Monday, February 2, 2009

The Rescue

Always trying to do things for the community and the animals in them, I did my good deed for the week today.

I received word that a horse was in trouble in central New Hampshire late last week. Early yesterday morning another email showed up in my inbox - it was urgent. The mare needed to be picked up immediately. The lady who informed me stated that the mare was in dire straights and had a body score of about 2 (in a range of 1-9). She gave me the owner's phone number and informed me that her owner would be difficult to work with, and that I needed to approach him a certain way or he may refuse to release the horse to me.

I took a deep breath and called the horse's owner. I expressed interest in coming to possibly purchase her, and he began telling me about her. He explained me that they had bought her for their daughter to show and that she lost interest. "Anyone can ride her - she's a total doll" is what I was told. This mare was supposedly a Trakehner, about 14 years old, and as her owner stated, in "good health". Needless to say, the information he provided conflicted with what I had been told prior.

I sweet talked Dan into helping me hook up the trailer, and off we went. A little over an hour later, we arrived at the farm. We met her owner and he guided us to the back part of his property where the mare lived. When we rounded the corner, I immediately felt sick to my stomach. The mare in front of me was a walking skeleton. I froze in place, staring at the horrendous sight before us. As we stood there, both of us speechless, the mare's owner attempted to convince us that she was healthy and there was nothing wrong with her. I slowly turned towards Dan, and for a split second I thought he was going to punch the man standing next to him. I quickly told the man that we'd take her, and asked Dan to pull the horse trailer up. In the owner's best interest, Dan reluctantly walked away.

It took a few minutes for the owner to remove a section of fence so we could get the mare out of there. This "fence" that I refer to consisted of barbed wire, electric wire, 2X4 boards, pieces of picket fences, and wooden ladders that were nailed in place. We thankfully weren't invited into the "barn", but from what I could see through an open door, it didn't look any better.

As I approached the mare, she laid her ears back at me, but made no attempt to move or follow through with her threat. I removed a nylon halter that was two sizes too small from the mare's head and fitted her with a leather one that I had brought with me. It was obvious the nylon halter she was in had been on her for months, at the very least. She had bald spots, sores and even an indentation on the bridge of her nose from it.

I began to lead her out of her enclosure, and it was obvious she was uncomfortable and in pain. I led her to the trailer and gave her a shot of banamine, an anti-inflamatory pain reliever. I aimed her towards the ramp of the trailer, where she hesitated for the tiniest of moments, and then eagerly walked right on. We tied her in front of a net full of hay, put the ramp up, and jumped in the truck. Choking back tears, we were on our way.

Before we even left the driveway, I was on the phone with my vet. I explained that we had just rescued a mare that may need to be euthanized, so that she could come prepared. She would meet us back at our barn when we arrived.

Our vet, Dr. Robyn, arrived shortly after we pulled in, and began her exam. She checked her heart and lungs and noted that she could hear a small heart murmur, but that it wasn't anything to be concerned about at the time. While checking her teeth and mouth, she noticed that her front teeth were all chipped and that there were a few ulcers in her lips and gums. She tended to the wounds on her hind legs, infected and abscessed from a lack of care. It was obvious that this poor girl hadn't been cared for correctly in a long, long time.

I asked the vet the most difficult question I could come up with, "Does she need to be euthanized?"

She looked at me and said, "No. Not yet. She still has fire in her eyes and wants to live." My heart was flooded with relief.


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