Veterinary References and Why They Matter

Veterinary References and Why They Matter

When you apply to adopt a horse with us, we ask for a veterinary reference. You might wonder why this is important, especially if you’ve been blessed with healthy animals that haven’t required emergency care. Consider a friend of mine who rescued a neglected dog from an ad on Craigslist. She brought the dog home and immediately scheduled her spay surgery, deworming and vaccinations. She was able to have the dog seen within days because of her existing relationship with the veterinary clinic. If she applied to adopt an animal from us, she could provide this veterinarian as a reference even though she hasn’t previously owned horses. Consider also the importance of a veterinarian seeing your animals once a year, minimum. An annual exam will check baseline vitals for any abnormalities, can check teeth for sharp edges and float if needed, and vaccinate against diseases that would otherwise be deadly – such as tetanus, encephalitis, and rabies. For those who chose not to vaccinate, we recommend having a veterinarian check your animals’ titer levels to ensure they are, in fact, protected. The once per year examination also provides a fringe benefit – by maintaining that relationship with the person who you are going to need, sooner or later, for an emergency. Whether your horse cuts himself and needs stitches, comes up lame after a day of frolicking in the pasture, drops some weight and causes you concern, or shows signs of colic – you are going to want to have an established relationship with a veterinarian. I cannot imagine anything more terrifying than seeing my horse obviously needing veterinary attention and not knowing where to turn. Imagine having to Google “equine veterinarian in _(your town)_” and calling every number trying to find someone available to come to your farm RIGHT THAT MINUTE as you watch your horse suffer. So many of the horses that come through our care come from a previous life of very minimal care. The least we can do for them is to ensure their new life is better than their old life. This is why a positive reference from a veterinarian is important to us. This is why we ask. And, we are always very happy to provide recommendations and support to adopters who are new to...

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Equine Good Citizen

Equine Good Citizen

Equine Good Citizen.  If you follow our social media it’s a term you are sure to have seen.  If you have heard our executive director speak you will likely have heard her use the term as well. What does Equine Good Citizen mean?  We believe that not every horse has a future post rescue as a riding horse, but that every horse does have to be an equine good citizen to have a good future quality of life. An equine good citizen does not: Kick Bite Strike Pull on lead An equine good citizen does: Lead Load Stand Straight Tied or Cross Tied or Both Stands for the farrier Stands for blood draw/vaccinations Respects being in stall Picks up all feet for a handler with a basic knowledge of horses Is generally caught easily in field with or without an incentive such as a treat or food Regardless of the ability level, size, or age of a horse, we believe in Equine Good Citizen training.  Even our senior companion only horses will receive this level of knowledge at Safe Harbor.  If a horse is not yet an equine good citizen, then in good conscience we do not believe that the horse is at a level where he/she can be safely and developmentally owned by anyone other than a trainer.  As a horse owner, even if you don’t plan on riding your horse, we encourage you to have your horse trained to an equine good citizen level.    In the event of an emergency it can mean the difference of life or death for your horse.  On the day to day basis, these are the key building blocks of a good relationship.  If training your horse to an equine good citizen level is beyond your ability, just ask us, and we will gladly provide a referral to a great local trainer who you can hire to assist...

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Danger in the Hay

Have you ever had an unexplained sore appear in your horse’s mouth or gums?  Have you had prickly barbs get stuck in their coat and skin from what seemed to be a fuzzy plant?  If so, then you have probably experienced foxtail. What is foxtail?  Well, foxtail in the botanic sense isn’t even a true plant definition.  Foxtail refers to any plant that is diasporic meaning it tries to expand by seeding as a unit.  The seed head is dense and spiky, and has bristles that can be sharp or fuzzy.  Specific plants that are termed as foxtail include Alopecurus, Bromus Madritensis, Hordeum Jubatum, and Setaria. The most prevalent foxtail that is an issue in hay production in our area is Hordeum Jubatum, which is commonly known as Foxtail Barley.  This is a prolific weed.  It can produce 200 seeds per plant, tolerate a variety of climates and any soil type. The characteristic of the foxtail is a seed tip called a Callus with barbs pointing away from the Callus.   These spikelets are completely designed for the weed to spread. They attach to animals passing by, and may eventually drop for dispersal; however, they can become lodged in the mouth, ears, gums, and through muscle movement even go deeper into the body. Foxtail is not toxic; not in the sense that it chemically affects an animal, but it is physiologically damaging to the point that it can lead to death. If you suspect your hay contains foxtail you should remove the hay immediately.  You can take the hay to your local UT Ag Extension office for evaluation, and if it is Foxtail, the best option you have is to bag and dispose of it, or burn it off.  You do not want to put it out in a field and seed your pasture with foxtail on accident. Please review the gallery below for more images to help you identify this dangerous grass that may be compromising your hay. A cluster of foxtail growing in a field Mature foxtail The spike of a Hordeum Murinum foxtail plant Close Up of a Spikelet Cluster Spikelet Cluster Viewed Under an Electron Microscope Microscopic view of Foxtail Callus and Barbs Foxtail Barbs viewed microscopically. Foxtail Barbs viewed Microscopically. A bale of hay filled with foxtail A young foxtail plant Damage to a horse’s mouth cause by ingesting foxtail. Foxtail seedheads; Note the reddish brown barbs. Foxtail may appear this way, or present with a fuzzy appearance. Barley Foxtail Barley Foxtail Barley...

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Loving Senior Gentleman In Search of True Love

Loving Senior Gentleman In Search of True Love

Loving Senior Gentleman.  Though I may be a bit long in the tooth, I have excellent manners, am soft spoken, respectful, and believe in the power of unconditional love.  Seeking a permanent relationship with someone who is equally kind heartened. I promise to never speak harshly or act out of anger.  I enjoy quiet meals at home, and time spent in long conversation.  If I sounds like the man you have been looking for, then please simply choose me. This is a personal ad that could represent any of our senior horses.  Are you a rescuer?  We always promote trained horses, horses ready for trail, horses ready for competition, but not all of you who follow our page are looking for a horse that you can journey with.  Some of you may be looking for a safe place to rescue, and if that is you–if you have the heart of gold, and the desire to change a life, then our seniors are the matches you’ve been seeking. As we’ve been talking in our #LetsTalk segments there are options that we, as the local horse community, can do as our part to end slaughter.  One of these is taking in, whether from us, another legitimate rescue, or the public a horse who needs that soft landing.  You may have the resources to help one in the general public.  You may need the assurance of the vet check, vaccines, coggins, and temperament testing that Safe Harbor does.  You may be able to go to an auction and purchase a horse at the highest risk.  Whatever your path, you are needed.  Don’t ever underestimate the power that YOU have to be the solution. Adopt.  Be a rescuer.  Safe a senior.  Save a...

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Do Safe Beginner Owners Exist?

Do Safe Beginner Owners Exist?

Beginner owners often reach out and ask us if we have beginner safe horses.  We often do.  As of this writing, Celie, GoGo, Buddy, and Cash are all on a list of horses that we consider to be beginner safe. But let’s turn the table.  Are you, as a beginner owner, safe for the horse? 2017 for us has been a year where we have had more adoption re-intakes than ever before. Either from adopters asking us to take their adopted horse (and sometimes other horses) back or we have found care to not meet our guidelines in our follow ups post adoption and have required a return to rescue. We take each of these circumstances very seriously. In review of each unique case, we have found that more than 90% of these returns have been directly tied to the adopter’s lack of experience. Horses are not puppies. They are not golf carts. Herds have dynamics and as humans it is our responsibility to seek training to learn to be a herd leader to safely interact with horses. Horses are 1200 pound prey animals who will always have herd members who exhibit flight tendencies, food dominance, and other behaviors when they don’t have the right handling and experienced leadership from their humans. Horses are as unique, if not more so than humans in their far reaching metabolic ranges that makes every horse’s nutritional needs different. Like a child jacked up on twinkies and Mountain Dew a horse WILL have side effects of too much sugar–behaviorally, founder, weight gain. This is why we have an approved feed list in rescue and we expect adopters to follow an appropriate feeding protocol for their adopted horse–which never includes sweet feed. We hold people responsible for learning these things. Good intentions do not equate to good horsemanship. We were all beginners once and we make the choices of what to devote time to learn. If basic horsemanship is not a priority then horse ownership also should not be a priority. Going forward, a Safe Harbor horse likely will not be an option for a new to horses owner who is not willing to spend time in a horsemanship learning environment prior to adoption. We love our adopters–but our first duty is to our horses. Their care before adoption and after is paramount and we are dedicated to assuring that from this day forward a lack of knowledge or sheer ignorance of the nature of horses does not create a perilous situation for our sweet babies. Have you thought through the details of horse ownership; If you are going to have more than one horse do you have a way to physically separate them...

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Learning from Patience

Learning from Patience

It was just three short months ago that we wrote an article called Duty, Honor and Responsibility–Caring For Your Senior Horse Til The End. Then, an advertisement shows up on Craigslist…Registered Quarter Horse, Free To A Good Home (Gallatin).  We’re sent the ad by those who follow us, not once, not twice, not three times, but four separate times, and in each time we let those who send it know we really aren’t in a position to help right now.  Our resources are limited. A fifth person asks.  This time, we decide we will at least try to find more of the story, and see if we can discover more about why this overly thin mare is being given away free.  Her name is Patience.  She was the owner’s childhood horse, and has been in her life her whole life.  Her owner is now in college, and the horse has suddenly lost weight due to chronic and explosive diarrhea.   This bowel issue has gone on for many weeks.  The horse did see the vet, but diagnostics cost over $400 with the vet the owner had used, and further treatment was declined. Her next step?  Free on Craigslist.  She went to a home in Kentucky from the Craigslist ad, and of course, her condition did not improve without treatment.  The “Good Home” this mare found was going to take her to auction tomorrow, July 6th. So, in spite of all of our reservations, and truly expecting the worst, our volunteer drove 3 hours round trip to bring Patience to Safe Harbor.  Our expectations were proven right when after a veterinary exam we found Patience has intestinal cancer and there was no path to save her.  At 1:08pm today, Patience was laid to rest to run free at the rainbow bridge. We simply can’t understand how the lifelong love of your life as a horse girl ended up free on Craigslist instead of humanely euthanized at home.  We want to believe it is just because people don’t understand how to work through the process of going through the final farewell with their horse.  Surely sending her off to a stranger and then to slaughter is more emotional and would make you lose far more sleep than being there to say goodbye–knowing the goodbye was peaceful and surrounded by love. Surely as horse owners, it is our duty to be there to the end for our horses.  For Patience, we were there for her at the end.  Her final moments were peaceful, but they almost were the most horrific end possible.  She was just one day away from a fate worse than death. Maybe you are nearing the time to make a...

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