It’s been about a year and a half since we were contacted by an officer from the LAPD, asking if we could please take in a horse who was in desperate need of a home. She and another officer were called out during a torrential rainstorm because of a call of a horse who was running around in Watts. They spent all day in the rain with him waiting for animal control to pick him up. He was taken to the equine facilities, but they were not able to keep him forever, and his future was uncertain. He was emaciated and nervous, but we were able to put him in the trailer and drive him to Hanaeleh without any issues. The officers named him Lou Dillon, after the street he was found on. Interestingly enough, Lou Dillon is the name of a very famous Standardbred racehorse (albeit a mare).
Over the past 18 months we have seen a dramatic change in Lou Dillon. He ate everything in sight for a long time, and our goal was to make sure to keep food in front of him so he would not become food aggressive. Thankfully he was just happy to eat, and we haven’t seen him aggressive at all (although he WILL steal some of Quixote’s hay instead of eating his own, then go back and eat his own later on). It took a long time, but now his coat is soft and shiny and he has dapples! He has the oddest little white spots all along his coat that show up in the summertime, so he apparently has some Appaloosa ancestor somewhere. The officers said they preferred his mane to remain long, so we honored that and haven’t cut it. His tail hasn’t grown much longer, but it is a lot thicker and fuller than it was when we first took him in.
Lou Dillon was also very fearful of men when we first took him in- in fact, the only man he seemed to like was one of the officers who helped rescue him. Over the past six months, however, two of our volunteers, Dan and Sue, have been working with him several times a week, and he seems to have gotten over this fear. He was very fearful of the farrier for the longest time, but our farrier started to offer him cookies whenever he saw him, so now Lou Dillon happily walks up and stands well for him.
When we first brought Lou Dillon to Hanaeleh, he would run around when we put him into the round pen or arena, which is unfortunately common for horses who are trained poorly by inept and often cruel individuals. The goal is to get the horses exhausted, and they will hit the horses when they get tired, so the horse just learns to keep running for as long as possible so the person won’t hit him. It took us a very long time to get Lou Dillon to relax enough to walk and trot in the round pen and arena, but he finally learned that we are not going to hurt him, and he is calm and relaxed now when we work with him. He comes in and follows us around when we are done, letting us know that he accepts us as his herd leader, and is comfortable with us.
We decided not to try to work with Lou Dillon under saddle after several months of working with him- he has been through a lot in his lifetime and obviously has not been treated well- it’s just not worth discovering whether or not he will regress emotionally if we start working him under saddle. He is 25 years old now, so we think he has deserved retirement.
One of the things we’ve discovered about Lou Dillon as we’ve gotten to know him more is that he is a very silly boy! When we are making his grain or feeding him, he will stick his head over the bars and make faces at us until he finally gets his food! For a long while he seemed to be introverted and didn’t interact much with the other horses, but recently he has decided that Quixote is his best friend in the whole entire world, and now wants to be with him all of the time- to the point that sometimes he will pace his stall back and forth if we take Quixote out to exercise him. Of course, if there’s food, Lou Dillon is perfectly happy to eat instead of pacing, as a horse has to have his priorities, after all.
Lou Dillon is a permanent resident at Hanaeleh, and will stay here for the rest of his life. He has quite a following on social media, although he is overall a humble horse and we are pleased to report that the fame hasn’t gone to his head.
Lou Dillon would LOVE a sponsor. Did you know that you can sponsor him for as little as $10/month? Click here to learn more and sign up!