Two months ago I was called upon to help another senior draft horse. We were not looking to take in another just yet, however the mare was fairly local and I could go take a peek at her. After seeing her I knew two things: 1-she needed to come to our sanctuary and 2-she was going to be quite a challenging project horse!
Liz is a 21 year old grey roan Clydesdale mare who was a victim of the PMU industry. Mares are kept pregnant year after year so their urine can be collected to make the hormone replacement therapy drug Premarin. Liz has the number 51 branded on her left hip, which is how the PMU farm identified her. The foals they produce are considered a “by-product” of the industry and most end up at auctions and slaughter plants. When the mares are no longer able to breed, they too often find themselves in this situation-old, unhandled, used up and unwanted, destined for slaughter.
More about Premarin
Liz spent the first 30 days in Quarantine where she was taught to respect her human care-taker. She had to be taught to be haltered and handled. It took 10 days to be able to touch her shoulder without her flinching and shying away. It took 3 weeks before I could touch her hindquarters. Handling her legs and treating the visible pastern lesions were a No Go until 4 weeks. She has long feathering on her legs, characteristic of the Clydesdale breed, and close inspection and parting of the hair revealed some pretty nasty lesions that needed immediate attention! She was also biting her front legs and stomping her hind ones.
Left front leg after 7 days of daily treatment with Equiderma Skin Lotion!
Her current routine is day time turnout in the large dry lot, which is situated where she can see most all of the other horses on the farm and get friendly with Henry, Ruby and Maggie if she feels like it. In the evening she is brought into the barn for the night in a dry comfy stall with plenty of hay and water. Each night before “bedtime” we have our routine of grooming and inspecting all legs and treating the pastern lesions. Currently we are working on teaching her to pick up her front feet for handling and cleaning.
She has seen our equine dentist, veterinarian and is starting to have her feet trimmed on a regular basis. Her hoof handling is still a work in progress and will take several more months before she will be completely comfortable with that. She is still very wary of anyone except her primary care-giver (Cindy) and we have been introducing her to volunteers to assist with certain aspects of her care. She will retain this routine for the winter and when the grass begins to grow, she will have full turnout in a large pasture with a suitable companion. For now, she is quite content with her new life, has gained the needed weight and is slowly learning to trust humans–we all don’t want to take something from you without giving back sweet girl! At least not those of us at our Senior Horse Sanctuary!
Please consider a monthly sponsorship or donation to help care for Liz! She requires daily anti-histimine medication for the extreme itchiness with her pastern dermatitis. Donate Here
Cindy Daigre, Founder Ferrell Hollow Farm Senior Horse Sanctuary
Liz after 2 months of care!
We’ve had the coldest new year on record in 20 years! Caring for a dozen special needs senior horses on a daily basis, without temperature extremes can be exhausting, never knowing what you might face on any given day. Add in sub zero temperatures, wind, frozen ground for days, snow….well you get the picture-COLD!
In the middle of afternoon feeding rounds, as I was dreaming about sitting in front of the wood-stove, I saw that Snow White was laying down in her frozen shavings pit with Siegfried standing next to her. Visions like this stop me in my tracks. I knew that several days of frozen ground were not kind to her foundered foot, and that she was tired from not laying down for a night or two.
All thoughts of how my knees were aching, hands were hurting, how cold and tired I was faded away. All that mattered was how could I help this sweet old lady feel better. Discovering that all the faucets in the barn were now frozen, despite all efforts to keep them working, I had to use a crow bar to hack thru 6 inches of ice in the water troughs making a hole large enough for a bucket to dip down in order to fill all heated tubs and buckets. Drinkable water was crucial. As I cleaned their large run in shelter which is floored with stall mats and shavings, I carefully picked out any frozen nuggets of manure that would be uncomfortable for her to walk or stand on. Then I added several bags of fresh shavings to the pit she likes to lay in, making it soft and fluffy instead of cold and frozen. Hay nets are always hung in the areas where mats are on the ground so they can stand in comfort.
She rose and came over to eat her dinner and went on about her business as usual. It only takes a moment like this, seeing these two gentle giants comforting each other to remind me about what my life’s purpose is–to give back to these forgotten old souls that need a soft place to land. Our mission is to give sanctuary to senior horses who would otherwise not have a chance at a forever retirement home. It is truly my honor to care for them each and every day, no matter the weather conditions, to keep them safe, healthy and as comfortable as possible for the time that they have left with us. Consider supporting our efforts if you can. Donations are always needed to help care for them.
Cindy Daigre, Founder
Ferrell Hollow Farm Senior Horse Sanctuary
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