In Loving Memory of Lucifer aka “Luc”

Foaled approx. 1979  15 hand Pure White Quarter/Arab Gelding 

February 25

This is a pure white QH/Arab cross gelding, approximately 25 years of age, skin and bones but full of cussedness. His former name was “Sage” but he doesn’t answer to that name, either ignoring it or walking away. I’d already named him Lucifer – for the beautiful angel who was really a devil at heart, so Luc it is. Between his debilitated condition and his age, I may not be able to help this guy a lot but I will try. Could be his grumpiness has to do  with pain – so I’ll try a few things to get him willing to lift his back feet, and be groomed and worked with from behind, and if I can get him less reactive, I’ll ask Laurie Henkel  to see him.

He’s sweet to handle at the front end, with funny lip-flapping while thinking, and bright eyes and inquisitive ears. He fought being loaded despite the food he could see inside the trailer – standing outside the trailer, neck stretched out about 8 feet trying to reach it; then standing with his front legs in the trailer, but his hind legs still on the ground, while he ate. That turned out to be too uncomfortable, and I really think the only reason he got in the trailer was to get to that food. He cow-kicked me in the thigh when I stumbled and tried to brace myself on his hip, and bucked madly when the butt-strap was applied to encourage him in. This one might turn out to never be useful – but still, take a look at his picture. Could YOU walk away from him? (Note: after writing the above, I went out to check on him and Jack, and bring them an additional feed of grass. While there, I took a moment to brush them out – and this guy LOVED being brushed, and showed no interest in kicking me while I worked on his back end. Go figure)

This picture is out of order on this page – but I think it shows he’s better in some ways, and worse in others.  It’s a couple of years later – and he has great flesh in general, but look at that dang left leg.  It amazes me that he gets around as well as he does – but nothing my massage (which he DEMANDS every day), or Laurie’s adjustments can do seems to help. I guess the supporting outside ligament is just gone….  But look at that bright look – he is entirely here still despite his disabilities and age (approx 30 in this pic).  A tough guy…

April 27  
Luc (Lucifer) has been quite a rollercoaster ride for me. He has more flesh and slowly is losing his winter coat (older horses and poor horses, both of which he is, lose a winter coat slowly). I was able to have his front feet trimmed and he stood quietly, practically falling asleep. Because my farrier had recently been injured on another job, I held off having his rear (kicking!) feet trimmed, but was hopeful.

Each day, each meal, Luc would raise his head and call to me as soon as I came in sight and if he was on the far end of his paddock  he would trot with his tail flagged high to where I would feed him. As I cleaned his pen out, he would stand next to me, watching my every move, and each day I would groom a little more of him. About 2 weeks ago, he actually turned his butt to me and demanded that I do that end – and for 10 days after that, I groomed him head to toe with no threats from him. I also put a blanket on him, for three days without a problem. Then one night when I went to feed I found that Luc was limping hard on his left foreleg. Nothing in his hoof, but a little swelling and heat in his knee. This next morning, when I came down to feed and clean, I started by removing Jack’s blanket, and then headed for Luc. His blanket was a little twisted up. Suddenly, Luc began bucking and squealing, and charging around the pen, despite pain in his knee sufficient to make him run three legged. I got him stopped long enough to unfasten the front of his blanket so he could run out of it, but he wouldn’t let me touch him, without whirling to try to kick me. I tried to calm him for about five minutes, but when he again attempted to kick me, and almost succeeded, I gave up and fed the boys, leaving them alone to calm down.

A couple of years later, (September 2006) I’m sorry to report that his knee is not only no better, but in fact, appears to be deformed, bent to the outside of his body.  Whether this was a reinjury (for which he was first sent to a rescue), or somehow he injured his knee badly enough in the struggle with his blanket, I don’t know.  I’ve had Dr. Zadick and Laurie Henkel both look at his knee, and the prognosis is – there’s nothing to be done, and he’ll get worse.  He scrambles around very well, and begs me each day to stretch his leg and massage it from hoof to shoulder, but it looks very bad and of course, there is no way I would put any weight on his back at all.  Lucifer is the most obviously “disabled” horse at the Golden Carrot – but otherwise healthy and bright.

Recently, he lost his lady Belle, and has been mourning her for a couple of weeks.  He tries to hang with and protect Charra, who doesn’t discourage or encourage his efforts.  I’m hoping he chooses a new friend soon who will appreciate his protective friendly nature.

For several days after that Luc didn’t call for me, he wouldn’t let me touch him, and wouldn’t approach his food until I left the area. Mike helped me to catch and hold him so I could give him some medication, but the battle wasn’t worth the benefit. He then came up to me and asked for forgiveness. He allowed me to pet him, and followed me all around the pens to supervise my cleaning efforts. He was fine, and almost normal again, until my hand went down his left side too low on his leg toward the knee. Then, he squealed, stamped his foot and moved away. It was a threat, but not an attack. As of April 30, he now calls for me, demands petting and grooming head to toe again, and seems almost as good as he was before the “incident”. But he showed me that he equates pain with attack – and his defensive behavior is dangerous. I will continue to work with him on this – his knee would have been much better much faster with medication and massage – and he needs to learn that sometimes, we need to hurt him to help him.

In this picture and the one to the left, you can see his interest – mentally, Lucifer is all here in 2008. But he’s getting thinner, and his shoulders are deforming trying to compensate for that knee  – his time is coming to a close. I’m hoping for one more good summer for the boy…

Lucifer Falls

Today, another willful angel fell. Lucifer has left a crippled body that chained him to this earth. A wonderful character, a strong will, a survivor against tremendous odds, Lucifer has died.

Lucifer is one of four horses at TGC who came from the California Horse Protection disaster in Hemet. 70 horses starved almost to death before Animal Control stepped in to seize them all, in 2003. Horses at this “rescue” had belly lacerations with intestines hanging out. I still remember the rage in Dr. Patton’s voice when he told me, the intestines were dry, it hadn’t just happened! 70 horses were all housed in one pen on a 3 acre lot, fighting for every tiny scrap of feed offered. And when this woman wanted to put a horse down, she walked them to the back of the property, and tied a plastic bag over their heads. I’m not making this up. This is right from the mouth of the vet who turned her in. And this was in 2003. Animal Control got so much grief after this nightmare that for a while, they were all over anything resembling a rescue. They inspected TGC shortly after this seizure, and I assume they liked what they saw …

They fostered these horses for 12 months; had an auction to get rid of those horses whose former owners could not be identified; and at the end of it, six horses were left. Animal Control contacted me and asked if I could help. I was able to place the two soundest ones with another family, and Beau, Belle, Jack and Lucifer, the horses no one wanted, came to The Golden Carrot. Jack was in his teens, but the other three were estimated by Dr. Patton to be in their late 20s. So a conservative estimate of Lucifer’s age would be 30+. Dr. Patton also labeled Lucifer as an Arab/QH cross, and the Animal Control paperwork dubbed him “Sage”. They couldn’t tell me if that name came with him from the ‘rescue’ that almost killed him, or his former owners.
He could certainly be willful – just trying to move him from the foster home was a project. He didn’t want to get in the trailer, so stood at the very back and tried to stretch his skinny neck the entire length of the trailer to the feed waiting for him, rather than step in. And then he put his front feet in, but kept the hind feet on the ground – and since I’d already been cow-kicked once, I wasn’t willing to pick up a foot and put it in! When he kicked me, he clearly expected to be beaten for it ….. of course, at first, I was on the ground yowling! But when I could get up, we just started again, and you could see the suspicious surprise in his eyes …. watching, waiting for that retaliatory blow. That it never came marked the start of our relationship …

Lucifer had survived the horrible conditions of the CHP “rescue” by befriending One-Eyed Jack – Lucifer’s bad side, his left, where his left knee was bent outward from some terrible injury, was pressed against Jack’s bad side (where his eye was gone). They protected each other from the other more physically able horses who tried to steal the little feed they were given. Poor Jack still suffered, he was a huge horse and two flakes of alfalfa a day were not enough for him. But together they survived the “rescue”, the fostering in an open pen with 30 other horses; to make it to TGC. They were so frail when they came that I had to quarantine them away from the herd for almost two months, just to get them strong enough to handle the group. But they made it through, and slowly improved. A year and a half later, Jack died, we believe of toxic shock due to an injury which infected and blew through his compromised immune system (Dr. Zadick believed Jack was likely a Cushings horse). In 3 hours this big guy went down, and Lucifer huddled nearby with Belle, watching as his best buddy died. And only a few months later, Belle crashed to the ground with what appears to have been a heart attack. Not everyone can survive the kind of abuse these horses did, and sometimes it just takes a while for death to catch up with them due to the damage caused. But Lucifer, despite his impossibly damaged knee, crabbed on. He lasted another two years after Belle’s death, but in that time, he did not bond with any other horse. He was interested in his stallmate, Star, when she was in season, but otherwise, found a spot on the edge of the herd each day, and stood alone. I know how he felt. You lose too many friends, and you just don’t want to make others.

Lucifer was clever, he was not wise. His experiences had lead him to believe that any pain was deliberately caused, and must be retaliated against. When he had a booboo, unless I could cover it in one dab, it had to go largely untreated – ow, that hurt! He’d kick out, and he knew how to cow-kick; he’d stamp and strike; he’d squeal. I could never massage or even groom his bad side, because no matter how gently I touched him, when I hit the sore spots, ow, that hurt! Kick, stamp, strike and squeal! He had attitude about blankets – we had a period of about a month when getting a winter blanket on this thin haired Arabian cross was a two person project. The first time, we ended up with three big holes in his stall, where he kicked in rage! For several months after that, blanketing him was my job, no one else would do it… but eventually, Lucifer became resigned. And clever enough to begin to realize that he really needed a blanket so …. And once he colicked, and even having the vet put the stethoscope on his aching belly resulted in a cow kick – and boy was I impressed at Dr. Z – who jumped out of the way without moving his head from Lucifer’s side!

He was truly a fallen angel – he was so sweet from the girth forward, a big dark liquid eye that inspected you carefully to see what treats you might be hiding; loved to rub his head on you and get pets and treats. Lucifer’s faithful sponsor was Cheryl Cuttineau, an older school teacher who reached deep into her limited income to provide for him, and several times a year came to visit him. She has no experience with horses, but he was always gentle with her, and happy to have her pet him, groom his good side and feed him treats. But I always reminded her to avoid the back end of the boy – he would strike before he thought. I tried repeatedly to get him to tolerate some grooming and massage on his hind end. When he would strike, I’d stop, and he’d look sheepish … making immediate efforts to ‘make up’. He KNEW I wouldn’t hurt him deliberately, but he couldn’t help his reflexive response … The same reflexive kick that probably saved him and Jack from attack by other hungry horses – How could I be angry with him about it? His strength was his weakness…

Lucifer was another heartbreaking case of a good brain in a messed up body. How he was even able to walk with that knee escapes me, but until the last two months, he actually got around very well. Because the knee bent outwards so badly, the hoof became deformed, and attempting to prevent that and provide some support, my farrier was actually able, with help from myself and my neighbor holding Lucifer up, to put a shoe on it. But it only helped a little, for a while. We could see his strength waning; like Josh, his exhaustion showed clearly in his eyes, in his unwillingness to come back to his stall at night for dinner until everyone was out of the way, the growing distance he kept from the herd; his unwillingness to lay down because he wasn’t sure he could get up quickly. At his age, being unable to sleep on his feet due to a knee that wouldn’t lock properly, and afraid to lay down, his time was clearly limited. For over a year, I’d been feeding him extra rations in his stall, so that he didn’t feel the need to compete for the grass hay in the field, but even that was not enough to overcome age and disability. In the last month of his life, he didn’t even bother to yell at me to hurry up with that bucket, just stood patiently waiting for it.

He seemed to me to be a horse that at one time in his life had been dearly loved. He was personable and curious. He had to be allowed to make up his own mind, and sometimes, you just can’t do that. We got him in the trailer; we got him to wear a blanket; with two of us insisting, we could get some medications down his throat; but that’s about all we could do. I believe that if he wasn’t hurt; if he hadn’t gone through such difficulties, burned into his memory by starvation and pain, if he hadn’t been betrayed by the people he loved, he might have been always the wonderful horse I caught glimpses of …. bright, strong, willing, and full of trust. Little by little, over the 4 and a half years I had his company, I believe I got a little of his trust back. I hope it was enough…

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