Black And Decker's Story
In 1990, I went to the Fort Collins livestock auction with the intention of buying a goat. As I sat in the audience watching the sale of cattle and other livestock, an emaciated, tall, black thoroughbred horse was led into the ring. My heart went out to him as he was weighed and bid on according to his price per pound for the slaughter houses. I couldn’t let this happen to this horse, and bought him on the spot for $277.
At this time, we called him Sam and spent the next few months feeding him and getting him healthy again as he was too starved and sick to be ridden. When the time came, I nervously crawled on his back, cautious as to how he would respond. Much to my surprise, he was both gentle and very well trained. How had this horse almost ended up going to a kill buyer? I contacted the auction barn where he was purchased and found that the man who brought him in had bought him in a divorce sale and subsequently starved him. It remained a mystery as to who had trained him and where he had been before.
Sam spent many months with me being nursed back to health and then the time came for him to be sold. He began the process of being purchased by a prominent and well respected local professional. At his pre-purchase exam, a two-inch piece of metal showed up on an x-ray of his hock joint. The only explanation the vets could come up with was that he was most likely a thoroughbred who had been raced. Occasionally on the racetrack, an unethical veterinarian would treat a horse’s arthritic hock joint by drilling it out with hope that the joint would fuse and no longer be arthritic. In Sam’s case, he must have reacted violently during the process and the drill bit broke off in his leg. Instead of getting it surgically removed, the vet and trainer merely left it in. This practice is not only extremely unethical, it’s also incredibly painful to the animal. Most horses that have this done will die from a bone infection.
Did this mean Sam’s potential new career as a show horse was over? A horse can’t possibly jump with a piece of metal running through the middle of his back leg. Much to our surprise, the vet said that because the drill bit was completely encased in the bone, it would never bother him. In fact, he had a stronger joint than any other horse on earth! I looked at his prospective buyer and smiled through my tears when she said, “This horse sure is special. Of course we’re taking him home; his new name is going to be Black and Decker!”
Black and Decker went on to show in Colorado for thirteen years. He won dozens of championships for his many owners over the years that represented some of the top show barns in Colorado– including Foxfire Farms, Cross the Meadow Farm, Helicon Show Stables, and Cascade Farms. He was the year-end, high-point horse in Colorado in his division three times. I never got tired of watching his successes and only wished the judges that judged him knew his story.
In 2006, Black and Decker came back to me again. He was donated to the Equine Partnership Program as our mascot. There could not have been a better horse to represent how one can triumph over adversity. Decker spent his last years with us being the noble solider he had always been. He provided countless hours as a co-therapist for all the kids that he worked with. He was humanely euthanized, but will always remain in the hearts of those he inspired.