Helping to Rescue Horses

By Marcella Peyre-Ferry

Saddle and Bridle Magazine Equine Articles


Crane logo Rescue efforts needs support of many. Written for Saddle & Bridle magazine by Marcella Peyre-Ferry
© copyrighted horse article.
I'm amazed at the increase in stories about horse rescues that I am hearing lately. While there have always been neglected or unwanted horses that end up in terrible situations, there also seem to be more positive stories of horses that have been helped to find good homes.

I previously have written about Saddlebred rescues. No one should think it is just Saddlebreds that need help. There are many rescue organizations that take in any breed of horse that is in need of help. Many times it is a wonderful experience, but there are other cases where trying to help leads to problems.

Susan Pizzini lives about a half mile around the corner from me. She has gone out of her way to help save useful horses from slaughter. This spring, Lost and Found Horse Rescue acquired nine Thoroughbreds that at one time had been on the track, but were now headed for the killers. To take in so many at one time was a problem, so they were sent to temporary foster homes where they could get some preliminary help before beginning preparation for adoption. Pizzini took in two of the horses, informally named Nate and Kelly. Both were very thin and rough looking, but otherwise appeared healthy at first. Unfortunately, a swelling was found under Kelly's jaw the day after she arrived at Pizzini's farm. She developed a fever and emergency veterinary care was needed. The best guess for Kelly's problem was strangles. With that diagnosis in mind, the horses could not be moved out until Katie was better, so Pizzini willing continued to care for them. Though she was able to absorb the cost of the feed for the hungry horses during their stay, the vet bills are going to be substantial. Those will have to be covered by the Lost and Found Horse Rescue, taking up money that otherwise would be used to purchase horses destined for slaughter.

Fortunately, the two newcomers had been placed in a small pasture where they were not in direct contact with any of Pizzini's other horses. Even so, Pizzini plans to keep horses off the pasture they used for the next year to make sure it is safe. That could limit the number of boarders she can take for a while, and hurts her income. Even with the extra costs and the worry of caring for a sick horse, Pizzini says she would do it all again. "I have to. I'm compelled to do it," she said.

By all accounts, Kelly and Nate are showing steady signs of improvement, and will soon be enjoying new homes where they will have new careers as pleasure horses. To make sure there are other success stories and to help Lost and Found cover their costs, Pizzini contacted the local newspapers, resulting in front page stories locally. The tale has also been told in a Delaware newspaper and an online newsletter.

In this case the horses were Thoroughbreds, but similar situations can come up for any type of horse, including Saddlebreds. Nate and Kelly got attention from the press here, in part, because their situation came to the public eye just after the nation watched Barbaro break his hind leg during the running of the Preakness. While Barbaro received the best care possible in a state of the art facility, less than 50 miles away, neglected horses are going on the auction block and likely headed to slaughter.

About five miles from my farm another woman is riding and driving a four-year old filly that looked like she would have no future. Foaled from a Premarin mare, and left to run wild on the plains in Canada, she found her way to a New York rescue, and was adopted out. Unfortunately, her first adoptive owners were not equipped to handle her, and she was returned to the rescue in poor condition. Claire Mikulewicz saw an ad, and called about the filly. The little gray went to a very good professional driving trainer and was competing in the Brandywine Carriage Driving Show this spring. Mikulewicz saved this horse, but she is also hoping to help others like her by increasing awareness. The filly is named Hot Flash because of her background, and at Brandywine, Mikulewicz had the show announcer note the fact that she was a rescue each time she received a ribbon.

Seeing proof that a good useful horse can be saved from neglect is a great way to encourage other horsemen to become involved in helping animals in need. Though we may not be able to give homes to all the horses in need, we can make contributions or volunteer time or services to organizations that help the cause. If they specifically help Saddlebreds, that is great. If they are open to helping all breeds, you can bet that there are a few Saddlebreds in their files as well.

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