“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”
Five years ago, a large horse transport arrived at our gate. With helpers on hand, we unloaded five ponies and horses to start a new life. There should have been six, but more on the mare who stayed behind later.
This rescue had started two years earlier. A caring social worker had made contact with Edgar’s Mission….’ Did they know anyone who could assist an elderly man, in poor health and in hospital, manage his eight horses?’
The man in question was George, who lived some distance from Edgar’s Mission. In his eighties’, for many years he had run a riding establishment, and now lived alone in an area fast being developed for housing, with his remaining equines.
George cared deeply for his friends, but health and finances made it hard for him to care for his horses, many of them of an advanced age. But he was terrified that if he asked for help, those in power would take his horses from him.
All he wanted was to live out his remaining days at home and with his beloved horses.
Pam at Edgars Mission contacted me to ask if I knew of anyone close by who could assist. Making call after call I tried to find a local horse group or a person who could help. The previous owner of one of the mares stated she could not help…but if the mare needed a new home she would take her back…..
In the meantime I had become involved in a local animal neglect problem. Seeking to find someone who could assist with a matter the authorities would not I came across an animal advocate who I shall call Bob. By chance I found out that Bob, an experienced horseman, lived in the same locality as George.
Finally someone local was willing to get involved. With a media campaign, volunteers were forthcoming, and other established horse groups came into assist with expertise and gear.
Over the months George’s horses received farrier support, vet care, rugs, and feed. Sadly two had to be euthanized due to age and ailments but George was thrilled to have his horses close.
George’s health was failing. I sent him some warm pyjama’s and chocolate for his birthday and had a lovely ‘phone call in return. I planned to make the trip to meet him, but the demands of a young daughter, a number of rescue horses arriving, and caring for our animals meant time was limited to do so.
I let Bob know when the time came I could take the little Shetland mare ‘Twinkie’ and her forever friend.
Then I received a call from ‘Bob’…George had died. He has asked Bob to care for his six remaining horses, but without land, Bob needed to find a home for them as soon as possible…..could we help?
Hastily we rearranged paddocks and waited for the transporter to arrive. The horses had been yarded the previous evening but one, ‘The Filly’, had escaped, and subsequently refused to load. As George had rented his premises emergency accommodation was found at a property opposite, and one of the volunteers offered to care for her.
On a clear sunny morning, the truck drew up. Two pony mares, a thoroughbred mare, a pony gelding, and a standard bred mare.
Twinkie, a beautiful taffy Shetland was the first I saw. I cried. She clearly was not able to be in a paddock with hooves needing remedial work, her Cushing’s out of control and in pain from the trip. We arranged for the truck to take her, and her faithful friend, My Misty, straight to the loose boxes.
Jackie, a thoroughbred mare, Call Me Misty, a standard bred mare, and Flip,the pony gelding were settled in the paddocks.
An additional five horses, two in need of high of care…….it was a big job. A visiting horse trainer offered to run a clinic to raise much needed funds, so amongst the other work we arranged a clinic on the property.
Our first priority was Twinkie. A specialist farrier attended and did her and Misty’s hooves. However there were more issues. Twinkie had been on Pergolide but it was out of date, and so her Cushings was not controlled.
Twinkie developed laminitis. Ballarat Vet Practice attended and we set her up in the stable with IV pain relief, fluid support, anti ulcer medication, and Pergolide, to get her back on track.
With Twinkie’s pain not resolving, we then discovered an abscess, which was also treated. After 48 hours intensive care, Twinkie improved, and for a memorable few hours, she and My Misty grazed on our lawn, happy and pain free. The vet was thrilled. Thirty minutes later Poss, who had been in a new paddock, presented with a leg injury, so I called the vet to attend the next day for both him and to review Twinkie.
Then overnight disaster struck. I had been checking Twinkie every two hours. At 2am I found her shivering with an elevated respirations. I called in the vet and Twinkie and I waited together, with My Misty close by. I told her if she needed to leave, to go with George, she must do so. I would look after the others.
Then the vet arrived. Examining Twinkie it was clear she needed to be put out of her pain. She appeared to have peritonitis with the infection out of control. We had no choice. I just sobbed. I was so tired, the last two weeks had been intense. We believe Twinkie possibly had bad ulcers due to continuous bute and suffered an intestinal rupture.
So within a week of her arrival I farewelled Twinkie…her work was done and she was off to be with George. We buried her under the trees and now my focus was to care for the grieving Misty, as well as Flip, Jackie, Call me Misty and to find a way to get ‘The Filly’ to us as well……
to be continued……………..