Nina Margetson - October 2018
Titus was one of 84 horses confiscated from Cannon County in November 2009. When I first saw him his mane and tail had been shaved off and he was in very poor condition. Titus had the worst conformation I had ever witnessed in a horse. His back legs would tuck under him and he would make a swimming motion with his front feet when he walked. With his tan, creamy color, thin body and spindly legs I could only compare him to a camel. He earned his name Titus because I knew if he ever regained his normal self he would be big and strong and I could see he had the will to live.
Over the months he did slowly regain his weight. As he grew stronger his real personality started to come out. He was so sweet but had a dark side that would also come out when you least expected it. He tried so hard to be thankful to those caring for him, but his past was slowly catching up with him. It came out the first time the farrier entered the barn with his equipment to trim his feet. The sound of the foot stand and tools made him freak out. The fear in his eyes and the quivering of his body told us his past must have been filled with pain and suffering that no animal should ever have to endure.
Because his feet were so bad he had to be sedate to get his feet trimmed. Over the months to come the sedation got less and less but he was never able to get over his fear of the sounds of the tools completely. The farrier also confirmed my suspicions that Titus had been “Sored” in the past by the scars left behind on his feet and by the way he moved. It was because of the way he would hide in the back corner of his stall and shake when anyone walked by that had cigarette smell on their clothes that made me decided to try an experiment on Titus. I was one of the few people Titus trusted and I hated doing it to him but I needed to know for sure. I spent a few minutes loving on him and I could see the trust in his eye. Then I walked away and returned with a lite cigarette behind my back. As I started petting on him and watching his eye I could feel him tense up and the calm look in his eye turn to fear as the smoke began to enter his nostrils as it floated into the air from behind my back. It is a look I will never forget. I was able to confirm my fears even without actually having that cigarette close to his nose or in sight. Yes, he had been made to endure some of the worse type of “Big Lick” training methods known to man. “Big Lick” trainers will take a lite cigarette and burn the inside of the horses nose every time it flinched when having its lower legs palpated. Flinching was just one way a horse show inspector could tell if a horse had been “Sored”. Once the correct reaction is received by using this training method the trainer will have a cigarette close by when taking a horse through inspection because he/she knows the pain is so severe the horses mind will tell it not to flinch when it smells smoke because that pain is worse than the pain its legs are in being squeezed during inspections. And this is just one of the many things some trainers do to achieve this end result.
Once up to weight Titus started being evaluated under saddle. He did well until one day he snapped. He bolted once mounted and it was decided that his past had to many ghost and he would require a special owner to allow him to just be a horse and would except all his extra baggage from his past.
And in stepped Michele. The big lug really did love attention and she was the right person to give him that safe home where he could live without fear. He loved his new pasture mate and I will always remember the day I stopped by to see how he was doing when Michele called to him. It was such a thrill to see that big, clumsy lug come running across the field, legs going out in every direction to greet her.
It was under Michele’s loving care for the past 8 years that this big beautiful horse that God created learned to trust again. It is also with a heavy heart that I write this as a memorial to share his life with you so he’ll always be remembered. Titus passed over the rainbow bridge on October 5, 2018. He will always hold a special place in not only my heart, but in the heart of all who knew him.
Run free without pain or fear Titus, run free.
Story's about equine that have come through the doors of two Tennessee equine welfare organizations our CEO founded/directed. Horse Haven of Tennessee 1999-2016 and Hearts of Horse Haven 2018-present.