“Rescue”, the word itself is powerful and when you read it your mind’s eye invokes powerful images of saviors helping people and animals in need and hopefully saving a life!
Forgotten Angels Equine Rescue was faced this month with our most challenging save. We were contacted by a horse owner concerned about their thin pony. They were not having much luck putting weight on the pony. We often receive calls like this and welcome the opportunity to talk to owners and help them with their horse questions. We went through the usual questions about worming, dentistry, the type of feed the pony was on, the environment pony was kept in, etc. None of the answers we received told a good story for this pony and the owner was not willing to take the steps and work necessary to give him even the most basic care. When we were asked if we could pick this pony up, we didn’t hesitate to say “YES” and asked for a picture of the pony. Our hearts dropped when we received the picture. What started out as a normal owner surrender intake turned out very quickly to be an EMERGENCY intake. Within 24 hours, we were on our way headed down the Garden State Parkway in a drenching downpour to pick up this pony.
We pulled into the driveway and drove along the dilapidated paddock fence line seeing only weeds and sand. The pony was locked in a small rundown shed surrounded by mud. We grabbed a lead rope, thanked the owner for calling us and loaded the pony into the trailer. He was all too happy to go. His condition was far worse than we expected. He was covered with wounds and missing fur in many places.
We drove slowly and carefully back to our rescue. He was so weak we feared he might go down in the trailer. Once they do gown, in his poor condition, it’s very rare that a horse ever gets back up. Many times they have to be euthanized. We made it back and off-loaded him to meet our volunteer team and get assessed. His condition had a few volunteers tearing up. We have saved over 150 slaughter-bound horses and this is by far the worst case we have seen. We assessed his weight to be about 340 lbs. A pony of his size, 12H, should weigh close to 600 lbs. This poor fellow had a body condition score of 1. His arrival was a very emotional day not only due to his severe state of neglect and critical condition but he arrived a day after we had lost an older horse named Nellie. So we named him “Nelson” in her honor.
Our team got our new little guy set up in a stall with fresh bedding, hay and water. We did not give him feed right away. When a horse is this thin, most people’s first instinct is to hurry up and feed him, however, Nelson’s body has been going without food for so long that feeding him regular feed amounts could kill him. He must be carefully fed with 4-5 small meals of grain, soaked down with water. Feeding him small amounts in 4 hour intervals allows his body to slowly absorb the nutrition without overloading his organs with too many calories to process. This method of feeding is called “refeeding” and is used for starvation cases.
We are hopeful that Nelson will make a full recovery but his care will be an expensive and painstaking journey. In the short time he’s been here his vet costs are already in the hundreds of dollars. He needs round the clock care for his feeding. He requires daily baths with a prescription shampoo to restore his skin and heal the wounds. His teeth are sharp and cutting the inside of his mouth when he chews so he will require an equine dentist. His hooves have severe thrush and rot and require a daily hoof treatment to kill the bacteria. From head to toe, poor Nelson meets the dictionary definition of the word rescue: “an act of saving or being saved from danger or distress.” We are lucky to have gotten to him in time.
Our rescue will bring him back to health but to do this we need donations. Checks may be mailed to Forgotten Angels Equine Rescue, 288 Hartford Rd., Medford, NJ 08055. Our paypal email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you mention Nelson and leave your address, we will email you updates on his progress. A fundraising event for all of our rescued horses will be held on October 7th at 6 pm at Hope Church, 700 Cooper Road, Voorhees NJ. Follow us on Facebook for more information or contact Darlene Macrina Supnick at 609-820-6377. Thank you!