“Andromeda is in Danger”
After we lost Sable in September, we were approached by a friend who works with Auction Horses Rescue (AHR), which rescues horses not only from the auctions, but also directly from the traders who ship horses to states like Washington and Arizona for the purpose of slaughter. We were told about a little mare who might possibly be pregnant, who had been losing weight at the trader’s, and was not looking well. She had been sent to auction once with a previous trader but had not sold, and her future looked bleak. It was time for Hanaeleh to rescue her.
We were concerned about taking her, as Noelle and Venus are currently in our quarantine paddock. The auctions and traders’ feedlots often are rife with illnesses such as Equine Influenza and strangles, which can be detrimental or even fatal, especially to an older horse population. Although our horses are all vaccinated, viruses such as strangles can still infect those horses who are older or immune-compromised. Thankfully, one of our supporters, Natalie W., who also works with AHR, offered to foster this little girl for until she had a clean bill of health (it takes approximately four weeks for the symptoms of strangles to show, which is why a typical quarantine is a month long).
Andromeda Goes to the Foster Home
When purchasing a horse from an auction or trader, one of the issues is that we have very little to no background on the horse. We think that she is a National Show Horse, a breed of horse that is a cross between an Arabian and an Saddlebred. It was estimated that she was around 15 years old, and while it was obvious she was rib-sprung (meaning she had been bred in the past), we had no other reason to believe she was pregnant. Thankfully, she trailered well, and was easy to lead to her stall. She didn’t seem head shy, nor did she seem scared of people, which is a plus. It appears that there are some scars along her back that may have been from an ill-fitting saddle, which may mean that, at some point in her life, she was ridden. She was more focused on food than anything, however.
It is very important when taking on a horse who is several hundred pounds underweight, that they are given small amounts of food multiple times throughout the day. Horses who are given too much food, or food that is too rich for them to digest, can develop a number of health issues, including kidney and liver failure, as well as refeeding syndrome. Andromeda is an interesting case as she was not only thin, but had almost no muscle tone whatsoever (her chest width is only about 12 inches across, highlighting the lack of muscling on her legs and chest).
Additionally, horses who have been systematically starved for long periods of time like Andromeda have a poor quality of coat and hooves, as there is no nutrition for the body to put into them. When a horse starts getting food, the body starts to move nutrients into the skin, coat and hooves before it starts putting on muscle. For the first few weeks, Andromeda was given six feedings a day. Slowly, over six weeks, her feed was increased and the number of feedings decreased until she was only getting three feedings a day.
While Andromeda was up at the foster home, the vet came out to give her some basic vaccines and to give a basic welfare check. He confirmed that she was not pregnant, but found some twigs and sticks in her rectum that had not been digested- apparently she had just been trying to eat whatever she possibly could before she came to us. He removed them, and confirmed that there did not seem to be puncture wounds. We also had a farrier come out and trim her feet- when he started to trim the right foot, however, he found an abscess, which had to be drained and packed for a few days until it healed (ouch!). Thankfully all Andromeda had to do was eat and heal, which she did at the foster home for about six weeks.
Andromeda Comes to Hanaeleh
Last week we drove up to the foster home to pick up Andromeda. This was the first time we had actually met her in person, and we were pleased to see that she was very sweet and personable. She was still off on her right front, but she seemed sound enough for the trailer ride. She hopped right up into the trailer, and did very well on the trailer ride back to the ranch. We walked her up to her stall, and all of the horses were interested in the “new girl.” She seemed a little overwhelmed, however, and kept trying to hide behind me, but we finally made it to the stall, and she was able to meet her new neighbors. There was a lot of (thankfully) drama-free introductions with both the geldings and Raven, and Quixote didn’t seem as smitten with her as he is with Sierra, which meant that Lou Dillon didn’t have to worry about his best friend abandoning him. Ollie also seemed pretty interested in getting the attention of the new girl, but she was really more interested in her food and taking a quick roll in the stall.
Here is Andromeda’s homecoming video:
We let Andromeda settle into her stall, and a few days later put her into the arena to see if she would like to stretch her legs a little. She was very concerned, however, about leaving her stall- probably because she felt safe there, and was concerned that she would be taken away from her food again. She was only in the arena for a few minutes before she tried to jump out to get back to her stall! She didn’t succeed, and fell back into the arena- she didn’t seem worse for wear, however, and ran around a little on her own (Charlotte stood on the hill and waved her arms whenever Andromeda ran over in that direction to keep her from trying to jump out again). It’s obvious that Andromeda is not sound, and seems to have not only some soreness in her front, but also seems to have some issues with her hocks as well. We put her on some pain medication to help keep her comfortable, and at this point it’s just going to take time for her to heal and for us to identify what is going on with her.
This week we were also able to give Andromeda a good grooming and brush out all of the dreadlocks in her mane. She doesn’t seem to have been worked with in a while, but she’s very sweet and willing- she just needs to be reminded of personal space! On Friday we had our vet out to look at her and to work on her teeth- she was too thin at the foster home for us to have her teeth floated. The vet estimates that she is a little older than we had originally thought- she is closer to 18-20 years old. While her teeth had some sharp points, they weren’t terrible, and the vet was able to file those down pretty quickly. We did get some compromising photos of Andromeda while she was sedated, however!
We had the farrier out again to trim her feet, and she is still obviously very tender on her feet, especially where the abscess burst. For now we are keeping her on the pain medication to keep her comfortable, and we are hoping that as her feet grow out she will start to move out more soundly.
We don’t know if or when Andromeda will be up for adoption- right now our focus is just on getting her healthy and comfortable, and getting to know who she is. We think that she was most likely someone’s riding horse or pet, before being sold and at the mercy of the auction pipeline. Andromeda is a grim reminder that any and all horses are only one owner away from the slaughterhouse. We are very thankful that we were in a position to rescue her, and be part of the rescue community that worked together to save the life of this little girl.
Please consider sponsoring Andromeda for as little as $10/month. Every dollar will go to her care (all humans are volunteers). Sign up HERE.