Wednesday, December 29, 2010

FREE SEMINAR - Geriatric Horse Jan 12


Medical Conditions Affecting the Aging Horse

Rappahannock Equine Veterinary Clinic - Locust Grove, VA-

Wednesday Jan 12, 2011, 6PM.

RSVP by Jan10, 540-854-7171, or

Sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim.

Presented by Dr Marian Little, DVM of Boehringer Ingelheim.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Seriously Short Summary of Sherman's Saga

Sherman, age 30-ish, November 10, 2009

December 11, 2010

The Myth of Skinny Old Horses busted again.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Equine Elders holiday feed drive

Helping Every Animal Live (HEAL) is hosting a holiday feed drive for the residents of Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary (TREES.) Visit the HEAL FB page to see how you can participate.  (Then be sure to "Like" and follow the HEAL page to keep up with future projects to help all animals in the area!)

From HEAL's info page:

"Helping Every Animal Live - (HEAL) is a newly forming non-profit. (501(c)(3) status is pending). Founded by an executive with experience in veterinary medicine as well as a former non-profit and governmental entity auditor, HEAL was formed to answer a much needed void in the community. We look forward to introducing our non-profit to the local community and aiding those animals in need.Mission:The mission of Helping Every Animal Live (HEAL) is twofold:

Give animals access to critical and quality veterinary care by providing financial aid and fundraising assistance to those in need.

Educate animal owners, caregivers, first responders, and veterinary professionals in order to improve the health and welfare of all animals through program resources.

Through fundraising efforts, community support, and innovative programs, HEAL will:

• Provide financial assistance for veterinary care to families who qualify for assistance

• Provide veterinary care to treat and rehabilitate sick or injured animals within local municipal animal control facilities in order to return them to a healthy and adoptable state

• Contribute veterinary assistance to animals in custody of local rescue groups, foster programs, animal sanctuaries, wildlife parks, farms, and zoos

• Track euthanasia rates within veterinary settings to reduce medically unnecessary deaths

• Maintain cancer resource center for animals in need of cancer treatments

• Conduct educational seminars to raise public awareness of key topics in veterinary medicine and other important issues as well as offer continuing education to veterinary professionals

• Offer first responder training in animal oxygen administration, CPR, first aid, and restraint and provide all local fire departments with pet oxygen masks and first aid supplies

• Offer CPR and first aid training to the general public

 Provide support to research institutes specializing in emerging veterinary treatments and procedures

• Run a wildlife triage center

• Maintain a Senior Center for aging animals, including access to in-home hospice care

• Provide access to specialized products and services for animals with disabilities

• Sponsor various animal support groups

Through long-range planning, HEAL will:

• Provide a state of the art non-profit veterinary center for specialized and critical care for all species, including wildlife and exotic animals

• Partner with the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine to improve educational standards and requirements for successful completion of a doctoral degree in veterinary medicine

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Short virtual tour

Some video from the Bayside Portsmouth Harley Owners Group visit a few months ago

Sunday, October 31, 2010

October Mornings

Val - October 28, 2010

Mona - October 27, 2010

Super Sunday Volunteer Crew

Wow! We’re developing quite a team on Sundays. The energy on Sundays is great as several people work together to whip the sanctuary into shape. We catch up on a little more cleanup each week.

Today, TREES volunteers:
  • Cleaned up ALL fields and paddocks (as in every single one)
  • Cleaned out all run-in sheds
  • Scrubbed and refilled water tanks
  • Scrubbed feed tubs
  • Took down fans and old fly strips
  • Replaced burned out light bulbs
  • Stripped and rebedded Butternut & Henry’s stalls
  • Bedded Kelley’s shed
  • Replaced several boards in older sections of fence
  • Cleaned up the scrap wood left after storage shed construction
  • Fluffed several geezers’ winter coats
  • Put away most of Saturday’s load of donated supplies

And all before 1PM.
Then we discussed several admin and fundraising ideas – keep ‘em comin’!

You guys are great. “Thank you” doesn’t seem like enough.

(Now to develop several more teams that work this well together -- both at the farm and "behind the scenes.")

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Another Volunteer Orientation! Sept 27, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010, at 10AM
Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary - Spotsylvania, VA

Looking for a way to help horses "hands-on?" More than just "petting horses," we'll offer an opportunity to play a role in maintaining a high standard of daily care at the sanctuary. Several people who couldn't make it to the orientation on Sept 18 are nonetheless interested in getting started as soon as they can. So, WE'VE ADDED ANOTHER ORIENTATION this Monday, September 27, 2010, at 10AM.

Interested in learning how you can help?
Email for directions.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

To Alleviate Some Local Confusion:

Almost every time TREES sets up a display at a local event, we are asked "Oh, are you the place that {fill in the blank}?" or “Are you the place on {fill in the blank} Road?”. To alleviate some confusion, here are a few bits of TREES trivia:

Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary specializes in the care of geriatric horses that have been abandoned or neglected or whose owners literally can no longer offer even basic care. TREES is not a retirement board facility.

Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary is in Spotsylvania.

Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary does not buy horses.

Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary does not “import” truckloads of horses from other parts of the county.

Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary only accepts as many horses as it can properly care for at the time.

Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary customizes a diet and care program for each horse based on its individual needs.

Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary feeds a high-quality, balanced feed appropriate for our residents’ needs and stage of life.

Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary feeds each horse separately.

Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary’s horses all have access to hay or pasture 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Except during meals, or in cases of a veterinarian's instruction, Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary’s horses are turned out 24/7, not kept in small pens.

Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary provides adequate shelter to every horse.

Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary documents date of arrival of every horse and condition upon arrival.

Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary checks on every horse a minimum of three times a day at breakfast, supper and bedtime, many times more often during the course of daily chores.

Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary keeps its residents on a 6-week farrier schedule, though some are trimmed more often if needed.

Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary consults with veterinarians regularly, often weekly, about everything from acute or chronic illnesses to allergies and alternatives to current management techniques.

Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary also consults with complementary practitioners on a frequent basis to augment but not replace “traditional” veterinary care.

Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary has each horse examined by a dentist at least annually, more often if problems arise.

Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary does not keep intact male horses on the property or allow residents to breed.

Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary’s volunteers are asked to follow policies and procedures intended to keep them AND the horses safe.

Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary does ask parents to remain at the farm with their children because we have neither trained daycare staff, nor a daycare insurance policy.

Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary continuously researches horse care options and tries to keep abreast of new developments in geriatric equine care. If we don’t know, we’ll tell you we don’t know then try our best to find an answer.

For more information, please visit TREES Facebook page or TREES web site.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What Its All About

is what its all about at TREES.

Maryanna, mid-20's
August 29, 2010

as a reminder:
This was Maryanna on May 6, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Short 'N' Sweet

On a fairly frequent basis, TREES is asked to take in a horse who is in good health, has an owner who "loves him," but can no longer perform well in competition.  The email or call almost always includes the phrase "....and I can't afford to take care of a horse I can't ride/show...."

From that we infer that the owner could afford to take care of his or her horse if the horse was still able to meet some threshold of performance. 

Here's the honest truth.  TREES' current budget isn't big enough to help all those horses and their owners who truly need --repeat-- NEED help: those who have been abandoned or neglected; those whose owners have lost jobs or suffered illness or injury and literally can't afford the next load of hay or a veterinarian's services to treat a current illness or injury.

Those are the people and horses who have priority here.  Those who are no longer able to pay horse-related expenses, not those who choose to not pay for horses they can no longer show.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Reiki Level I - Sept 25-26, 2010

Reiki Level I - Shoden
Saturday - Sunday, September 25-26, 2010
10:00am - 5PM
Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary

Begin your study of Traditional Japanese Reiki, as closely as is possible following Usui Mikao's philosophies as researched by the International House of Reiki. This class is taught by Reiki Teacher Janet Dobbs. who adds her own lessons about working wtih animals. For more information about this class or others, cont...act Janet at

Monday, August 2, 2010

Yard Sale Report!

Drum Roll, please...........
At the end of six hours of selling and repurposing your donated treasures, Traveller's Rest was able to add $1,077.89 to the bank account!  Not bad for half a day's work .  I'm also happy to say we sold all the large items which means, in addition to the boost that gave to the coffers, we don't have to store them. 

What a great crowd. Some shoppers came from as far away as the Virginia Beach area, just to support the Geezers.  I can't tell you how much that means.  We saw a lot of old friends who can't get to the farm as often as they'd like.  It was wonderful to see you all again.  Some friends were Facebook "fans" whose names were familiar.  Putting names to those faces means a lot, as did hearing that FB readers enjoy our educational posts.  Since education is a big part of TREES mission, it was gratifying to know we're making some difference in that way.

We also met several exciting new friends, many offering to support TREES' future endeavors with their time and services.  We'll be in touch!  There are some who feel yard sales are not the best fund-raising method for growing organizations, but I have to say you can't beat it for community networking opportunities.

Thank you to everyone connected to yesterday's sale.  Carole, Janet, Helen, Trish, Carol, Deborah, and everyone who donated such "sellable" items, put up flyers, shared on your FB pages or contributed in any other way.  Some of you snuck in and dropped off bags and boxes without waving us down. and we want to make sure you know how much every treasure was appreciated.

Thanks, too, to Carol, who came back early Sunday to help catch up on the general farm cleanup.  Whew. 

Hope got some rest today - you made a great contribution to the geezers yesterday in more ways than you know.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

It’s a Fine, Fine Life

Whenever I’m engaged in work that doesn’t require deep thinking – mucking stalls or putting out hay, for instance – I’ve noticed I almost always hum the song “It’s a Fine Life” from “Oliver!.” I’ve done this for years, not consciously, but on a very frequent basis. Granted, in the musical, Nancy was trying to convince herself that hers was a fine life, but in the case of performing TREES’ work it’s true. This is a fine life.

There are moments of stress, like welcoming a new arrival and not knowing if attempts at rehabilitation will succeed. Of course, saying goodbye to an Elder when the time comes is not a favored aspect of this work. Overall, however, the sanctuary lifestyle is very satisfying.

Much of the reward comes in seeing TREES’ residents respond to good nutrition, vet and dental care and regular visits from several practitioners of complementary techniques.

Just as rewarding, though, are the daily restorations of faith in humanity.

In general, people have enormous compassion for those who can’t help themselves, whether the helpless are two-legged or four. We are continually overwhelmed by the generosity of people who themselves have few “extras” in life: Neighbors who offer help in a snow storm; People who donate like new, but seldom used, items for tack and yard sales; Moms and Dads who drive back and forth so their children can fulfill community service projects at TREES; Supporters who cannot perform physical labor but can spend time researching or networking via computer, collecting things like proofs of purchase, or picking up supplies at local stores; Home business owners who offer services free or at a significant discount.  And, of course, the people who do the "dirty work," scooping ton after ton of poop, scrubbing water tanks, raking up old hay, etc etc etc.

All of those people, and many many more like them, find ways to help even though they may not be able to make large or frequent cash contributions. They do these “jobs” with no fanfare, no tooting of horns, and no expectations of compensation. They do it because they want to help.

Meeting such people makes this one fine, fine life.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Important News! -visitors, vols and staff

We've found a place very nearby that takes plastic bottles for recycling.  Therefore - beginning today, July 28, 2010 - no more water, soda, or Gatorade (any #1 or 2) bottles are to go in the trash.  For now we'll use feed bags to collect bottles, but will work on setting up more permanent collection containers (heavier bins that won't blow away in a breeze.)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

We Don't Buy Horses

In response to several recent inquiries:

No, Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary does not buy horses. 

The horses in residence come from a variety of sources.  Some had been abandoned at boarding stables, Some were left behind when farms were sold.  Several came to the sanctuary as the result of law enforcement investigations into cruelty or neglect.  Many were victims of starvation or lack of veterinary care.  A few came to us when owners encountered catastrophic changes in their lives, putting the horses' futures at risk.

The unfortunate truth is that TREES is asked to take in far more horses than we can possibly accept if we are to maintain high standards of care.  With so many horses in desperate need of places to go, purchasing horses is not an efficient use of available space and resources needed to care for current residents or to develop educational and outreach programs. 

In response to one follow up question - No, most of TREES residents were not "saved from slaughter."  Slaughter is just one of many many dangers horses face.  The horses here, abandoned or left to "let nature take its course," were never headed for the meat industry.  They, instead, were simply dipsosed of on their own home turf, like a car up on blocks at the edge of the woods in the Back Forty.  The difference, of course, is that the car does not suffer - sometimes for months or years -  when the owner stops feeding it or denies treatment of injuries or illness.  

Rienzi August 9, 2007

Rienzi August 7, 2008

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Yard Sale July 31 Sampler

Here is a very small sample of the items available for the Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary Super Colossal Big Huge Yard Sale
Saturday July 31, 2010, 8AM - 2PM
8815 Robert E Lee Dr
Spotyslvania, VA  22551

Offered for sale:

two oriental rugs
dorm fridge
small kitchen appliances in excellent condition
rice cooker
mini stereo
pair of hanging lamps
never used foam mattress pad
never used comforters
electric blanket
never used water color box
artist easel (tabletop)
vacuum cleaner
tall corner cabinet, rounded front, natural wicker and metal (bronze finish?)
CD racks
All kinds of things to decorate your apartment!

yard and garden tools
holiday decorations
truck tires and rims NEW! (Firestone Steeltex A/T, LT 265/75R16, 123/120R M/S. Load Range E)
bicycle - never ridden - 18(?) inch Huffy Rocket
books, books, books
this'n'that, knick-knacks and geegaws.

And more goodies arriving every few days, so

Cold drinks will be available.
All proceeds benefit Virginia's Golden Equine Oldies.

Accepting gently used treasures until July 27!

Watch for our "freebie" boxes!
All items sold "as is"
More info: or 540-972-0936

Friday, July 16, 2010

Super Colossal Big Huge Yard Sale!

TREES is havin' a sale!  Not on horses.  Or on trees.  But on almost everything else!

To raise funds to care for horses in residence at Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary, there will be a Yard/Garage Sale
Saturday, July 31, 2010
8AM until 2PM
8815 Robert E Lee Drive
Spotsylvania, VA 22551

Going back to college?

Offered for sale:
two oriental rugs
dorm fridge
small kitchen appliances in excellent condition
rice cooker
mini stereo
pair of hanging lamps
never used foam mattress pads
electric blanket
never used water color box
artist easel (tabletop)
vacuum cleaner
tall corner cabinet, rounded front, natural wicker and metal (bronze finish?)
CD racks
All kinds of things to decorate your apartment!


yard and garden tools
holiday decorations
truck tires and rims NEW! (Firestone Steeltex A/T, LT 265/75R16, 123/120R M/S. Load Range E)
bicycle - never ridden - 18(?) inch Huffy Rocket
books, books, books
this'n'that, knick-knacks and geegaws.

And more goodies arriving every few days, so
Cold drinks will be available.
All proceeds benefit Virginia's Golden Equine Oldies.

Accepting gently used treasures until July 27!

Watch for our "freebie" boxes!
All items sold "as is"
More info: or 540-972-0936

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Drastic Measures?

No, necessary measures.

Two years ago, when we first heard of Fitz, then 25 years old, he was living in Maryland and looking for a place to go. He hadn't had any dental attention for some time and his pictures showed he was a little thin.  TREES arranged for an equine dental technician, accompanied by a veterinarian, to examine Fitz' teeth, thinking that if he had his dental issues addressed he would gain weight more easily and be easier to place in a new home.

Addressing Fitz' dental issues, however, was more easily said than done.    At first glance, it was easy to see one incisor jutting sideways from between his lips.  A few other teeth were loose, periodontal disease was out of control and Fitz whole mouth seemed unstable.  Meredith Barlow, the attending dental technician, called TREES from Fitz' side and asked "just how much dental work does TREES want to cover?"

Uh-oh.  Fitz' immediate needs were to have three teeth extracted: two incisors and one canine.  It was agreed to remove the "sideways" incisor and canine and return for the second incisor and a re-evaluation at a later date.

In the meantime, it was becoming obvious that this would be a very "special needs" horse and not one easily placed in a new home. 

Over the next few weeks, space at the Sanctuary became available and the process to bring Fitz here as a resident began.  Fitz arrived in August 2008.

By November, we were looking at this odd sight:

Fitz' gum was deteriorating, exposing the root of this incisor.  The root itself was covered by what was indentified as a "cementoblast."  Cementum is normal material covering the roots of teeth, but this was cementum gone wild.

At about the same time, we noticed that Fitz was very lethargic, and experienced some respiratory distress with very little physical exertion. 

Off to the vet clinic, where ultrasound found a significant bacterial infection in Fitz' heart.  At the same time, the incisor pictured above was removed, revealing infection in the tooth itself and in the jawbone behind it.   Not uncommon in dogs, cats, and humans, it appeared that the massive infection in Fitz' mouth led to bacteria entering the blood stream and lodging in his heart.

This tooth and one other were extracted, treatment for infection was started, and several other teeth were identifed as abnormal, requiring close monitoring.

Meredith, meanwhile, was finding bits and pieces of information about other horses with dental problems similar to Fitz'.  Then, at an AAEP convention..........PAYDIRT!  We finally had a diagnosis.  Fitz suffered Equine Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis.

As study of the syndrome advanced, most researchers agreed the only way to get ahead of the infections and other complications was to remove all of the horse's incisors.  According to all reports, the patients were immediately more comfortable after having affected teeth removed.

But, that seemed drastic!  As time went on, though, it became obvious that might be our only choice to preserve quality of life. 

Fast forward to July 7, 2010:

We could see that the angle of Fitz' incisors were changing drastically.  During our annual Summer Dentathon, xrays showed that none of the incisors were "viable."   None.

Below, the odd angles and exposed roots are easily noticeable.

Even more obvious at this angle.  Notice the small area of root becoming exposed in the area above the little wad of grass, up toward the lip attachment.

In this photo, again notice the tooth exposed the full length of the root.  Areas of decay of the teeth themselves are also easily seen.

Sedation and a little local anesthesia were administered and nine incisors were removed in less than 25 minutes.  That alone is evidence of how unstable and "unattached" these teeth were..

On this tooth, note the cavities at both ends.  Everything in between was decayed.

This tooth was also decayed from one end to the other and broked apart under very little pressure.

This one was completely hollow!

Here - on the left - is an incisor (not from a TREES horse) with a more normal, tapered, appearance.  Note that Fitz' incisor - on the right - is not tapered at all, due to extra cementum layers.  All nine of the incisors removed had the same "fat" appearance.  It is, in part, this extra cementum that pushes the teeth out of their proper positions in the gum and bone.

Fitz is on Day 6 of a 10-day course of antibiotics.  He is already more comfortable.  Naturally, we'll need to make hay available year 'round since he can no longer graze.  Is that in itself a big relief to him?   He is no longer trying to pull grass with extremely unstable teeth. so it may be.

We don't know what to expect next, but we do believe Fitz, now 27, is past the worst of his problems now. 

Big Big Big thanks to Meredith Barlow for researching this very odd issue and to both Meredith and Dr. Tracy Brown for setting our big bay Thoroughbred on the path to better health!

We're resurrecting the Blog!

After an attempt to move our news and updates to Facebook, it has come to our attention (many times) that a percentage of Traveller's Rest's followers will simply never, never, never use Facebook.  Ever. 

Fair enough.

Starting this week, we'll resume posting regular blog updates.  For FB fans, links will be posted to all new blog posts.

If you do not regularly use Facebook please remember that the TREES page is "public content."  You do not have to be "on Facebook" to view our posts.  We will continue to post lots of photos and updates on Facebook, since it is a more interactive/immediate feedback venue, but will also return to the more in-depth narratives previously posted on the blog.

Please bear with us as we work out a good relationship between the two applications. 

Geezers Rule!

(Sonny, age 39 - June 15, 2010)

Monday, July 12, 2010

SARA Group Reiki July 17, 2010

SARA Group Reiki

Saturday, July 17, 2010 at 10:00am
Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary
Spotsylvania, VA

TREES is a founding shelter member of the Shelter Animal Reiki Association. Practitioners participating in the SARA @ TREES program gather at the sanctuary once each month to offer healing to residents. Participating practitioners are also invited to work individually with sanctuary residents as their schedules allow.

For more info on the SARA program at Traveller's Rest, please contact Janet Dobbs at

Monday, June 21, 2010

VOTE! for TREES in Chase Community Giving (Please)

VOTE, vote VOTE! for TREES in Chase Community Giving on Facebook . Not only will one of the top prizes fund general operations, it could help launch programs in development: programs in education and community outreach aimed at senior-horse owners who need a little assistance during a temporary rough patch.  Programs intended to allow long-time owners to keep their elder equine healthy, happy and at home.

Please, vote for Traveller's Rest, then "pass it on."
One charity will receive $250k
4 runners-up will receive $100k
195 others will receive $20k

Monday, June 14, 2010

TREES Volunteer Orientation

Would you like to help maintain a high standard of customized care for the elder equine at Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary in Spotsylvania, VA? TREES' residents, many victims of neglect and abandonment, need your help.

If you would like to learn more about how you can help, we invite you to attend a Volunteer Orientation at the Sanctuary on Saturday, July 10, 2010 at 10AM.

We'll tell you what the sanctuary does, outline short- and long-term goals, and explain how volunteers play roles in day-to-day chores, the horses' overall well-being, and future program development.

The morning will end with a brief tour of the farm and introductions to current residents.

If you plan to attend, please email or call 540-972-0936 to let us know how many people to expect and for directions.

Current volunteers are encouraged to attend and meet the people you may be working with in the future.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Bodywork at Traveller’s Rest

Bodywork at Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary
by Jill Deming, M.A - Certified Massage Therapist
Jill is a member of the International Association of Animal Massage & Bodywork

During my initial bodywork session with each horse, I carefully evaluate each individual. I keep in mind that at this stage in their lives my objective is not to address any dysfunction in the body of the older horse, but simply to help them to be comfortable. This is because many of these horses have dysfunctions in their bodies that they may have been living with for quite some time. They have learned to adjust to these difficulties and their body compensates accordingly. To make any major changes at this point could be catastrophic.
I begin by working at the junction of the head and neck, a neutral non-threatening area of the body, because predators will often attack the head. Initially, I also want to stay out of the kick zone (around the hindquarters), I want to establish that this experience is pleasurable and non-threatening. By allowing the horse to invite me into his personal space, rather than forcing my way in, there is a much better chance of having a successful bodywork session.
For this reason, I use a lot of CranioSacral Therapy and Myofascial Release in my work. CranioSacral Therapy is a gentle and non-invasive modality. The CranioSacral system extends from the occiput (in the area of the poll), down the spine to the coccyx (tailbone) and is comprised of three layers of membranes. The outermost layer is the dura mater which is a tough, waterproof membrane that houses the brain and spinal cord. The next layer is the arachnoid layer, and the inner layer is the pia mater which adheres snugly to the inside of the spinal cord. These membranes are constantly bathed in fluid. This fluid is known as the cerebrospinal fluid. It pulses throughout the life of the horse (also all other animals as well as humans) and influences the movement of the skull bones and the connective tissue (fascia).

Fascia is the layer of connective tissue directly under the skin. When you cut into a chicken, recall the stretchy, translucent layer? That’s fascia. It is similar to a body-stocking just underneath the horse’s skin—-encompassing all the muscles. It extends from the brain to the hooves and everywhere in between. If horses (as well as all mammals) didn’t have fascia, they’d be nothing but a bag of water. Fascia gives us our shape. It also contributes to the health of the horse by increasing transport between the cells, moving nutrients into the cell and toxins out.
In addition to its’ location just under the skin, the fascia extends 3-dimensionally throughout the body, encompassing muscles, organs, bones—in short, all structures inside the body.
Whenever the fascia has been disturbed in the body, it will be felt other places as well, because of the fascia is so interconnected. It is impossible to influence one area without also influencing others.
Because so many of these horses are in such fragile health and some of them have compromised immune systems I don’t try to change the structure of the fascia, as I would endeavor to do in younger, healthy horses. Instead, I work within their energy level.

No Apologies Here.

The previous owner of one of our resident geldings is apparently uphappy that he received a visit from an Animal Control officer shortly after one of his horses was moved to TREES.

In seven years, TREES has asked law enforcement to look into only two situations.  For the most part, we feel owners respond better to advice concerning elder management than to any sort of "threat."  In addition, we don't want to have a reputation with local Animal Control officials as The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

However......when we take in a skinny lame horse, and when a sanctuary respresentative tells us she observed other thin horses on the property, we get concerned.  When a mutual acquaintence says the horse we accepted looked far worse when we got him than when she saw him only a few months before, the concern heightens.  And when, after being offered feeding advice, the owner himself tells us he "has no intention" of doing anything differently for the horse, that tips the cart. 

In this case, the advice was merely to change from a generic whole grain general livestock feed to any pelleted or extruded complete feed that could be softened for a dentally challenged senior.  No recommendations for a "top of the line" formula, just something that this particular horse could actually chew and digest to get some calories into him.

"I have no intention of getting a different feed for this one horse" was the wrong answer.  § 3.2-6570 of the Virginia Code states "A.  Any person who:............(ii) deprives any animal of necessary food, drink, shelter or emergency veterinary treatment; guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor."  Knowingly giving an animal something he cannot eat seems to be depriving him of food necessary to his survival.

We understand that horse owners run into hard times and sometimes need to ask for help. We do not understand the declaration "I have no intention" of doing anything different.

No apologies here. 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Things Can Go South Fast!

We're going to preach a little  - again - on the importance of frequent dental exams in Equine Elders.  Twice a year is recommended, more often is not overdoing it if your horse is prone to dental problems.

As an example, Freddy, our self-cleaning dancing Arab gelding was examined seven months ago.  With no major problems, he had a few sharp edges and points addressed, with everything functioning pretty well afterward.  He dropped a few quids here and there if given coarse hay, but that was not new, and not alarming at the age of 26.

However....a few days ago, we noticed Freddy having noticeable problems chewing.  He had no other obvious sypmtoms, but since the dentist/vet team was in the area this weekend, we asked them to stop by and take a peek.

On the initial exam, it was noted that Freddy had a bit of a "fat face."  Not any one lump, bump or swelling, just sort of puffy all over.  A quick look at his teeth didn't bring up anything obvious, except that he seemed to be biting his cheeks because of the edema in the tissues.

Next up: x-rays.  And there is was.   A tooth infection that had moved into his sinus.  Alarmingly, three other teeth looked like they were headed in the same direction.  They had to come out.

Here, Freddy receives a "nerve block," both to keep him comfortable during the extraction and to prepare for flushing the sinus to knock out the infection.

The tooth causing the biggest problem is removed first.

Because there was very little of the roots left, all four teeth came out easily, with little discomfort to the patient.  Here are two of the four teeth removed.  The larger tooth on the left was the one causing the sinus infection.

Next, the sinus cavity itself was flushed out, to be followed up with two weeks of antibiotics. 

With that, Freddy should be good as new!  He may have fewer teeth, but he'll have fewer health problems and less discomfort as well.

Infections, abscesses and dental-related sinus problems are not at all uncommon in older horses.  Nip them in the bud.  Watch for any signs of chewing difficulty, and schedule exams earlier rather than later.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Bittersweet Celebration

This day is one of mixed feeings. Today we celebrate the life of a dignified and gracious mare as we, at the same time, say “goodbye.”

Very often, when a horse arrives at Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary, we don’t know what his future will hold, or how long that future will last on this earth. Until each Elder is evaluated and time unfolds, we assume we may be offering hospice care. Perhaps all we can do for this individual is keep him comfortable and well fed until physical frailty makes a good quality of life impossible.

Such is the case with Marye. Marye came to us suffering such severe, untreated, respiratory challenges that she could not or would not eat. She was emaciated and veterinary exams determined that there was a large amount of scarring in her lungs, causing greatly diminished ability to move air in and out.

In her first months at TREES, Marye responded well to treatment, first with steroid injections, then the following spring with Aeromask treatments. As the summer wore on, however, each treatment seemed to become less effective. As we tried “last resort” treatments, thankfully, winter set in and Marye’s symptoms eased, allowing her several months of deeper, relaxed breaths.

Now, spring pollens have arrived once again. As we knew they would. Marye is having respiratory difficulty again. As we knew she would. Sadly, this year, the symptoms are worse than ever and not responding to treatment in any significant way, leaving our beloved matriarch struggling for each breath.

So, as we knew it would, the time has come to make the difficult decision to say goodbye. We mourn for ourselves, knowing we will miss her quiet pride and grace. We also celebrate the last 18 months of Marye’s life on earth, knowing she was happy with her man, Wade. She had a large field in which to meander and graze rather than her previous small dusty pen. She had the company of half a dozen other horses. She had all she needed to eat. And she could breath.

This morning, a cold windy rain is falling, almost as if Mother Nature herself has mixed feelings. She is, it seems, sweeping the pollens from the air to send Marye off on a clean, cool path to her next life while, at the same time, grieving the loss of one of her children.

We too grieve the loss of a family member, but celebrate the time Marye was with us. Knowing she was pain-free and happy outweighs the grief tenfold. Marye, like the Elders before her, will remain with us in some fashion. Each resident teaches us something. All benefit the Elders who follow them.

Rest in grace, big mare.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

TREES Mention in "The Post"

See the article on Page 4, "Mechanicsville Dentist a Firm Believer in Preventative Care" for a mention of TREES! (bottom of page 4, top of page 5) 

Side Note - "Delphi," mentioned in the opening paragraph, is a TREES resident, owned by the Sanctuary, not by Mike and Chris Smith. (Common misconception is that nonprofit organizations are "owned" by one or more individuals in the same way for-profit businesses have owners. They are not.)

Some of the photos we took that day:

Waiting for Delphi's sedative to take affect.

Mona being floated (not mentioned in article)

Two of Sherman's extracted teeth, showing how much feed was pack in under the teeth themselves.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Revised Farm Rules -March 21, 2010

Please look for the *** marking changes

The Farm Rules are intended to make your time at Traveller’s Rest both safe and pleasant and to keep the equine residents happy and healthy. Please respect them.

Previous “horse experience” is not required.

All volunteers must sign a Waiver of Liability before volunteering for Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary in any capacity at any location. A parent or legal guardian must sign a Waiver of Liability for each minor volunteer between the ages of 12 and 17 years.

Volunteers must be at least 12 years of age. All volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian when volunteering for TREES, whether at the farm sanctuary or at off-site events.

Wear appropriate clothing during every visit. This includes safe footwear. No sandals or other open-toed shoes will be allowed. Most of the work at TREES takes place out of doors. Dress for the weather.

No Smoking! If you are on the farm, you are likely standing very near a horse, a pile of hay, a shed full of sawdust, or other fire fodder.

Anyone arriving at the farm “under the influence” will be asked to leave.

Be aware of weather conditions. Take frequent breaks and stay hydrated during the summer. Take breaks to warm up in the winter.

If you are unsure of anything at any time, please ask what is appropriate. No question is “dumb.” We would rather you ask the same questions a dozen times than do anything to put yourself or one of the horses at risk.

Please call or email before coming to the farm unless you have a previously scheduled visit. On occasion, there will be no one at the farm. Letting us know before you come also allows us to organize a work schedule for the day based on the number of available volunteers.

Do not bring dogs or other pets to the farm. They will not be allowed on the premises for the safety of the horses and other volunteers. Please leave them at home. It is not fair to ask them to sit in the car while you are here.

Do not climb on, or allow children to climb on, fences or gates, farm machinery, vehicles or trailers. Climbing on fences, then leaning over to pet horses is particularly dangerous.

Please do not sit or kneel on the ground when in any area containing one or more horses. This includes, but is not limited to, fields, stalls, paddocks and sheds.

When grooming, take the horse with which you are working into a stall or private paddock. Never stand among a group of horses at liberty to work. If herd dynamics come into play, remember you are the smallest animal out there.

Do not take food of any kind into the fields where horses are at liberty.

When feeding the horses, do not take a feed bucket or pan into an area where more than one horse is loose. Make sure the horse for which the feed is intended is secured in its stall or paddock before serving a meal.

After a meal, do not allow the horses to eat any other horses’ leftovers. Remove the dishes from the stalls or sheds as the horses are turned out. It is very important that we know who did or did not finish their meals. Additionally, there may be medications in one dish that we don’t want other horses to ingest.

Do not offer the horses treats of any kind without specific permission. Some have very few teeth left and cannot chew well. Others are on special diets for health reasons. In other cases, “hand treats” may not be permitted due to behavior issues.

When approaching any of the horses, make sure they are aware of your presence before making any physical contact. Some have impaired vision, some doze more soundly than others. Talk to them, sing if you like, and watch for them to look at you or otherwise acknowledge your presence. Never approach a horse from the rear.

***Please do not walk up to a horse laying down in the field. If he suddenly decides to rise, you are not in a safe place. Never sit or lay down next to a recumbent horse.

When you go through a closed gate, close and latch it behind you. Even if you will “only be a minute.” Some horses watch very closely for the opportunity to go exploring. If a horse does get loose, notify farm management immediately. Do not try to catch the horse yourself.

Since all of our barns and sheds open to fields and paddocks from at least two sides, please pay careful attention to which gates are closed and which gates are open when you enter those structures and leave them in that configuration. The horses are grouped or separated as they are for specific reasons, primarily for their safety and for yours. If you don’t remember which should be closed, leave everything closed and ask what is appropriate for that barn or shed.

The farm house is a private residence, not a part of the Sanctuary. You are welcome to use the powder room, accessible through the door on the right at the end of the house near the parking area, at any time. There is also a refrigerator available to store drinks and snacks, accessible through the left hand door on the same end of the house. The remainder of the house is private. Please do not enter. In addition, please do not enter the chain-link fenced-area in back of the house. The dogs that may be in there are privately owned and not a part of the sanctuary.

TREES reserves the right to amend the Basic Farm Rules at any time. Updated copies will be provided to all volunteers as necessary.

*** (Rev. – 3/21/2010)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sherman's Progress

Narration not really necessary!

Sherman, November 10, 2009

Sherman, March 18, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Meet Kelley -Arrived Mar 15, 2010

Please say Hello to "Kelley," a beautiful Quarter Horse gelding, estimated to be in his early to mid twenties.  Kelley arrived at Traveller's Rest Monday, March 15, 2010, following a week-long stay at Woodside Equine Clinic in Ashland, VA.

Our new boy is not nearly as thin as some of our new arrivals have been, but does have a few problems to be resolved. 

On admission to Woodside, Kelley's hooves were overgrown, accompanied by thrush and a thick sole that were addressed by a farrier late last week.  He was very "foot sore" at that time and still exhibits some tenderness when not on grass or soft dirt or in a thickly bedded stall.  He also stands over at the knee.  Xrays showed "ossification (transtition of tendon to bone) of the deep digital flexor tendon as it approached the coffin bone."  While we not sure if that is the cause of the abnormal stance, it is definitely affecting Kelley's range of motion.

Another issue is damage and calcification of the deep digital flexor tendon and/or susensory ligaments of the navicular bone in the right hind.  At this time Kelley holds that heel off the ground.  We're hoping as he gets more (supervised) exercise, the tendon may resume more normal function, but will be looking into therapeutic options in the meantime.

Kelley's lameness issues are thought to be related to chronically overgrown and unbalanced hooves.  Only time will tell how much, if any, of the damage can be "undone."

Meawhile, Kelley's personality lurks just below the surface.  He appears to want interaction with humans, but is a little timid.  I get the idea, though, that once he is comfortable in his new surroundings, we may have another Clown Prince in our midst.