Reveille came to the attention of a local police department when someone reported a neglect horse. They investigated and found out that Reveilleís owner had died and his widow was scared of the horse. He was starving in a pen in the backyard, and she told the police department to just take him away. They had no place to take him, so they called a rescue organization who came to Reveilleís rescue.
Reveille moved to a foster home where he got along all right Ė at first. As he gained weight and felt better, though, he became increasingly harder to handle. He bit at people who approached him and before long his foster caretaker was scared to go near him. The rescue had him gelded, but that did not help. Since his foster placement wasnít working, the rescue moved Reveille to a trainerís place so she could work with his behavioral problems. Reveille became more aggressive at the trainerís barn, running backwards kicking at her when she attempted to make him move around a round pen.
Fearing that someone would soon be hurt, The Equine Behaviorist had Reveille brought to her barn. After he settled in, she and the barn manager/trainer began working with him. At first, Reveille was reserved and seemed shy around people, but he tolerated handling. After several weeks, they worked with him in the round pen and the trainer even began getting on Reveille.
While working with him, they discovered that Reveille was very protective of his left side. He preferred to be handled from the right and would turn his head away from you if you approached on the left. He had scars on his eye that may have caused vision problems or may have been signs of previous abuse and trauma.
After Reveille had been with The Equine Behaviorist about a month, he began showing aggressive behavior. He walked across a turnout pen to snap his teeth at her throat. He spun around, looked over a shoulder and aimed and then kicked out with both back feet at the trainer/barn managerís head (luckily she ducked or she would likely have been killed). He reared and struck at a handler when lead. At this point, he had been with the rescue well over a year, handled by two different trainers and two different foster homes.
Reveille was especially dangerous because his behavior was unpredictable. He would walk up to someone with his eyes clear and soft, his ears pricked forward and seemingly relaxed. With no warning, he would suddenly snap, strike, or rear at the person. Somedays Reveille was fine, and other days he was not.
The Equine Behaviorist discussed Reveilleís case with other professionals. A veterinary examination revealed nothing physically wrong with him, but he certainly had mental issues. Other trainers evaluated his behavior and recommended he be euthanized. The rescue who owned Reveille did not want to euthanize a physically healthy horse, but they also had no place to keep a horse who was aggressive enough to attack handlers Ė even walking across pastures or paddocks to attack.
Eventually, they found a horse sanctuary willing to take Reveille, even knowing his previous behavior. The sanctuary had experience handling abused and wild horses and generally let them live out their lives as wild horses, supplementing their feed as necessary and using corrals and chutes to handle them when injured or otherwise medically necessary.
Because of the scars on his eye and other places on his body, The Equine Behaviorist believes Reveille was badly abused earlier in life. She feels he began fighting against the abuse Ė but did not know when to stop fighting. Reveille teaches us that sometimes there are things that you cannot overcome. It isnít the horseís fault and it isnít the handlerís fault Ė it is the fault of whoever showed such unkindness to the horse that he had no choice but to react badly. Luckily there was a sanctuary willing to give Reveille a place to live out his life without fear of further abuse.