We have the very sad news to report that we had to make the very difficult decision to say goodbye to our girl, Onyx. For those who may not remember, we took in this poor girl last year as she was literally dying from her lack of care. Her owner continued to ride her even when she had abscesses, excessive ringbone and sidebone. He refused to have her feet done, even when a farrier offer to trim her feet for free. Onyx obviously suffered from Cushings disease, but he refused to treat her medically, and continued to feed her a high protein diet that was slowly killing her.
When we finally got Onyx to Hanaeleh, we immediately started her on a proper diet and had her tested for Cushings- her cortizol numbers were 500x normal, and over the course of the past year we have had her tested several times, and finally had found a level of pergolide that worked well for her. Her coat when we got her was orange and fine; after a year, her coat was thick and black and healthy. Her mane and tail were growing in thick and healthy.
Onyx had suffered A LOT at the hands of her previous owner. She had ringbone and sidebone in every single leg, probably from a lack of proper farrier care in addition to being run for miles on hard ground. While we eventually got her hooves trimmed to help balance her legs and put her on joint supplements, we could not undo the damage that was done.
For quite a while, Onyx was doing very well and we were very hopeful about her continued recovery, but she went down in her stall about six weeks ago and hit her head. We discovered that the ringbone and sidebone in her right front leg had started to fuse together, preventing her from bending her leg at the ankle. She began to have difficulty walking, and when we had her on high doses of pain medication she seemed better, but then she would try to run around, and ended up hurting herself. We tried to figure out a nice medium for her, but we were increasing her pain medication weekly to the point that it was not feasible to believe we were actually adequately managing her pain. We finally had to make the very difficult decision to put her down.
One of the most frustrating aspects of making these decisions is knowing that, if only she had not been abused, if only we had been able to rescue her previously, we might have been able to prolong her life.
If only. Those two words plague me when we rescue a horse as abused and neglected as Onyx.
If only her owner had provided basic farrier and vet care.
If only animal control had done something when they had been called multiple times over the years on Onyx. They received at least 50, and more likely 100 calls on this horse over three years. But they did nothing, and walked away, knowing that Onyx was in excruciating pain and was slowly dying.
If only the stable manager had done something to ensure that the horses at the barn were healthy and cared for. How he could walk by Onyx day after day, and refuse to do anything, including ensuring that she had basic hoof and vet care, is beyond comprehension! How he could sit there and watch her get more and more sick, and only care about whether her board was paid on time is also completely beyond comprehension.
Unfortunately, if onlys do not change anything. We have to deal in the realities of what we are given, and work within those limited boundaries. We did everything that we could in the past year and a half to ensure that Onyx was healthy and that she was surrounded by nothing but love and kindness; probably the only time in her life that she experienced them.
At the end, Onyx was surrounded by her friends and family here at Hanaeleh, and she was very much loved while she was with us. I wish we could have had more time with her and watched her continue to heal with us, but we finally had to conclude that the abuse and neglect from her previous owner was just too extensive.
We will very much feel the absence of Onyx’s solid presence at our facility. She was a very special girl and she will be very much missed by everyone at Hanaeleh.