April 6, 2013 – Jerry Finch
“Pictures don’t lie,” our vet once told a defense attorney in court. “You can come up with all the theories you want, but it doesn’t change the fact that these horses are bone thin because of the lack of food, and that’s the responsibility of the owner.”
Those same words could have been spoken in court today. Yet another case of starvation involving three horses kept in a grassless lot. The seizure took place last week. Aided by the local police and animal control officers, Habitat for Horses took charge of two mares and a gelding, loaded them in the trailer and made our way back to the ranch. Vet visits and statements gathered, blood drawn and analyzed, fecal test completed, a ton of photos and early this morning, we gathered before the judge to present the evidence.
One skinny horse in a small herd of otherwise healthy horses usually says an illness of some kind, a couple horses in a small herd and it could be that another horse is keeping them away from their feed. Three horses in a grassless pasture, a report that another horse had died the week before, no feed in the barrel, not a speck of hay on the ground, hearing the owner mutters things like, “I was going to get feed this afternoon” and “I was getting ready to put out hay tomorrow,” and the root cause is easy to find.
“It’s the decision of this court that ownership of these horses be removed from you and placed with Habitat for Horses,” said the judge as he signed the paperwork.
Meanwhile, as is so typical of skinny horses passing through the gates at the ranch, these three jumped off the trailer after the seizure and headed to the hay bales. For the last seven days they ate, drank water and slept. Horses know when they are safe. They relax and do what horses of medium age do best, what all horses really want to do – eat, drink and sleep. It won’t take long for them to return to being strong and healthy, and once there, these three will be easily adopted. They are what we in the horse business call “pocket ponies.” Gentle, calm, and they love people and attention.
Life is so much easier when a horse owner actually cares about the horses. We handle dozens of calls a week that only require our advice. Perhaps it’s something as simple as, “You need to get the horse’s teeth floated. He can’t eat because it hurts him to close his mouth.” It’s surprising how many horse owners don’t know about that. Sometimes we’ll get the vet on the phone while we’re out looking at a problem, and we’ll help the owner transport the horse to the clinic. Maybe the owner lost her job and needs a bale of hay to tide her over until she gets back on her feet. The last thing we want to do is take horses away from a owner, but there are times when, for the life of the horse, there is no other choice.
These three are safe. Now that we have them, we’ll start the long refeeding process, which means small feedings of grain five times a day, worming, medications, more blood work to see how they are doing, hoof trimmings and, when they gain a little weight, a visit to the equine dentist. Before long, someone will walk into the office and say, “I want to adopt….”
One horse at a time.
Habitat for Horses is a 501.c.3 nonprofit equine protection organization supported solely by your donations. As of today, we have 185 donkeys and horses under our care, plus two ornery, old mules. Most of them are here because law enforcement removed them from their previous owner. Our ability to rehabilitate and rehome them comes from the financial support of people like you. Please support us by making a donation for the horses we all serve. Click HERE to donate