Friday, June 24, 2011

Back to Our Regularly-Scheduled Programming!

Whew, lots to catch up on! As an avid blog-reader myself, I know how suspenseful a break can be!

Hmmm, what's there to get caught up on?

Oh yeah! The Haflinger colts (now named Gotti and Capone) were scheduled to have their little "brain" surgeries a week and a half ago. Alas, a little birdie must have told them they were going to be castrated, and they decided to keep their jewels out of our vet's grasp. Of course they're going to wait until it's swelteringly hot (i.e. August) to drop, or not drop fully at all, in which case they get to learn how to ride in the trailer (earlier in their lives than they would have otherwise) to get extra-special surgery!  Woo hoo!

In other news, the Arabians are doing well. The one mare who chokes often had her esophagus endoscoped by our vet, just to make sure there weren't any strictures that were making her choke. Nope, it turns out she just eats too fast. So we'll continue feeding her very slowly, which means big rocks in her feed bucket to slow her down, with only a handful of feed at a time.

And how could I forget?!?!?! Marsha Parkinson (the woman from whom the Arabians were seized) was charged with 34 counts of Animal Cruelty for Failure to Provide! I'm very curious as to how they came up with that number, as anyone who has seen these horses would agree that she should have been charged for every single one. At least it means the court process has truly begun, and the sooner we can get these mares into good homes! Her trial takes place on July 27 in Queen Anne County District Court.

Coming up on our busy calendar is Plow Days! We've begun prepping Patty and Dee Dee to make a showing. They are the two older Clydesdale mares we picked up from Athens Stockyard on the PA/NY border along with Sunrise and Penny. They are both broke to drive (Patty definitely, Dee Dee more or less), but they have never been hitched together. Below are photos from their first ground driving session. These harnesses are only for ground driving, as the collars are not fitted to these girls. They were made for big, beefy Belgian necks, not the narrower Clyde necks, so they won't be hitched up to pull anything until we find them the right tack.

A little bit of steering work in the indoor arena. Patty is on the left (driven by Paul, one of our volunteers), and Dee Dee is on the right (driven by Christine).

Yeah, we're going to need a little practice!

Outside, in one of the pastures, still "hitched" together (just a piece of baling twine connecting their collars):

The girls look very confused!

Normally, a team is of similar height and coloring.  Patty is a good hand taller or so.  She is the taller, lankier-type Clydesdale that is popular today.  The Clydesdale standard used to be closer to Dee Dee's build: short and stout.  We're just teaming them together because we got them together and they are best buds in turnout.

Dee Dee had enough, so we split them up for some individual work.

Paul with Patty:

Christine and Dee Dee:

Ahhhh, there's that show horse!  Patty was shown at the PA Farm Show by her previous owner.  She likes to show off!

The hat really completes the ensemble!

Go, Dee Dee!

Dee Dee doesn't appreciate having to work in her own field:

If looks could kill:

Back in the barn, untacking:

Now, to learn what the hose is!  Dee Dee is none too pleased:

Patty handled it like the pro she is:



Saturday, June 11, 2011

Fingers Crossed to End Slaughter!

On Thursday, a bill (S. 1176 - the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of 2011) was introduced to the U.S. Senate to permanently ban the sale or export of horses (or their body parts) for slaughter.  More specific text lifted straight from the Library of Congress's website: "A bill to amend the Horse Protection Act to prohibit the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption, and for other purposes."

Slaughter is already banned at the state level in the United States, but horses are still allowed to be sold and shipped to Canada and Mexico, where they suffer greatly before they are killed.

In Mexico, a common method of slaughtering the horses is paralyzing them by stabbing them in the spine, and butchering them while they are still fully conscious.  This isn't even the beginning of the process.  A horse is bought at a sale and crammed into a truck built for much-smaller cattle, where they are subjected to a trip as long as a week without adequate food or water (it's HOT in the South and Mexico!), and no chance to rest or avoid other horses' kicking and biting.  It is common for horses to be pulled dead or grievously injured (think: broken legs, severed limbs, severe eye injuries, etc.) from the trailer.

Subjecting a loved one to such a fate should NOT be an option.  As Senator Landrieu (a sponsor of the bill) puts it so well, "We raise and train horses to trust us, perform for us, and allow us on their backs, and as such, they deserve to be treated with human compassion."*  The very least they deserve is a quick and painless death via humane euthanasia.

The entire text of the bill is not yet available online, but I will keep an eye out for it to keep you posted!

In the meantime, you can contact your own Senators to tell them (nicely and professionally) about how you feel about horse slaughter, and urge them to support the bill so it finally goes through!  Then we get to repeat the process in the House of Representatives!



Sunday, June 5, 2011

Polish Arabian Mares, Part IV

I took some new pics of the girls this weekend!

I'm putting up three photos of each horse: the first from when they arrived, the second from the previous update, the third from this weekend.

They have all put on a TON of weight, and as they have become more energetic and move around a lot more, they are all increasing in muscle mass as well.  They were all just dewormed again, as they are all still battling a heavy load of several different parasites (meaning that we have to use several different dewormers over time to get rid of the different types).

We just gave them access to more acreage on the property, so they are enjoying having new places to explore.

They are all going to have their teeth floated very soon.  We are just waiting for a couple to gain more weight so they are strong enough to be safely sedated.

Edit to add- We leave their halters on as a method of identification for our volunteers, as they all look very similar to each other.  It's just like introducing non-horsey family members to your own herd: if you have a herd of three bay Thoroughbreds of similar size, your family isn't going to know which horse is which without some distinct method to tell them apart (like "Rocky has a scar on his left knee" or "Joey's star looks like Florida"). 

Being able to quickly identify which horse you have is of utmost importance.  For example, they are all getting to the point where some will get a reduced grain ration.  One of them is prone to choke, so misidentifying her and improperly feeding her can lead to an emergency visit from the vet.  

Quick identification is also crucial to the day-to-day hands-on examination of the girls' progress.  It isn't much help to anyone when you have someone say, "One of the bay mares has a funny bump on her leg," which may be dismissed as normal for one horse, but if they really mean a different horse, it may lead to missing a potentially serious injury.

When you see the horses every day, you can tell them apart, but as individual volunteers see the horses maybe once a week, every hint helps.  You might not be able to tell Nosey Rosey, Mel, or Ayah apart, but I sure can.  Stormy and Nadirah are easy, because they look so different from everyone else.  The bays are more difficult to tell apart, and you would have to see them pretty often to be able to tell them apart, especially when the day comes I get through Marley's tail!




 Nadirah (previously referred to as "Rose Grey"):

Nosey Rosey:


Ayah (previously #61, our thinnest mare):



 Marley (renamed from Asharra because of her severely matted tail that is taking a long time to tease out):