Ezekiel SiJohn is an employee at KTRA! He is also an excellent writer! Read his gripping story about his horse, Talus, below. Don't forget to like, share, or leave a comment!
I didn't even know her name.
She was just a big bay mare in a tiny stall, standing caked in her own feces. Nobody had touched her or cleaned her stall for quite some time. She always showed the whites of her eyes.
Another horse had run her through a barbed-wire fence so she had a horrible knotty lump of scar tissue covering one of her hind cannon bones. Nobody had bothered to treat it. It was left to get infected. She was given to me because she was presumably 'dangerous', 'she would kill you if you turned your back', and she was 'not worth the time or money to do anything with'.
My choices were a.) take this horse I knew nothing about, or b.) watch her go to auction. I couldn't bear what would happen to this wild-eyed mare with the bones and scars.
I didn't even know her name.
She was being fed scarcely, and what she was fed was moldy, or rotten, or straw. All her bones jutted out and her coat was dull. Her neck and shoulders were so thin that her blanket hung off her. I'd seen her beaten. I wanted to get her out of there and somewhere safe.
After months of battling colic and vet bills, I got a bill of sale and could legally move her. What a relief it was to have her somewhere safe!
It dawned on me that she was a Thoroughbred, and that she would have a tattoo in her lip if she had ever been registered with the Jockey Club. I looked, and found that she was indeed. I searched her through the database, and it was from there I could start to piece together who she was and where she was from.
Her name is Talus Ridge. She was born March 14th, 2009. That made her 3, turning 4 the coming year. I found her owners’ and breeders’ names, her old racing videos and stats, and finally I knew her name.
Through chatting with her breeders, who have known her all her life, I got to know about Talus' past and a bit about her cheeky personality. She has always been bold, opinionated, and at times even bossy. She is a total diva. She was treated well all her life and enjoyed her job at the racetrack. It was a series of very unfortunate mistakes that led her to the dark place I found her in.
I was finally making a breakthrough with her, after she had gained some weight and had time to recover emotionally from the trauma she had been through. Then she somehow got that nasty lump of scar tissue on her injured leg hooked in a fence and de-gloved her leg to the bone. The injury took almost a year to heal, and during that time I questioned my sanity. My mare was frustrated, and so was I.
I didn't blame her for her behaviour or her reaction to pain, but there were many nights I left the barn crying because I thought that she would never trust me, and feeling so much fear that I had made a mistake. I feared there was no possible way I could help this mare.
I don't know how but I persevered and pushed through. It was not until my third year of owning Talus that I started to ride her. I knew she was broke to ride before even racing; her knowledge was fairly well-rounded. I could have done things faster, but I didn't want to push her. Her eyes had so much trauma, so many ghosts. I did not want a relationship based on fear. So I took my time, and went at Talus' pace. I was judged harshly for this and have been told many times that I am wasting her potential by not having her in a program or in the show ring.
The truth is, this horse has healed me more than I have healed her. Her presence in my life truly is a miracle. I am thankful every day that she found me. I am convinced she found me at a time in my life where I needed to be taught some valuable lessons.
Talus has taught me so much about myself and about life. I am constantly given challenges by her; she pushes me to be a better rider, a more calm and focused person, and has given me confidence in myself and as a leader. I have learned so much mindfulness from this sensitive girl; so much about letting go of the past and the importance of living in the moment.
I am so thankful that she (and I) have found a home at KTRA, where we are accepted and never judged for who we are. It is a place where we can grow at our own pace; a place where we can be in the moment and heal our past together.