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It seemed strange to look through the door of stall one and not see Hammer laying down in the thick shavings. That had been his home for the last six months, and his favorite position – off his feet, resting, interrupted only by visits from the vets and farriers, by those who cleaned his stall twice a day and by the staff who gave him special feed and hay. Six months locked up, with only a half door open to the outside world, must have seemed like an eternity to a 25 year old gelding, but it was necessary. The alternative was to lose his life.
The stall was empty now, at least during the day, because Hammer took his first steps outside on his rehabilitated legs and stood quietly grazing with two other horses a few feet from the barn. He’ll be adopted soon because he loves people, especially children, and is one of the kindest, gentlest older horses we have.
The little donkey in stall two let out a mournful bray, perhaps because he knew Hammer was out while he had to stay inside. Too small to see out the half door, he counts on both horses and volunteers to visit while he heals from an attack by several vicious dogs.
Outside, in the donkey pen just across the road from the ICU barn, his brothers and sisters responded with a joyous “brayfest.” In a few more weeks, he’ll be out with them, and the stall will be ready for the next equine patient in need of intensive care.
That special building at the ranch, with the lift that helps horses stand when they otherwise couldn’t, with the heated and air conditioned operating room, and the special stalls and trained staff ready at a moment’s notice, have saved the lives of countless horses. We don’t want to give up and, as long as there is hope, our vets and staff will keep trying.
Because we also know that somewhere out there is a special home for each and every horse and donkey that pass through our gates. Somewhere there is a little girl who wants to throw her arms around Hammer’s neck and hug him before she goes to bed at night. Somewhere is an older couple who would love to have the little donkey share their retirement home in the country.
We know that there are so many horses suffering from severe abuse and neglect that it seems endless. We receive calls every day from law enforcement and neighbors asking for help. Sometimes it’s just a matter of helping the owner understand what is needed, but when that doesn’t work, it takes a trip to court and a decision by a judge to take them away. With your help, their lives are changed forever.
That’s why we need you now more than ever. Our goal is to be there for the horses when their fate seems darkest, to step in and offer legal assistance, rehabilitation and sanctuary, then to find a new home, a loving home, where the memories of the past will fade away.