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.