It was May 1995, two weeks after I started my first “real” job. I was driving up to Green Bay, with my new boss who had invited me to a local horse show. We discovered we shared the stereotypic female “horse craziness” during my job interview. I remember Peg saying on the drive up, “who knows, maybe you will find a horse up there and buy it.” “Yeah right” I said.
During the lunch break we walked the barns and there, 3 stalls from the end of the last barn, was this big gangly reddish thing – and he nickered at me. The barn trainer rode him for me after the show and 2 days later, I owned Clearly Scotch. I had the trainer put another 30 days on this amazingly calm 2 year old and brought him home to a barn near home.
Scotch has always been the “Bell of the Barn”. His gentle playfulness and good mindedness under saddle could only be surpassed by the fact that he was an excellent mover. This did not go unnoticed by my now husband who also fell in love with him. I choose to believe it was really me and not the horse that landed my spouse, but I am sure there are days…For most folks, all it took was for this huge animal ( Scotch that is) to lift his front leg and beg for a treat, and they were hooked!
I mentioned earlier that Scotch was big and gangly – he has always had more heart than natural athletic ability. But, this almost 17HH beast could lope slower and more collected than the smaller “pleasure horses”. My husband Dan and I showed on the open circuit for a number of years and usually won every class Scotch walked into, sans rider error. At some point we decided to show at the breed shows and bought a small gelding for my husband to show western pleasure. That was the year Scotch’s chassis caught up with his motor. Scotch went lame and was on stall rest for about a year. We spent thousands of dollars at Wisconsin Equine clinic trying to get him sound.
About a year later, Scotch’s hocks began to fuse and he was turning around, but it became clear his show career was over. While I swore I would never sell him, it was evident with our busy schedules with showing and work, that it was time to find a good retirement home for Scotch.
A family we showed with at the breed shows and had become friends with was looking for a horse for the wife/mom to gain her confidence and just plunk around on. They had a heated barn – which would help with Scotch’s arthritis and we “knew” them. We gave them Scotch with the understanding that if they ever didn’t want him that he would come home to us.
Most horse trainers say “the horse is the easy part – it’s the people that are hard.” Let it be said a number of “people” things happened.
I received a call on January 23rd from a rescue service called "Another Chance for Horses" www.ac4h.com indicating that Scotch was in Pennsylvania at a broker barn. AC4H found us on Scotch’s registration papers. Dan and I purchased him back from the broker and paid to have him shipped back home. The folks at AC4H’s helped me arrange payment, find haulers and basically hold my hysterical hand long distance. The broker's wife chose, for some reason to single him out and nurse him back to health as he had severe celluitus in his back legs. He spent at least 60 days in isolation (a good thing) prior to us being called. He arrived almost 200lbs (it looked like 500 lbs) under weight and faces a very long road to recovery, but the first thing he did when he got off the trailer…yep beg for a darn treat.
Scotch is now back at a wonderful facility just a couple miles from our home. Caring for him is an amazing little woman with a huge heart – Pat Heeg – she also cared for Scotch during his initial bought of lameness. When she got the call that Scotch was coming home, she jumped to action building a stall big enough for Scotch, researching nutritional needs and lining up the vet. Pat has always treated Scotch as though he were her own. I think once Scotch saw Pat, he knew it was gonna be ok.
If you are ever looking for a good charity - please consider this one. It is because of them that Scotch is back home where he belongs.