Posts Tagged ‘Animal Welfare’

Winston is prancing around his paddock this morning, hungry and impatient.  My arrival signals breakfast and he wants it NOW.  He kicks the lower board of his fencing as though he needs to get my attention.  Hey – do you see me?  I said NOW!

He’s a dark brown or “bay,” feisty stallion – about 16 hands tall and, these days, close to 1300 pounds.  And as a young four-year old he’s full of himself and is mostly interested in finding a mare to do, well, to do what stallions do best.  Make babies.  But we won’t let him.  He’s alone in his paddock because he’d attack another male and mount any female within smelling distance.  Because he’s so feisty few people will handle Winston or go into his paddock, for that matter, cautious about his unpredictability and tremendous power.

Photo of the eye of a young Arabian horse

Image via Wikipedia

And I love him, tearing up each time I visit his feeding window to scratch behind his ears and rub his long, thick neck.  I particularly love kissing the end of his nose as he nibbles at my shoulder and looks into my eyes.  He knows we saved his life.

I remember when he arrived as a weak sorry-looking animal, evidence in a court case that Horse Haven of Tennessee is charged with safe keeping.  Some six months ago he was taken from his owners as a starving fellow who just hung his head and had to be shown there was food in his feed bucket.  He walked slowly and carefully through the barn to his turn out paddock while we gasped at his emaciated frame, a perfect specimen for horse anatomy 101 with each rib clearly delineated and his rump bones protruding due to muscle deterioration.  Under our care he’s gained hundreds of pounds.

Horse and Rider

Image by Istvan via Flickr

Who knows why owners neglect their animals?  Some actually don’t know better.  They think that plopping a horse in their backyard as a lawn mower is sufficient.  It’s not.  Others are just outright cruel – dragging horses behind their trucks, beating them if they don’t obey or hauling them to mountaintops and abandoning them.  These days some owners are just running out of money to take care of themselves let alone their horses.  Their equine are left to winnow away to mere shadows of themselves, ultimately dropping dead from starvation.

Group of differently coloured Finnhorse stalli...

Image via Wikipedia

There are a lot of horses in our country – about 4 percent of American households have a horse; that’s more than 9 million horses.  The horse industry is a multi-billion dollar business.  We love our horses.  But with the trend for unwanted horses growing, the Rescue industry needs about $2300 per horse for food, meds and hoof care.  At the rate it’s going, the price adds up to some $26 million a year!  All donation based.

Wild stallion Lazarus and part of his band in ...

All my life I’ve longed for my own horse, started riding lessons at 13 – compliments of my father. They’re incredibly sensitive, soulful creatures with timid temperaments and acute flee impulses since they’re prey animals. Their first instinct is for self-protection.  And yet they want to please humans.

Winston is a success story and my heart sings with joy each time we visit and snuggle.  One of these days his court case will be resolved and, hopefully, he’ll be released for adoption.  Our local college equestrian team have their eyes on him.  They should; he’ll make a gorgeous hunter/jumper, being the thoroughbred he is.

Meanwhile we’ll feed him his full bucket of grain twice/day and his minimum 6 flakes of hay twice a day.  And care for his teeth and feet.  And love him the way he deserves.

You can visit the website at Horse Haven of Tennessee or watch a video telling its story where more than 60 volunteers take care of the horses during twice/daily shifts.  It’s a love story.  One that requires money to keep going.

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