Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Farm cares for old, infirm horses

The Fredericksburg (VA) Free Lance-Star was kind enough to do a story highlighting TREES' small effort to make a difference.

Visit http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2007/062007/06262007/293401 to read the article, published June 26, 2007.

We'd like to thank reporter Elizabeth Krietsch and photographer Noah Rabinowitz for putting the piece together. Both seemed very interested in learning more about elder equine. (Extra brownie points to Noah for getting up early enough to be here during breakfast chores!)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Horse flies and weight loss

Most people associate senior horses' weight loss with the winter months. Many elders, however, have problems maintaining healthy weight during the summer. It was Sonny, our 36 year old Palomino gelding, who finally pointed us toward a solution.

After applying yet another "guaranteed" fly repellent to Sonny's legs last summer, we watched in amazement as flies resumed their attack before the spray was thoroughly dry. Sonny stomped and paced and rubbed his muzzle on his legs. This old man was working off precious calories before our eyes.

For reasons we do not yet understand, flies seem to be attracted to the lower legs of "frail" horses more than they are attracted to other parts of the body or to more robust animals. One possible reason is that many of these horses are dentally challenged and eat "mush" which they then wipe on their legs while trying to shoo flies on their own. No amount of wiping, washing, currying or brushing seems to remove the microscopic morsels that brings flies running.

Fly sprays are often ineffective and ointments like Swat work only sporadically, but...........

.......fly boots work wonders! The first time we asked Sonny to wear boots, he stood quietly as we adjusted the velcro straps. As soon as the stall door opened, though, he launched into the air and bucked his way into the sunshine and down the length of the field (MYTH: Old horses are "bombproof". REALITY: They are not any more bombproof than horses in other age ranges.) By the end of the day he realized how much more comfortable he was and now stands at his gate after breakfast waiting for his "booties" before returning to the field. Maintaining his weight is no longer a problem.

Many of TREES' residents wear fly boots now. (Boots are removed at night.) Even horses who did not appear to be overly stressed by flies seem more content and require less feed to maintain a healthy weight. Yes, getting everybody "dressed" in the morning takes a few extra minutes, but the results are worth every second.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Always Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth

Signs of Possible Dental Trouble

(Please remember that many times there will be no obvious signs of dental disease until problems are severe.)

*dropping more food than previously.
*eating more slowly than before.
*the appearance of "quids" (wads of grass or hay that the horse tries to chew, then spits out.)
*head shaking
*holding the head to one side while chewing
*whole grains in the manure
*bad odor in the mouth and nose
*swelling on the face or along jaw
*bleeding gums
*tossing the head while being ridden
*uncharacteristically fighting the bit
*weight loss or poor condition

If you notice any of these signs of developing problems, contact your veterinarian or equine dentist as soon as possible. As with human teeth, preventing the progression of trouble is much easier than correcting problems at a later time!

Left: Before dental exam
Right: Six months after dental treatment

Friday, June 15, 2007

Christmas in July Sale Date Set

Traveller's Rest will have a Book and Yard Sale July 14, 2007 from 9AM until 3PM to benefit its special residents. TREES is currently accepting clean, gently used yard sale items, tack, stable supplies and equipment, and pre-owned books of all genres to add to the sale. All proceeds from the sale will be used to feed and care for current residents and to help educate owners of senior horses on special care considerations.

If you have items to donate to the sale, please contact Traveller's Rest at info@equineelders.org or call 540-972-0936.
Sale location: 8815 Robert E Lee Drive, Spotsylvania, VA 22553

Monday, June 11, 2007

Songs for Seniors

iGive.com Members: Spend a penny, get a 20¢ donation! Use the link below to take advantage of Buy.com's 1¢ CD promotion and get a 20¢ donation for Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary!http://www.iGive.com/html/fm.cfm?vendorid=615
Offer ends July 18, 2007!
(New to iGive.com? Join for free at http://www.igive.com/html/refer.cfm?causeid=29456)

Tuffy Love. 43 year old horse still working!

Owners of senior horses often ask us when they should retire a horse from riding. There is no single answer to that question. As long as a horse is comfortable, in good health, and willing he can work as long as he likes.
After 30 years on the job, a 43 year old Quarter horse gelding named Tuffy is still working as a therapy horse at Edmonton's Whitemud Equine Learning Centre in Alberta, Canada. Tuffy's owners retired him a few years ago, but the old workhorse became depressed and stopped eating when he could no longer work with disabled children via the Little Bits Therapeutic Riding Association. He currently works one hour a day, four days a week and will continue to do his job as long as he remains in good health. Tuffy was named Canadian Therapeutic Horse of 2005.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Christmas in July Book and Yard Sale to benefit senior horses

Traveller's Rest will have a Book and Yard Sale in mid July to benefit its special residents. Specific date and times to be announced soon. TREES is currently accepting clean, gently used yard sale items, tack, stable supplies and equipment, and pre-owned books of all genres to add to the sale. All proceeds from the sale will be used to feed and care for current residents and to help educate owners of senior horses on special care considerations.

If you have items to donate to the sale, please contact Traveller's Rest at info@equineelders.org or call 540-972-0936. For the next several days, email is the preferred method of contact. Friday's storm disabled one telephone line and the answering machine. We should be back to normal communications by Thursday June 14.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Reminder - Equine Rescue League needs new home!

Some additional notes regarding the June 4, 2007 post.

Although the Equine Rescue League has been in Leesburg, VA for almost 17 years, they are very willing to consider farm properties in other areas of Virginia.

The current farm must be completely vacated by Sept 22, 2007, which means they need a new facility before that date to allow time to move approximately 30 horses, some portable sheds, equipment and supplies.

If you have any leads, please contact ERL at 703-771-1240 or email bubbasays2@aol.com

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Who says you can't teach old dogs new tricks?

Or old horses?!

This looks like an ordinary photo, right? Nothing special. Two horses peacefully grazing.......

This, however, is a breakthrough moment for both of these horses! Val, the dark brown Thoroughbred on the right, has never been welcoming of other geldings in "his" field. At the same time, Wade, the sorrel Quarter Horse on the left, has been a loner since his arrival, usually staying far removed from other horses.
We have no idea what happened over the past few days, but it looks like things have changed for both boys! Hopefully, this will be a lasting friendship.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Rescue needs New Farm

Our apologies for the absence of Traveller's Rest News. We're back and will once again begin providing regular updates.

First though, an appeal on behalf of our sister organization, and mentor, the Equine Rescue League of Leesburg, VA

The Equine Rescue League needs your help.

Please contact the Equine Rescue League office at 703-771-1240 if you can help them continue to help horses like those mentioned below. We can't afford not to.

Equine Rescue League, in Leesburg, Virginia is one of the oldest equine welfare groups in this part of the country, founded in 1990. ERL's founder, Pat Rogers, prior to opening this particular facility was the Farm Manager of the American Horse Protection Association's farm in Lucketts, VA before AHPA closed the farm and became more of a lobbying group. Pat had experience at this before most of the rest of us even heard of "horse rescue." She also attended auctions with Gail Eisnetz (author of Slaughterhouse) back in the 80's so was (and is) very committed to this mission.

ERL, in its first year of operation, took in a herd of 32 neglected Morgans from a case prosecuted in a nearby county. The owner received the harshest punishment ever given for a cruelty case at that time. The community rallied at that time, providing funds, supplies, and volunteer labor. If not for that support, caring for 32 starving (and many pregnant) horses would have been next to impossible.

In later cases, one involving 19 Appaloosas arriving at one time, one involving several starved foals only a few months old, and one case that inspired all who visited........The Gold One........the community again came together and helped ERL provide intensive care. At other times, arrivals were not as dramatic, one horse here, two there, but ERL was always there, plugging away feeding, watering, treating injuries and, sadly, offering peaceful ends to those for whom help came too late.

Goldie "before"

Goldie "After"

ERL set the stage for most of Virginia's other equine rescue operations. They've allowed many of us to adapt their contracts, for example, for our own use rather than making us reinvent the wheel. They've done more than most people realize to raise awareness of equine humane issues.

Now, Their occupation of Churchland Farm, which has always been a temporary arrangement, is coming to an end. Loudoun County, one of the fastest growing in the nation, must reclaim the property for landfill expansion. ERL has until September 22, 2007 to find a new home. In an area of such rapid development, land prices have skyrocketed over the last 5 years. The current market is not one easily entered by a charitable organization whose primary mission.....caring for neglected horses.......puts every donated dollar to immediate use. Saving the amount of money needed to purchase suitable acreage has been difficult.

Its time to rally the community again.

ERL and its residents need your help. The organization is asking for your assistance in procuring a property, raising funds, and soliciting donations or grants.

Please help them continue their work in Virginia. Losing this groundbreaking organization that led the way in the area would be a tragic occurrence. With no ERL, there would have been no Flower, no Bob, no Churchill, Goldie, or countless others.

The Real Heroes

Although the Equine Rescue League depends on volunteers and private donations to help horses in need of our services and to maintain its farm shelter, the real heroes of our stories are the horses themselves.

Regardless of past mistreatments or abuses, these horses continue to trust, and even like, people. Each one seems to believe that the next stage in its life will be better than the last; that the next caregiver will treat him with kindness and respect.

It is always inspiring to see how quickly a horse can recover from total neglect once appropriate care is administered. The convalescent period is tackled with a "gusto" not seen in most human patients.

These pages are dedicated to those victims who would not resign themselves to an unpleasant fate.

How can we give up when they do not?