in a couple of weeks. Prince's new stall was nice and roomy with two windows to look out and to let in natural sunlight. We set up gates to use as a “shoot” so he could walk into the indoor ring on his own. We had a water trough set up in the indoor ring and would hang a hay net so he could munch all day. We were going to give him the space he needed to observe and comprehend what was going on in the barn. Our hopes were that, with space, Prince could take in the good energy and to see that all our equine here at Casey's are treated with respect, dignity, kindness, and the love that they deserve. No one is abused and no one, like Prince, will be locked up all day in a box.
So we set up the shoot from his stall to the indoor ring, and the plan was for Sue to go into the stall (with a lunge whip for protection) to help move Prince out of the stall and into the aisle so he could walk into the ring on his own. When Sue walked in to his stall, he backed off and she maneuvered so he could walk out the stall door. But Prince didn’t know what to do, he did not understand what was being asked of him. He kept stopping at the door as if he’s never had the experience of walking out on his own. Sue then made a soft, gentle clucking sound to encourage him and he scrambled madly to get out of the stall – so incredibly sad to get such a dramatic response to a soft cluck! That tells a lot all by itself on the kind of life he had before. He walked out into the ring unsure and almost in shock of his surroundings. He just didn't know what to do, how to act, how to be curious - he was at a loss. After he walked into the ring and we closed the gate, he stood frozen in the corner staring at his surroundings for over two hours. This was so incredibly heartbreaking to us. This poor guy did not know who he was or how to be a horse. Everything he was doing told us that he must have lived most, if not all, his life in a stall. This was complete sensory overload for him- from spending life in a box, to being recently gelded and just thrown back into his stall in pain, then to be sold at auction and moved several times in a month and a half. It was very clear to us that he really needed to have some time alone to decompress, to settle. So that’s what we gave him.
While in the ring, Prince could hear us moving around in the barn doing chores and could see us in the viewing room. It was also a good time for us to clean his stall, clean his automatic waterer, and give him fresh hay. (We used a lot of lavender essential oil to help him relax too.) After the first two hours, Prince started moving around and checking things out. A few hours later when it was time to come in, we again set up the shoot. Sue walked in (again with the lunge whip for protection) and Prince walked cautiously back through the shoot and to his stall knowing exactly where to go – his security blanket was his stall as it was all he knew. Now, the best thing we could do was nothing. Many people wanted to stand by his stall, talk to the new guy, but it was time to leave him be. He needed to be free of distractions and worrying about defenses so he could observe and think as we worked with the other horses and tended to our chores around him.
The next morning when we started the process all over again, Sue walked into his stall and he knew exactly what he was supposed to do and walked into the indoor. He is a very smart boy! When one considers he most likely lived the majority of his 10 years in a box and on the second day he knew what he was supposed to do, that is smart! This was now going to be our daily routine until he went with his new owner in hopes he could adjust before he had to move again. After day two, we threw some toys in the ring (balls, cones, shavings bags) for him to investigate.
Well, after a couple of days, the future owners decided they didn’t want him due to his size so they were going to try to help us find another home for him. They did contact a friend of theirs from another state who did try to help us, but it didn’t work out. And after a week, they no longer returned Sue’s texts or calls. So now, as fate would have it, Prince was to be part of our Casey’s family. We didn’t have a long term plan and we were taking on a big expense during a tough time of canceled fundraisers due to the pandemic, but we could not turn our back on him. So for now, we decided to just continue his routine until he showed us he was ready for more.
It took two weeks before Prince showed any personality or interest in anything other than food. By now, the indoor ring looked like a giant playpen due to all the toys in the ring! He could check the toys out when he was ready. We tried to rearrange the toys daily to spark an interest as we wanted to encourage him to explore. Back in his stall, he was able to observe the volunteers grooming his equine neighbor, Rio, and see that it was good- nothing bad was happening to him. He watched us walk the horses out to the pastures with just leads around their necks – no halters- and he saw that they all know and love the routine. This was his time to watch and to learn, he was taking things in.
On Feb 23rd, three weeks after Prince came to Casey’s, the weather was nice enough where we could open the big sliding doors in the indoor ring so he could see the world outside. We only opened the door about two feet as we didn’t know if he would try to jump out. By the end of the day, he still had not walked down to look out the door, so Sue went outside and was able to coax him down. Then, at last, he was brave enough to stick his head outside and look around! Sunshine on his face – it was so wonderful to witness!
In another week, it looks like he could be ready to take another big step and be introduced to the run attached to his stall. Stay tuned for Part Three!
We had a routine of being in his stall and the indoor arena for about 5 weeks. On March 7, he went outside for the first time. Based on his reaction, we are not sure if he ever saw the outdoors because he was afraid of sunshine. He froze when he walked outside. The first time we tried him in the outdoor run, he turned around and walked back into the indoor arena. On March 19, we set the gates in a V so he could look down the aisle without anyone bothering him. ONE THING we know for sure is that it is very important that our volunteers, staff and visitors WATCH from a distance and do not interact with him. It’s important that he develop trust with ONE person at this point. He’s made incredible progress because he has been protected with the gates. LEAVING HIM ALONE right now is the best thing we can do for him. March 25, was his first contact with a human. Sue first touched him on his neck while he was in the outdoor run and she was in the run next door. Soon Mitch Bornstein, author of “Last Chance Mustang” will be coming to evaluate Prince and help us get him ready for his forever home. If you haven’t read this book, and you’re interested in knowing what Prince is feeling, this is a great read!! From his actions, he has told us that he has lived his whole life in a stall. So he has stimulus overload with all that he is seeing and learning. That’s why he needs to be left alone and decompress.
On April 4, he met Rio in their runs side by side and both boys showed that they liked one another. On April 8, we had a hail and rain storm and he just stood out in the rain and hail and seemed to enjoy it. Since he hasn’t been handled much at all and probably not groomed at all, so the rain and hail probably felt good to him. Eventually he started to feel comfortable going outside in his run. We had made his run smaller-- about one third of its size. On April 25, he let Sue put a halter on for the first time. This was almost three months after he came to Casey’s. He has to learn how to walk with a halter and lead. He is just starting to do this and by the way he walks on his lead, you can tell that he is very unsure about this. His hooves were trimmed for the first time on April 30 and he was a “PRINCE”. He only had his front feet trimmed. He loves to come over to the window and look into the kitchen and see what his humans are doing.
You can read Prince's Journey with Casey's and Mitch on our FaceBook page and Mitch's FaceBook page - Last Chance Mustang.
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