Upon arrival of the Minnesota Four we took some video and pictures to document their condition.. After an hour and a half trailer ride they arrived to the sanctuary emaciated, lethargic, weak and thirsty. The greys were obviously in the worst condition of the four horses. The both have melanomas (skin cancer), The bay has Cushings Disease and the POA Appaloosa has heaves (COPD). Age ranges from late 20's through mid 30's.
This posting is from 2011. It's being posted here with an update on Destiny
ORIGINAL BLOG POSTING 9-30-2011
Friday, September 30, 2011Not Gentle On My Mind
There's a song called "Gentle On My Mind" by a boyhood friend of my father. I remember us playing it on the old record player when I was a kid. Some things, actually, many things are NOT gentle on my mind. I live in a world which I do not understand. I have little hope of ever fitting into mainstream society. I can not accept things as they are and I struggle to change things to how I believe they should be. I follow a set of rules that many people never learned or have long since forgotten. I told a bold faced lie to a complete stranger today and I justified it to myself and the Great Creator by telling myself that in was for a good cause. If you've got a wee bit of time, then make yourself comfortable and I will explain what I mean by all of this.
There are many things that are NOT gentle on my mind. I'll spare you my laundry list of what I see as being wrong in the world today. I'll not go into the issues which I find to be the most worrisome which affect the human race and life on this planet as we know it. I'll narrow the focus down to a pin point of the plight of the American horses. I do not understand how we've allowed American horses to be sent Canada and Mexico to be slaughtered, for meat to be sent to Europe & Asia, to be served in upscale restaurants. That industry was BANNED in the USA almost five years ago, but we've allowed 100,000 AMERICAN horses YEARLY, to be shipped beyond our border to, excuse the pun, feed the very industry WE THE PEOPLE rejected in 2007 by banning horse slaughter. On so many levels, this is just plain wrong. I could go on for hours about WHY it is WRONG, but I'll spare you that too. I'll leave it at this: Horses are NOT a part of the American diet and WE, the USA may be held responsible for poisoning the people of Europe & Asia because American horse meat is chock full of toxins from the routine medications that horses in this country receive. I can NOT accept the way things are and I struggle to change it. Many other aspects of our world, of our species leave me dumbfounded time and time again. There are "Causes on Facebook" that are formed and operating that have 8,000-10,000 members that are AGAINST the slaughter of American horses. I joined a few "causes" after the official petition to ban horse slaughter was started on 9-23-2011, which was exactly one week ago. Pardon me for sounding naive, but why don't those 8,000-10,000 people have their name on the petition????Why has it taken a week of tireless effort on the part of dozens, if not hundreds of people spreading the word about the petition around the clock to be able to collect only 3,000 signatures. As I said before, I do not understand the world in which I live, it is a strange and foreign place, compared to the world I knew from my earlier days.
I can't seem to grasp the concept that all the decisions that have to be made in my life "should" be based on financial criteria. While I understand that we no longer live off the land and barter for what we need to survive, I still can't seem to get the hang of worshiping money above all things. The things I value do not have a price and are not up for the highest bidder. Mainstream society of the current era, tells us over and over that what we are missing we can attain if we have the sufficient coinage to pay the fare. I don't fit in and I'm thankful for it. The rules I follow don't fluctuate with the current market or the roller coaster ride status of the economy. They are steadfast and constantly guiding the path I choose. While financial issues effect us all, rich and poor and everyone in between, we should eventually be able to tell the difference in money and wealth. Wealth is not stored in a bank, it lives inside us and is demonstrated in how and when we draw the line on issues that cross the line of humanity.
NOW, about the lie I told today. This is the rest of the story, (as Mr Paul Harvey used to say). We received a report from a concerned citizen about another "at risk horse". It's been awhile, but we just had not been able to get over there to check on this horse. We knew it's situation wasn't good but at the same time not yet a matter of life or death. We were told that he/she was thin but not super starved. We were told that the horse was routinely tied out to a long rope, without a halter. We were told that the water source was a 5 gallon bucket, which was often overturned and laying on the ground. With that information alone, that tells me that the horse is at risk but not yet in bad enough shape to be able to get the local law enforcement involved. So I had dreaded going over there because, there isn't really anything we can do to intervene. We loaded up this morning and drove to the place we were told about. We saw no horse. It was our intention to drive by and take fotos to document the condition of the horse so that when he/she got in worse condition we could prove that the horse was in a state of decline.......It's kinda like before and after photos except worse because, the first foto would show him/her in better shape and the next in worse shape and worse and worse, which is a very sad status to witness. We drove by and could not see the horse. We'd been told that he/she would be tied somewhere in the vicinity. At that point the plan of driving by to photograph the horse was a bust so on to Plan B. I'd seen someone in the yard when we drove by the first time, so I decided to go knock on the door. As I walked up the driveway, I had no idea of what to do or say. Feeling a bit nervous, I knocked on the door and when they answered, I said
<<<<here comes the LIE>>>>,
I said, I heard you have a horse for sale ????
They naturally looked at me, like they had no idea what I was talking about. So smiling my friendlest smile, and trying not to look like a out and out bold-faced liar, I asked how old is the horse ???? Is the horse here ???? And would it be possible for me to see it ???? In rapid fire sequence without taking a breath or batting an eye. They agreed to show me their horse.
We walked out behind the house and I saw her.......the horse that has NOT been gentle on my mind since her existence and less than ideal circumstances we're brought to my attention a few weeks ago. She is a 2 yr old sorrell filly with 3 white feet and a blaze face. She was standing under a grove of big oak trees. She was grazing but looked up to watch us walk toward her. I asked if she was wild ???? They said no. I asked if she kicks or bites ??? They said no. I asked if she leads??? They said yes. I asked if she loads in a trailer???? They said yes. When I ran out of typical questions a prospective buyer might ask, then I said how much would you take for her, in my best horse bartering voice. They said $250. I asked them if I could go get my camera out of the truck and get some fotos of her. They said yes. I told them we carry extra halters and asked them if we could put one on her and get that rope off her neck. They said yes. I went for the camera and the halters. We put one of our halters on her and they tied the rope to her halter. I felt immediate relief to see the rope being taken off her neck. Being tied up, I still don't like, but at least she now has a halter. I know you are angry with the owners and you are right....it is wrong. I only spent 15 minutes with them but they seemed nice enough but obviously don't know any better. When they asked me if I have horses. I said yes. They asked me how many horses do I have. I said ALOT of horses. They asked me "how many". I answered without skipping a beat.....TWENTY FOUR. The look on their faces was one of disbelief and then they asked me "why so many".....I told the TRUTH.....I am a horse rescuer. I also told them that I have been involved with three law enforcement agencies in this county and picked up horses seized from individuals that either did not or could not provide them adequate care. I got their names and phone number and gave them my name and phone number and said maybe we could work something out on the price and would be talking to them sometime soon. I told a bold faced lie to a complete stranger today and I justified it to myself and the Great Creator by telling myself that in was for a good cause. It's late, I should get some rest because tomorrow will arrive in about ten more minutes. Somethings, actually many things are NOT gentle on my mind, and that little red filly is one of them. She's been on my mind for weeks, now she's heavy on my heart. Good Night Sweet Susana, at least now you have a halter instead a rope tied around your neck. I don't know IF or HOW we can help you, but please know you are NOT forgotten
DESTINY UPDATE: Destiny was a underweight young filly that was living tied up, getting tangled up and unable to reach any water. We were able to purchase her for some Kind Souls in the Tulsa area that offered her a good home. Susana was renamed Destiny and she became the inspiration for those Kind Souls to start their own horse rescue/sanctuary. Please click these links to read more of Destiny's journey from desperation to happiness. Please help raise awareness that NO horse should ever be left unattended while tied up.....EVER, no matter the circumstances. The story of how Susana/Destiny was freed from living tied to a rope. This blog posting inspired those Kind Souls to offer Susana/Destiny a homehttp://tripleoranchequinesanctuary.blogspot.com/2011/09/not-gentle-on-my-mind.html
Her first album https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.270829912951015.73046.158998754134132&
Her moving day https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.272855952748411.73487.158998754134132&
Where she is now. The FB page for their rescue/sanctuaryhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Lost-Souls-Equine-Rescue-Sanctuary-in-Sapulpa-Ok/871222726227582
— at Lost Souls Equine Rescue & Sanctuary in Sapulpa, Ok.
You know your own horse but imagine trying to get help identifying your horse from strangers in an urgent situation. Imagine how you would be able to prove that you are the legal owner of a horse who has been sold by another person without your knowledge or permission. Imagine that your horse has been taken to a livestock auction and is for sale to the highest bidder who may be a Kill Buyer for the horse slaughter market. Many horses don't have freeze brands like our BLM mustang Sage in this photo. While many people don't realize it, being able to identify and provide proof of ownership could mean the difference between life and death if your horse inadvertently ends up in the horse slaughter pipeline. While many disappearances of horses are due to theft by strangers, there are many others that have been put in harm's way through the actions of friends, family or neighbors that claimed to be the legal owner at the time of the transaction. Please consider drawing up a contract ANYTIME you leave your horse in the care of another person even if it is your best friend or a family member. If your horse is sold or given away you may find that the fiasco turns into a he said / she said scenario that law enforcement will refer to as a civil case. If your horse has been sold into a low end auction, there will NOT be time to get a lawyer and go to court to reclaim your horse. Your horse may be sold to a Kill Buyer, loaded up and transported across the U.S. border north or south. IF they survive the brutal journey on "The Road To Hell", their harrowing nightmare will continue while they are being terrorized, traumatized and tortured ultimately ending with them being butchered. Many horses fail to be properly "stunned" and will be conscience through many steps of this barbaric process. All horse owners (including those NOT leaving their horses in the care of another person) should keep detailed records with all the pertinent information in this article in case of an emergency. The information needed may include copies of your Bill of Sale, Coggin's paperwork, vet documents, current pictures (should be some when shed out and in winter hair), brands, tatoos, microchip numbers, registration papers). It is recommended that you compile this information, place it in an envelope mail it to yourself (with a return receipt requested). When you receive it do NOT open it but place it in a safe place. When you need it will be ready and be postmarked with the date. Because when you go out to feed and find your horse missing is not the time to compile the information needed to provide to the people you will need to help you find and reclaim the horse/horses as yours. And you will need help. You will need law enforcement, you will need friends and you will need social media if you hope to find your horse before they disappear into the great abyss we now call the Slaughter Pipeline.
For example if you have to leave your horse with friends/family and they sell or give away your horse, they will claim to be the owner and even possibly sign a fraudulent bill of sale. The buyer has no responsibility to validate the authenticity of their signature as the legal owner. If local authorities are contacted and you tell them your friend/sister/brother sold YOUR horse without your permission and your friend/sister/brother claimed to be the actual owner and therefore supposedly had legal right to sell the horse, what do you think law enforcement will do? It will become a HE SAID-SHE SAID scenario. They will probably describe it as a civil matter and recommend you contact an attorney. On the other hand, if the CARETAKER has signed a Equine Caretaker Contract and the details of the arrangement are spelled out in the document, law enforcement will have something to review to give validity to your claim. I wish we still lived in a world where a hand shake and a person's word were enough but my friend those times are long gone. Do not take a chance, no matter how slim, that your horse can end up in harm's way because someone you trusted betrayed you by disposing of your horse without your knowledge.
Horse thefts are on the rise in modern America but the legal system's ability to deal with the issue remains in the dark ages. If your horse is stolen by a stranger call local law enforcement immediately. Contact all vets, humane societies, animal control agencies and equine rescues in the area. Immediately go in PERSON to all area livestock auctions to look for your horse. Reach out to media outlets and try to get your story out to the public. Post detailed descriptions on social media along with contact information and recent photos. The on-line community has far reaching capabilities to reach many people in a short period of time.
Do NOT give up, even when it seems that it's hopeless. There is always a chance that someone somewhere knows what happened to your horse and may be able to provide helpful information. As long as they are still alive there is still a possibility that you may be able to bring them home. Keep looking until they are found or there is positive proof of their demise. Please see the links below to websites that possibly be useful in recovering your equine friend. For a stolen horse, time is NOT on their side, do not delay, you really are their only chance of being found in time.
HERE IS AN EXAMPLE OF AN EQUINE CARETAKERS CONTRACT BUT NOT INTENDED TO COVER ALL CIRCUMSTANCES OR LEGAL DETAILS IN YOUR PARTICULAR STATE OR COUNTRY. USE IT AS A GUIDE TO MAKE YOUR OWN CONTRACT. IF YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS ABOUT THE LEGALITY OF YOUR CONTRACT PLEASE CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY/LEGAL PROFESSIONAL.
Remember to add any additional information that is specific to your owner/caretaker arrangement. If the caretaker has any reservations about signing a contract, you should have reservations about placing your horse in that individual's care.
Another reminder: It's not about a lack of trust, it's about protection for your horse and increasing the chance of getting law enforcement to assist you in recovering your horse in case something goes wrong between owner and caretaker. Better safe than sorry!
Links to websites useful to horse owners. We will add more links as we discover additional sites of reputable equine related organizations.
December has been a long month. Winter storms and freezing temperatures have blasted us off and on for weeks. True to the quote, "the show must go on"....and on and on. When the weather is the worst is when they need us the most. We do everything possible to make them as comfortable as possible short of moving them into the house. Winter is the hardest time, hands down but we march on. This was Opal's first snow. She loved it. She's being weaned and has moved into the triplex with her cousins Abraham and Rayne. Abraham is so long and lanky now. Rayne wears boots and has been able to get up on her own now for the past month. That in itself is a miracle to us. Thor has completed his second round of medication for EPM and seems to be doing much better. Hopefully that will be his last relapse. As this year draws to an end we're busy "taking care of business" and making plans for the future. We've got several ideas of projects to make things better for "our" horses (which are horses everywhere which are in need or at risk of being put in harm's way). Please watch our slide show of scenes from the Triple O from December.
2014 will be the Year of the Horse.
Let it be the year that we finally put a permanent end to the slaughter of
American horses, wild and domestic. Let it be the year that communities come
together to fight against equine abuse and neglect. Let it be the year that
breeding is greatly reduced and gelding of stallions is vastly increased. Let it
be the year that rescuer scammers and foal mills / hoarders are exposed,
punished and shut down. Let it be the year that the only helicopters used toward
horses be those on rescue missions and not BLM round ups. Let it be the year of
no PMU mares & foals, no nurse mare babies, no bucket babies, no kill pens,
no Kill Buyers, etc., etc, etc. Let it be the year that our equine friends
finally get some of the respect that they deserve and that some of the dignity
we've taken from them be returned. We owe them a debt of gratitude.....time to
start paying 12-16-2013
***the background pic is Sage's BLM freeze brand & the running horse is Anastasia.
One rescued from starvation and the other saved from slaughter.
Thor has a special place in the barnyard that he likes to take an after-breakfast nap. When the ground was covered he would walk around his spot and want to lay down but stop before actually laying down. We went to get some straw and made him a bed. In a few moments he returned and took us up on the invitation. Thor has had a hard time but continues to make progress and is enjoying life and making his own path. December 2013
By being awarded a grant from the ASPCA we are able to add four more stalls but in order to do that we had to have the chicken pen and hen house torn down. It was probably 20' x 30' in size and had given us 9 years of service. We only have a few hens left so we decided to downscale. This is our new "Chicken Chariot", which was designed and built by D.R. who did our pipe fencing. It is 4 feet wide and 12 feet long. There is a door on the side to open the hen house for feeding and cleaning. It has wheels so we can move them around to new grass. Everyone has to make sacrifices for the benefit of the horses, even the hens. I think they'll like being mobile so they can get a change of scenery from time to time. 12-20-2013
This year we decided to write a newsletter to summarize the year's events for the Triple O supporters. We have a responsibility to the people that donate their hard earned money to our organization. We update frequently and try to keep everyone informed of everything - the good and the bad. Writing this newsletter we realized that so much has happened that it would take a book to cover it all. We tried to hit the highlights and the darkest moments. We tried to mention some of the many Kind Souls who gave without regret to help equine in need that they'll likely never meet. Words are so little to offer back to those who have given so much but we wanted to thank everyone for making 2013 a success. We've emailed this newsletter to people who have donated on-line and mailed it to the Triple O supporters that donated off-line. Now we'd like to share it with the visitors to our website. We hope to make it a end-of-the-year tradition to take a look back at the year and contemplate the new year ahead. The journey continues.
The Year of the Horse ~ 2014. Watch out, here we come at a full gallop!!!!
Forever In Our Hearts
The Things We Do For Love is the title of one of the photo albums on the Triple O FB page. It's meant as a mantra that love makes the difference no matter the outcome. Three weeks ago over the Memorial Day weekend we were contacted by a foster family due to an emergency. One of our foster horses had made a ill-fated attempt to go over a fence and was badly cut up. She apparently thought the grass looked greener on the other side of the fence and escaped onto the neighboring pasture but got hurt in the process. Fortunately no permanent damage was done but it has been a longgg three weeks for this bay mare we named Brandy. She's a young Thoroughbred with some trust issues. We immediately took her to the vet clinic where she stayed for four days where we went daily to feed, water, hay and medicate her for pain while applying medicine to her wounds and then cleaning her stall. Thankfully she was cooperative because there is nothing worse than trying to doctor a patient that won't cooperate. By the last day at the clinic, she began to move away when I got out the medicine bag so I knew she was feeling better.
We got her all settled in at the ranch and kept her as comfortable as possible. We treated her wounds 2-3 times a day and watched as she grew stronger. By the 4th day home, we were feeling better about her situation until the next morning at breakfast when we found her down in the stall. She could not get up. After receiving some pain meds she tried to get up but still could not get to her feet. We removed the stall door and all the wood off the side of the barn to access the stall with the tractor's front end loader. With wide flat straps we were able to move her and eventually she was able to stand up. Over the next ten days she was down a number of times and needed assistance to rise. Now, we're finally to the point where if she lays down she can get up without struggle. Her wounds are healing. It's been a hard few weeks. The stall door and wall have been put back up, she's enjoying turnout time with a friend. She can walk. She can run. She's gotten quite friendly. A wee bit apprehensive but reaching out. She will probably always bear the scars of her injury but she will be fine. She'll get past her emotional scars of whatever has happened to her in the past that made her distrust people in the first place. She's young, smart and getting stronger by the day, She will be fine with time. This is Brandy's story. It's just one of the early chapters with many more to come. All horses have a story to tell, especially rescue horses....it's just a matter of getting some one to listen.
UPDATE 6-22-2013: Today marks four weeks since Brandy's injury. Most of her most severe wounds were on her rear legs from thigh to hoof. Now most of them are healing nicely. She's feeling fine and has no mobility issues. It's been a long haul but step by step we're getting there. Brandy's vet bills plus medications have been an additional unexpected expense. A one time donation toward her expenses would be very welcome or if you are able please become a sponsor for Brandy by committing to send a monthly donation to help provide for her care. Thank YOU.
THE LAST, LAST HORSE
We posted on our Facebook page earlier today that we would be
making an important announcement this afternoon. We've decided to publicly say
uncle and wanted you to hear that from us directly and not through the
grapevine. We always wondered when we'd have to draw the line. Even though we
discussed the issue, we never were able to set an exact number of horses that
we'd allow to live at the Triple O. I can tell you now, that number is
THIRTY-FOUR. We always said that we would care for as many needy horses as
possible....we've reached that number.
Miss #34 arrived today. Her name is Jodie. She's
approximately 30 yrs. She's our last, last horse.
Many factors come together which affect how well things go
at any given time and many of those factors are variable. Some days have good
weather, some don't. Sometimes we have people who want to volunteer their time
to help with barn chores, sometimes we don't. Sometimes, we have donations to
help pay for the sanctuary's expenses, sometimes we don't. Sometimes horses get
sick or injured and we need service of a vet, sometimes we don't. There is no
way of knowing what impending issues will come up but we have to be as prepared
as possible for what ever comes up. I should tell you that our original
intention was to be a true sanctuary, a place for the old, the infirm, the
blind, a place for them to live out their days in peace. We didn't originally
intend to become so involved in the rescue aspect until the phone calls from law
enforcement came requesting assistance on equine neglect cases. During 2010 and 2011 we took in several needy horses. On 12-28-2011, we took four more neglected horses (two severely emaciated) for the Sheriff's Department. By then we already knew we had to slow down. In 2012 we only took in a total of five horses. Two of those were from a neglect case of law enforcement from another county, which were a starved mare and four month old colt. The colt, Chase, died four days after they arrived despite our best efforts, proper care and vet care. The mare has made a full recovery.
At this point, we spend all of our time, energy and money to
support the horses in our care and we don't mind. This new horse that came in
today is our last, last horse. At least for now. We can not and will not allow
any of them to receive anything less than the best care. Her owner contacted us
a few months ago and asked us to take her because she's to the point that she
need specialized care. At thirty years old, she's past the stage of being able
to live as a pasture horse. Her back teeth are gone and she requires a special
diet to maintain her weight and her health. Jodie's eye sight is failing. She is going blind. Like I said, she's beyond the stage of living as a pastur horse. She needs specialized care. Her owner has physical limitations
that won't allow for being able to provide the care she needs. However her owner
is willing to remain financially responsible for her care and is donating to
meet her needs while she is in our care. Her name is Jodie and she arrived
today. She is our last, last horse, at least for now.
It is time for us to work on evaluating the skills of some of
the horses we have rescued to get our adoption program up and running. It is
time for us to work on expanding our presence in the community to develop a
strong and consistent volunteer program to attain help to ease our massive work
load and get more interested local people involved in our mission. It is time
for us to work on increasing our ability to do fund raising and acquire more
donations as well as corporate sponsors. It is time for us to spend time
researching and applying for grants for equine organizations to be able to
expand our facilities by adding more cross fencing and stalls for the special
needs horses. It is time to squeeze out more time to dedicate to the behind the
scenes tasks such as answering phone calls, written correspondence, record
keeping and accounting issues.
There are only so many hours in the day and we can only do so much. While we
know that there are many horses that need help, we are also aware of the fact
that we can not help all of them. We wish we could and it breaks our hearts to
say no to those in need but that is the reality of the situation. Sad but true.
We still want to help where we can and are attempting to rally support from
local citizens to help network needy horses into good permanent homes or
temporary foster care that would be able to provide care until good permanent
homes can be found. We still want to help local citizens that are temporarily
down on their luck but need some help to be able to keep their horses and avoid
horses becoming displaced in the first place. We still want to investigate and
advocate for neglected equine that are reported to us by local concerned
citizens. We still want to help in anyway possible but at this point we can't
take in any more horses. Hopefully as we grow as an organization, get more boots
on the ground, get quality adopters, get a consistent volunteer program and
increase the number of donors we will be able to offer sanctuary to more needy
horses but for now Jodie, is our last, last horse. She arrived today and we
welcome her with open arms and a loving heart.
A Christmas Cat Tale
Next to our house stands a huge grandfather oak. Sadly, this
hundred year old tree has died. When we moved here almost a decade ago we had no
idea that the english ivy growing on that tree would choke the life out of it.
if we'd known, we would have removed it.
Over the Christmas holidays we had
winter storms which delivered high winds, rain, sleet and snow. The snow lasted
for 10 long days.
On Day One, during the late afternoon we heard a cat crying
but couldn't tell which one it was or where the crying was coming from. We
finally figured out that it was our two year old Presley. We couldn't see him
but we could hear him and we know his voice. He's a B&W Tuxedo Kitty that
had apparently climbed through the pseudo-jungle of english ivy to make his way
up into the Grandfather Oak. Every evening dozens of little tiny birds flutter
around the upper branches of this huge tree. They nest there overnight hidden
inside the ivy. This was the motivation for Presley to work so hard to climb
this particular tree. We called to him but he wouldn't come down. We thought
he'd stalk the birds and come down later.
On Day Two, we called to him and he called back. We thought
when he gets hungry, he'd come down. We promised him a treat if he'd come down
but he didn't. We told him that storms were coming and that he needed to get out
of that tree.
On Day Three, we called to him and he called back. We still
had not seen him but had a fairly good idea which part of the tree he was in. It
was fairly high off the ground. We thought that when he gets thirsty, he'd come
down but so far he hadn't. We were getting very worried by this time and the
evening low temp was predicted to be 18 degrees. It snowed all night.
On Day Four, it snowed all day long. We called to Presley and
he called back like before except now his voice sounded all panicky. We went to
get a ladder. A 15 ft. ladder only reached to the first fork in the tree. we cut
back the ivy up that far and stood in between the V-shaped juncture in the tree
trunk. The huge limbs from there didn't go out but instead when mostly straight
up and down. But at least we did finally see presley for the first time. He was
up between another V-shaped fork in the tree. He was at least another 15 feet
higher up than where we stood. There was snow falling and high winds blowing. It
was not a good day to be up in a tree. At this point we decided that Presley
would not come down from the tree. It was hard to let the day turn to night and
go into the house knowing that it would be another below freezing night.
On Day Five, we knew that time was not on our side. When we
went to call to Presley, he sounded weaker and more worried. We went up the 15
ft. ladder and put another ladder 8 ft long up toward the area we'd seen Presley
the day before. It was still too short. We put a 16 ft. long 2x4 up to another
fork in the branches. We begged Presley to come down. He did try to make his way
down but struggled through the vines. Finally he worked his way to the board but
he could not climb down the 2x4. It was obvious that he wanted down but just
couldn't find a way to get down. We tried and tried but we couldn't figure out
how to get Presley out of this tree. We thought, "would he be able to survive
another freezing night?"
On Day Six, we called to Presley and he didn't answer back. We
couldn't see him. We couldn't hear him. Our hearts sank, but we kept calling and
calling. Finally he answered, but in a very quiet voice. He sounded even weaker
than the day before. We just knew that he couldn't survive much longer and were
desperate enough to look for help. I called the local electric company and spoke
with a supervisor. I begged for help and told them we'd pay a fee for them to
help us save Presley. He said, he'd check and see where the closest bucket
truck was located and try to send one out that afternoon. That made us feel
better. Knowing help was on the way did give us a sense of relief from the
stress and the feeling of helplessness. We told Presley to just hang on because
help was on the way. We waited. We waited and no-one came. It got dark. We
thought that, if he was still alive at that point, that the end was near. The
thought of him freezing to death made for a sleepless night.
On Day Seven, we called to Presley and amazingly enough we
heard his slow anxious meow. We started the day by calling the local volunteer
fire department. They said maybe but had to get it okayed by their supervisors.
We waited. No one called. We knew we'd run out of time so we didn't wait to see
if help was on the way. We called electric repair companies that have the
necessary equipment, we called tree cutting companies that have the necessary
equipment. Some were closed due to the holidays, some were seasonal workers,
some were shut down, some said that they wouldn't brave this weather to get a
cat out of a tree for any price. One even said, "stupid cat....leave him there".
The more desperate you get, the more your mind spins. Finally we located a
equipment rental company. They listened to our story and they said they had a 40
foot Boom Lift for $200 a day plus $45 delivery & $45 pick up charge. I
asked the man if they could waive the pick up charge since we'd only need the
machine for a few minutes. He said he couldn't authorize that and let me speak
to the owner. The owner was very nice and agreed to do so. Much to our surprise,
the owner was the one that delivered the machine. He unloaded the boom lift from
the trailer and asked who was going up. I said I would. I asked him if he was
going up to operate the machine. He offered me a safety harness, which I
declined. We went up, up and away. He positioned the boom lift to take me right
up to where Presley quietly waited approximately 35 feet off the ground. About
half way up, John told me that he doesn't like heights. It never occurred to me
to ask since I luv heights and would have liked to taken some photos of the
pasture from up there but we were on a urgent mission. At 1:30 pm on Friday afternoon I grabbed Presley and he hung on with his back claws, John reached over and helped free him from the vines so I could stuff Presley in my jacket for the ride down. We were so so relieved to have presley out of the grandfather oak.
Presley was cold, wet and shivering. Once he was dry and warm and had had his fill of food and water he was okay. After a couple of days in the house, he was back to his old self and ready to go back out to be a ranch cat along with his other friends and feline family.
This year, all we wanted for christmas was to get Presley out of that tree.
To have him back on terra firma safe and sound was exactly what we'd wished for
for 7 long days. That was the best christmas gift ever !!!!
Have you ever noticed how much truth is in the statement "No good deed goes unpunished" ? Sometimes it seems like the soundtrack to our lives. In horse rescue you never know what is going to happen next. You never know who is going to be on the other end of the line when the phone rings. You never really know what you are getting yourself into every time you pull the trailer out of the front gate and head out to assist some needy horse. There is a certain amount of risk in what we do and things happen that we can not predict. Our mission is to help horses in need and we follow the path that leads us there.
In November 2011 we received a phone call from a woman whose mother lives in our county. The homeowner's daughter explained that there were three abandoned horses on the property and they had been hanging around all summer. With the drought and lack of grass the horses were struggling. They were losing weight and she didn't know what to do about them. In our area, horses without owners that are in the Ouachita National Forest are living in no man's land in a state of limbo. The homeowner and her daughter which lives out of town felt sorry for the horses and starting buying hay for them. They allowed them to eat whatever was left of their vegetable garden but knew that they could not stay there.
On a Sunday afternoon we joined forces with another area rescue that had agreed to take in one of these lost souls. We had managed to locate a local family that offered a home to the other two. The woman helping the horses had NO horse experience but she said the horse were friendly. She had been able to halter the bay gelding and lead him into their garden area, while the other two followed. When we along with the other rescuers arrived we saw that the enclosure was less than ideal to contain horses. The area was fenced small post connected to a strand of electric wire. The area where we had to park was some distance from the horses. They already had a halter on the gelding when we entered the pen. It was decided that the people from the other rescue would take the only mare in the group.. She was haltered and lead out of the pen. She loaded into the trailer easily. When we returned to the pen, we attempted and failed to get our hands on the youngest of the group a young roan stud colt. We knew when we lead the bay gelding out of the enclosure that would stress the young roan. It did and he escaped over the fence. With one running loose, this spooked the bay gelding who up to this point had been very hesistate but cooperative for the most part. When the bay gelding escaped, wearing a halter and dragging a lead rope, he and the little roan took off up and over the hill and out of sight. He was very distrustful of us and would not allow any of us to even approach him. The lady that had been feeding them hay was the only one with a chance of getting near him. After much time had passed she appeared at the top of the hill leading the bay gelding with the little roan following along. She said she wanted to try one more time to get the bay down the hill and into the horse trailer. All of us, watched her and were convinced that it would be impossible for her to load the bay. Much to our amazement, she walked the gelding into the trailer without incident.
Now we turned out attention to the little roan who was very distressed by his friends being inside these metal boxes. He ran and ran and called and called to them. It was obvious that without a proper enclosure we would not be able to catch him. We felt terrible about leaving him behind but daylight was fading and we had a 50+ mile drive back home. We discussed bringing panels and setting up a corral, where they could start feeding him. Once inside the corral they could lock the door and trap him until we could return for him. As we drove away, he followed by running through the connecting forest land. No telling how long these three had been living as a family unit. No telling how long they'd been fending for themselves. No telling how many places they'd been chased out of by dogs, four-wheelers or gun shots.
On the drive through the mountains on the way back home, we felt like failures because we were unable to even get near the little roan. It was sad to think of him suffering the worst punishment a horse can receive......being banished from the herd and having to endure what every horse dreads.......being alone. As we discussed plans to return for the little roan, we saw "our lives flash before our eyes" when a giant buck darted out of the forest onto the highway. He'd been running up the side of the mountain and just so happened to jump right into our path. We were climbing up the steep incline and MyHoney took his foot off of the accelerator. That brief moment gave the deer just enough time to get past the brush-guard on the front of our one ton dually crew cab pickup. He was so close to impact, we knew it was miraculous that he was able to cross the highway without ending up crashing through our windshield. He had been spared. We had been spared. We were incredibly grateful.
As we descended from the mountain top, we were shocked to find a multi-agency road block. We have no idea who or what they were looking for but it was very unusual to have so many law enforcement official shut down an intersection way back in the boondocks. We handed over all the required paperwork and answered all their questions about who we were, where we had been and where we were going. It was going to make up later than we already were but we had nothing to do but wait until we were given clearance to go on about our business. Everything was in order, they informed us except that our truck tag had expired, so we got a ticket. It was late, sunset had come and gone. By this time, we were way off schedule and couldn't deliver the horse, but we did manage to avoid a truck/deer crash, we were detained in a roadblock but a expired tag ticket is not the end of the world, so we were counting our blessings and finally headed back to the ranch.
When we arrived. we backed the trailer to the round pen and unloaded the bay gelding. We filled the trough with water and feed him some hay. He was fine. He was perfectly content. Our plan was to reload him in the morning and deliver him to his new home. The next morning he was fine. During breakfast time he fine until the llamas came in from the pasture and approached the barnyard. The gelding was terrified of them and went nuts. He jumped and snorted, which we expected. What we did not expect is that he would be so afraid of the llamas that he would turn, spin and take a running jump at the round pen panels that are six feet tall. He escaped the round pen and ran from place to place. We waited to see if he would calm down......he did not. If we approached him, even at a distance, he bolted and threatened to jump other fences as well. This routine morning was turning more chaotic by the moment. It was potentially disasterous if he were to get into the Blind Horse Habitat. Just him being loose and running around was getting all the other horses spooked. We decided to leave him alone and let him calm down. He wasn't calming down but he was riling up all the others. We called the woman that had befriended him to see if she'd already left town or not. She was on her way out but agreed to come by to see if she could catch him. She spent a few hours with him and he did calm down but would not cooperate with the plan of catching him. He was not going to allow humans to confine him again so he escaped off of our property. Fortunately there are 17,000 acres of land that surround us, so he disappeared not to be seen again for a few days. We knew he would eventually come back and he did.
A few days later, when he returned we started feeding him over the fence. At first he would not eat until we'd go away. Over the course time he would wait for us at feeding time and allow us to throw his hay over the fence and he'd eat as long as we didn't approach him. Our plan at this point was to earn his trust and recapture him. We had decided that he was unsuitable for the family that had agreed to adopt him. They needed a horse what was more manageable than he is at this point. As time when by he would accept my presence even when I'd cross over the fence to place the feed bowl at his feet. He would keep an eye on me but he no longer ran away from me.
This past Sunday morning, he allowed me to put my hands inches from his face while he was eating. He was relaxed and calm. He acted like he had finally accepted my presence and even was beginning to enjoy the company. Things were finally starting to look up with this horse, that was living in limbo on the parameters of our property. We'd named him Rowdy Yates, after Clint Eastwood's character in the old western TV series Rawhide. That was on Sunday 1-1-2012. By Monday morning, everything changed and not for the better.
Monday morning Rowdy Yates was not standing in his usual spot waiting to be served breakfast. Much to our surprise, we had had a break-in. He had found a weak spot in the parameter fence which was barely even noticeable due to the overgrown trees and brush along the fenceline. When he was spotted eating hay in the pasture, for a moment we thought this might be a good thing. That thought didn't last long when his attention was directed to Cheyenne (half Paint/half Mustang mare). It was obvious by her behavior that she's in heat. Rowdy, who we thought was a gelding, responded to her as a stallion. When he attempted to mount her, we went to separate them. By this time the rest of the herd was getting spooked by this intruder. The mares that weren't in heat either tried to run him off or ignored him all together. Rowdy Yates and Cheyenne were mesmerized by each other and neither one was interested in paying any heed to our directions. In the end, we separated them from the main herd and got them inside the barnyard. We set up panels behind the barn and backed the horse trailer in to block their escape. We were able to drive them into our trap. Cheyenne bolted and made a left hand turn. Rowdy rushed straight up into the horse trailer. Now what.......we thought ? With the $75 in diesel, a $211 ticket and 3 ruined corral panels we're already $500 down on this horse and we haven't really helped him other than fattening him up by feeding him. At this point our options were limited. We do not have another "high-security" lock down unit to place him in. We have one but it is occupied by Luke, another gelding that thinks he is a stallion. We refuse to take him to the auction to end up in the hands of a Kill Buyer to be sent to slaughter. We refuse to dump him back on public land to fend for himself and be at the mercy of anyone that would do him harm. We can not allow him to reek havoc here and endanger other members of the Triple O Herd. As you can see our list of options is getting shorter and shorter.
We decided to call one of our vets and ask if we could put him at the clinic and see what options we could come up with once he was in a secure environment. Luckily we have some good vets that try to assist us in our mission to help horses. We delivered him and unloaded him in a chute and herded him into a heavy duty pipe stall. He is demeanor was of a horse severly distressed and seeking a way to avoid contact with humans. The vet said they'd evaluate him the following day to check if indeed he is a stallion or a gelding. Under extra heavy sedation our vet and his assistants crowded him into an alley way up lagainst a solid wall with a heavy duty solid steel door. They said he calmed down enough to touch his face, halter him and draw his blood. However when the vet attempted to do a physical exam and feel for the presence of testiciles, Rowdy was less than cooperative but trapped he had no choice but to undergo examination. The vet said that testicles were NOT present. They drew blood to do a testosterone test. IF the test shows that he is cryptorchid, a operation to remove undescended testicles would be required to castrate him. IF the test shows that he is not a stallion and has been properly gelded, then that is a whole new ball of wax. Our vet said to keep our vet bill down, we could avoid paying board at the clinic by going to take care of him every day. This means we drive 50 miles round trip daily to give him hay, feed and water, as well haul our own hay and feed to the clinic and muck out the stall where he will be living for one week while the results of the test are being finalized. In case you aren't aware of our staffing situation here at the Triple O, we have no paid staff, we have two volunteers.....MyHoney and I.....that's it.....just us. Sooooo, now we have to take care of the herd in the main pasture, the horses in the main barnyard, the horses in the Blind Horse Habitat.....then we take the 4-wheeler and 4-wheeler trailer up the hill about a quarter mile and take care of the horses at the North Forty, which is the seven acres loaned to us by our neighbors after that one of us drives 25 miles to the vet clinc to take care of Rowdy Yates.
Now our dilema isn't that we have to drive to the vet clinic for a week to take care of a needy horse, our dilima is that we will soon be forced into making some difficult decisions that will determine if Rowdy Yates will live or die. From the beginning the vet inquired if we were aware of how few options may be available. We told him we were painfully aware of the facts. The best case scenario is that he was a full stallion, could be gelded and return to the ranch to be tamed over a course of time that would be required to gain his trust to make him manageable enough to work with. Next is the possiblitiy that he is crytorchid, which, as our vet said....will make him expensive, since he would require surgery. He discussed the option of euthanasia with us and we said that we would not take the decision lightly.due to the fact that he is as far as we know 100% sound of body and mind. He is a young horse around 4 years old. To choose euthanasia for a old, lame sick horse is not easy for a young, healthy horse would be even harder. We have until Tuesday or Wednesay, when the test results come in to figure out what will have to do about Rowdy. We can not in good conscience pawn him off on someone as a horse that is easily handled. In the wrong hands, a horse like Rowdy will end up getting hurt or hurting someone else. He is NOT mean. He is NOT crazy. He is just scared of people. Obviously, we can not have him here in contact with mares. We do not have sufficient cross fencing to be ale for him to live separately. At this point, other than finding him a suitable home that could and would accomodate his issues, we are running out of good options that can be attained by next week.
From the moment we got involved in his saga, we became responsible for Mr. Rowdy Yates. His fate is now in our hands and we know it. We won't send him to slaughter and we won't dump him in the national forest and the only viable option we can see at this point is to purchase heavy duty corral panels which are very expensive. With our very limited resources it would be difficult to spend a $1,000 to purchase the panels to make him a lockdown unit, especially between now and Tuesday. At this point we will already have a couple hundred dollars in vet bills for the testosterone test, Coggins test and expense for sedating him for examination. If we were to take that option we could set up a pen that he couldn't escape from while we work on earning his trust. Then once he's overcome his fear of humans he will be salvagable. With my own eyes, I saw a woman, that had no horse handling experience, catch, halther, lead and load this horse by just being patient and calm with him. He is not crazy nor mean. Now depending on his hormonal issues, he may only be able to be placed into a home that has only geldings, that is yet to be determined. We believe he could make someone a fine horse one day and hope that we are able to figure our a way for him to have a long and happy life. If we're between a rock and a hard spot, it is because we try very hard to do everything possible to make sure needy horses get their second chance. In horse rescue you never know what will happen next and things happen that no one could predict. And if we are forced to decide that Rowdy's life will be ended via euthanasia, it will be only after all other avenues are explored and all other options have been exhausted. Like they say......no good deed goes unpunished and our punishment is that we may end up having to bear witness to the death of a young healthy horse that was just another victim of human irresponsibility.