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.

A Cushings Comparison

Josh - April 11, 2009 - before being given pergolide to manage his Cushings
Josh's coat, at this time, was very patchy with areas of very long hair, most noticeable here along the bottom of his rib cage and as what looks like feathering on his forelegs.

Josh began taking pergolide in June 2009.  Below is a photo taken March 17, 2010.  His coat is still very thick, but of a much healthier texture and consistent length.

We will retest Josh's ACTH level in June to determine if his pergolide dose needs any adjustment.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

PoP Drive!

With feed prices ever increasing and a larger percentage of Toothless Wonders at the Sanctuary than in past years, TREES' senior feed/ alfalfa cubes bill is currently hovering around $1500 per month. 

If you feed Triple Crown, Legends, or Reliance feeds to your horses, you can help TREES' elders with no added cash coming out of your pocket!  The Proof of Purchase seals on every bag are worth money to organizations enrolled in the Southern States SHOW program. 

TREES has been accepting PoP's for several years, but now we want to ask everyone to go on a PoP hunt.  Does your lesson barn feed any of the listed feeds?  Your riding club? Boarding stable?  Members of your 4-H group or local horse society?  Ask everyone who uses Triple Crown, Legends, or Reliance to clip the PoPs from every bag and bring them to your next meeting. 

(Any Triple Crown feed qualifies.  We used Senior as an example since that is what we have in our own feed room.)

We've set a goal of collecting 25,000 PoP's in 2010.  That will translate to between $2500 and $6250 dollars depending on how many of each type of feed are included in the total.  That's a pretty handsome chunk of change for free.  (Almost free, anyway - it may cost you a stamp if you mail them to TREES at PO Box 2260, Spotsylvania, VA 22553.)

Buy feed.
Clip PoPs
Mail to TREES at PO Box 2260, Spotsylvania, VA 22553

The Geezers Thank You.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Wecome new BoD member, Janet Dobbs!

Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary is thrilled to welcome Janet Dobbs as a new member of Board of Directors.

Janet has a degree in Education, as well as Music and Broadcasting. She is a Reiki practitioner and teacher, trained in Traditional Japanese Reiki, is also trained to teach Penelope Smith's beginning and advanced I & II animal communication courses, as well as certificates of training in the advanced field of Bioenergy with Mietek Wirkus.

Janet is also educated and skilled in Healing Touch, small animal massage, acupressure for animals, homeopathy for animals, animal nutrition, Bach flower essences and often works with veterinarians at their requests providing medical charts of her animal clients.

Always seeking ways to deepen the human-animal bond, Janet teaches and practices the Japanese healing method known as Reiki. Reiki is a gentle healing modality that is perfect for all animals. Reiki is used in many major (human) hospitals for cancer patients, to help with pain management and is offered before and/or after surgery to help speed the healing process. Janet loves to teach others the art of Reiki, so they can connect on a much deeper level with their animal companions.

Janet became a founding member of SARA (Shelter Animal Reiki Association) in August 2008. SARA is a not for profit organization whose goals are to get Reiki into all shelters and rescues through out the USA and world in an ethical way.

Janet is a registered Reiki practitioner and teacher with the Shibumi International Reiki Association. Shibumi is a professional international Reiki association. It aims to support and promote the Japanese art of the system of Reiki.

Janet Dobbs has been practicing animal communication professionally for over 10 years and has clients and students both nationally and internationally. She has always taught others that they too have the ability to communicate with animals. Janet is the founder of Animal Paradise - Communication & Healing, LLC.

Janet gives lectures, instruction, consultations and treatments in energy healing and animal communication to strengthen and deepen the bond between humans and their animal companions and to help increase understanding, appreciation and mutual respect between all species.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Tag Team Trimming

What do you do when a horse in need of serious hoof rehab doesn't cooperate with said serious hoof rehab?  Unfortunately, somtimes, you resort to drugs.  (For the horse, not the rehabbers.)

You may remember Nate, who arrived last June, seriously underweight, suffering EPM and dealing with several very serious foot issues, including advanced infection and a maggot infestation.  Nate's EPM has been treated, but he still shows a weakness and some muscle atrophy on one side.  He's gained weight and of course the maggot issue is not an issue at this time. 

However......its going to take some time for his foot to "grow out" and return to normal, a process Nate himself is hindering because he is still quite insecure about standing on three legs and is extremely tired of having the bad foot poked and prodded and flushed.  His response to a request to lift that foot is to plant all 1200 pounds on it and challenge us to pick it up.  Understandable, under the circumstances, but not the most desirable behavior on trim day.

Is "laying him down" a good long-term solution?  Absolutely not.  Is it what we feel is best at this time?  Yes.  Retraining to stand for the farrier will likely be easier once the distraction of discomfort in the foot is gone and after Nate hopefully rebuilds a little more muscle to stabilize his balance..  So....for now.....this is Nate's Trim Tag Team.  Two people working to do the job as quickly as possible with as little sedation as possible.  Let's hope this technique becomes unnecessary soon!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Reunion

Happy Day!

Ten days ago, we had to separate Mona and Fitz when Mona became ill.  We don't have a specific diagnosis, but believe Mona contracted a virus of some kind.  Her fever, at the height of her illness, was 104.9 degrees.  Our Diva was one sick girl.  While we could not "cure" her as quickly as we might have liked, with supportive care through a combination of conventional veterinary medicine, energy work and prayer, Mona is fully recovered and, this morning, was reunited with her man.

(Keep in mind these are 27 and 30 year old horses!)