Duke is a roan Belgian gelding. He belonged to some competitive horse pullers who found out that he really wasn't cut out for the task. He would become nervous and upset in a pulling situation. It was felt that he would be better off doing something less stressful, so he was sold to an Amish farmer as a work horse.
Duke's "problem," though, seems to have been that he was sensitive and didn't understand everything that was being asked of him. His worrying caused him to suffer greatly, and he lost lots of weight, which didn't make things any easier on him. Only a few months later, his former owner stopped by to see how he was doing. She was shocked at Duke's condition and offered to buy him back. The Amish farmer, convinced that Duke would never be a good farm horse either, gladly accepted.
The only problem was that there really wasn't room for Duke at his owner's farm. Other horses had moved in when he had left. He regained his weight, but his trust was gone. That's when his owner turned to Blue Star for help. She had read about how we had helped another competitive pulling horse, Tom Too, and wondered if we could help Duke, as we clearly had the patience to take as long as Duke needed.
When Duke arrived, he was as big and beautiful as Pepper or Tom Too or any of our Belgians, but it was clear that he was emotionally withdrawn. He was sometimes hard to catch, and whereas the other horses' reaction is to come to any person who approaches them, Duke remained very wary. Soon, though, with regular handling and attention (all Blue Star horses are handled AT LEAST twice a day), Duke began to relax around people. With friendly scratching and grooming, he REALLY began to come around - Duke LOVES having the inside of his back legs scratched! (This is probably because of his shivers and string halt... his hind legs are often very tight and he enjoys massages on his back end.