Hanaeleh rescued Noelle in December 2019. Auction Horses Rescue (AHR) had originally tried to rescue her from an auction, but she was purchased by someone else. Concerned about her well-being, they gave the owner their information in case things did not work out. After a short time, the owner called- he could not catch her at all, and it was apparent that she had been given drugs to mask her overwhelming pain during her time at the auction, as she could barely move around. We found out later that Noelle had been terribly abused by being ridden to the point of crippling her.
At the time, AHR did not have any other room for Noelle, but neither did Hanaeleh. Natalie W. offered to foster Noelle until we had a place for her, which didn’t happen until Sapphire passed away last month. We have to limit the number of horses we take in both due to the size of our property, but also based upon our budget- we give our horses the best care possible, and we have to ensure that we have the funds to do so. Thankfully, Natalie was generous enough to keep her for the past year and a half until we had a stall available.
You can read more about Noelle’s December 2019 rescue story here.
Noelle Arrives at Hanaeleh
Natalie brought Noelle to the ranch on Saturday afternoon 4/3/21. Even though there was a lot of traffic, Noelle did very well in the trailer. We were concerned that the long trailer ride would hurt her, even though Natalie gave her a little pain medicine before the ride. Thankfully, Noelle walked up to the ranch without a problem, other than stepping on the back of Natalie’s shoe.
Noelle was alert and a bit confused at what was going on, but although she was at a completely new place, Noelle was quiet and stood well while we rinsed her. We put her in the stall next to Hope and Grace, and made sure that her waterer was freshly cleaned, and we gave her some hay and a little bit of grain.
The first thing Noelle did was to say hello to Grace. There was the normal mare squeal, but then they decided they could be neighbors and that was that. Hope was too timid to say hello and stayed back behind Grace, letting her take care of the pleasantries. Then, Noelle started to munch some hay, took a few bites of her grain, got a drink of water, then did the whole thing all over again. We were very pleasantly surprised to see her settle in so well so quickly!
Noelle’s First Morning at Hanaeleh
This morning, we were happy to see Noelle still very mellow and getting along well with her neighbors. We gave her some orchard hay for breakfast, which she really didn’t like nearly as much as the alfalfa, but she nibbled it throughout the day. We also spent some time grooming her and walked her around in the round pen. When Noelle is being walked she tries to hide behind the person who is walking her, which was why she stepped on Natalie’s shoe the previous day. We will just have to let her know she is safe, and that she can walk next to us, instead.
Noelle was a little nervous when we took the halter off and asked her to walk around the round pen at liberty. She actually trotted a little, which was obviously painful, but then she slowed down to a walk again. Often horses who have been cowboyed or charroed are put into round pens or bull pens and then chased and whipped until they are exhausted- it is obvious from her initial fear that Noelle expected us to do the same.
Thankfully, she calmed down relatively quickly- probably because trotting was painful- and began walking. When we stopped her, she wouldn’t “come in” but she stood quietly, and we were able to catch her without a problem, which is a very important first step in having her trust us.
One of Noelle’s big issues even before she was rescued was the fact that she could not be caught- who would want to, if every time a person grabbed her she would be hurt? As a result, her previous owners just left the halter on her, and it dug into her face and created scars behind her ears.
Natalie spent a lot of time with Noelle, getting her used to coming up to her, and she would give her cookies every time she put the halter on. At first Noelle was completely freaked out, but eventually she realized she was not going to be hurt, and although the physical scars are still there, she has started to work through the emotional and mental pain that she suffered.
Noelle’s left front leg has tendon scarring that is so thick and severe that it has completely surrounded the bone. Her right front leg is a little better, but not by much. Both of her front feet have evidence of founder, as well, which means that in her past the coffin bone has sunk and rotated in her hoof.
Thankfully, the farrier was able to put on special shoes and wedges to allow Noelle to walk around without pain. It is logical to assume that Noelle was most likely used as a barrel racer and reining horse in her past, due to the extreme damage to her left front leg. In fact, when Noelle was first rescued, she would run away if she saw anyone in a cowboy hat! Unfortunately, poor training and riding, as well as working Noelle while she was lame, contributed to her current crippled condition. She is only around 13-14 years old- she should be in the prime of her life, not so physically damaged that she needs special shoes and daily medication just to walk comfortably.
After a short walk in the round pen, we groomed Noelle a little. She was a very good girl and stood well, even though she wasn’t really certain of who we are and why we were there. She picked up her feet and didn’t have a problem with anything we did except when we brushed her face- she was obviously very fearful at first and shied away every time we put the brush next to her face. She didn’t go crazy or pull back, but she kept trying to move her head to avoid the brush.
After a few minutes of slowly talking to her and gently brushing her jowls and moving the brush up her head, however, we were able to get her to relax, and she seemed to even enjoy being brushed around her face. This is probably something we are going to have to work on for a while- she has come a long way from the extremely abused and neglected horse that was rescued a year and a half ago, and we will just need to continue to build upon the foundation of trust that Natalie started.
What we can promise Noelle is that she will never be hurt by humans again, and that we will do everything within our power to ensure that she is safe, and that her pain is managed. We can also promise the probability that there will be many cookies and carrots and apples in her future!