Partial Sponsor: Sharon Hofer
Vinny arrived at Mea Ola’s Place in June of 2015, as a horse in need of a good home. Normally we don't do that. As a Rescue, we are not a placement agency for assisting owners in placing their unwanted horses. But this was a different kind of situation. We had been contacted by one of our veterinarians, Dr. Sam Wittlin, who asked for our help in finding the right home for Vinny, and letting him stay at MOP until we could find just that home for him. We are so grateful for Sam's help in saving Rowdy and healing Spider that we agreed to do this for him.
Dr. Sam owns and operates Orange County Sport Horse Medicine and Lameness, a mobile equine veterinary service in Mission Viejo, CA. Many of his clients have Show horses at barns in Orange and San Diego Counties. Vinny was located at a Dressage and Hunter/Jumper barn in Del Mar. He had been a Show horse in his younger years, and then for the past few years had become a School horse, teaching adults and children to ride and jump. He was getting older, 13 this year, and had become burned out--tired and bored with going around in circles in an arena. The barn managers loved Vinny and wanted him to go to a forever home where he could live out his days doing something he enjoyed. They didn't want him to be adopted out to be a School horse in an arena again, even though he did his job well. They wanted him to have the chance to enjoy life as a trail horse. Going out to see new country was something he had never been able to do in his life up to this point. So they enlisted Dr. Sam's assistance in giving Vinny this well-deserved chance at a good and safe life with less mind-numbing monotony.
Dr. Sam had been Vinny’s veterinarian for many years and absolutely loved this horse. (He has visited him several times since Vinny arrived at MOP. Vinny recognizes him right away, and it's obvious that they share a special bond.) I understood Sam’s concern for Vinny, as a big horse like him would bring good money at an auction selling horses for slaughter since they are sold by the pound. (All of us involved with Horse Rescue, and savvy to the way of the world, understand that slaughter is a real possibility for any horse these days. As we have mentioned before, it is big business in the United States. If no one wants to buy the horse to keep, and the owner can no longer use or provide for it, the horse is often disposed of at "one of those Auctions." It doesn’t matter how nice a horse is, how well-broke it is, or how many awards and championships it has won, or even how much money it has earned on the racetrack. They are all sold by the pound at the auctions that sell to kill buyers.)
At 16.3 HH, Vinny IS a big horse. He is half Thoroughbred and half Dutch Warmblood. Generally, these tall horses are hard to place as trail horses just because of their size. For beginners, a horse of his size can be intimidating. But, with this boy’s willing and fun spirit, along with his love for people, I knew he would fit right in here at MOP. Vinny actually enjoys the company of humans more than he does other horses! We fell in love with him instantly.
Vinny is another extrovert., similar to Merlin. We call him “Mr. Personality,” and I understood the concerns of Vinny's barn managers as soon as I met him. A horse with his personality needs variety and challenges to stay happy and fresh. (The managers, with Vinny's best interests in mind, also informed me that his favorite treats are Dill PICKLES and bananas! He loves Pepsi, too.. Actually, this horse would probably eat or drink anything offered to him by a person.)
I started taking him on trail rides and he loved it. We started to see a change in his demeanor and attitude after just a few times out. We did ask him to work for a few minutes in the arena, and he was fresh and cooperative. I knew this horse would love the attention from children at our Kid's camps, and with 2 camps coming up in just a few weeks, I decided to postpone promoting him for adoption just yet.
This past summer, Vinny was absolutely invaluable. I trusted him completely to take care of riders that had never been on a horse. He is what we call a "babysitter." He is so in tune with people that he anticipates their fears and moves in ways seemingly calculated to reassure them and not give them a bad experience. He actually promotes confidence in new riders. Kids are much more fearless than adults are when it comes to learning to ride a horse, so despite his formidable size, Vinny was the perfect horse for the kids at our camps.
Since Vinny is such a big boy, he has also been an asset with people who have grown beyond the little kid stage. Adults of all sizes can ride him. Before Vinny, we hadn't had a horse that could handle someone that weighed more than 185 lbs. Vinny can carry the smallest child or an adult that weighs 250 lbs. Vinny will remain here on our team.