Breed: Tennessee Walking Horse

Adopted From: Tennessee

Date Rescued: May 2013

Date Adopted: September 2017


Esther Roberts, owner and founder of Starlight Farm Animal Sanctuary, fondly recalls the story of Caleb:


"I bought Caleb on May 4, 2013.  My husband, Greg, and I went to the local livestock auction that day, in search of a seasoned trail horse.  Roughly 90% of the horses sold at this particular auction - approximately 500 every month - ship to slaughter in Mexico or Canada, and Greg and I prefer to rescue animals instead of buying "pedigreed" animals, so we were eager to save a life that day.  


I noticed this scrawny, young black and white frame sabino colt in the very farthest pen.  The pens are small and always jam-packed full of horses; this colt was slammed up against the panels, being nearly crushed by other horses, and he was wide-eyed with fear.  I noticed blood running down his foreleg from a fresh, deep gash on his right shoulder. He still had his foal coat on him, which made me assume he was no more than 6 months old.  Despite the long hair, I could count every rib.  I looked him straight in the eye and made him a promise:  "No matter what, YOU are coming home with me today."  We outbid the kill buyer.  This was not at all the seasoned trail horse we had originally intended to buy, but this baby was sick and starving, and I was committed to doing all I could to help him live and thrive.


Some friends had come with us to the auction and it took all four of us to load the colt.  He had no clue how to walk!  He did not understand sunlight, or shadows, or how to balance on uneven ground.  It was evident that he - like so many Tennessee Walking Horses - had lived his entire life inside a small dark stall.  All he would do was walk around and around in a very small circle, shying violently each time we tried to lead him out of the auction barn into the sunlight.  We ended up literally picking him up and setting him inside the horse trailer to get him loaded and headed home.


Despite immediate veterinary care, the colt's leg injury drained profusely and he ran a fever of 105 for five days.  Shockingly, the vet determined the colt to be 18 months old!  He was a "3" on the Henneke scale ( and so very malnourished he was the size of a normal 6 month old foal.  


I named him, "Caleb" which means, "faithful companion."  


As he healed and we got to know Caleb, it became evident he was a very intelligent and friendly young gelding.  It took some months for him to develop his coordination after his previous life of confinement, but he eventually became extremely sure-footed.  He grew fearless as he explored the rolling, wooded hills that comprise Starlight Farm Animal Sanctuary.  


Some folks scoffed at my little scrub of a rescue.  I remember one woman remarking, "I don't know why you waste your time on a rescue horse - he costs as much to feed as a pedigreed horse, so you might as well feed something with real potential!"  But I knew Caleb was worth all the time and effort.   


Fast forward to summer, 2015:  Caleb is now robustly healthy.  He will always be a small horse.  He is approximately three-and-a-half years old, stands 14.0 hands and weighs about 750 pounds.  He is smart, friendly and absolutely fearless on trails!  He walks, trots, gaits and canters.  Caleb is an awesome ambassador for the Tennessee Walking Horse, and for Starlight Farm Animal Sanctuary.  


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