This story is by Joan M. French-Warner, a friend and fellow writer. I am sharing this story with you, reader, because the cause she is advocating is a worthy one. This story will be in three parts, so check back on Tuesday and Friday for the next installments.
’Twas the night before auction
And all through the pens
The horses were restless
Separated from friends
Being the oldest
I had to act brave
I said to the herd
We’ll surely be saved
They mocked me and snorted
You’re such a lame brain
You know we’ll all perish
Kill-buyers will reign
Firmly planting my feet
I flung my head high
And staunchly protested
I won’t say good-bye
Then someone took notice
Could take only two
And that person rescued
Old Dodger and Slew
Old Dodger, that’s me
And Slew, my best friend
Let me tell you about us
From beginning to end
A Magnificent Place
We stumbled from the horse transport trailer and looked out over eleven acres of wild grasses under a canopy of eucalyptus and oak trees. A babbling brook added serenity to the peaceful, healing site for sick horses. Here, we have been promised a forever home with the best of care—plenty of good food, clean water, and medical attention.
We will be exercised and groomed every day, never again hauled from barn to barn, or back yard to back yard.
Cruel and devastating treatment behind us, we can luxuriate in our new surroundings, recuperate from our wounds, heal from disease, and enjoy the camaraderie of like companions.
A magnificent place and forever home.
A dream . . . rapidly turned to nightmare.
The cruelty of neglect
My name is Dodger. I’m a thirty-four-year-old Quarter Horse—that’s a hundred and two in people years. They nicknamed me The Guardian, mostly because I’m the oldest horse here. But I also notice all the activities of the ranch, and am aware of my herd’s needs. I know who’s sick, who should have shoes, and who has special dietary requirements.
Until recently, I suffered the unimaginable anguish of animal hoarding. Actually, most of our life here hasn’t been easy for me or my companions.
Rescued from the Kill-buyer, I hardly recognized myself—a fragile skeleton on four legs held together with a paper-thin layer of skin. I shuffled when I tried to walk, barely able to move due to the excruciating pain of laminitis. It’s a painful inflammatory condition of tissues that bond the hoof wall to the bone in the hoof.
My teeth were so rotten most of them had to be pulled. Eating alfalfa and grain became impossible. I lost even more weight.
Relief at being freed didn’t last long. I had been saved by an animal hoarder. Shoved into a small pen with other horse-mates, we stood in our own urine and feces day after day. Waste, flies and too much grain caused me to have several health ailments.
Constant seepage from my eyes streaked my face with gunk. Flies swarmed to hide their eggs in this warm, soggy mess, causing summer sores. They also chewed the tips of my ears, which are already too small for my head. I’m cursed with teddy-bear ears which humans think are cute. But I digress.
Cushings Disease affected my health in many ways. It is a dysfunction of the pituitary gland often found in older horses. It caused me to drink lots of water, the results of which certainly didn’t help the condition of my pen.
My coat, once black and shiny sleek, became dull, thick, and fell out in clumps. The hair on my legs—shaggy and caked with muck. My mane and tail—thick and matted.
I smelled really b-a-d!
No one seemed to care. No vet visits. No one gave me attention, other than to toss alfalfa into my pen each day. My head hung low. I sighed often. I became a spectacle to be stared at; a symbol of neglect to elicit human sympathy.
Gradually I lost my self—that indomitable spirit within me overflowing with life. Gone. You could see it in my eyes. Life and light—vanished.
To be continued…
All donations to MASH go directly to the feed and care of the animals. You can donate securely online through PayPal, or by mail to:
PO Box 1133
Mira Loma, CA 91752