April 2017 Horse Highlight: Chance and Mr. Fields

Despondent, hopeless, unwanted and dejected…Chance and Mr. Fields…saved within
moments of walking up the death ramp for a one-way trailer trip. Both have proven
that once love and gentle care were received at Red Bucket Equine Rescue, they’ve
been given back a more than doubled chance at a wonderful life…
Anyone who believes horses are not aware or cannot understand when something is
terribly wrong may have a different opinion after learning about the harrowing
experiences leading up to the Red Bucket rescue of Chance and Mr. Fields. All kill
pens are horrible places. But the livestock auction in Louisiana is considered among
the cruelest for frightened and starving horses. Chance and Mr. Fields found
themselves at the kill pen where horses are sold by the pound. The two horses
formed an immediate and strong bond, having been thrown into the same dire
A fellow rescuer and friend Kristine gave Susan a frantic call about a year ago. She
asked Susan if she could possibly place two horses in a loving home. Her goal had
been to keep them both; however, she had been injured in a fall and was not in a
position to keep them long term. Could Red Bucket help her out? She explained that
the horses had been paid for; she just needed to go and pick them up. According to
her explanation, one of the horses had a most “earnest look.” She sent Red Bucket a
video, which showed not a horse with an earnest look but more like he already
looked half dead. The owner of the kill lot was also seen in the video riding a black
horse, sliding upside down underneath his barrel to demonstrate how “kind” this
horse was. They were both desperate and emaciated.
Red Bucket agreed to take both horses. Kristine had only one horse in safety and
was frantically looking around the auction for the other “hip number” she had
purchased. The slaughter truck and trailer were already on the auction premises
and had several horses loaded. “Where is hip #0954?” she asked. The auction
owner answered tersely, “Look lady, the horses are already boarded!” Inside the
trailer was a dangerous scene of frightened and overcrowded equines all hopelessly
struggling for a place to stand; it was an awful sight to witness. At the last moment,
Kristine yelled to the auction owner, “I have already paid for hip #0954. Where is
he?” As they both glanced toward the frenzied, horse-crowded ramp, the black
horse she had purchased was miraculously spotted moments before he would have
been forever swallowed into the dark oblivion of the slaughter-bound trailer.
Surviving his ordeal in the nick of time, this kind and gentle black horse was
appropriately named “Chance.”
Both horses were quarantined together prior to traveling to Red Bucket. They
trailered the many miles from Louisiana to Southern California still desperate and
emaciated. Once they arrived, neither made eye contact, showed any reaction, and
barely connected. “I remember the day they arrived at the Ranch,” says team
member Linda Rose. “They still had their auction numbers glued to the dock of their
tails. They had become so strongly bonded that they couldn’t bear to be apart, so we
placed them in stalls that faced each other in the barn. That way they could see each
other at all times. Although they were starving, they refused to eat out of their
corner feeders because they couldn’t see each other while they were eating,” states
Linda. Eventually their hay was placed right in front of their stall doors, and they
could eat and see each other at the same time.
Jenon Mathes explains in detail what happened as she performed their initial
assessment once at the Ranch. “When Chance and Mr. Fields arrived I began the
process of introduction and grooming to get an idea of temperament and to make
sure they were safe to handle. Both horses were complete gentlemen, and aside
from being very bonded and having the need to see each other for security, they
were wonderful! They were both severely underweight but even more appalling
was the fact that they were both shod on all four hooves and had fresh saddle marks
on their backs! With no regard for their level of comfort, the beautiful boys were
being ridden in their weakened and compromised state.”
Over the next several weeks, as they gained weight and began to enjoy their new
life, their personalities began to emerge. Jenon says, “They soon were introduced to
some friends in a herd environment. At first they were inseparable and very
protective of each other, not wanting to mingle with the others and only wanting to
stay together. Over the months, they have begun to enjoy each other, sparring,
chasing, galloping around, creating their own game of tag!” Jenon continues, “Both
Chance and Mr. Fields have adjusted well to the Red Bucket routine, and it is not
uncommon to see them both patiently waiting by the gate as afternoon feed time
approaches in an effort to let us know it’s time to go home for dinner.” She
continues, “I can only imagine what it must feel like for them, knowing it’s time for
dinner instead of ‘Will I get dinner?’ ”
What a difference a year has made in the life of Chance and Mr. Fields! Out of fear,
starvation and terror has come trust, health and confidence. While Chance has
recovered and does well under saddle, Mr. Fields will fully enjoy his retirement and
continue serving as Chance’s BFF for as long as possible. Jenon concludes, “They are
both favorites of our team members and we all strive to let them know they are
special, loved and wanted.”
Written by: Johanna Downs