Story submitted by Sophia's Oasis for Rescues (S.O.F.E)
Sienna and Senora were surrendered by their owner to SOFE. Their previous owner purchased these 2 horses as weanlings for their grandchildren. This owner had very little, if any, knowledge of caring for the horses. Their diet consisted of only sweet feed. In the beginning, the horses had pasture and a 2 stall small enclosure. Life was good. After a severe storm, the fence was damaged. The horses were kept to the 2 stall enclosure with little turnout area until the fence could be repaired. Then the owner got sick. As he battled an illness, the fence never was repaired. The horses became neglected. As the horses grew, they began to have disagreements in the small enclosure, so one was locked in its stall where it remained for the next 2 years until we came along. When the owner finally passed away the spouse contacted us. The conditions that we found were awful. They were kept in a small fenced area with two stalls inside. Because of the way they were housed their growth was stunted and both had trouble walking. Neither horse had been handled much nor had they received any farrier or vet care in years. Their hooves had become severely misshapen and deformed. They both had mobility issues but one was significantly worse off than the other.
Since neither horse had been handled more than to be haltered, we had our work cut out for us. We arrived at the residence with a group of volunteers and started to assess how we were getting these poor girls on the trailer. We backed the trailer up to the fence and began our endeavor. The one with the most significant mobility issues was the easiest to load. While it took a couple of hours she loaded on the trailer.
We open the stall and release Senora for the first time in 2 years. We tried for hours to get her on the trailer but with the issues with hooves, mobility issues, and her fear of the trailer it took over 48 hours and lots of volunteer labor. We determined that Senora was not refusing to load but physically could not support her weight to step up in the trailer. We moved the trailer to a hill to create a ramp flush with the ground so she could just walk in. The weakness in her legs still prevented her from loading. She was quiet literally walked step by step up on to the trailer by a volunteer lifting each leg for her with each step. There were a lot of kicks and escape attempts but they were both brought back to SOFE and placed in a round pen to evaluate and settle in.
Both girls were seen by the vet, the farrier and a massage therapist. We used the collaboration of information to construct their rehab programs.
Senora the one kept in a stall is well on her way to recovery. Her hooves trimmed and on the mend. She has put on weight and learning to be part of a herd. Right now we are focused on letting her be a horse and recover physically. She is making friends and thriving with her new found freedom. She is still very stubborn, but is very curious and engaged with us.
Sienna is more of a severe case and her future is uncertain. She continues to be under vet and farrier care as we try to correct years of neglect and the damage that was done. She has a number of issues that we are working with our vet and farrier to fix. At this time we are managing her care but she is not pain free. We will continue her rehabilitation under the direction of our Veterinarian and follow his recommendations.
The moral of this rescue story is education. We do not believe that this elderly couple intended for any of this to happen. Life happens, but this is not an excuse. Reaching out for help when the situation started to decline would have been a respectable and responsible decision. All animal owners, whether large or small need a plan in place for their animals just in case something happens to them. Part of our adoption process ensures that the potential adopters know what is required to maintain a horse, including information on health care, nutrition, and contacts for local Veterinarians and Farriers. We as a rescue are always available to our adopters and the public for any questions, concerns, or even if they just need help. We are the second option for horses in our area and strive to help in any way we can without judgement.