Brutus came to Hanaeleh last April. We were not anticipating taking in another horse; in fact, Elizabeth was just getting on her horse to go out on a trail ride when she received a call that there was a group of teenagers wandering about the canyon with a crazy two year-old stallion, who was rearing and out of control. Apparently the teenagers had been kicked out of where they had been keeping the horse, and now had no place to go. A concerned neighbor called and asked if we could board the horse at our facility. As we do not board horses, she said that we could not, but if the kids wanted to relinquish ownership, then we would take him.
Fast forward about an hour, and we ended up taking possession of a two year-old horse who we were told was worth thousands (?) of dollars. The teens did not have money to pay for hay, but they had bought a halter and stud chain (which they took with them). As we do not have the facilities for stallions, we asked a very kind neighbor if we could keep the horse at their house until we could get him gelded. Elizabeth named him Brutus, a la Julius Caesar, in recognition of our first stallion we took in, who we named Caesar.
Brutus’ previous owner (the one who gave him to the teenagers) contacted us and so we got some of the back story on this little guy. Brutus was actually three years old, not two, and is a purebred Thoroughbred. His grandsire is a famous racehorse in Australia, and his father won about $600,000 here in the states, whereas his dam was retired after her second race (which she won). When it was determined that he would not be a good candidate for the track due to his poor conformation, he was shuffled from one barn to another. Many Thoroughbreds are actually not registered until after they have had a few runs at the track, and only then are they registered and tattooed. This is yet one of the many deceptive ways the Thoroughbred industry hides the foals who do not have good conformation, only registering those who might have a chance at winning. Those who do not have a chance, like Brutus, are either sold at auction (with high probability of going to slaughter) or to a third party. We are lucky to know Brutus’ sire and dam, but we would have to get a blood test to prove his heritage- as we don’t plan to race him, it seems just a waste of money to do so.
When we got Brutus, he was not halter trained, and was very thin and poorly muscled. He also had terrible manners, which included kicking when we tried to pick up his feet, and biting- A LOT. We fed this poor boy a ton of food, which he all but inhaled. We determined that he had not been adequately fed for quite a while, and so put him on a low protein diet so he would not grow too quickly, which could lead to muscle tears and joint issues. There was a chance that his growth would be mildly stunted, but in the long run, we had to look at his overall health, and considering he is already 16 hands, we don’t think his growth was affected in any way.
In the past year, Brutus has grown from about 14.2 hands to 16 hands. He’s put on a few hundred pounds of muscle, and is still growing! He’s still a bit awkward while running, but he is now a healthy and happy boy! He is learning to ground drive in harness, and Elizabeth ponies him off of Tamahome around the neighborhood. Brutus has also been through extensive sensory training, so he isn’t really afraid of anything.
One of Brutus’ main issues, however, is that he will still nip, especially when he’s frustrated. This is very common for horses who have not been properly socialized when they’re young, and those who are taken from their mothers too young (it’s very common for Thoroughbreds to be weaned at four months, when they really should stay with their mothers for six to eight months). Brutus’ right hoof is slightly turned out, which is probably why he was cast aside. When Brutus is put up for adoption, part of his adoption agreement will state that he will not be used for jumping; jumping will only put undue stress on that leg, causing him to go lame early. Brutus will be a wonderful flat horse, trail horse or driving horse, however. He is a beautiful dark seal bay in color, with no white save a little bit near his rear leg.
It is Brutus’ personality, however, that is really his shining point. He is a very personable horse, and loves to play. As he is a silly, silly boy, really at this point the only horses we can turn him out with are Tamahome and Sapphire, as they are the only two who are patient enough to put up with him. Lexie is completely in love with Brutus, but we are concerned that Brutus might get a little overzealous, and accidentally hurt Lexie by knocking into her. Brutus and Lexie do love one another through the bars, however, and Brutus has also discovered himself in love with Savannah, our newest arrival. Let’s just be honest- Brutus loves the ladies.
Brutus currently eats about 40 pounds of hay and hay pellets a day (a typical horse eats about 20 pounds). We have yet to see his appetite slow down, and we will continue to feed him what he needs in order to stay healthy. He is still on a low protein diet- at this point he does not need any more energy! He lives in a paddock, so he can work off some of his excess energy, and he is exercised and we work with him daily, so he has developed healthy muscles and is getting dapples on his coat!
We will continue to work with Brutus, and when we feel he is safe for a new home, we will put him up for adoption. In the meantime, we are enjoying his very lively personality!