Sam is an ‘elder’ horse that was discarded.
I first saw ‘Sam’ several months ago. She was on the thin side and limping a bit, but the new owner assured me that she just needed worming and he would have the farrier out soon. The farrier discovered a 3 inch nail embedded in her foot. He pulled it out but told the owner that her foot was probably permanently damaged, and recommended that because she was at least 20 years old, and didn’t have many teeth, she wasn’t worth saving and should be shot.
In the days and weeks that followed, Sam got thinner and thinner.
The next time I saw Sam, I was shocked- she was a walking skeleton. The hay she picked up just dribbled out of her mouth. The owners fed her bread which kept her barely alive.The owner said he was still waiting for someone to dig a hole so he could shoot her.
In the meantime she was starving to death.
I couldn’t sleep at night. This once-beautiful horse was dying in pain, of neglect and starvation. I lay awake one night and made the decision- whether I could afford it or not, I would have to take ownership of her, call in the vet, and do whatever was necessary to either save her or have her humanely euthanized. I knew I did not have the finances to do all that was necessary for Sam, but had the faith that all would work out for her good.
I suppose I did not exactly ask for her- I just told the owner that he was giving her to me.
A few hours later, the vet and his assistant arrived.
After a thorough exam, he said she had a lung condition probably from moldy hay, her heart and body were weak from starvation, and her teeth were so long neglected that she literally could not eat- she was starving to death and her chance of survival was zero without immediate treatment. The good news? She did have all of her teeth, and her foot was sound.
After the vet took care of her badly overgrown teeth, Sam had an immediate look of relief. Weak and starving as she was, she wobbled over to the hay bin and stuck her face in- coming up only long enough to get a drink, and then back into the hay.
The vet was cautiously optimistic.
Would she live? Possibly.
If she got the proper care and feeding now, and was able to put weight on, she might make it. He gave me feeding recommendations- and his bill. *Ouch*.
We brought her up to her new home.
We have 11 acres, with good pasture on the hillside. She will be able to eat all the fresh feed she needs along with plenty of hay, and get good daily exercise and fresh air. I had two ton of hay delivered, and picked up sacks of ‘Equine Senior’ grain and assorted horse needs. My husband loves me- and despite NOT loving horses, spent several evenings putting an electric fence up on a small spot so she could have an area to graze in. That is true love 🙂
Sam is very sensitive on her back- without much flesh over her bones, even a soft brush made her uncomfortable, so we
have had to put off grooming her. Today though, it was time to see what was under the matted hair on her back.
With a super-soft brush and a dog’s shedding comb, I carefully removed all the dead hair- and
found skin, dirt, and some new hair underneath. How uncomfortable it must have been! An hour of careful grooming, and she looks much more comfortable.
The weather has turned cold…
It is Autumn already, but hopefully it will warm up again for a few days. When it does, she will get a gentle bath to remove the last of the dirt and grime. Hopefully I can get the mats in that mane under control as well…
It is hard to tell, but I think Sam is putting on a bit of weight. If nothing else, her attitude and overall look has changed dramatically. Her eyes are wide open and bright and the shuffling walk is finally gone.
She is becoming a happy horse!
Winter is coming fast, and not only does she need a shelter built-fast- she has to put on a lot more weight before the severe cold hits if she is going to survive.
Sam is one of many older horses that have suffered in their old age. After a lifetime of service they are discarded like broken toys. Sometimes their young owners grow up and no longer have time or the desire to take care of them. Sometimes the costs of taking care of a horse become so burdensome that they are sold or given away (as Sam was) to save the money. Many times the horse just can’t take the riding that it could when it was younger- no longer fast and agile in the rodeo ring.
What happens to these older, unwanted horses?
There are a few horse rescues around the country and most, including the ones in Idaho, are full. Many horses are just passed around, like Sam, until at last someone decides to ‘put it down’ or it is abandoned to die. Few horses find a forever, life-long home. It is heartbreaking. I wish I could save them all, but if all I can do right now is to save this one horse, this time, I have made a small dent, a small beginning. My hope is that, like the focus on uncontrolled litters of kittens and puppies has reduced the population in animal shelters, we can raise awareness of the problem of ‘backyard breeding’ of horses.
By sharing this post, you can help spread the message!
Sam has an Indiegogo Life/Generosity page to help support the needs she will have while she recovers her chance at life.
There are several ways for you to become one of ‘Sam’s Angels’;
- Make a donation of any amount!
- Share both this page and the ‘Generosity’ Fundraiser page on social media.
- Talk to your friends about what you have learned- and encourage them to be involved. Thank you for taking the time to make a difference!
Update : 9/22/2015
Many thanks to my son, Daniel, for putting this short video together! I am so grateful for all those who are coming together to save this horses life. We are in it for the long haul. Sam’s Angels will continue to be so very important…
Experiencing the caring of others makes me want to do more, to be more: more compassionate, more giving, more aware of those in need, more caring towards humans and animals.
Sam’s health is slowly but steadily improving, and she is gaining weight.
Being able to get up on the hill and eat as much as she wants, as well as being able to exercise and be out of dust and blowing dirt has given her a tremendous boost. One exciting update is that her hair has changed. Where a few months ago it was dull, coarse, and lifeless, she has begun growing hair again and she literally shines in the sun. She has a gorgeous reddish-brown coat. It may sound odd, but her smell has changed as well. She has a healthy ‘horsey’ smell now, changed from a musty, unhealthy one.
Our weather has stayed unseasonably warm, which is giving her extra time to put on weight before the cold hits. Although we have not been able to build a shelter, we were able to provide her with a stall inside of a shed. This will get her out of the wind, rain, sleet and snow when that comes. She has been in and out of it numerous times and seems quite comfortable despite it being just large enough for her to walk in and back out. It’s a great blessing that she is on the small side!
Our next goal for Sam is to get her back to the vet to have her teeth checked again- although she can graze, she has difficulty chewing her grain and tough stems of hay. We will get her vaccinations at the same time if the vet thinks she is strong enough. Until next time- 🙂 Margo
I would be grateful if you would once again share Sam’s story all over the interwebs!
Sam now has a Facebook page and a Twitter feed! Please check them out for more updates on her progress:
This is Sam’s fundraiser page- please consider becoming one of her sponsoring angels: https://www.generosity.com/fundraisers/neglect-pain-and-consequences/x/9452660
Today’s recipe: Hawaiian Haystacks- the most apropos recipe I could think of after stacking hay for Sam!
- 4 cups cooked rice
- 2 tsp. butter
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1 can coconut milk
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup shredded chicken
- Chow mein noodles
- Choice of toppings (see below)
- Prepare rice and keep warm.
- Prepare toppings (See below) and place in individual bowls.
- Saute the garlic in butter on medium heat for 1-2 minutes.
- Add flour and salt and stir well to make a paste.
- Slowly stir in the milk (for extra creamy sauce, use half and half).
- Add the can of coconut milk and shredded chicken, and heat through.
- To serve:
- Place a serving of rice on each plate. Cover with choice of toppings, a generous amount of sauce, and top with chow mein noodles.
- Topping ideas: Mandarin oranges, pineapple, chopped green onions, diced celery, slivered almonds, coconut, chopped sweet peppers, slivered fresh kale, sauteed mushrooms, grated white cheese, lightly steamed broccoli, grated carrots, lightly sauteed chopped zucchini, chopped tomatoes, sliced olives