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Kendall R and
Quite frankly, Volt is a gorgeous horse. He's a handsome red chestnut with a blond mane and tail and a decidedly regal air. When he moves, he struts proudly with a spring to his elegant trot, and his tail is held up and flows magnificently behind him. Such a flashy fellow must be a champion show horse, and maybe he was, but we don't know. He could just as easily have been a performer in a circus, or in a group, perhaps in fancy Mexican regalia, which performed in street parades. The fact is, we know little about his past beyond what he himself can tell us by his actions. We do know that, like many unwanted dogs and cats, he was simply abandoned--dumped somewhere far from home for someone else to deal with. In the dead of winter (January of 2012), the poor guy was found tied, with just a hay string, to the front fence of a ranch in Rosamond, CA. What were the owners of that ranch supposed to do with a roughly 17- year-old stallion? When they found him, they called Kern County Animal Control.
Well, Animal Control didn't know what to do with him either. After they picked him up, they had to send him to be boarded at a veterinary facility because they did not have the personnel nor the facility to house a stallion. I was informed about Volt by the Animal Control Officers about 3 weeks after we had brought home the initial 16 of the 19 horses we had rescued from them early in 2012. (See "Our History" under "About Us" here on the Website.), I learned that he was an American Saddlebred, and that he was going to be euthanized in one more week, when his holding time would be up. He had already been there for 2 of the 3-week holding period for a “stray,” set by California State law.
Okay, I can’t lie here — I was ecstatic! A Saddlebred? I couldn't believe it. Well, I love all breeds of horses, which should be evident by now, but American Saddlebreds happen to be my favorite breed of horse and they are uncommon in California. Something in my DNA connects with THIS breed like no other! Before I even saw his picture, I said, “YES! I will take him!. ” I knew instinctively that he and I would connect.
I counted the days until his holding period would be up, so I could meet him and get him from the vet hospital. I'm laughing out loud here at the memory because the staff at the vet hospital did not like him very much. They wouldn’t even walk me out to him or bring him to me! They told me his stall number, showed me a picture, and wished me luck. I swear, I never had a moment that I questioned my gut-level confidence about taking him, not even then. After all, Saddlebreds were my forte.
Most people in the western part of the United States, where this breed is very rare, have never had the chance to work with Saddlebreds and therefore do not understand them. But I had fallen in love with the breed during my time at Callaway Hills Stable in Missouri, the most prestigious American Saddlebred Farm in the world.
So, I went to Volt’s stall, and just as I had expected, he took to me right away. I put on his halter, led him out of his stall, and walked him right onto the trailer without incident. The staff was dumbfounded! I brought him home and unloaded him as if we had been traveling together all of our lives!
Let me note that at this time Volt was just an un-named stray stallion. He needed a name, and I found it in a sign posted on one of the railroad ties we had used to reinforce the pipe corral we had prepared for containing this stallion on our property, which also housed more than a few mares. "High Voltage" the sign said. So that is the name I decided on because it fit him perfectly.
The one thing Animal Control had failed to mention was that there was a potentially expensive complication for our plans to have him gelded as soon as possible. Volt was a crypt-orchid stallion. This means that one testicle had never descended from the abdomen. In instances such as this, the surgery required to geld (castrate) the horse normally needs to be performed at a hospital with a surgical facility. This surgery is risky and EXPENSIVE. The general price for castrating a normal horse is about $300, but for a crypt-orchid, it can be $1500 or more!
(Many people do not understand the importance of NOT keeping a horse a stallion when he is not going to be used as a breeding horse. I will try to explain. First of all, horses generally weigh about 1000 pounds or more. Imagine your intact male dog wanting to get at a female in heat. Now imagine he weighs 1000 pounds and is 10 times bigger than your average German Shepherd. He can’t be fenced in! He wants to fight with other males. For that reason, you have to keep him separate from males, AND separate from females if you do not want puppies. He barks, whines, and cries when he can’t get to ‘the love of his life,” which is ANY female in heat within two SQUARE MILES. That is a true fact. Male dogs can indeed smell a female dog in heat in that range! A horse is no different. Also consider that a horse is even more social within its own species than a dog is. So, for a horse to be constantly separated from the herd in order to avoid dangerous disruption or fighting and unwanted breeding, it would have to live a lonely and depressing life, like a prisoner in solitary confinement, if not gelded, with very few exceptions.)
As it turned out, we were able to palpate Volt’s undescended testicle. We confirmed this with ultrasound. Thankfully, it was in the inguinal area of the abdomen and we were able to have him gelded at home. But because he was gelded so late in life (at 17 years old) he does still have some stallion tendencies. While he is allowed to socialize over a fence with other horses in corrals next to him (mares included), he is generally not turned out with anyone. He can become aggressive toward other, even gelded, male horses if there is a female nearby. However, Volt is our go-to guy for socializing young colts, like Rowdy and Spider. He is very playful and patient with them.
Volt is a dream for me to ride and work with. However, Saddlebreds are very sensitive and hot horses, and in the wrong hands, they can be a handful. Volt is no exception . He has a few bad habits that will remain with him the rest of his life, some of which are not really his fault. For instance, he really has a hard time standing still. For another, potentially dangerous, example, someone taught him to rear on cue, and it has been interesting to find “buttons” that make him do certain things, like the rearing. Who knows if we have found all the "buttons" yet? He does a dressage move called a piaffe, but he also performs the Spanish Walk, which is not part of any dressage competition.
Volt also has a condition called “wind puffs." Although he has never been lame one day since we have had him, the swelling around his fetlocks makes people uneasy about adopting him. For these reasons, the only way Volt will ever be adopted is if someone wants him for a companion horse.
As with any of them that we have adopted out, I would miss him terribly. We do stay in contact with the ones we have placed though. Volt would be no exception.
(Editor's note: Seeing favorites go to forever homes is always heart-wrenching for the rescue organization. But in cases of a horse like Volt, who doesn’t really fit into the therapy program, a forever home with his own person would be a dream come true. Since we love him so much, it would be a dream come true for us, too.)