Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Faith Lost 10 Pounds Today

...in hair.

Today I spent about two hours with Faith, grooming her and giving her treats. She fortunately (yet unfortunately for my washer, dryer, and vacuum) is shedding out - in CLUMPS. She went from slightly shedding out her measly "winter" coat to practically tearing it off of herself. I have never seen a horse shed so quickly! It's good though; a sure sign her body is recovering and getting back into the swing of things.

About a half hour into my grooming session with her, my students came off of the bus and each picked up a shedding blade. We spent the next half hour going over her from her ears to her tail, and everywhere in between. She was very happy about it, leaning into the brushes with every stroke. As you can tell from the next few pictures, she had quite a few scratchy spots on her that were out of her reach!

I've also never seen a horse make so many goofy faces before...

When all was said and done, there was at least 10 pounds of horse hair on the ground. We could have made another pony out of it... Faith definitely seemed happier that we helped her out and scratched all of those hard-to-reach areas for her.

After her grooming, it was time for a bath. Unfortunately the car shop was busy and I couldn't get Faith into a bay again, so we held her outside the door and scrubbed her down there. There were quite a few funny looks and comments from passers-by, but we got the job done! It was warm today, about 65-ish and sunny, and the water was warm. After some regular shampoo, we rinsed and repeated with antimicrobial shampoo to help her coat and skin out a bit. Then she was toweled-off, blown dry, and put back into her stall with a light sheet on.

With her coat flat in these pictures, you can see her conformation and condition much clearer. She still has a LONG way to go, but she has been making huge improvments.

Thanks to Margaret, Lucy and Nicole for helping with her bath!

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A lot of Faith's followers have been asking about her weight gain, and I'm proud to announce that since she arrived 8 weeks ago, she has put on approximately 90 pounds!


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Enjoying the Sun

Faith is outside today, no blanket or wraps, enjoying the warm spring sun! It is a whopping 50 degrees here, and the horses are in full shed-mode! (It is so "warm" here that Faith was actually sweating a tiny bit under her blanket.) She is shedding quite well; you can grab clumps off of her at a time. Her summer coat is coming through nicely and it's shiny and healthy!

I will be gone until Monday evening, and depending on how late I get back here, I will try to post an update on how she's doing. Dan is staying home to keep an eye on her, so she is in really good hands and will have plenty of supervision. I should know soon the results of her DNA test - keep your fingers crossed that it's the same mare! I would just love to find out Faith's past!

I'm heading down now to give her one last grooming and kiss on the nose before I leave. Yes, I'm in clean non-barn clothes now, but a little horse hair never hurt anyone, right?! ;-)


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

An Update - 50 Days and Counting

50 days ago... I doubted that this mare had a future. I would never have believed that I would be sitting here writing about the most miraculous recovery I've ever seen. A mare that was only days away from certain death has pulled through, regained control over her fate, and has pushed on.

She may have questioned it occasionally, but not once did she ever lose her will to live.

As I led her out of her stall this morning, Faith appeared somewhat stiff. She tripped in the aisle but caught herself in time, her head leaning into my shoulder for support. Obviously worried about the possibility of another weakness-related incident, I very carefully led her outside towards her turnout area, but as we walked on she seemed to improve. I hoped (er, prayed,) it was just a fluke. As we rounded the corner of the barn, Faith began trotting up the hill in front of me, eager for some fresh air, a roll around in the sand, and a flirtation session with the boys. I kept a close eye on her all afternoon, and she seemed comfortable, content and relaxed. As dinnertime approached, she began trotting back and forth along the fence, wounding all of her boyfriends up into a frenzy!

Our 4-H Club has been keeping track of Faith's progress. At our past meetings, I have taught them how to check a horse's vital signs, how to weigh and measure them, causes and symptoms of colic, and how to wrap legs. Faith has been our "model" for quite a few of the lessons, and she certainly enjoys the company and attention she has received from our club.

Here is a picture of the gang! Faith just refused to put her ears up for the camera!

I am overjoyed to say that Faith has been making steady improvements. She still has her ups and downs, but overall she has continued to fight and push forward.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Six Weeks of Progress

Today Faith has been with us for six weeks. Over that short period of time, her weight has increased, her wounds have healed and her spirits continue to improve. She has taught me more than I could ever put in words, and for that I am truly thankful.

Below are some pictures of Faith in the arena today. (Just as a side note, the wall Faith is looking over is 6 feet tall. I told you she was a big girl!)

Faith's normal routine has changed very slightly since my last post about it. Every morning, she still meets Dan at her door, eagerly awaiting her breakfast, nickering at each second that passes before she receives her meal. Shortly there after, I finish with my chores upstairs and head down to grain her and work with her.

Faith is currently receiving the following amounts of feed and supplements twice per day:
1 1/2 quarts of Blue Seal Vintage Victory (10% Protein, 10% Fat, 11% Fiber)
1 1/2 quarts of Blue Seal Hay Stretcher (11.5% Protein, 2% Fat, 20% Fiber)
1 1/2 quarts of Purina Equine Senior (14% Protein, 4.5% Fat, 16% Fiber)
Vitamin E Supplement
She also has free-choice hay in front of her at all times, and eats (er, devours!) about 8-9 flakes per day (about 30 pounds). Her feed bill is ludicrous... But she's worth every penny!

Faith is now getting turned out with our miniature donkey Dominic - they have become pretty good friends! A few pictures of him are below, although it's really tough to photograph him as once he sees my camera he won't leave me alone... It's hard to find his "good side" when he is on top of me. I'll let the following pictures show you his thought process.

Dominic is munching on some hay, but then he spots me with a "device" in my hand...

...and he isn't sure he approves of the camera, so he's gets closer....

...trying to figure out which side of his is the most photogenic...

Hey mom, what are you doing?!

Dominic is my little sweetie, who also came to us a rescue. His job here consists of eating, fighting with the farrier, eating more, braying loud enough to shake the entire barn, chasing the geldings around, fighting with the vet, eating some more, breaking out of every fence we have ever put up, breaking into the feed room repeatedly, and generally just being our farm's mascot/terrorist. We love him just the same! How can you not just fall in love with that face?!

Back to Faith...

We are still having a slight issue with her hind legs swelling if she is not wrapped, although it has greatly improved. Lately I have been keeping her wraps off while she is in the arena during the day, and re-wrapping her each night. Today I decided to put them back on, as they were a little swollen when I removed them this morning.

Her hind end definitely has some serious problems, of which we will diagnose in the future when she is stronger. I'm hoping in another 6-8 weeks she will have improved enough to put her through some lameness exams to determine the cause. When she trots in the arena on some days, she looks off on her left front and/or right hind.

She is currently turned out in the arena from about 7:30 am until lessons begin around 2pm. Yesterday, one of our regular paddocks was officially snow and ice free, so she was allowed to go out there for a few hours. (We live in the Northeast and have had over 90 inches of snow so far this year, as well as a horrific ice storm.) I hate keeping Faith "inside" so much, but with her hind end still being so weak, I would rather keep her sheltered than risk the possibility of her slipping and falling in the snow and ice. She enjoyed the sun yesterday and even stretched out and took about a half hour nap. (I kept an eye on her the entire time she was down... this horse has turned me into a worrywart!)

The geldings on the other side of the fence also enjoyed her company and couldn't take their eyes off of her. (Heck, she's tall, has long legs and is thin - every guy's dream girl!) My Morgan insisted on grooming her entire body from over the fence, and Faith not only let him but she seemed to enjoy it! Although she is a mare and just had to let out a squeal every 90 seconds.

When I look back at the past six weeks, it's amazes me to think of how much this horse has endured, how far she has come, and how she always seems so very grateful. She is a sweet horse with an absolute heart of gold and I hope that her recovery is free from any other bumps along the way.


Through a Child's Eyes

The following piece was written by one of my students. She has helped me care for Faith since the first day she was here, and like everyone who has met Faith, she has fallen in love with this sweet horse. I hope you enjoy!

The Story of Faith, Through a Child's Eyes

Before I saw Faith on that emotional Monday, Julie told me that she got a new horse. She wouldn’t give me any information about her. She only said to meet her at her dad’s garage to see her. When I got to the barn, I was expecting to see a new show horse, but what I saw was a million times better than any show horse. There was a skinny and dirty mare standing there, but that didn’t matter to me. She was the prettiest horse I have ever seen. She might not be the right weight, but I knew that she wanted to live and that she wanted someone to love her, no matter how she looked. I fell in love with this precious horse the moment I saw her.

After I heard the whole story about what had happened to her, I felt like I was going to cry. I held it in because I knew that Faith was strong the whole time she became like this. I wanted to show her that I could be strong about what happened too. I knew that she was a special horse. We finished with her bath, then we dried her fragile body with towels. She went back into her stall and ate some hay. It made me feel good to see her eat some food after what I had heard.

Over the last five weeks, I have learned so much from Faith. She taught me that not everyone in this world is kind and caring. She also taught me that some people just don’t care about what happens to poor, innocent animals. She showed me that she is strong enough to get through this. I start to cry every time I think about what might happen if she stops fighting. I am just hoping that day doesn’t come.

This horse has not only changed my life and the way I think about people in it but the lives of everyone that has heard of Faith’s story. I have not met one person that didn’t care about Faith and how she is improving. Everyone in my school is always asking for updates on her. I knew that you guys truly care about her too. It just makes me sad to know that many people let this happen to their animals. Not just horses, but dogs and cats as well.

If it wasn’t for Julie and Farmer Dan (you know him as Dan,) Faith wouldn’t be in our lives right now. Every day I come here and look at her progress and I think about what she will look like in the near future. I thank Julie for being there for Faith whenever she was having a hard time. She has influenced me so much to go and help animals. I can’t imagine my life without Faith now. I thank everyone that has helped or even is wishing for her to get better.

~ Miranda, age 12

Miranda & Faith, March 16th, 2009


Saturday, March 14, 2009

"Rescue Me" Poem


Rescue me not only with your hands but with your heart as well.
I will respond to you.

Rescue me not out of pity but out of love.
I will love you back.

Rescue me not with self-righteousness but with compassion.
I will learn what you teach.

Rescue me not because of my past but because of my future.
I will relax and enjoy.

Rescue me not simply to save me but to give me a new life.
I will appreciate your gift.

Rescue me not only with a firm hand but with tolerance and patience.
I will please you.

Rescue me not only because of who I am but who I'm to become.
I will grow and mature.

Rescue me not to revere yourself to others but because you want me.
I will never let you down.

Rescue me not with a hidden agenda but with a desire to teach me to trust.
I will be loyal and true.

Rescue me not to be chained or to fight but to be your companion.
I will stand by your side.

Rescue me not to replace one you've lost but to soothe your spirit.
I will cherish you.

Rescue me not to be your pet but to be your friend.
I will give you unconditional love.

~ Author Unknown

(Picture of Faith taken 03/14/2009)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Updated photos!

I tried to get Faith in roughly the same position as the mare in the photos.

Do you think this could be her?

Thank you Stacey for your photo skills!


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Could this be her?

A friend of Faith's superimposed a picture of Faith and the picture of this mare. What does everyone think? Could it be her?
I think that Faith's withers (compared to the mare with the foal) are more prominent, her croup is steeper, and she is deeper through her girth area. The withers and croup differences could be from age as well as loss of muscle mass, but I'm not sure that her girth and barrel would change in the same manner. Lots to think about...

I will take a few pictures of her later this afternoon, attempting to get somewhat of the same pose so we can tell a little bit better.

And how handsome is that foal, by the way! What a looker!


The Search for Faith's Past

Since bringing her home five weeks ago, I have been constantly wondering about this sweet mare's history. Faith's personality and ground manners clearly show that she has received training; her worn suspensories show that she has had a job. She was obviously well trained at some point in her life and somehow slipped through the cracks.

The questions I have pondered are:
- Who used to own this mare?
- Would they share information on her past?
- Would they be interested in coming to visit her?
- What would they think of how she ended up?

My main goal in finding her history is so that I can learn about her medical history so that her rehabilitation goes as smoothly as possible. The more we know about the past, the better we can predict the future.

I have searched the classified ads over the past few weeks looking for a possible match. About 15 horses showed up that could possibly be her, and I called each and every number. Everyone I spoke to showed concern, but unfortunately none of them matched.

However... Last week I received my most solid lead so far. A lady emailed and said that Faith may possibly be a mare that used to be at her boarding barn. The mare, "Was older than 17, had a clubbed foot, was in rough shape back then, obviously had been bred, and was around 16.3 hands tall. She was sold to someone in NH about two years ago." I was overjoyed - we may have possibly found her!

I was given the name of the farm where this mare was kept as a broodmare in her younger days, and I called and spoke to the owner. She was very nice and said that it may in fact be the same horse. An email arrived with a picture of her taken in the early 1990s.

I called that breed's registry, and they sent me a DNA test kit. I will send in her hair sample today and should have a result within 2-3 weeks!

So the question is: Do you think that the mare in the photos pictured below could possibly be Faith? If I have time this afternoon, I will try to get her standing in the same position, with her head up so we can compare.

What do you think? Could this be Faith over 15 years ago?


Friday, March 6, 2009

Picture Day!

This past week has been very busy around here, and I'll explain as soon as I can. Thankfully, Faith has been doing really well. She has gained approximately 60 pounds since she has arrived, and looks fantastic! (At least compared to what she looked like when she came in!)

Her ribs BEFORE....
And her ribs AFTER 34 days!
Her hips BEFORE...


Not only does has her body condition improved, but it's quite obvious that feels better now too! Here she is trotting today in the arena!

I will keep everyone updated on her progress! I will more than likely be out of town this coming weekend, but I'll update everyone when I get back!

And thank you everyone for your well-wishes! It is so graciously appreciated!


Monday, March 2, 2009

Four weeks… and test results!

Faith has been with us for four weeks now. What a difference a month has made!

Yesterday was one of the most amazing days for me yet. For the first time since she’s been here, Faith cantered! I opened the doors to the arena and Faith and Amy were standing at the far end. Once Faith saw me she actually cantered all the way down and greeted me at the door! Granted, she was breathing pretty heavy from even that short of a distance, but it was great to see her not only feeling good, but strong enough to keep herself balanced. I’m so proud!

I plan to have more pictures of Faith posted shortly. You will all be amazed at how much she has improved – she looks like a different horse! I will try to take some before and after shots as I did with her hooves, so everyone can see the difference!

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Test Results

I spoke with Dr. George on the phone today and he informed me that Faith’s blood test results came in today. Her selenium level was normal, which is good. However, her Vitamin E was low. A typical horse should have a range of 200-1,000, and Faith’s was 82.

The EPM test also came back; she tested low positive. Although this isn’t great news, it’s not necessarily bad, either. The problem with blood testing for EPM is that the results only show if the horse has been exposed to the parasite, not whether or not they are suffering from the actual disease. To prove if she has the disease or not, we would need to have a spinal tap performed to test the spinal fluid. To have this test done, I would need to ship her to an equine hospital about an hour and a half from our barn.

The outlook…

Since her Vitamin E levels are so excessively low, we believe that her collapsing incident is due to her weakened immune system. We are hoping by starting her on a Vitamin E supplement, she will improve and we can rule out EPM. Dr. George suggests giving her a month and reevaluating her condition.

The plan…

We will be receiving the Vitamin E supplement shortly. It is recommended that she receive 10,000 IU each day, and we will start her on it once it arrives. Keep your fingers crossed that she improves as she has been!


Article & Video Link

Oops! I forgot to post the link to the Union Leader article and video! Here they are:


And the video: