Animal abuse and neglect always seem to be 'someone' else's problem. . . "Someone" should do something, "Someone" should say something. It's easy to assume that "someone" else will address the problem. Well a few weeks ago I was "someone". I have in my care two badly neglected coming yearlings. Somehow they managed to survive the winter with essentially no care. Two of their pasture mates did not.
The horses involved in this situation have lived in substandard living conditions since I have been aware of them. I'm talking about snarled barb wire fence, trash in the pasture, poor quality hay (and not enough of it) and NO shelter. None.
Now, they were getting by okay in the summer and fall when I saw them on a weekly basis. They had some grass to pick at. Most of them didn't look too bad. There were four young horses in the group -approx. 6 months old. The owner claimed that these foals were the result of an inadvertent backyard breeding spree by a poorly contained stud. . . Go figure.
One of the colts was clearly unhealthy. At the end of summer he had a long, dull, shaggy coat, protruding hip bones, and a large pot belly. (He is actually pictured on my website under 'The Philosophy' section.) The owner insisted that the colt had been 'wormed'. No mention of what he was supposedly dewormed with or when. I suggested that there might be another medical condition such as ulcers that were affecting the colt and leading to his extremely poor condition. The response was pretty much 'Well, he'll die then.' And he did.
Things went from bad to worse for these horses in January. The owner, who had at least been living on the property, was forced to move out of his trailer (and tear it down). His son (who had been doing the majority of the horse care) also had to move, and the horses were pretty well left to fend for themselves in the dead of winter. Anyone who weathered last January and February here in Ohio knows that we had A LOT of snow. Horses NEED shelter from freezing rain, sleet, snow, and subzero wind chills. It doesn’t have to be fancy – a three sided shelter does just fine, but they need to have access to something.
Horses also require a substantial amount of hay and feed in the winter – staying warm burns a lot of calories (especially when there isn’t any shelter…) There were four mares (two of them mothers of the foals) and the foals. Feeding that many horses properly would put a significant financial dent in their owner’s pocketbook – if that owner was inclined to feed them. (He wasn’t). Three feet of snow made it tough to get hay and tougher to get it to the horses. When the horses did get a bale of low quality hay thrown to them there was considerable fighting over who would get the most of it – supposedly this is how the second foal died (a black and white paint filly). In the struggle to get a few bites of hay, this filly got in the way of a hungry mare whose kick turned out to be fatal. (Or so the story goes.) It’s entirely possible that she just died from starvation and/or exposure.
At some point the little pot bellied colt died. Whether it was from ulcers, worms, starvation or exposure no one really knows. Regardless, his body was left to rot in the same place where he laid down (or collapsed) for the last time in his brief life. (The filly’s body was left to rot in the same “pasture”.)
In March the owner got tired of “feeding” his herd of horses and offered the remaining foals to me. It made no difference to him whether I took them home and cared for them or unloaded them at Sugar Creek – he just wanted them gone. Calamity and Diamond arrived at my house on March 13th. They were very thin and both had worms. Calamity had severe rain rot (a skin condition) from not having any shelter all winter. Diamond faired better – his rain rot was not as severe and he was not quite as desperately thin as his half sister.
Since they have been here Calamity and Diamond have had a pile of hay in front of them. They have been dewormed and bathed. Calamity had to be clipped in order to effectively treat her rain rot. They eat like there is no tomorrow! Diamond is ready to find a home – he is at a decent weight and he is healthy. He leads and ties. This boy is a full blooded Tennessee Walker. He has been gelded. Diamond has no barn vices and he gets along well with other horses. Calamity is going to need some more weight on her before she is ready to go. Her rain rot is better and we are on top of the worms. Calamity’s mother is a registered Appaloosa. This little girl knows how to lead and tie. She is going to be a good one when she grows up!
How a person chooses to care for their animals is a direct reflection of who they are. The man who owned these horses chose not to care for them – by all accounts and from my own personal knowledge he had the financial ability. His horses suffered because of willful negligence. He did not want to spend the money on decent hay and feed (or enough of it); and he did not want to spend the money to provide adequate shelter. The fact that two young horses died because of his neglect does not bother him in the least. (If anyone has any advice on bringing charges of animal abuse/neglect in Knox County, Ohio I would be happy to hear it.) Outside of that if anyone has room for Diamond or Calamity (when she is ready) please let me know. Diamond’s adoption fee is $300. If you don’t have room for Calamity or Diamond but could spare a few dollars to help care for them that would also be greatly appreciated!
These young horses deserve a decent home and a shot at life!
UPDATE!! Diamond found a forever home! His new mom is spending lots of time with him and he is doing well! Thank you Sherry from PA for your contribution! Keep an eye out for Calamity - she is shedding out to have some gray in her dark coat.