In June of 2022, we were contacted by one of our partner organizations regarding six horses that needed emergency placement due to their body condition scores and lack of care being provided by the owner. Without having any more information other than the number of horses and a few photos of what they looked like at their farm, the CVHR team jumped into action and coordinated with the authorities on the intake of all six horses.
CVHR took in 28 horses from local law enforcement agencies tasked with investigating and prosecuting criminal cruelty and neglect cases in 2022. That number is 4 times the number that we assisted with in 2021. In almost all of these situations, we relied upon private donations and funding in order to pay for the rehabilitation of each horse that we took in because of lack of funding in county budgets to cover the cost of care.
Johnny at Intake: June 2022
Johnny was determined to be a young Paso Fino grade gelding who was determined to be a Body Condition Score (BCS) of 3, at most, on the Henneke Horse Body Condition scoring system. A horse with a BCS of 3 on this scale is considered thin. Horses should have a BCS between 4 and 5 to be considered in healthy weight. Many factors go into determining a horses body condition score including determining the amount of at the skeleton structure that can be seen, the amount of fat covering the body and whether or not the ribs are discernable. When a horses condition gets below a BCS of 4, a veterinary exam is recommended to determine the cause of the weight loss and a modified feeding plan will be necessary in order to safely increase the horses body condition.
A typical, healthy horse will eat anywhere between 1-1.5% of it’s body weight daily. It is recommended that the diet consist mostly of forage whether that be from grass or hay. When rehabilitating an under weight horse, a typical recommendation is for the horse to consume 2% of it’s ideal body weight. For example, a horse that should weigh 1300 lbs at ideal weight would be fed a total of 26 lbs of food a day with a high percentage of that being forage.
Johnny was one of the six intakes that month that would turn into one of the longest law enforcement holds on a group of horses that we have experienced in recent years. CVHR recorded the intake of Johnny and his herd on June 25th, 2022 and provided care for 228 days until the date the horses were ultimately released. On February 8th, 2023, CVHR received the news that the judge had finally ordered the surrender of the six horses to the county and the county was finally able to legally transfer ownership.
Total cost of Johnny’s care while at Central Virginia Horse Rescue: $5,700.
Johnny in his adoptive home
CVHR relies upon the generosity of our private donors in order to pay for the care of these traumatized horses with 70% of our funding coming from individuals and businesses who donate monthly and annually. Your gifts provide a second chance where there otherwise would be no hope.
If you are able to support CVHR, please consider a donation towards the care of a neglected or abandoned equine.
This November brought back the return of the Central Virginia Horse Rescue Hoof Beats newsletter! This 16 page magazine is sent out semi annually in November and May. You can read your copy online today!
Written by Jeni Platt of Storm Chaser Services LLC
We live and breathe second chances out here on our small horse farm in Fluvanna County. I’ve been supporting CVHR for over ten years and have been fortunate to have the opportunity to work more closely with a few of their horses since the rescue’s move to Fredericksburg. At Storm Chaser Stables we teach horsemanship and facilitate equine assisted therapy with a herd of special horses who all needed a second chance at life in some form or another. Many of these horses simply need time and a little rehabilitation to be successful as an equine partner in these roles! Time and time again we have found that rescue horses thrive in a setting where they are given space to heal both physically and emotionally.
Some horses require more time to build trust and heal. One such rescue horse we’ve worked with is Gunther, an aged chestnut Arabian gelding whose opinions can be as fiery as his coat color! We picked Gunther up from CVHR in March of 2021 with the objective to assess him and give him a training tune up before he moved on to a new home across the country as a child’s horse. It didn’t take long for us to realize that Gunther was a very sensitive guy and our first challenge was getting him settled in well enough to eat. He was easily stressed by any changes in the beginning, from movement in the herd to mares in season, and he went off his feed whenever he was anxious. We carefully adjusted his feed, enticed him to eat with applesauce, and loved on him.
At first, Gunther didn’t even enjoy being groomed or touched. It was nearly impossible to pick up his back feet and his front feet weren’t much better because he was so stiff and sore. He was generally safe to handle but had strong opinions and the muscle to back them up. I wasn’t sure Gunther could ever be a child’s horse but I remained hopeful. He was vetted again. We treated him with chiropractic adjustments, MagnaWave PEMF therapy, and doxycycline for his Lyme’s diagnosis. We fed him and loved on him daily with most of the hands-on work done by one of my daughters under my direction.
Slowly, he began to improve. He grew less grouchy with his handling. He began to enjoy grooming sessions and picking up his feet was getting easier. We started groundwork and short rides, where he remained quirky about changes with an affinity for spinning to express himself. Gradually, he built more and more trust with my daughter. They began to grow confidence with one another as she worked him all the way up to cantering under saddle. At this point, months have passed as we worked on solving the puzzle of Gunther’s rehab needs, which were both physical and emotional.
Though things had improved so much, I was still worried about his upcoming move. He had bonded with the herd and my daughter. Gunther finally seemed content. However, he was supposed to move to Washington state to a new family soon. I shared my concerns with Gunther’s team and it was decided that due to his age and emotional needs, he would stay at SCS for the remainder of his life.
We have continued to meet Gunther where he is, providing stable care and regular exercise appropriate for his needs. He has grown stronger, more resilient to change, and bonded with a novice rider on our Equestrian Team. Most recently, Gunther seems to have found his true calling spending time with special needs children in some of our horsemanship programs. He enjoys making friends with these kids during grooming sessions, moves patiently on the ground in hand, and remains calm and steady for light leadline rides. It took over a year of consistent dedication to Gunther’s care to get here today. Every day on this journey was a second chance for Gunther as he grew healthier physically and more emotionally stable. It took a team of us to heal Gunther and we’ve been rewarded with his growth and loyalty!
Central Virginia Horse Rescue is proud to have participated in the 25th Annual Culpeper Harvest Days Farm Tour on September 17th and 18th. CVHR joins the other 16 participating farms located in Culpeper County for the first year in 2022. CVHR moved to Culpeper County in May of 2020 with the lease of Eagle Hill Farm at the east end of the county. In August of 2022, the farm was purchased, and ownership transferred to the rescue.
The move to Culpeper County provided easy access to both Culpeper and the Fredericksburg regions. Participation in the Culpeper Harvest Days Farm Tour this year has helped to establish CVHR in our new area and provides awareness to the community that we are here. CVHR hosted over 300 visitors during the two-day event as a first-year participant. Visitors were able to tour the farm, learn about the different programs the rescue offers and met the residents of the rescue farm.
We want to thank our partners Sue Fanelli with EQ-Knowledge and Advantage Horsemanship Equestrian Center for their presentations during the event.
September 8, 2022 (Fredericksburg, VA) – The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS), the only globally recognized organization providing standards for identifying legitimate animal sanctuaries, awarded Verified status to Central Virginia Horse Rescue as of August 30, 2022.
Verification means that Central Virginia Horse Rescue meets the criteria of a true equine sanctuary/rescue and is providing humane and responsible care of the animals. To be awarded Verified status, an organization must meet GFAS’s rigorous and peer-reviewed animal care standards which are confirmed by a site visit and they must also adhere to a demanding set of ethical and operational principles. The Verification status also provides a clear and trusted means for the public, donors, and grantors to recognize Central Virginia Horse Rescue as an exceptional organization.
“We are proud to announce the recent Verification of Central Virginia Horse Rescue,” said Daryl Tropea, Ph.D., GFAS Program Director-Equine. “Although established in 2010, Central Virginia Horse Rescue moved to this new location in 2020 revamping their leadership and programs. Despite a pandemic, the volunteer base of this organization remains dedicated and committed to helping at risk equines. Also, their educational programs such as the Barn Kids Club, promotes responsible horsemanship for potential future horse owners and supporters.”
“For Central Virginia Horse Rescue, having GFAS certification means that we are meeting the gold standard for care for the equine at our farm,” explained Stacy Franklin, Executive Directory for Central Virginia Horse Rescue. “CVHR aims to provide world class care at our facility and ensures that each horse under our care has a safe place to land.”
The GFAS Equine Accreditation Program is made possible by a generous grant from The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® and the Kenneth Scott Charitable Trust.
About Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries
Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the sole purpose of strengthening and supporting the work of animal sanctuaries, rescues, and rehabilitation centers worldwide. The goal of GFAS in working with and assisting these animal care facilities is to ensure they are supported, honored, recognized and rewarded for meeting important criteria in providing care to the animals in residence. GFAS was founded in 2007 by animal protection leaders from a number of different organizations in response to virtually unchecked and often hidden exploitation of animals for human entertainment and financial profit. The GFAS Board of Directors guides the organization’s work in a collaborative manner. While the board includes those in top leadership at The Humane Society of the United States, International Fund for Animal Welfare, and American Anti-Vivisection Society, all board members serve as individuals dedicated to animal sanctuaries. www.sanctuaryfederation.org.
Over the last 18 months we have been battling with leaks in the roof of the main barn at the rescue farm. This barn was the original dairy barn from the farm before it was sold and subdivided. At some point, someone built stalls and turned it into a horse barn and we have the ability to use the barn for the rescue horses in our care.
The current leaking roof has gotten worse due to the severe storm season of 2022. We have an urgent need to replace the tin barn roof before the winter season arrives and creates any additional issues and leaks. Our estimates that we received last year were on average around $40,000.
Buckets used to catch the waterMissing tin piecesHole in the roof
With your help, we can save the 100 year old barn! Thank you for your support.
Horses that have been the subject of abuse or neglect are usually in a starved condition. Remarkably, horses can lose 30% or more of their body weight and still survive. Horses in this condition will have very little muscle mass remaining and will be very weak. They will need much care and attention to regain their trust, and a sound nutrition program to get them back into proper body condition and health.
Even with the best of care some horses won’t survive, especially horses that have lost 50% or more of their body weight. “Refeeding Syndrome” can occur in horses, and severely starved individuals may die within a few days to a week after starting a feeding program. The problem occurs when a severely starved horse eats a high nonstructural carbohydrate or NSC meal. This causes a large increase in blood glucose which raises blood insulin and allows glucose to be absorbed into the body cells, but it also draws the electrolytes magnesium and potassium out of the bloodstream and into body cells. The starved horse doesn’t have an adequate store of these electrolytes, can’t maintain normal blood levels and their depletion can lead to heart, respiratory or kidney failure and subsequent death.
Equine nutrition research has shown the safest way to start a feeding program for a starved horse is to offer small frequent meals of high quality alfalfa hay. A study compared feeding alfalfa hay only, grass hay only, and grass hay and sweet feed (high NSC feed composed of oats/corn/molasses mix) to horses for the first two weeks of a refeeding program for severely starved horses with body condition scores of 1 on a scale of 1-9. For the first two weeks the lowest mortality rate was for horses on the alfalfa hay only diet. The alfalfa hay only diet contained the lowest level of dietary NSC and prevented an extreme glycemic response to prevent low blood magnesium or potassium levels from occurring.
Start the feeding program by offering one pound of alfalfa hay every 3 to 4 hours for a total of six pounds in 24 hours for a horse weighing 500 pounds (e.g. total of 7 pounds in 24 hours for a 600-pound horse or 8 pounds in 24 hours for a 700-pound horse). Follow this feeding program for the first three days and provide fresh, clean water at all times.
If the horse tolerates this program with no diarrhea or other problems, keep increasing the amount of alfalfa hay fed and decrease the number of feedings. After the first three days, a horse with an initial weight of 500 pounds should be fed four pounds of alfalfa hay every 6 to 8 hours for a total of 10 pounds daily by the sixth day (e.g. total of 12 pounds daily for a 600-pound horse or 14 pounds daily for a 700-pound horse). Keep increasing the amount of alfalfa hay fed and decrease feedings to twice per day, so that by two weeks horses are receiving at least the following amounts based on initial body weight (e.g. 500-pound horse: 13 pounds daily, 600-pound horse: 15 pounds daily, 700-pound horse: 17 pounds daily). After two weeks, the horse may be fed alfalfa hay on a free-choice basis.
After two weeks into the feeding program, introduction to pasture can begin with an hour of pasture access for three to four days. Gradually increase pasture time over a period of 10 to 14 days and then daily or 24-hour access can be allowed. Also, if alfalfa hay is not readily available and another type of hay is more available or economical, the horse may be gradually changed to another type of hay over the next two weeks so that alfalfa hay is no longer fed after four weeks into the feeding program.
A horse feed can be introduced after the initial two-week feeding period. Introduce feed gradually, providing one pound twice daily and then increase the amount by one additional pound each day. Depending on the amount and quality of hay fed, feeding rates up to 1% of body weight daily can be allowed. Many feeds with maximum guaranteed levels of dietary starch and sugars (Dietary Starch + Sugars = NSC) or NSC of 22% or less are recommended to provide added safety to prevent any digestive disturbance such as colic. ProElite® Senior and Starch Wise, ProForce® Fuel and Senior, SafeChoice® Original and Legends® CarbCare Performance and Show & Pleasure and Triumph® Professional Pellet and Fiber Plus are all high fat, low NSC feeds with highly fortified levels of vitamins, minerals and amino acids recommended for horses to gain and maintain weight safely.
For older horses (20 years or more) with poor tooth condition, the ability to chew long-stemmed hay may be lost. Feed the older horse Legends® CarbCare Senior, SafeChoice® Senior, ProForce® Senior or ProElite® Senior along with chopped, cubed or pelleted alfalfa hay, gradually increasing the amount of feed to 1% of body weight daily and processed alfalfa hay to 1% of body weight daily. These senior feeds have maximum NSC guarantees of 20% or less can contain fat guarantees of 7% to 11% to provide a high energy density for more calories for safe weight gain. The feed and forage may need to have water added to form a mash if the horse’s dental condition is very poor.
After two months on a successful feeding program, the horse has regained some strength and become familiar with its surroundings, so now is the time to check with a veterinarian about health care. A dental checkup is also in order, as this has likely been neglected. Your veterinarian may also discover other health problems that your neglected horse may need treatment for, and can also recommend a vaccination program. Contact a farrier about hoof care as well, this is likely another area that needs to be addressed.
After three to five months of care and feeding, a severely starved horse should be rehabilitated to a normal body weight and be ready to resume a normal life once again. Once a desired body condition score has been achieved of a 5 on a scale of 1-9, feeding rates for older horses can be adjusted to 0.75 to 1% of body weight for senior feed and 0.5% to 0.75% of processed alfalfa for horses not able to eat hay and not on pasture. For younger horses without pasture access, hay feeding rates of 1.5% to 2.0% of body weight daily and concentrate or grain feeding rates of 0.5% to 0.75% are recommended. If horses require just a few pounds of feed per day to maintain body weight, then a diet balancer such as Nutrena® Empower® Topline Balance® (for grass or alfalfa/grass diets) or ProElite® Grass Advantage Diet Balancer (for grass or alfalfa/grass diets) or ProElite® Alfalfa Advantage Diet Balancer (for alfalfa-only diets) is recommended with a limited amount of hay if no pasture is available (1.5% body weight per day). And for more information about our horse feeds you can go to: proelitehorsefeed.com, legendshorsefeed.com, toplinebalance.com and nutrenaworld.com.
A few weeks back I got a phone call from a very nice lady about an hour from our farm. She called because she was in a tough spot and she needed to find homes for her 5 thoroughbreds that were left over from her husband’s breeding program. I chatted with her briefly and told her I would call her back. We have been swamped with owner’s needing to surrender their horses and we had a waiting list that seemed like it was a mile long and would take us 6 months to get through. Times were hard for everyone in the equestrian community. Costs continued to rise for everything from feed to veterinary and farrier care. While we haven’t felt it yet, the cost of hay this year is likely to sky rocket as the price of fuel has basically doubled from where it was 2 years ago. The whole state has felt the effects of the global Covid pandemic and our community as a whole has struggled in one way or another.
I called her back and asked her if she could tell me about the horses so that I can see what we could do or maybe even network them in order to find a foster or another rescue to take them. The 5 horses consisted of 2 stallions and 3 mares. None of them have in the past received veterinary care or farrier care, let alone halter breaking or handling. She explained that she is a petite woman and she is 77 years old and it just isn’t safe for her to try to handle them. The horses ranged in age from 12 years to 34 years old and she would not consider euthanasia for any of them. I agreed to come out and meet the horses and determine if we would be able to do anything to assist her and explained I couldn’t make any promises. We had an influx of miniature horse studs at our farm and given the age of the stallions (14 and 20), we didn’t have the proper facilities to house them.
I drove the hour out to her farm and spent the next few hours with her meeting each of the 5 horses and learning more about her, her husband and the horses. They had a very busy program in the 1980s and 1990s before her husband started to become ill. He was a Vietnam War veteran and developed severe PTSD. As the years went by he started to become ill and developed lung cancer and Parkinson’s Disease. The further into his illnesses he got, the less he was able to do with his prized thoroughbred herd. She did what she could which was continue to ensure that they were fed and had clean water. About 8 years ago, his illnesses got the worst of him and he lost his battle with cancer. Through her dedication to her husband she continued to do what she could until the present day when her finances wouldn’t allow her to continue to care for the 5 remaining horses.
Here I was, standing there hand feeding 3 of the horses outside of their pasture asking myself, what are we going to do. We have this very devoted, sincere woman who wanted nothing more but to provide for the horses that once brought her husband great joy. Even though they had not received veterinary or farrier care, they were in great shape (aside from their hooves) and were in great health. We were her last resort. I reached out to all of the other rescues that I could think of and asked if anyone had room or the ability to help. One of the mares was potentially in foal and Hope’s Legacy reached out to one of their fosters and secured a location for her to go. We potentially had a location for the younger stallion but the challenge was going to be loading him onto a trailer and transporting him on the 7 – 8 hour drive there.
One of the horses received a severe injury during the process of trying to load a different horse onto the trailer and our focus turned to her. Once we were able to get back to the pasture where she was at again with the trailer, we corralled both horses and our team was able to halter her and separate her from the stallion. We contacted Piedmont Equine Clinic and spoke with both the ambulatory vet and the surgeon, Dr. Dutki, and made arrangements to bring her in to receive care. Over the weeks we spent working with these 5 horses, this mare showed great intelligence and grace. We knew that, based off of our interactions with her, that we would be able to treat her. We just needed to give her that chance. Our team, aided by Scott Purdum of Advantage Horsemanship, loaded her onto her very first trailer and brought her to Piedmont where they were awaiting her arrival.
Her story is not over yet. She has been very cooperative with her care however due to the severity of the injury and the delay in getting her to the clinic she was hospitalized at Piedmont for surgery and after care. She has shown to everyone who has met her what a very special girl she is she is in need of veterinary care funds to ensure that she can continue to receive the outstanding care that all of the horses at CVHR receive. Please consider a donation towards our veterinary care fund.