Beyond The Fence Line

Equine Rescue

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Our Biggest Rescue Yet

Posted by BTFL on September 7, 2012 at 7:20 PM

The start of this huge rescue started when I received this email plea for help on August 24th, 2012.....

Yesterday I stumbled upon a neglect situation with approximately 25 or more mini horses, mini donkeys, and 1 Morgan stallion. According to the owner, 10 of these animals are stallions that  he keeps, 24/7, tied to a bar with a very short rope or chain(maybe a foot long, if that) or in a small stall with NO water and most without food. The Morgan had straw-like hay that he wasn’t eating. The man said the stallion was 20 and that he couldn’t keep weight on him. (I’m guessing he wasn’t eating due to lack of teeth care, based on the neglectful conditions I saw.) At least two of the stallions had overgrown hooves that had not been cared for in some time. The man said he couldn’t keep up with them – he does them himself – and he refused the offer of my friend to help him do the trimming right then and there. “Liability”, he said; a legitimate claim. When asked about the water – there was a half barrel of muddy brown water behind one of the mini donkey stallions – the man said he took them out once a day to get a drink. There were no open windows or fans in the barn. Outside there were two groups of animals in the pasture. Both groups were a mix of mini mares – horses and donkeys - with their still nursing-aged babies tagging along behind. As we began to go out into the pasture to look at them, they started coming in. Several mares had overgrown hooves as well and all had big round bellies from not being wormed. Many, especially the babies, had matted twisted knots of hair full of burrs. My friend tried to pick up an overgrown hoof of one of the mommy donkeys. The donkey pulled it away.

At the fence line, (the one with the gate having broken and twisted, rusty bars with sharp ends), was another group of mini mamas and their babies. Two of the little horses were a bit bigger than the others – closer to Shetland size. The man told us that the mare was half Haflinger and the other, her yearling, was the daughter of the Morgan stallion. Her and her younger brother from this year were “already sold” he said. The younger brother was laying in their straw-like “food” taking a nap next to mom as she ate the “hay”.

While my friend and I inquired about a mom and colt pair we carefully slipped in questions about care, how did he come by so many animals, how did he manage to take care of so many, what would have to be done to fix the feet, offers of help from a rescue we knew in the area, etc. It was quickly evident that people with rescue in mind had approached him and “pestered [him] all the time”. “They [were] better off here than dumped on the road” he said. People just didn’t want them anymore and would come “drop them off” or ask him to take them. When we threw out $100 as an offer for a pair he said he wanted $150. Later he said he would take $3000 for the lot of them. We asked if he had enough hay for the winter. We had already guessed the answer.

Later, when speaking to the police officer taking our report, I realized that he was blowing me off before I even finished my first sentence. I’m sure that you folks have seen plenty of situations like this and much, much worse. I’m sure that you have been even more frustrated than I felt after speaking to the officer and the local Humane Society. I’m also very aware that rescues are already struggling to find enough hay for the animals you already have. It had been my intention to adopt a horse this year. My husband and I have spent the summer building a barn and we are still putting up fencing. Then, I went to this man’s farm. I’m not asking you to rescue them. What I am asking for is advice and help getting the word out to the horse community to not give this man any more animals. And to help me find homes for them. I am in no position to care for all of them either, even if I could come up with the $3000. I can go and save two of them. I will have to give up my dream of having a trail horse but I feel this is more important. My friend, who already has 3 rescued goats, two rescued dogs, one rescued mini and numerous rescued cats besides feeding and caring for feral cats, has no means to take in yet another. However, she has found someone who would pay for the half Haflinger mare and take her. We can’t go in one at a time and purchase them because that will just encourage him to keep breeding them. I’m hoping that with your help and that of horse people we know that we can find enough folks willing and able to take and care for one or two. As a group, we scrape together what we can; we buy him out; and we get the word out NOT to give him ANY MORE!!! This probably sounds incredibly naïve and silly to you who have already been trying so hard to save as many as you can for so many years. I certainly understand if you are unable to help find homes and appreciate all that you already do.

Thank you.


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Reply Dave
8:34 PM on September 7, 2012 
All these horses,minis,foals,ponies,donkeys and Morgan stallion are doing quite well. The foals are eating feed from a dish I place on my lap. All the ponies and foals whinny at me when I drive in and get out of my truck. They know I'm going to feed them soon. They already come up to me when I sit on my chair with their feed dish.
Reply BTFL
8:14 PM on September 7, 2012 
On Saturday September 1st, we went back to this place at 10 a.m. to see what we could do to take more out. Something just wasn't the same with the owner, he was unwilling to negotiate at all this time. He told us that he could get more for meat prices than what we were offering for them. We ended up taking 8 more out. Earlier that morning someone came and got I believe 3 and another lady got 7 out at a hefty price of $850. All in all, we probably paid this guy to do this all over again. We're hoping not, only time will tell but now they are safe and sound.

We did end up leaving a yearling filly behind because he had wanted to keep her. We found she had an infected wound on her fetlock and two other wounds further up her leg. There was heat up her leg due to the infection already and she was limping and in pain. It was very hard to leave her behind.
Reply BTFL
7:58 PM on September 7, 2012 
I responded to this email right away, letting the sender know I was willing to help. On Monday August 27th, my husband and I and BTFL's trainer went to visit the horses and see for ourselves what the conditions were.

The animals outside were all mostly overweight, a yearling filly still sucking on mom, along with this years colt. Bellies were big, hooves untrimmed, founder showing in necks, and burrs badly matted in the babies hair and hide.

I then asked to see those in the barn. We were greeted by a jack paint donkey in a stall. He seemed in pretty good condition. On the opposite side was a silver mini stallion in the stall in good shape, next to him was a jack donkey laying down. We immediately noticed his hooves had been sawed off and he was in a great deal of pain. My trainer cuddled his cheeks and talked with him a bit. He stood up with a great deal of pain showing in his face, then laid down after just a few seconds. The owner told us that someone called the cops on him and gave him until Sunday, the 26th to do something with his curled up hooves, so he sawed them off. On the opposite side was a bay mini stallion in good shape and a black Morgan stallion, very thin. Then on the left side again, another black mini stallion horribly thin with a cresty mane (founder), and next to him was another paint mini stallion horribly thin again. The stalls were clean but there wasn't much hay if any in them for the animals to eat and there was no water. He opened the Morgan stallions stall to show us he could "move" and he certainly did, straight to the water tank in the barn aisle. He took what seemed to be several minutes to drink, then walked to the back of the barn aisle where the was a fairly nice big round bale of hay and started eating on it. It was obvious, he hadn't had a drink in a long time and all I could think of was him drinking too much water too fast at one time and colicing.

It was sad to have to leave that evening without taking any of those stallions home, 7 total in the barn, and leaving them in those conditions.

We knew what our job was then. We knew somehow, we needed to get those animals out first. The jack donkey needed help with his hooves. The thin ones needed to eat and drink. I gathered up a group of friends and we headed back on Tuesday August 28th. We wheeled and dealed with him on the animals. He wouldn't budge on the price of the Morgan. $500 for him and that was firm. I tried dickering with him but no such luck. He had the stallion in the trailer before I could say anything more. I asked him once again for a lower price stating, he needed to gain weight, coggins, shots, farrier, and castration but no he wasn't taking anything less. He stated he could take him out of the trailer now. I finally said no I'll take him. We got some of the others loaded that were less expensive say maybe $50 each for the minis. We were running low on funds at that point and were leaving 2 behind. One was the bay mini stallion, the other the thin black mini stallion. We all talked together and decided we didn't have the heart to leave the other two behind and so decided to take them too. We had the Morgan stallion and the bigger paint jack donkey in the front of the stock trailer and the 4 mini studs and the lame donkey in the back. The ride home was very quiet, the animals didn't do much moving around.

The morgan stallion, the black mini stallion, and the lame jack donkey all came to the rescue. The others went to a friends house until we could find a place for them. They were so happy to be outside in a round pen and in an area where they could actually walk around, drink all the water they wanted, and eat nice green grassy hay. They also enjoyed rolling and playing with each other. It was a very happy yet sad site to see.