I met Rambo about seven years ago or so. He had recently been acquired by the MN Hooved Animal Organization. He was being cared for at Freedom Stables in Maple Lake. I had recently started working there on weekends helping out with the barn work and care of the horses. Rambo was a scrawny, scared-looking little boy. He had an end stall near one of the doors so that he could easily look outside. I learned his story from Kevin and Laura Holen the owners of Freedom Stable.
It was not a nice story and it sickened me to learn how a person could so carelessly mistreat their horses. His prior owner kept him in a dark stall all the time. He never went outside. The stall was filthy and who knows how long he had been standing in his own waste. His hooves were so long they were curling up like elves shoes. He was malnourished and did not trust any human. He was so small and underdeveloped. I don’t remember all the details, but he was rescued along with several other abused horses.
When my husband first met Rambo it was love at first sight. We knew we could not adopt him because I already had a herd of horses at home and did not have room for more at the time. Whenever my husband would come to Freedom he would always stop to say “Hello” to Rambo. At that time, Rambo was still learning to trust humans. He was very timid, but coming along. He was being fed every day and turned out to a wonderful lush pasture to play with other geldings.
Well, the day came when someone adopted Rambo. My husband was crushed. He knew that Rambo was going to a good home, but still wanted him to be with us. The person that adopted him was a boarder at the barn and had a couple of other horses at home that Rambo could be with. Sue (Rambo’s new owner) would often trailer Rambo over to the barn to say “Hello” and I was always glad to see him.
It turned out one day that Sue sadly had to give Rambo a new home. She knew that my husband and I loved Rambo. The MN Hooved Animal Organization has ownership contracts for life, but Sue thought we could transfer ownership to me. When I told my husband that Rambo needed a new home he said he wanted him to live with us. I also explained to Eric that no matter what we did or where we went, Rambo would be with us forever. Eric was so excited. I also told Eric that Rambo would be different than our two mares. He had trust issues and didn’t have that puppy dog mentality as our horses did. I knew it would be a long road, but it would be a good experience for us all.
When Rambo moved in, he was so far from what he is now. I know Sue had done a lot of work with Rambo. He trusted her, but with a new family, he had to start all over again. This shows you how badly he was treated before he was rescued. He would never come to me when I came to the pasture. In fact, he would race to the other side of the pasture to get away. He was a nightmare to catch. He absolutely did not like the farrier and for the first couple years I had to use a tranquilizer to have his hooves done. He did trust me to pick up and clean and mess with his feet, but when that farrier came he would tremble and sweat and be combative. I have two excellent farriers. They were/are so patient and so kind with him. Rambo now can stand and have his hooves done without tranquilizer.
I did not start ground training with Rambo right away. I let him be a horse. The time I spent with him was feeding, grooming, talking and just hanging out in the pasture with him for two whole years. To be honest, I was worried about what would happen when I started training him. I wanted him to really trust me when I started.
His training and round pen work was a dream. He was so eager to learn and wanted to please. I cannot express how hard he tried and how easy it was to train him. And he moves so beautifully. He and I have learned so much together. I would not give him up for all the money in the world. It has been two years since I have been riding him. I trust him with my life. I know that no horse is perfect, but he is darn close. He is so willing and such a good boy. I trusted him so much that after a year, I put my son Justin on him. Rambo has always been good with him.
This year Rambo is “teaching” my husband to ride. Eric has ridden a few times and Rambo is doing a good job with him. I am thinking that Eric will be good enough mid-summer so that Rambo can show him the trails at Maria State Park.
We will see.
Thank you, Drew for rescuing such a beautiful soul and allowing him to be in our lives.
The Bundy Family
Stacy, Eric, Justin and Jordan
Rambo and Gigi