Friday, February 27, 2009

What a week it has been!

This week has been extremely busy - I have so many updates for all of you! And I apologize in advance if I have not responded to your emails yet – my inbox is overflowing! I will answer every one as soon as I can – I promise!

A quick update on Faith…

Faith is doing well! She has been making forward progress since her incident last Friday and is doing much better! Her attitude is improving, and getting more and more mare-ish as the days go on! The important thing is that her will to live is growing stronger with each day. She’s a fighter and I’m so very proud of her accomplishments thus far!

The legal side of things…

We received word today that the police department has not yet closed the case on Faith’s former owner! More to follow when it can be published publicly. Keep those fingers crossed!

Onto our hectic schedule…

Last Friday, Faith and I met with Kimberley Pietz, a reporter from the Union Leader. She had read the article in the Derry News and wanted to expand on the story more and place it into a paper with a greater circulation. She published the article in yesterday’s paper. Below is the link to the article as well as the link to the youtube video.

On Wednesday, I received a call from WMUR Channel 9 – they heard about Faith’s story and wanted to do a segment about her! Heather Hamel, a well-known and very popular reporter, showed up with a cameraman around 1:30pm. They interviewed us and learned more about Faith’s story. Faith didn’t have much to say, but she sure knows how to pose for the camera! Attorney Patricia Morris came to offer her insight onto the animal abuse epidemic we’re seeing more frequently in the state and was also featured in the segment. Thanks Trish for all of your continued support and help!

The TV crew came back at 5:30 that night to do a live shot from inside the barn. The story broke shortly after 6:00pm on Channel 9, and because I was in the barn with the camera crew filming the live shot, I couldn’t watch it live! I had to tape the segment on my TV and watch it after it aired. Within seconds of it ending, I received over 50 text messages from my students and clients, as well as phone calls from my parents and friends. Unfortunately, I left my phone on vibrate, and it literally sat on top of my tack trunk vibrating non stop for ten minutes as the calls and texts came in! My battery died before I was finished putting Faith away.

The aired segment was perfect! It fulfilled the goal that I hoped Faith’s rescue and rehabilitation would serve – bringing publicity to the recent epidemic of animal abuse and neglect. And it has worked! The outpouring of support across our community has been incredible. Just yesterday, a lady came to meet Faith. She brought a bag of carrots for Faith and told me that she made a donation of $250 in Faith’s name to a local dog shelter. The publicity from one horse’s story IS making a difference!

Today I received a letter in the mail. It read:

“Dear Faith,
I am so sorry for all you have suffered. I pray that you are no longer in pain and that you are healing and growing stronger every day.
God bless your new parents, Julie and Dan, for rescuing you.
With love and prayers,
Cheryl G.”

Here's how YOU can make a difference…

Please help us in achieving our goal of bringing as much publicity to the widespread occurrences of animal abuse and neglect. As I have said from the beginning, this is not about Faith - this is about all animals that have to endure these types of situations. Please reach out and help someone who needs education or assistance in caring for their animals. Please report cruelty immediately. Please make a stand.

For those that might have animals in trouble, there are people willing to help. There are many resources out there including the Department of Agriculture, SPCAs, state veterinarians, local veterinarians, and police departments. If you need help, all you need to do is ask. The equine community, as well as the animal community as a whole, has proven time and again to come together and support each other.


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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

We Did It!

Video is on the right hand side. (You unfortunately have to watch a commercial before the video begins.)

http://www.wmur.com/news/18796039/detail.html

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We're on the News Tonight!

For all of our New Hampshire visitors, please tune in to WMUR Channel 9 tonight at 6:00pm! I will hopefully get video up once it airs!



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Monday, February 23, 2009

One Story Can Make a Difference

Faith has officially been a part of my life for 21 days now. We have had our ups together, and we have certainly had our downs. She has made me smile, she has made me laugh, and she's made me cry - a lot.

I have enjoyed every minute I have spent with her; the hours grooming her and wrapping her legs, the moments just leaning up against her stall wall watching her eat. She still puts a smile on my face when she sniffs every pocket on my jacket searching for the one the carrots are hidden in, and I smile just as much when she pins her ears back as she finishes the last one and learns the pockets are empty. I can now even laugh at the memories of wiping antibiotic paste out of my hair, repeatedly.

I have held her head in my arms while silent tears ran down my cheeks, upset that she was in pain and that she might stop fighting. I worry that I have made wrong choices along the way. I worry that I should have let her go long before the pain began, and then miraculously she pulls through and proves me wrong. I have worried that she wouldn't make it, afraid that I would fail in rehabbing her, afraid of saying goodbye.

I have talked openly about what I am willing to do for her when she stops fighting. I just pray that time doesn't come soon. I believe she has a future here, a real purpose in life, and I plan to do everything I can to allow her that freedom.

This past week has been a challenge. She started so strong and ended so weak. I now worry about the severe and debilitating conditions she may possibly have, looking for answers to her problems. Most are treatable, a few will severely limit her future, but none are pleasant. She has been through enough; she doesn't need any more.

Faith has taught me that things happen for a reason. She has showed me how honest "horse people" can come together and support one another. She has taught the community about the abundance of animal neglect. She has showed me that one horse, one struggle, and one story can make a difference.

When being interviewed by a reporter last week, I was asked if Faith seemed happy here and if I thought she had bonded with me. As the words were being spoken, Faith slowly picked her head up. She rested her chin on my shoulder, her nostril against my ear, and let out a big sigh. I didn't need to answer the question; she had done it for me.

No matter what the outcome is, no matter how long or short her stay is here, I am so very fortunate to have her in my life.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Keep on Pushing...

Faith seems fairly lethargic today, more than usual, but thankfully she hasn't collapsed again. Her hind legs still have a significant amount of pitted edema, but not nearly as much as she did when she first arrived.

I spoke with Dr. Barnes yesterday regarding her collapsing episode. He is leaning more towards the Selenium/Vitamin E deficiencies than EPM, which was good to hear. But he also mentioned that due to her condition and the random collapse, that a heart problem and/or Cushings may be to blame.

For now we're going to wait and see what the tests say. We should have the results within 4-5 days. If they come back negative we'll look into Cushings and have an EKG done.

I'm hoping we're over the worst now, but only time will tell. Her spirits still seem positive, so hopefully she'll keep on pushing through these roadblocks.

Thank you for everyone who follows this blog and supports us! It's so relieving to know that people care!

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Vet Came and Left

Faith seems stable now and didn't have any incidents through the night.

Dr. George came last night and took two blood samples: one to test for EPM and the other to check her Selenium/Vitamin E levels. He also gave her a shot of Selenium and Vitamin E as he is concered her levels are probably low and that may be causing her weakness and collapsing episodes.

If the S&E levels come back low, we can easily fix and monitor it, so we're hoping it's that.

If her EPM comes back positive, then we will need to do a spinal tap to determine if it has caused neurological damage. Unfortunately a "positive" blood test means that the horse was exposed to the protazoa, but does not show if it has attacked the CNS. A spinal tap is the only way to know for sure. Pray for negative.

We should have the results back in 5 days or so...

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Turn for the Worst

A reporter from the biggest newspaper in the state came by today to pick up Faith's story. While Faith was standing on the crossties, she kept her ears up and stayed alert for the most part, which is a huge improvement since she first arrived. About ten minutes into the interview, I looked over at Faith and knew something wasn't right with her. All of a sudden she dropped her head, her eyes glazed over, and she rocked back on her hind end. Her hind legs buckled and it was obvious that she was going to totally collapse. I yelled her name as I grabbed for her cross tie, giving it a quick yank upwards. Just as quickly she picked her head up, got her feet back underneath herself and regained her balance before she hit the ground. It was both scary and heartbreaking.

I immediately called Dr. George, and he will be here in about a half hour to examine her and do more blood work. She has been making so much progress lately and although I'm hoping that this is something insignificant, I have a gut feeling that it's not.

The most frightening part is her episode today reminded me of a horse that I rescued a few years back. After she was fit, I began schooling her under saddle; she was on her way to being a successful show horse. When one day without warning she blacked out in the barn and collapsed. It happened again about a week later. Her diagnosis? EPM.

Now that I think of it, Faith has quite a bit of symptoms of EPM: droopy lower lip, occasional abnormal sweating, incoordination and weakness, muscle atrophy, sudden fatigue. We had all assumed those were symptoms of her malnutrition and neglect, but now I'm questioning if it isn't something more. The outlook of EPM horses isn't very good, especially when it isn't treated right away. Needless to say, Faith hadn't received any veterinarian treatment in the past few years until she moved here.

I will keep everyone posted on the outcome of the blood work and spinal tap. Please keep your fingers crossed for Faith that this is not EPM.

Here is a link for EPM on the web, so you can learn more about it:
http://www.dclahdvm.com/articles/epm.htm


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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Will Justice be Served?

On Monday, February 9th, I went to the police department in the town that this "guy" lives, (and I use that term because the only other options are expletives,) and filed a complaint for animal neglect. The officer that I spoke with was very nice to talk to and seemed very concerned about the situation, especially after he saw the pictures of her condition. I wrote a formal complaint while the officers discussed the situation. They chose to send two officers to Faith's previous "home", but unfortunately they chose to call 'Guy' first before they left. 'Guy' had at least an hour's headstart.

They showed up and surprise, surprise... All water buckets were clean and full to the top and the horses had hay! When I was there a week before picking up Faith, there wasn't any hay to be found and not an unfrozen water bucket in sight. The officers checked out the other horses and took pictures of their conditions. They were all in OK condition, nothing to be alarmed about, and certainly nothing similar to Faith. I was relieved to hear that.

I was then informed that it is up to the Chief of Police to determine if he will press charges. I received a message from the Chief stating that he wanted a vet tech from the state's vet office to come and evaluate the horse first. That appointment was today at noon. Two techs checked out Faith's condition and both agreed she was in rough shape. However, they said that since the mare was removed from the property before the state vet's office could look at her, there is nothing that the state vet's office can do to help. Thankfully, they will be making frequent stops at his barn to check on the other horses.

Unfortunately the animal cruelty laws in our state are so lax that it is difficult to prosecute, and the police department does not want to waste time fighting cases they do not believe they will win. We are fairly certain that the Chief of Police will choose not to press charges against Faith's former owner. Again, they haven't made any sort of final decision on it yet, but the outlook doesn't look promising.

It's a shame. Faith has been through hell and justice would be served if he had to pay for what he did. I believe that he'll get what he deserves one way or another.

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Pending Abuse Charges

Details will be published later tonight about pending charges against her prior owner. It doesn't appear to be good news at this point.

I need to make a few more phone calls first and then I'll give everyone an update.


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Homework Assignment!

We are looking for information on Faith's history, and all of my leads have turned up dry. I'm hoping that perhaps one of you may know this horse and can help us find out about her past!



What we know about her:
=> approximately 17 years old
=> 16.2 - 16.3 hands tall
=> solid bay with absolutely no white markings

=> front left hoof is clubbed

=> no tattoo
=> her prior name was "Capri"

What we were told from her previous owner (and therefore do not neccessarily believe):

=> She is a Trakehner. She very well may be, however she might be a TB, Standardbred, or another type of warmblood. It's hard to determine what breed she may be as she's still a walking skeleton - once she fills out we'll have a better idea, but that will take months.

=> She came from a farm in Vermont two years ago. I was originally told that her owner had her for 2-3 months and his daughter confirmed it recently; he told the police that he "rescued" her two years ago from a farm in Vermont. Again, I'm not buying it. But hey, if it helps us find out her past then we'll use it!

=> She may have been owned by a man named "Roger Eatman" or "Roger Eastman". (Not sure of the spelling.)

I am fairly certain that Faith did not travel far when her prior owner purchased her. If she actually came from Vermont, I'd be shocked - I would be willing to bet that she came from somewhere in New Hampshire. But prior to that, she may have come from out of state.

Any information we can get on her would be great!

If you find any ads that fit her description and were posted over the last 2 months to 2 years, please email me the link and I will contact the person listed. You can email me directly at: savingfaithgws@yahoo.com


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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Day in the Life of Faith

5:00 am Dan crawls out of bed, grabs a cup of coffee, puts on his boots and Carhartt jacket and heads downstairs with our two dogs. This morning was a chilly 20 degrees out; average for our little part of the world, but cold nonetheless. His first stop is Faith's stall; she greets him with her ears up only because he has hay in his hands. He slides the door open, throws her breakfast into her hay rack and takes her water buckets out of her stall. She stands there with a mouthful of hay, annoyed that our dogs are looking at her, and puts her ears back at them. Oblivious to her discontent, they stare at her and wag their tails even faster. Dan refills her water buckets and adds a scoop of electrolytes to each one, closes her door and continues on down the line of stalls. Thirteen more horses and a miniature donkey anxiously await their turn.

6:30 am After showering and checking my email, (of which lately: 95% are for Faith, 1% are for me, with the remaining 4% are from my long-lost and excessively rich cousin/uncle/prince in Nigeria who somehow needs my financial assistance,) I head downstairs to start my day, stopping first to take a pair of clean, still-warm leg wraps and quilts out of the dryer. I grain all of the other horses and turn them outside, and then it's my one-on-one time with Faith. I grab my grooming/medical kit and head towards her door.

7:00 am I enter her stall and she's still enjoying her breakfast. She looks at me and pins her ears back as usual. For a second she thinks that I have a treat in my hand, so her ears go up, eagerly awaiting a gift. She sniffs around and quickly learns that my pockets are empty; her ears go back and she drops her head back in her grain bucket. "Grumpy old lady," I say to her under my breath. She rolls her eyes at me, and I can't help but smile.

I begin my morning routine of pulling her wraps off of her hind legs and throwing them out into the aisle. I cut off the bandage over her abscesses (which are doing everything in their power to delay their own healing process,) and take a warm wet cloth to clean up the drainage. A warm compress is held to her wounds for about 10 minutes, then the area is dried and I'm ready to move on to grooming.

The mornings are cold here, so her blankets are first unbuckled and folded back, exposing the front half of her body. I begin brushing her and her ears quickly become glued to her neck again, her head still in her bucket. It only takes a few seconds and she'll remember that she actually likes being groomed, so they flop forward again. I duck under her head and groom the other side, then flip the blankets forward and brush off her hind end. By the time I'm done grooming, she has finished her grain and has turned towards her hay rack. I buckle her blanket up and put her halter on.

Faith slowly and carefully walks out of her stall into the aisle, one cautious step at a time. Mornings are tough for her; the small amount of muscle mass that she has takes quite a bit of time to warm up. Once safely in the aisle, I crosstie her and begin our rewrapping process. I tie her tail into a knot and grab the clean quilts and bandages. She normally stands well to be wrapped, but lately has found humor in resting the leg that I'm trying to bandage. It's always just as I get the quilt in place and start my bandage, that she moves just enough to bunch the quilt and send the bandage rolling away from me. Each time it happens, she looks at me - I swear she does it on purpose.


Then it's Faith's least favorite part of our ritual - time to put an antibiotic cream and gauze on her abscesses. Although they look better than when she first arrived, they are certainly in no rush to heal. I warm up the tube in my hands and squeeze some onto a gauze pad. I lightly press it onto the infected area and then wrap the entire section with vet wrap. She is getting better about it, but I believe it's only because it no longer hurts as badly. I then pick up all of the supplies and put them away. As I walk back to her, she perks her ears and waits for her two morning prizes: a kiss on the nose and an apple-flavored treat. (No need to say which one she likes more.)

8:00 am Faith is unhooked from the crossties and I lead her towards Amy's stall. I slide Amy's halter on, swing her door back, and the two girls head towards the arena, Faith on my right side and Amy on my left. I let Faith loose first and she walks a few steps forward and then trots down to the pile of hay in the center. Amy eagerly follows and they do their normal mare "let's-touch-noses-then-squeal-at-each-other-and-then-be-best-buds" routine. Amy now has supervision duty while I do barn work for a few hours.

12:00 pm It's lunchtime for Faith and Amy, so I bring in a few more flakes of hay for them and check their water buckets in the arena. Faith eagerly staggers over to me to get the first bites of the "new" hay. It doesn't matter that these flakes came from the exact same bale as the hay still left in the arena, this "new" stuff is just way better.

On a side note: I have owned Amy for nearly 10 years now and she is a glutton in every aspect of the word! This horse can learn any trick in no time because she will do anything for food. Let's just say that Amy is thoroughly enjoying being turned out with a horse who is fed free-choice hay...

2:00 pm Lesson students are showing up after school, and it's time to bring the girls inside. Faith and Amy have enjoyed being turned out, but Faith's exercise needs to be limited to only a few hours a day until she is stronger. Up until last week, she was only turned outside for an hour a day; now she's up to four! Faith is put back into her clean stall, with fresh shavings, a full hay rack and full water buckets.

2:00 pm to 6:00 pm Faith gets apples, carrots, pats on the nose, endless supplies of kisses, "Ooh's" and "Aah's" and "Oh-my-God's" from students and their parents. She enjoys every part of it. Especially the "food" parts.

6:00 pm Lessons are over and it's time to rewrap and do all the fun medical stuff with her all over again. She stands patiently on the crossties, knowing that her delicious dinner is waiting in stall for her. A student of mine helped with this project a few nights back and was eager to learn about the how's and why's of wrapping and bandaging. She commented on the process:
"You do this every day with her?" Miranda said.
"Nope," I replied. "I do it twice each day. Sometimes three
times if she needs it."
She was impressed.

6:45 pm Faith carefully enters her stall and waits patiently for me to slide the halter off of her face. She turns around and immediately heads for her grain bucket. I pat her on the shoulder, still impressed with how much fight this old lady still has in her. Impressed a little with myself as well. I continue feeding the others and sweep the barn aisle.

10:00 pm Nighttime check before I head to bed. I throw Faith another two flakes of hay and top her water buckets off. I pat her on the neck, walk back down the aisle and head upstairs. For the past few nights, I no longer need to check on her every few hours. Dan and I live directly above the barn and I listen intently all through the night in case she gets herself in trouble. Thankfully, she hasn't had any issues at night for a while now. Nonetheless, my sleep schedule will continue to be out of sync for weeks to come...

* * * * *

It has been 15 days since Faith has been here. When she arrived, we measured her with a weight tape. It said she weighed in at 1,076 pounds. Now, we know for a fact that's not even close - she's around 850 right now - but at least it is giving us a benchmark so we can approximately judge her weight gain. I'm glad to announce that the tape claimed she now weighs in at 1,111 pounds! That's an increase of approximately 35 pounds!

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Faith's Online Visitors

Since beginning Faith's site a little two weeks ago, we have had over 4,000 hits! These hits are from all over the United States and worldwide! (The dots represent the last 100 visitors to this site!)

We receive daily hits from quite a few places in the US:
Ruston, LA
Brooklyn, NY
Memphis, TN
Mystic, CT
Seattle, WA
Socorro, NM
Dodge City, KS
Rainsville, AL
Jackson, Miss.
Washington DC

We also receive nearly-daily hits from:
Kerpen, Germany
Sydney, Australia
Melbourne, Australia
Roblin, Canada
Winnipeg, Canada
Burnaby, BC
London, England
Manchester, England
Etampes, France
Lausanne, Switzerland
Kristianstad, Sweden
Burpengary, Australia
Perth, Australia
Hobart, Australia
Korea

Not to mention the countless visits that we have received from our home state of New Hampshire, and surrounding states Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont!

Are you on the above list? If so, please click on "comments" below and let us know how often you visit!

Not listed on the above list? Please comment and let us know where you're from!


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Monday, February 16, 2009

Faith's 1st Farrier Visit!

Faith had her first visit today with her farrier, Brad Erickson! She was very well behaved and did absolutely nothing wrong. (Not even grouchy mare ears - I was shocked!) The only accomodation Brad had to make was to work with her hind legs low to the ground due to her weak hind end. She didn't fight him when he began, but he could feel that she wasn't comfortable at his regular height. Other than that minor adjustment, the process went smoothly!


Faith's hooves, although strong and in fairly good condition, (despite the rest of her,) are worn unevenly and one is severely clubbed. She has a very awkward gait with her clubbed foot. With each step, she lands on the lateral quarter (outside) and then slaps her medial quarter (inside) down onto the ground flat. We are attributing this more towards her conformation than the shape of her hoof, although the club isn't helping any! Brad couldn't make any drastic modifications; any big changes in her hoof structure could potentially cause a lameness, and Faith has enough to worry about for now...

I took before and after shots of her hooves so you can see the difficult task Brad was faced with. Notice the exceptionally steep angle to her left front hoof in the "before" picture, as well as the mismatched angles of her pasterns. In the "after" picture, you can see how he cut a portion of her heel off of her clubbed foot which fixed her angle. Now her pastern and hoof angle are more closely matched. He also set her breakover further back in order to help her out.

Here is a view of the same hooves from behind, showing the extreme amount of heel she had on her clubbed hoof.
I am exceptionally impressed with the quality of Brad's work as well as his work ethic. He came to me very highly recommended, and now I know why! He took his time with Faith and clearly answered all of my questions. Not only that, he has graciously offered to trim Faith free of charge! I was so thankful when he offered that I nearly cried!

Thank you so very much Brad! Please visit his web page at http://www.braderickson.com/

Faith's next appointment is schedule for Wednesday, April 1st.


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Two Weeks In Review

For Faith, the past two weeks have meant:
- a never-ending supply of hay and fresh water
- 6" of clean, soft bedding
- warm blankets
- interviews and pictures with reporters
- numerous vet visits
- hours of grooming by my students
- hours of bandaging by myself
- repeated and successful attempts to outsmart the evil paste syringe
...and the comforting feeling of finally being home.

For ME, the past two weeks have been:
- stressful
- an emotional roller coaster
- humbling from the support we’ve received
- hell for thinking of what she was put through
- bittersweet to know she’ll never go through it again
- sheer exhaustion from countless sleepless nights
- constant doubting if she had the strength to pull through
- repeated and unsuccessful attempts to outsmart that old mare
- and the feeling that I get when she looks into my eyes and says, "Thank you," in her own special way,
…all rolled into one.

Faith’s Outlook
Faith has made huge improvements in just two short weeks. It was enough of a miracle that we found her in time, but even more so that she is pulling through this ordeal with flying colors. Here is an update on her condition as well as some possible issues she may face in the future due to her malnourishment.

1) We might as well start with the most obvious of them all: her weight. It is estimated that she needs to gain at least 350 pounds and we are beginning to notice that she has already put on a few of them. Her eating habits are great – she eats like a… well, an animal! Her dental work has definitely helped her digestive process out.

2) Her hind end lameness and weakness is the next biggest concern as it could affect her comfort and use for the rest of her life. The instability from this weakness is one that we are always cautious of when working around her. One wrong step or an over correction of balance could send her crashing down. This weakness could be a muscle problem, it could be from her suspensories, (see below,) or perhaps even from something else. That will be determined months down the road when we can correctly evaluate her after she gains weight and begins building muscle mass.

3) The suspensory ligaments in her hind legs are extremely weak, and sadly, we do not foresee them ever returning to normal. Her hind pasterns are set at very low angles because of her stretched suspensories and this will definitely have an impact on her future comfort and use.

4) Although the radiographs of her left front pastern came back fairly clean, the clubbed hoof on that same leg will continue to be a problem even with corrective shoeing.

5) The infections on the insides of her hind legs are nearly healed. We are having trouble with one of the abscesses (the largest one) that just refuses to give up. It is cleaned and wrapped twice a day, every day. We are assuming that this is taking so long because her immune system was so depleted.

Overall, it could have been much, much worse. She has made it through this ordeal without major health problems and it looks as though she will at least be comfortable enough to be a companion animal in the future. It would be great if we could eventually give her a job as a riding horse, but it is way too soon to determine if that will even be a possibility. All that matters is that she's safe and sound now.


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Sunday, February 15, 2009

How You Can Help Faith

As many of you know, Faith's rehabilitation is a huge financial undertaking. Her vet bills in 10 days alone have been over $1,400. This doesn't include all of the medicines that we already had in stock, which have been around $400. Although I'm hoping that we're in the clear of any other medical bills in the forseen future, her hay and grain bill will be an ongoing - and quite substantial - financial amount each month. Her farrier costs will be approximately $140 every 5-6 weeks.

We know that we have many faithful readers from all over the United States and all over the world. Any help that we can get will help Faith's recovery tremendously.


A few have asked if we take PayPal, and we have recently set up an account so that payments can be made online. If you would like to, you can make a PayPal donation at http://www.paypal.com/ to "SavingFaithGWS@yahoo.com". Or you can just click the "Donate" link on the top right of this screen!

Words cannot express how much it means to have horse lovers from all over help us in Faith's recovery. This situation has been an emotional roller coaster for Dan and I. We thank you in advance for any help that you can give us. We know that Faith is worth it. She has told us in so many ways.


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Friday, February 13, 2009

Vet & Farrier Visits!

The last few days have been busy for Faith!

Mentally, she is doing great. She is a pretty vocal mare and likes to whinny anytime she thinks she may be getting treats or grain. She is eager to be turned out every day and seems to enjoy her time spent with Amy. Even though my least favorite part of owning mares is their attitude, I'm glad to see that she finally has one! It proves that she's feeling better and getting back to her old self.

Physically, she is doing OK. She has her good days and her bad days, but thankfully she has not regressed as badly as she did during the first week. As I have mentioned in the past, it's quite noticeable that she has a weak hind end, and we're not sure yet if that is caused by her malnourishment or another issue. Some days she has great trouble coming out of her stall, other days are better. Any time she is being forced to pivot and use her hind end to turn, such as coming out of her stall or turning around in the barn aisle, her weakness can be clearly seen. We will hopefully know the cause of this after a few months of rehab.

This past Wednesday was the busiest day this week! We had an appointment with Faith’s farrier to evaluate her leg and hoof condition, and another appointment later in the day with our vet to have radiographs taken of her pastern joint and a dental exam.

At 10:00 am we met Faith's new farrier, Brad Erickson. He came out to evaluate her leg and hoof issues and paid special attention to her clubbed hoof on her front left leg. The pastern above her clubbed foot is much larger than the right front, so we were both concerned about the issues that may arise with trimming and shoeing her. Brad said he would come back later to look at the results of the radiographs and consult with the vet.

Around 1:00 pm Dr. George arrived. He was amazed to see how much Faith has improved in just one week! (The last time he saw her was last Thursday.) He remarked that she is much more alert and doesn't appear nearly as weak as she did in the past. I can’t even explain how much of a relief it was to hear him say that!

We started with her dental exam and saw that Faith’s teeth were in pretty bad shape. It was clear that she had not received any dental work in a very long time. She has a little bit of an overbite, and her molars in the back of her jaw had huge points on them. Faith wasn’t naughty for the float, but certainly wasn't too thrilled about the process either. Two tranquilizer injections later, her mouth looks great! Faith received a full dental exam and float free of charge - thanks Dr. George!




After her float was complete he took two radiographs of her pastern joint. Dr. George and Brad reviewed them and chatted for a few minutes about the results. Absolutely no issues whatsoever! She apparently has some soft tissue damage around the joint, but it does not appear as though it will cause any problems for her. Her farrier appointment will be next Monday at 3:30 pm.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I have received TONS of emails regarding the prosecution of Faith's former owner. Unfortunately I cannot post an update now as things are still unfolding, but I will let everyone know once I can! Thanks for everyone's comments, emails and overall support! It really means a lot!
~Julie

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

We Made the News!


Check out the article with pictures here:
http://www.derrynews.com/local/local_story_042165400.html

DERRY — The sweet, sable-colored mare probably can't believe her good fortune. Aptly named Faith by the woman who rescued her, the horse is now in a clean stable with an endless supply of hay and fresh water. Her emaciated body is covered by a warm blanket. Her wounds are being tended to and she has even made a new equine buddy.

In a different kind of Valentine's Day story, Faith's new owner, Julie Hersey has in her own words "fallen in love with a horse who hasn't been loved in a very long time."

Hersey, the owner of Greenwood Stables on Frost Road in Derry, learned of Faith's plight through a post on an equine Web site that described a "mare in dire straights . . . she needs a rescue and an upgrade in ownership."

The message was posted on Jan. 24 and there were subsequent posts from interested would-be rescuers. When Hersey realized that these rescue attempts weren't coming through, she decided to rescue the mare herself.

On Feb. 2, Hersey and her husband Dan drove to the farm on Foster Road in Loudon where they persuaded the owner to sell Faith to them for a dollar.


"She was standing on a sheet of ice, surrounded by a barbed wire fence," Hersey said. "She had no food or water and there was a nylon halter cutting into her nose."

The mare was severely malnourished and had oozing wounds on her legs. On their way back to Derry, Hersey called Dr. Robyn Eldredge from Deerfield Veterinarian Clinic who met them back at Greenwood Stables. After she examined Faith, who is around 17-years-old, Hersey asked if the mare would need to be euthanized.

"She looked at me and said, 'No not yet. She still has fire in her eyes and wants to live,'" Hersey said.

Faith, who stands at 16.3 hands, or 5 foot, 7 inches, weighs 800 pounds. "She should be at 1100 or 1150 pounds," Hersey said.

Faith had a touch-and-go first week with Hersey up at all hours of the night keeping a close eye on her. Faith suffered from colic from being introduced to grain in her diet which she needs to build back her strength. She was unsteady on her feet and her hind legs were swollen from being malnourished.

"We thought we were going to lose her the third night," Hersey said.

Over the first week, Hersey enlisted the help of three veterinarians — Eldredge and Dr. Simon George from Deerfield Veterinary Clinic and Dr. Brad Barnes from Atkinson Equine Clinic. Hersey has to give medications both by mouth and injection for Faith's abcesses and for pain. So far her veterinary bills are up to $1000 and continue to grow with Faith needing a dental exam and radiographs of one leg and then corrective shoeing by the farrier.

Last Friday, Hersey's attorney Trish Morris, who practices animal law, visited the stables and was horrified at Faith's condition when Hersey removed the blanket from Faith's back.

On Monday, Hersey filed animal cruelty charges against the horse owner with the Loudon police. When the police went to visit the farm, the owner gave conflicting statements as to how long he had the mare.

Morris said on Tuesday that she hopes the police will follow through with animal cruelty charges.
Hersey has enlisted support from the New Hampshire Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the animal control officer from Pittsfield that covers Loudon as well as the state veterinarian's office.

"Something has to be done," Morris said. "We are seeing a problem statewide with people not being able to afford to care for their horses."

Morris said with hay at a ten year high at $6.25 a bale not including delivery charges, the increased cost of grain, the increased cost of shavings combined with a shortage of shavings due to low new construction, the cost of keeping horses has become hard, if not impossible, for many owners.

"There are very few horse shelters in New Hampshire," Morris said. "The NHSPCA had ten horses at the beginning of the week. A horse rescue in Chichester has 51 horses. Donations are down to most non profits, while surrenders are up."

If there is a true case of neglect, the NHSPCA will try to educate the owners as to proper care of the animal.

"Sometimes, it is truly an issue of education," Morris said.

In a negligent animal cruelty case, the first offense is a misdemeanor with up to one year imprisonment and/or up to a $2,000 fine. The second offense of negligent cruelty is a Class B felony and requires a minimum of zero to three and a half years of imprisonment with a maximum of seven years, and/or up to a $4,000.00 fine. Intentional animal cruelty, first offense, is a Class B felony.

Hersey said Faith is doing better this week, but her recovery will be a long one, with ups and downs along the way. Many people from the horse community have offered help and sent money for Faith's food and medical care. A woman from Maine sent a brand new blanket for her.

"I am overjoyed that we found her in time," Hersey said. "She is a sweet animal that never did anything to warrant the cruelty she was shown. I believe she knows she's safe now. She knows she's home."

To find out more about Faith and to read Hersey's blog, "Saving Faith," visit http://www.greenwoodstables.com/

Want to help?
Donations for Faith's care can be made to:

Dodge Grain
59 North Broadway
Salem, N.H.
893-3739

and

Deerfield Veterinarian Clinic
150 South Road
Deerfield, N.H.
463-7775

When making a donation, please note that it is for "Faith at Greenwood Stables."

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Few Very Special "Thank You's"!

I cannot explain how overjoyed and humbled I am by the amount of support that Faith has received from our local community. It means so much to me that there are kind-hearted people who care enough to help. Here's a list of everyone who has made a difference so far in Faith's recovery:

Dr. Simon George & Dr. Robyn Eldredge from Deerfield Veterinary Clinic: Faith would probably not be here if not for you! They also graciously donated Faith's dental exam and float for us! http://www.deerfieldvetclinic.com/

Dr. Brad Barnes from Atkinson Equine Clinic: Your expertise and advice is always appreciated!

Attorney Patricia Morris: Thank you for your support, donation and countless hours of advice with this situation! http://www.pmorrislaw.com/

Brad Erickson, Farrier: I look forward to seeing Faith improve with your expert work! http://www.braderickson.com/

Cher at Griffinbrook: Thank you for your continued advice and support, as well as your generous grain donation! http://www.griffinbrook.com/

Suzanne Laurent of the Derry News: Thank you for helping us spread the word on Faith's story! Hopefully this publicity will prevent this from happening to other animals.

Norma: Thanks for your donation and continued support.

Stacey S: Thank you for the donation of that lovely blanket! It keeps Faith warm on those cold nights!

Linda: Thank you for your donation towards Faith's feed bill!

The Beatties: Thank you so much for your generous donation!

And to all of our clients and friends who have donated towards Faith's recovery, thank you so much!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

NEWS UPDATE: Faith's story has made the front page of the Feb 12th Derry News! Be sure to grab a copy tomorrow!


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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Short Lesson on Law

Not to bore you, but many have been asking about animal cruelty laws and punishments in New Hampshire.

The severe neglect and inhumane treatment Faith has suffered under her prior ownership/custody cleary constitutes animal cruelty under N.H. law:

Specifically, NH RSA 644-8 states (a) Section I…"cruelty'' shall include, but not be limited to, acts or omissions injurious or detrimental to the health, safety or welfare of any animal, including the abandoning of any animal without proper provision for its care, sustenance, protection or shelter).”

Furthermore, NH RSA 644-8 Section III states “[a] person is guilty of a misdemeanor for a first offense, and of a class B felony for a second or subsequent offense, who (a) Without lawful authority negligently deprives or causes to be deprived any animal in his possession or custody necessary care, sustenance or shelter”.

Faith's prior owner's failure to provide adequate sustenance, including food and water, and shelter violates each of these sections.

For more information, go to: http://gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/LXII/644/644-8.htm

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Positives and Negatives

Before I begin this post, I want to let everyone know that Faith's tests have not yet come back. We should have the results within another day or two. However, Faith has been doing pretty well. Her spirits are much better than even just a week ago, which is great to see. She has more fire in her eyes now than throughout her entire time here. Her hind end is still fairly unbalanced when she moves, but she has remained upright for the past five days and counting, with the exception of taking a nap in the arena yesterday for about an hour!

I'll keep everyone posted on the test results. Keep your fingers crossed that they come back OK!

Now onto today's topic...

With all of the disheartening stories on the news each day, it certainly draws us towards and makes us focus on what’s wrong with our world. From the current economy to car accidents, house fires to murders, it’s usually the bad news that makes the headlines. It’s difficult to push past the negativity and see the good.

Then I met Faith…

By rescuing this one horse, I learned just how many good people are still out there. I have had the chance to meet some amazing individuals that I probably wouldn’t have met if not for Faith. Some in person, quite a few over the phone, and countless more through email. Each person’s involvement on Faith’s behalf, whether it’s through a comment posted on this blog or a phone conversation, has helped keep me strong throughout her recovery.

After I first brought her home, many contacted me asking about her progress and concerned about her well being. Others who have gone through similar rescue situations have graciously given me informative suggestions and ideas. Countless more have offered kind words of encouragement. It was just as surprising as it was relieving to see that so many people were concerned and offered to help. I was, and still am with each passing day, humbled by the outpouring of support and generosity for Faith. Thank you to all of you who have helped us through the rough times!

Then there are the ill intentioned few…

Sure, the “horse world” is small and can be political. There are trainers that will do anything to win, dealers that will do anything for a buck, instructors that gossip so much they burn every bridge down around them, and other “professionals” who like to start trouble just for fun. Unfortunately one of those people has made a few sad attempts to discredit my name and intentions with Faith.

They have posted ignorant comments and rude remarks for the sole purpose of trying to discourage me. They never post their true identity, choosing to hide behind an anonymous facade, knowing that their comments are false. If they truly had a valid point, they would have absolutely no problem posting their identity next to their “real” feelings. Their plan to discourage me has done quite the opposite: the more ignorant comments I read, the more it drives me to fight harder for this mare.

One of my first riding instructors was actually the main reason that I have rescued Faith and the others before her. This woman had severe issues with her students rising above her level and obtaining goals that she herself could not. Unfortunately, she would take her frustrations out on the animals that were entrusted in her care. Long story short, by the time I could pull my horse out of her facility, he was 150 pounds underweight. And he was a two-year-old. From that moment on, I vowed that I would rise above and always offer to help any animal not being treated fairly.

My intentions when I first saw Faith were clear cut: I needed to get her out of her current situation and either rehab her or let her go comfortably and peacefully. The purpose of this web page was to educate the public on the frequency of animal abuse and neglect, as well as a forum for everyone who wanted to check in on Faith’s daily progress. It has successfully proven to do both.

For those of you that want to start trouble about Faith, please tell us why you feel the need to discredit Faith’s story, and own up to your comments by putting your name next to them. Don’t hide behind the juvenile anonymity any longer. Are you going to come out of hiding and prove your points, or just disappear since you know that you are wrong. We all want to hear your “story”; our ears are open and waiting...


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Monday, February 9, 2009

First Steps Towards Justice

Faith enjoying her breakfast...



Today was an important day for Faith. I received all of my paperwork from the veterinarians, typed it into a nice report, and took the first step to prosecute her previous owner: I went to the police department.

I spoke with an officer regarding the situation and he appeared concerned. Then I showed him the pictures... The look on his face was one of shock and disgust. He asked for details of the situation and I told him everything I knew. He discussed things with a few other officers, and then a small group of them packed up and went to directly to Faith's previous "home".

I unfortunately can't get into many details right now, as the situation is still unfolding. All I can say is that this "man" (and I use that term very, very loosely,) told the officers that he had RESCUED Faith two years ago from a bad situation. He attempted to convince them that she had a pre-existing physical ailment which prevented her from gaining weight. That's pretty funny, especially seeing how I have two reports from two different veterinarians stating that there are no issues with her body that would cause an inability to put weight on. Both claimed neglect as the reasoning behind her condition.

It is now up to the chief of police to determine whether or not they will proceed with charges against her previous owner. Please keep your fingers crossed that he will be prosecuted for what he has done.

Now onto happier news!

This morning Faith was eager for me to finish up with her bandaging and medicating so she could be turned out with Amy. They walked on either side of me out to the arena, anxious for the remainder of their breakfast.

Faith made the short trip from the barn to the arena at a quick pace, for her at least! She appears to grow more alert and curious (and impatient) every day. Her personality the first few days was zombie-like; now she's happily transforming into the funny, cranky mare we knew she'd be! Also, she is definitely more stable on her legs than she has been in recent days, which is quite relieving.

She spent the afternoon with Amy while I drove an hour north to file the police report. When I got back, it was time for a good grooming and re-bandaging. Faith's human friend Margaret helped pull her wraps off while I got her medicine ready.

And of course, since Faith is "famous" now because she has her own blog, Margaret and Miranda just had to have their pictures taken with her:


PS - A special "hello!" to everyone in Margaret's math class!

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Sunday, February 8, 2009

One Week Ago

One week ago all hell broke loose.
One week ago, a horse had no food, no water, no shelter.
One week ago, she was standing on a sheet of ice, surrounded by a barbed wire fence.
One week ago, a nylon halter was cutting into her nose.
One week ago, she was in rough shape, no muscles under her skin, no fat on her bones.
One week ago, she had untreated wounds oozing down her legs.
One week ago, no one loved her, no one even cared.
One week ago, she was on her way out.
One week makes a hell of a big difference.

During the past week, she has always had hay and water in front of her.
During the past week, she has had a warm blanket on her back, a roof over her head.
During the past week, she has had deep, soft shavings under her feet at night, and soft sand under her feet during the day.
During the past week, she has overcome struggles.
During the past week, she has felt love, she has felt companionship.
Because of the past week, she will survive and have a new start to her life.

One week ago, I fell in love with an horse who hadn't been loved in a very long time.
One week ago, I promised to help her through her recovery, every step of the way.
One week ago, I thought she wouldn't make it.
One week ago, I learned how a survivor struggled.
One week ago, I watched a fighter pulled through difficult times.
One week ago, I met a horse that would change my life.

What a difference a week makes.

Congratulations to Faith on making it through your first week of recovery! You're a fighter and I love you very much!

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She Could Barely Stand 3 Days Ago...

Faith has been with us for 6 days now. Over the past few she has made steady improvements. Her attitude is improving tremendously; for once she seems eager for the different activities that are planned for her each day. (With the exception of her medicine, which you all know about by now. More on that at the end of this post!) We haven't had any colic episodes or other major complications for three nights and counting. (I'm slowly catching up on my sleep deprivation, but now appear to be coming down with a nasty cold due to it.)

Anyone who has seen Faith move knows that she is very gawky on her legs, especially her hind end. We're assuming her unique movement is primarily due to her malnourishment and muscle atrophy, which translates to her lack of coordination and lack of strength. She moves slowly, always making sure she is stable on one leg before moving another. Coming out of her stall is tough: one slow step at a time, never more than one foot off of the ground at any given moment. Turning around in the barn aisle is even more difficult for her. However, she is improving steadily, and she hasn’t even been here for a full week yet. Once she is up to a decent weight, we will proceed with a lameness exam to determine if there are any other underlying issues. For now our main concern is getting her comfortable and slowly beginning to increase her weight and muscle mass.

This morning was Faith’s best one yet. We skipped our morning walk and went right to changing bandages and wraps, and administering her meds. After I was done, we went to the arena and I let her loose. Once free of her halter, she did something that made me speechless – she began TROTTING down to the end of the arena, went around the corner, and came back through diagonally! This horse who could barely walk six days ago and was unable to stand on her own three nights ago, was TROTTING all on her own! I stood there frozen in amazement, tears welling up in my eyes. I poked my head out of the arena and called to Dan who was working on the tractor. “She’s trotting!” I yelled, barely able to get the words out without breaking up. He looked confused, came over to see her and smiled. Our girl just might pull through after all…

After about a dozen or so bites of hay, Faith informed me that I had not yet brought her friend out to play yet, and she was clearly upset with me. She began whinnying for Amy as loud as she could, the sound of her voice echoing off of the arena walls. I ran into the barn, brought Amy out of her stall and we trotted back to the arena. I let Amy loose and they immediately walked up to each other and sniffed noses. Amy let out another squeal, just because, and they began eating breakfast together.

Later in the afternoon a student needed the arena and I brought the girls back into the barn. I noticed something amazing - Faith's blanket had sand on it! That means one thing, and one thing only: she had laid down and gotten back up all on her own! This was a first and I was thrilled for her!

Faith happily munching on some hay. (Notice how the outline of her spine and pelvis is visible through her blankets?)

I had to post this picture because I love the face she's making...


Update on her meds, or "TOMA" as it is now called:

Before I begin, I would like to point out that this mare is SMAAAAART.

Many of you have posted comments and sent emails suggesting other ways that we can get her meds into her, all of which are greatly appreciated! Now that she is on light amounts of grain, we have begun tests to determine how we can get her medicine into her and not all over us. She is currently given about a half a quart of hay stretcher and 3/4 quart of Equine Senior twice a day. Due to the limited amount of feed and the high amount of meds, it is becoming increasingly difficult (read as: wholly impossible) to trick her into consuming it with her breakfasts and dinners.

Forgoing the bute (because it supposedly has a nasty flavor, not that I know for certain because I haven't personally tried it, nor have any plans to!) we tried mixing just the SMZ's and her grain together. The first bite she spit out, and refused to eat the rest of it.

I soaked hay stretcher until it was a mash and added the SMZ's to it - not even close. She spit out the first bite and then glared at me. She's one of those mares...

Unfortunately I cannot think of anything else to add to it to cover the taste. We cannot add certain things to it, just as Molasses, as the sugar content is too high and we do not want to overload her digestive system. I've tried adding carrots and other low-sugar treats to it with no luck.

It looks like we'll have to continue with TOMA for at least another week until we can increase the amounts of her grain and hay stretcher so it will dilute the taste of her meds.


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Saturday, February 7, 2009

A New Best Friend

Around 8am I brought Faith for a walk around the arena to stretch her legs out. She was alert with her ears up, her pace was noticeably quicker. At her request, I let her stop and sniff the ground in a few places. After about 15 minutes, I brought her back into the barn and we did our twice-daily routine of meds, wraps, bandaging and grooming.

Faith has been in compression wraps (or standing wraps) for two days now, and what a difference it has made! All of our vets suggested using these wraps as she still had excessive pitted edema (swelling) in both hind legs. When she first arrived, her hock was actually narrower than her cannon bone, fetlock and pastern. Our previous plan was to hand walk her a few times each day. The walking would almost instantly reduce the swelling, but it was only temporary and it would come back within an hour or so. She has been in compression wraps since Thursday night, and has made a huge improvement. You can actually see the tendons in her left hind leg now!

I pulled her wraps off and put on a set of clean ones, and she stood like an angel for me. Once that was done, I needed to clean up the abscesses on the inside of her legs. They are obviously quite painful, and she kept her ears pinned to her neck from the second I'd start touching them until the end. I learned quickly that giving her a carrot actually does solve everything. This horse is apparently physically unable to put her ears back if there is something in her mouth, with the exception of a paste syringe, of course!

Dan came into the barn just as I was ready to administer her antibiotics and pain meds - perfect timing! With his help, I was confident that we were surely going to be successful in getting all of it into her mouth. And we actually did get all of it into her mouth. However, this time she outsmarted us and just pretended to swallow. Believing it was over, we let our guard down. And then it happened... again. A white spray of medicine shot out of her mouth and landed all over us. We both grumbled at her and then looked at each other. Dan had chunks of paste on his face, I had more in my hair. We laughed... (Score: Faith 4, Julie 2, Dan 0)

* * * * *

Saturday mornings are quite active at our barn, as its one of our busiest lesson days. This morning Faith was greeted by a few of our lesson students and their parents. She was attentive and focused on the carrots and treats they were feeding her. They asked about her condition and a few were noticeable upset. “How could someone do this to her?” one of the 7-year-olds asked. “I don’t know,” was the answer I gave her. I couldn’t fathom it either.

Her spirits seem much better than the past few days. She is alert and acting more like a horse instead of the sloth she has been over the past week. Like a typical mare, she pins her ears back when you walk into her stall. Once she recognizes you they point forward, looking eagerly for any treats you may have. This would normally aggravate me, but I'm actually glad to see that she has a bit of an attitude. It means that she's feeling better and is coming back around to her normal self.

Faith ate her breakfast in her stall while I taught lessons for a few hours. A whinny would be heard from her stall every time a horse left the barn. Although she had a horse in full view directly across from her, she acted as though she wanted to be outside with company. I think she was finally ready to take on that challenge. Plus, I knew that it would help with the healing process in two ways: First, her ability to move around freely would help her muscles and overall body condition. And secondly, the thought of having equine companionship would help her mind. After lessons were over, it was time to introduce Faith to Amy, the horse who will eventually become her best friend.

I have owned Amy for years - 10 to be exact - and she is an absolute sweetheart. She is a registered breeding stock Paint, 900 pounds and a whopping 14.1 hands tall. Amy came to be from a neglectful situation in 1999 and had NO trust in people when I brought her home. Over the first few months we worked together every day, building trust in each other with each session. She went on to become a champion in the show ring and my most trustworthy lesson horse. She is very passive in nature, and I knew that she would be a good match for Faith to bond with.

Around 2pm, I led both of them into the arena and cautiously set them loose. As usual, Amy went straight for the hay. (She’s a glutton, what can I say?) Faith ignored the hay at first and slowly meandered around the arena, still a little shaky on her hind legs. She smelled every corner and checked out the doors. She eventually walked up to Amy and introduced herself...


One squeal came from the little mare, and their herd dynamics were established. No kicking or fighting, just a vocalization from one stating who the boss was, and they were instant buddies. I had made a good choice.

A few hours later, after checking in on them every 20 minutes or so, it was time to bring them in for dinner. I walked right up to Amy, put her halter on and threw her lead over her neck. She was next to the arena door and knew that her grain was on the other side of it - she wasn't going anywhere. Then I meandered down to Faith, and was in for a shock...

She didn't want to be caught! I walked up to her right side and she turned her butt towards me, and headed in the opposite direction. I jogged up to her left side, and she turned back. (She still has balance and strength issues, so I was doing my best not to encourage her to trot.) I finally said "Whoa" pretty firmly and she turned towards me and stopped. I walked up to her with a halter in my hand and she turned around again and speed-walked away from me! I was shocked! I finally jumped ahead of her and had her cornered. She knew she had been defeated and put her nose out towards her halter.

Into the barn we went, Faith on my right side and her new best friend on my left.


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Pictures - Day Six
















Friday, February 6, 2009

Better Days are Just Ahead

Faith made it through the night with no incidents, and we are more positive than ever that she is on the road to recovery. She greeted me at her door this morning, awaiting more food, even though she still had a least a flake left over from the night before. I refilled her water buckets and let her eat her breakfast while I tended to the others.

A wonderful, kind-hearted woman from a neighboring town was scheduled to come and meet Faith this morning. She was kind enough to donate to the "Saving Faith" fund with our primary veterinarian, and I looked forward to meeting and thanking her in person. The emails that she had sent me since the rescue occured were ones of concern and support. Anytime Faith was having an issue, she was the first to give me words of encouragement. She was also the first of Faith's angels to pay her a visit.

Norma showed up around 9am and I introduced her to the mare who I was sure would win her over. Faith immediately greeted her, saying thanks in her own special way. I pulled her out of her stall and put her on the crossties to begin my morning routine of pulling her blankets back and giving her a good grooming. Norma patted Faith and gave her a peppermint candy. (Food of any kind given to Faith means that she can trust a person; peppermint candies seal the deal that they're not allowed to leave until their pockets are emptied.) I chit chatted with Norma about her recovery, similiar incidents of neglect in the area, and more. It was a relieving feeling to know that others supported the difficult task I was trying to accomplish. We also discussed plans to convict Faith's previous owner for animal abuse. (More information to follow once we have everything set in motion.)

Shortly thereafter, our good friend Patricia showed up to meet Faith as well as talk with the reporter. Patricia has a strong standpoint on animal rights and has kindly offered her skilled advice so we can pursue the correct routes with filing reports and possibly pursuing this legally. She kindly donated to the "Saving Faith" fund, and Dan and I are extremely humbled by all she has done for us so far.

An hour later was Faith's big moment to shine. Suzanne, a reporter from our local newspaper arrived around 10:30am to interview myself and Patricia and take pictures of Faith. This was a big deal; this story was going to become public and bring light to the terrible situation facing many animals.

I pulled Faith out of her stall and hooked her up to the crossties in the aisle. I began pulling off her blankets and heard gasps by both of the women in the barn. Her condition is bad. I have told people from the start that I didn't believe the pictures did her justice. The reactions of Patricia and Suzanne confirmed that. The next hour consisted of taking pictures and discussing the situation. The article will hopefully be published in next Thursday's paper. I will post the link on their website once it becomes available. Keep your fingers crossed that we make the front page.

* * * * *

This afternoon Faith had an appointment to see Dr. Barnes at his clinic. I walked her up to the trailer and she stopped, refusing to step on it. It was obvious she didn't want to leave, but it was impossible to convince her that she would be back. With a little coaxing she walked on, still a little shaky on her legs, and headed straight for her hay net. Twenty minutes later, we were at his office and he was examining her for his report. She stood like an angel while he ran his hands over her entire body. He noted similar things that Dr. George and Dr. Robyn had noticed, stating that it was obvious that this was a case of neglect. He suggested dental care as soon as she was able to withstand sedatives in order to better digest her food. We would also schedule radiographs with Dr. George in order to better understand the excessive calcifications she has on her front left pastern.

Dr. Barnes believes that she has a fighting chance, and as long as her internal organs could keep functioning, she will overcome this. I have known Dr. Barnes for years and I trust every word that comes out of his mouth. It was a great relief to hear this from a man I so highly respected. He wished us luck and handed me his signed report. A line from it stated, "upon physical examination, this horse appears to be approximately 300-350 pounds underweight..." We had a long road ahead of us, that was certain.

We were on our way home, and she was eager to return to her stall.


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Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Oral Medications Argument: Game On

I was prepared tonight. We argued about this twice a day, every day, but I wasn't going to let this fussy mare win again. It was the only argument we ever had - the oral medications argument, or "TOMA" as I will refer to it from now on. I concocted her twice daily paste of SMZs and bute, antibiotics and pain reliever. I had learned that I needed to increase her dosage, as there was a good chance that she wouldn't ingest all of it. Tonight it would be different - I had backup this time.

Margaret, a student of mine, had absolutely fallen in love with Faith from the moment she saw her. It could have been because Faith had bonded with her on the first day, or maybe it was the fact that this kid loves everything with four legs. Whatever it was, they had become buddies. Faith trusted her. I now had the perfect ally to help me win "TOMA"...

Margaret put Faith's halter on and held her chin in one hand. Before she realized what was going on, I quickly pushed the tube into the corner of Faith's mouth. It was working, she wasn't really fighting us. Amazing. I began to press the plunger...and it all went into her mouth! Wonderful - the plan had worked!

I pulled it out and smiled a big smile, and then it hit me. And I mean literally. Faith opened her mouth and blew about a quarter of the medicine at me. On me. All over me. Margaret was laughing so hard I thought she had stopped breathing for a moment. There was paste on my sunglasses, on my forehead, in my hair. The front of my black jacket was covered in white spots, horse saliva and bits of partially chewed hay. I felt defeated and frustrated. And I couldn't help but laugh too. (Score: Faith 3, Julie 2)



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Fighting to Survive

Many have asked me about Faith's future. To be totally honest, I am not sure. She may pull through and go on and have a career. She may end up only being sound enough to be a pasture ornament. Or she may need to eventually be humanely euthanized. We know that she will tell us when it's time to say goodbye, and we are hoping that the time doesn't come too soon. Her future mostly depends on her fight to survive, and right now her guns are blazing.

Faith's recovery will be a long one. She has hundreds of pounds to put on. She is fighting massive infections from untreated wounds, putting additional stress on her immune system. The swelling in her hinds legs could eventually be debilitating if we cannot find the cause and put an end to fluid buildups. Her internal organs have undergone massive strain and could easily give out on her, if they have not begun to do so already. The ulcers in her mouth mean there could be ulcers in her stomach, which are painful, caused by stress and extremely difficult to treat.

Faith has a crew working for her. She is currently under the supervision of three licensed veterinarians: Dr. George, Dr. Robyn and Dr. Barnes. All three have examined her and are there for us when we need them. Dr. George is on call 24 hours a day and has walked me through some lighter situations right over the phone. He can be here within 20 minutes if an emergency occurs. Brad Erickson is her personal farrier, who specializes in corrective shoeing. He will be working along with the vets to correct the issues with her clubbed foot and the swelling in her hind legs.
Her diet for now consists mostly of "free choice" hay - she is given as much hay as she can possibly eat - and as much water as she can drink. We are closely monitoring her intake. We have very, very slowly started her on senior grain, and only due to the fact she had a physical breakdown last night and her body needs carbohydrates for energy. The risk with that: too many carbs and fat too quickly will overload and cause stress to her digestive system. A colic episode would occur, which could be fatal. We were not planning on introducing her to any grains for at least another 7-10 days. However, if she collapses and does not have the strength to get herself back up, she will crush her internal organs. It's a risk we need to take - it's a tight rope that we're walking.



Despite the hardships that she has been forced to endure, Faith is friendly, sweet and trusting. She is fighting to survive and I believe she knows we're doing our very best to help her. The next few days will be a struggle. The next week will be as well. And the next month will give us better insight into her future. She will progress, and then she will regress. She has already done it a few times, and I know she will again. But we need to take this a day at a time.

Despite the emotional rollercoaster it is for all of the people that have fallen in love with her, we need to have faith. She does.




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Renewed Faith

Faith apparently wasn't ready to say goodbye just yet, either.

Her improvements began around 3am. She grew more steady on her feet and appeared stronger. Her eyes brightened and the terrified look from her face began to wane. That fight in her I saw on her first day was beginning to show its face again. I couldn't help but smile and give her a kiss on her soft nose. She nickered back to me, and not to sound corny or anything, but it was magical.

Around 8am I reloaded my syringe and approached her stall. She glared at me and I told her outloud, "I'm going on two hours of sleep, and so are you, so don't give me any crap." She knew. She practically opened her mouth for me. I knew I would pay for this later. (Score: Faith 2, Julie 2)

I left her in her stall as I cleaned it, afraid that if I were to take her out and have her fall in the aisle, that it would be a nightmare. Dan was at work and it was 6 degrees outside, about 30 in the barn. Too cold for accidents. I worked around her and she willingly moved out of my way. We waited for Dr. George to show up and take blood and fecal samples. We were worried that her weakness could be from liver and/or kidney failure and the blood test would give us a clear view of what was happening. While we waited, I went back upstairs and took a quick (and well-deserved) nap.

He showed up around 11:00am, took his samples and began his evaluation. He looked at her legs and suggested that it would be OK now to start her in standing wraps to help keep them from swelling so much, especially since her mobility was a concern and her walking would be limited.

He continued his exam and when he questioned there possibly being an issue with her teeth, I couldn't help but chuckle. This will be funny, I thought to myself. She's never going to let him touch her mouth.

At first she resisted, but once she realized it wasn't my fingers inside her mouth, she relaxed and let him do his job. I was standing on her left side holding her lead in my hands, and she stared at me with her left eye the entire time. I know she was laughing at me. This horse had a sense of humor.

We discussed the recent bouts of colic, and determined they were caused by her deworming medicine. The amount of worms in her system that were killed with the medicine were in her intestines, blocking off her absorption of nutrients. This caused pain and weakness. This was good news. It explained the colic and her inability to keep herself upright. The worms would eventually pass and this will no longer be an issue. Hopefully...

Dr. George left and said he would call back with the test results. Once we knew the results, we'd know which direction we'd take with her treatment. I put her back in her stall, allowing her to rest while I worried about the test results. She got to munch on hay while every possibility in the world ran through my head.

A few hours passed and the phone rang. It was Dr. Robyn calling back with the results: absolutely nothing wrong. What?! Did I hear that correctly? I certainly wasn't hoping for an issue, but nothing wrong? That's impossible!

So with my own faith renewed, I went down to see my other Faith with a horse cookie in my pocket. In the three days she has been here, she quickly learned which pocket I kept them in, and would keep nuzzling it until I gave her one. She munched away and then turned back to her hay, not a care in the world. She might just be all right afterall.


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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Not Ready to Say Goodbye

Shortly before dinnertime, Faith needed to be pulled out of her stall, taken for a walk, have her wounds tended to and have her stall picked before she was put back in. After our short 10 minute walk, she waited patiently on the cross ties for me to grab the first aid kit from the tack room. I brought it over to her and went to work. A student cleaned her stall and Faith stared at her the entire time, apparently making sure she did a satisfactory job. After I was finished with her legs, it was time for the oral antibiotic. And this time I was ready.

I walked into the tack room, grabbed the syringe and headed back to where Faith was. When I left her, her head was low, about chest level to me. Now, her head was about as high up as she could get it, inches from the ceiling, her lips pinched together. She knew what was going to happen next, and I swear if a horse could laugh, she would have been. I turned around and walked back to get a bucket to stand on, and then asked my student to help out. Even though we both held onto her head as best she could, Faith wanted no part of it, moved, and nearly knocked me off of my bucket, spitting a small portion of it on my jeans. (Score: Faith 2, Julie 1)

Feeding time at night went well. Faith was sure that if she whinnied louder than the other horses, she'd be served before them. She was right. After I tended to her, I made all of the other horses were settled in for the night. I checked on her one last time and she was happily munching away on her hay.

A few hours later, around 9:00pm, I went to check on her and my heart nearly stopped. She was laying flat down in her stall, her hooves facing away from me. As she heard me coming, she tilted her head and neck back to look up at me, and she softly nickered. I panicked and called for Dan. He came down and we gave her a dose of banamine to reduce her pain. It seemed to work, and in ten minutes she decided to get up on her own - and she made it without any help.

There was a problem though - she didn't know where her legs were and couldn't stabilize herself. She crashed into the far wall and caught her balance just in time. She looked panicked and tried to step towards me. In doing so nearly fell again and wound up in the middle of the stall with no support. I immediately grabbed her head in my hands and tried to help her. I figured at least if I could keep her still, she'd stay up. Not the case. She needed something to lean against and knew she needed to do something quickly. She jumped towards me, knocking me out of the way, aiming for the wall where her buckets were. It worked. She stayed upright.

Dan held onto her and I was on the phone with our other vet, Dr. George, within seconds. He told me that it sounded as though she was just extremely weak, and that this happens occasionally with horses that are in her condition. Going against everything the vet and I had planned from the beginning, we were forced into giving her some grain. Her body needed carbohydrates, and it needed them now. I gave her a quart of sweet feed and kept my fingers crossed that it wouldn't cause her to colic again.

An hour passed and we tried to see if she was more stable on her legs. She was, but barely. She appeared drunk, aware of where her legs were being placed, but unsure how to balance on them. I was sick to my stomach. This mare had made so many strides in the right direction in one day, and now was going just as fast backwards.

Dan and I had sadly discussed the possibilities. We would keep fighting for her as long as she was. When she gave up and told us that she couldn't fight any longer, we would do what is best and we wouldn't let her suffer. Regardless of what her life was before she became part of ours, she deserved humane treatment in the end. That was the least we could give her.

Please Faith, keep on fighting. I'm not ready to say goodbye to you just yet.


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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Pictures - Faith Relaxing







Day Two - Making New Friends

I jumped out of bed, threw a warm sweatshirt and boots on and ran downstairs. It had been three hours since I had last checked on Faith and I felt a twinge of guilt for sleeping in.

I ran down the stairs, through the tack room, and into the barn aisle. As I cautiously approached her stall, preparing for the worst, I heard the sweetest sound in the world. Soft nickers from her stall, the first sound I had heard out of her. I walked up to her and she came to the door, another first. As I slid her door open, she nicely pointed out that she was out of hay. And she wanted more. Now. I went back the way I came from and returned with three big flakes of hay. She couldn't wait for me to throw them into her hay rack, and inadvertantly knocked them out of my hand. I let her eat for a minute and then reached down to pick them up. She laid her ears back at me; I was not only in between her and her food, but I was taking too long.

After breakfast I went back downstairs, pulled her out of her stall and brought her for a short walk. Our driveway was a sheet of ice, but the road had solid footing, so it was our safest bet. We walked towards our neighbors house and back a few times. Walking away from the barn Faith lagged behind me, bumping her nose on my shoulder every few strides. On the way back, she was in front of me, begging me to walk faster. When I turned her to head away from the barn again, she'd stare deep into my eyes. She didn't want to be out walking around - she wanted to eat.

Walking her a few times daily was necessary to keep the fluid buildups out of her legs. She had massive swelling in both hind legs due to the malnutrition, and walking was the best remedy. She didn't believe that though. She was sure that hay cured everything.

Back in the barn, she led me right towards her stall. Passing all the open doors before hers, she knew exactly which one was hers. Dumb, she was not. I let her eat as I brought in warm water, betadine solution and rags to clean the open wounds on her hind legs. She would occasionally pull away if I overstepped my boundaries by touching a sore spot too many times, but for the most part she was well-behaved and let me get her cleaned up. Fura-zone, an antibiotic cream, was then put on her wounds to help prevent further infection. A little dab of vaseline was rubbed on her hair below the abscesses so that the fluid draining out of them wouldn't irritate her skin and cause more issues. After that, it was time for her oral paste antibiotics that she so dearly loves. This time she not only allowed me to put it in her mouth, but I was also allowed to press the end and release the entire tube into her mouth in one shot. The catch? She blew most of it back in my face. Tomorrow I'll be prepared... (Score: Faith 1, Julie 1)

The afternoon was quiet time for her to eat and relax. I tried to get caught up on the mounds of paperwork quickly accumulating on my desk. Every so often I'd check in on the online bulletin board where I had first learned about her. I did my best to keep everyone informed on her progress and posted pictures of her, and in return I received an outpouring of support.

People that I had never met, that didn't know me from Adam, joined together and offered to help Faith! I was overjoyed, and extremely humbled. Never in my life had a stranger - or shall I say, group of strangers - come together to help me like this. I was overwhelmed.

A kind woman from Maine offered to buy Faith a brand new blanket and ship it to our farm. A lady a town over from us offered to buy grain. A few people donated money towards our account at our feed supply store. People who themselves were not rich, were struggling to get by in this economy, were so generous that they would agree to help a horse that they had never met. It was inspiring. It literally brought tears to my eyes.

I knew how special Faith was when I realized that her story touched the lives and brought out the good of so many. She had a hold on my heart the first time she looked into my eyes; now she was doing the same to others who hadn't even met her. Inspiring, to say the very least.

*UPDATE* We have received a few emails requesting information on where donations can be made to help Faith during her rehab process. I figured it would probably be easier just to post it here:

Dodge Grain
59 North Broadway
Salem, NH 03079
(603) 893-3739

Deerfield Vet Clinic
150 South Road
Deerfield, NH 03037
(603) 463-7775


*Just make sure to tell both places that the donation is for "Faith at Greenwood Stables" and they'll apply it towards her feed and veterinary bills.



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