Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Fun In The Sun

Yesterday, it rained off and on all day. Arena turnout time for Argus happened in fits and starts. Ten minutes here and there. He loves to go out. When I approach him with the halter & lead, his eyes light up and he walks toward me, eagerly placing his nose in the halter.

I find myself running out to the barn to squeeze in a 3-minute handwalk, or a quick loop around the barn. I can't wait for spring, when the pasture will be dry enough for Argus to safely have his first real taste of being a horse. He will be ready then.

Argus can only be turned out when I am at home and can watch him closely. He, like so many horses who have lived in total confinement, hasn't quite figured out how to be in a large space without getting stressed. When Argus is upset, he runs the fence line frantically, with occasional breaks for wild-eyed weaving, both of which are hard on him, hard on my arena, and only reinforce behaviors we are trying to minimize.

So I usually turn him out with a buddy, and thankfully, we have a bunch of good-natured geldings who all seem to know that Argus is learning. Yesterday, Argus enjoyed a pleasant 45 minutes out with Buster, a 17-year-old Thoroughbred gelding and one of our boarders.

Here Argus is proudly showing off his "muscles." He is especially proud of his forearm and gaskin areas (forearm is above the knee, gaskin is above the hock, which is like the hind knee).

You can see the sores I have been battling on the front of his fetlocks (the big knobby joint above the hoof). They are called "bed sores" and Argus has some very old, established ones from his life in a hard pen. They have gotten worse since he arrived, presumably because he collapses at times due to lack of REM sleep, and still rarely uses the soft stall to lay down. He wears upside-down bell boots most of the time to protect this area. Yesterday, I attempted to hose his legs for the very first time. He stood quietly while I took a cold hose to him. It was amazing. I doubt he has ever been bathed before. He is very trusting.

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Compare with this photo of Argus on the day he was liberated, December 8th, 2007. I wish I had taken more photos of him when he arrived. Everyone who saw him comments on how "stick like" his legs were.

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Back to present day. After a good roll (undoing his hour-long grooming session courtesy of Hannah, who comes here every Tuesday to brush him. Argus LOVES it when Hannah arrives), Argus stands thoughtfully.

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Walking around, warming up. That's a marking on the left side of his neck. I have never seen a gray horse with such a large dark marking. (And yes, that's a safety halter he's wearing!)

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Argus is a beautiful mover. He has a wonderful trot with tons of suspension.

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Argus, with his odd, over-developed ability to look at things in the distance, stops often to stare at things which catch his eye.

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He's worked hard to be able to canter. Here he has all four feet off the ground. He is flying!

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Playing "chase me!' with Buster, who is only too happy to comply.

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Finally warmed up, Argus runs across the arena. His posture speaks volumes about how racked his body is. He can't really lift and bend his back, or get his hind end up under him,
but he's making progress.

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Emmi said...

He's so special! I wish I could come over with a big bag of treats, I'd brush him and cover him with kisses :)

All the best,
Emmi P.

Anonymous said...

I love reading your daily updates on Argus. He is such a lovely guy and how terrible that he suffered for so long. But he does look tremendously happy in his rehab home with you! Thank you for saving him and letting him be a horse!


Anonymous said...

I'm Sterry Butcher and I wrote in about the name Argus yesterday.
I thought it was appropriate to include an excerpt from the Odyssey, since it's so much better than what I told you.
I'm glad, foster mom, that you enjoyed it. Argus is a perfectly fitting and dignified name for this horse.
This is from Book 17, when Odysseus returns to Ithaka and is disguised as a beggar - no one knows his identity.

"As they were talking, a dog that had been lying asleep raised his head and pricked up his ears. This was Argos, whom Odysseus had bred before setting out for Troy, but he had never had any enjoyment from him. In the old days he used to be taken out by the young men when they went hunting wild goats, or deer, or hares, but now that his master was gone he was lying neglected on the heaps of mule and cow dung that lay in front of the stable doors till the men should come and draw it away; and he was full of fleas. As soon as he saw Odysseus standing there, he dropped his ears and wagged his tail, but he could not get close to his master. When Odysseus saw the dog on the other side of the yard, dashed a tear from his eyes without Eumaeus seeing it, and said:
"Eumaeus, what a noble hound that is over yonder on the manure heap: his build is splendid; is he as fine a fellow as he looks, or is he only one of those dogs that come begging about a table, and are kept merely for show?"
"This hound," answered Eumaeus, "belonged to him who has died in a far country. If he were what he was when Odysseus left for Troy, he would soon show you what he could do. There was not a wild beast in the forest that could get away from him when he was once on its tracks. But now he has fallen on evil times, for his master is dead and gone, and the women take no care of him. Servants never do their work when their master's hand is no longer over them, for Zeus takes half the goodness out of a man when he makes a slave of him."
So saying he entered the well-built mansion, and made straight for the riotous pretenders in the hall. But Argos passed into the darkness of death, now that he had seen his master once more after twenty years."

Anonymous said...

I don't know where you are so I don't know if they will grow there, but planting some willow trees will help control that pasture flooding.

Anonymous said...

I've read this entire blog, and I want to commend you for what you're doing. Argus is coming along beautifully, and it's a good thing to know that he's finally getting the love he deserves. Keep up the good work!!

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to check your blog every day now. It's almost like going out to the barn and seeing the horses for myself. Thank you so much.

Rachel in VA

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a difference from the pictures of when you first got him. He looks HAPPY. His entire body looks so much better, and it has to be so nice to finally be a HORSE. The poor guy is still stiff and doesn't move normally, but that's so much better than before.

In regards to his marking, he's a "bloody shouldered" horse. It's a high concentration of flea bites (you know, flea-bitten grey) in a single area. You can read more about it here, if you didn't already know about this (and if you did, just ignore me lol): It's the last section there, at the bottom.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad to see how far he's come! I especially love seeing how happy he looks playing with Buster and running across the arena. Hooray, Argus! You're getting lovely muscles!

TopO'theMorgan said...

Yeah! Run Argus run!!! It's really amazing the difference that shows in him since the start of this blog!! He looks so happy :)

Anonymous said...

wow...he's such a handsome boy and he looks really athletic!!'s such a shame he was neglected so long

Anonymous said...

He looks so happy!!
You are doing a wonderful job bringing him back from hell like you are.

Anonymous said...

Im an avid reader of fugly horse, and she posted a link to your blog. I love reading your posts. What you are doing is wonderful, and your blogs are beautifully written.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting new pictures of Argus today.

He really is a beautiful horse! I really like his neck, I think he has a very nice neck!

Please tell him that so he can be especially proud of another part of his body!


Argus' foster mom said...

Thank you for posting the story of Argos, in The Odyssey! That was very thoughtful!! I loved reading it. Wow, the name Argus sure is fitting.

And thanks for the info on gray markings, and being "bloody shouldered" (does that sound British or what?). I have never heard that term. Thank you for educating me!

Thank you everyone for your sweet comments!! They are all very much appreciated.

erica said...

I don't know much about bloody shouldered horses, but I did photograph a horse with that marking, once:

Anonymous said...

i found your blog from FHOTD and Argus's story has really touched me. The last few days I find myself thinking, "I wonder if there is a new update on Argus!" Seeing these new pics of Argus looking so happy has really made my day.

Anonymous said...

Erica - you are very talented photographer! You really captured the essence of not just what the horse and rider were doing, but the horse itself in it's entirety.

Argus' Foster Mom - you're welcome! I'm glad to help! Now you have something else unique to tell about him. :) A famous Arabian stallion that's bloody shouldered is Showcayce. You can read about his bloody shoulder on page 18 of that PDF file. Yes, lol, it does sound British.

Rosie said...

Argus and all who have helped him with his rehabilitation are an inspiration.

Seraph said...

I haven't been around horses in far too long, and have forgotten a lot of what I once knew; but anyone with eyeballs could tell that Argus is getting much, much better.

What struck me in his "before" pictures (as if this were a horse makeover, heh) is that his head and neck seemed to desperately outweigh the rest of his body, and he'd topple over from the imbalance at any moment. As he gains weight and muscle that look is diminishing, and a good thing too.

His story broke my heart, but it gives me such joy to watch him recover. Thank you for sharing Argus with us!

Anonymous said...

By the way, Argus' Foster Mom, I agree with an earlier comment that Argus' rehab story would make a good book, especially since you write so well :)

Gina said...

I read FHOTD and found this blog through there. I love the difference in the "before" and "after" (well, not quite after) pictures of Argus. He's positively glowing with health. :) Good work! Keep it up. :)

athena_arabians said...

You're doing a great job! I just love reading about him (and cried the whole time when I read through all the posts in one go, I come from the link on FHOTD). This horse must have the nobelest of souls.

A little comment on the bloody shoulder. It is somewhat common in arabian horses and according to bedouin legend it is the result of Allah putting his hand on the horse and blessing it. Such horses were considered very lucky to have.

Anonymous said...

The legend behind the "bloody shoulder" -- blood marks can appear pretty much anywhere on the body -- is basically that a Bedouin was badly wounded in battle. His war mare carefully carried him home to his tent, as his blood ran down her shoulder.

His life was saved by his family and tribe. The mark of his blood, however, remained on the mare and appeared on all her descendants.

(Athena, I believe you are thinking of the "prophent's thumb" story.)

Of course, "blood marks" can appear on any breed that comes in grey, but that's where the term "bloody shoulder" comes from.

athena_arabians said...

@ Anonymous:

No, I'm not thinking of the Prophet's thumb ;) I do know of it as well and also of the legend you quoted. I've heard both regarding the bloody shoulder (wounded rider vs Allah's blessing). There are many legends about the arabian horse... :)

Anonymous said...

Please do not compare Argus to the dog from Homer's Odyssey. There is no comparison.

He has not been patiently waiting for a loyal master, this horse has been abused by a selfish person.

Argos, the dog, waited for his beloved master.

I hope rather than pulling a chapter from an online translation of the Odyssey, you actually read it.

A more apt comparison, if you must use Homer, is when Odysseus arrives on the island of Scheria and is given a warm welcome and the friendly people listen to his story, keen to help him find his true home.

Fire of the Phoenix said...

I love the bloody shoulder marking. It's a mark of nobility, as I hear it, and of a good heart. I'm sure it doesn't always work that way, but it sure as hell works that way for him, as far as I'm hearing :)
Keep up the good work, I'm going to keep reading your blog and watch his progress!