I've got something really important to share today. Yesterday was one of the most interesting, exhausting, emotionally draining days of my life. It was the first time we acted in conjunction with the ASPCA and the State Police to rescue two foals from a chasm of abuse and neglect.
The farm and the location will remain unknown, for the sake of the safety of the horses as well as those involved with the rescue.
We met in the morning at the SPCA office, to get instructions and connect up with the veterinarian who was accompanying us. We were to arrive at the location, the State Troopers were going to serve a search warrant and stay with the owner of the farm, and we were to wait in our vehicles until deemed safe by the police and SPCA.
Did I mention that yesterday was a big, giant monsoon? It just added to the anxiety we were all feeling.
Once the area was secure, we got out of our vehicles and began to survey the farm with the vet. We had a warrant to take the two foals, but there were still 9 other horses on the premises that we had to examine and take photos of. Four of those horses were only yearlings - with no food, and no shelter. There was grass from the lawn on the other sides of the fence - just inches from these very hungry horses. As often as I could, I would pull up grass with my hands to feed to them, which they ate in such haste that I couldn't keep up with the demand. Meanwhile, they stood in ankle deep mud, manure and urine.
I think the most disturbing thing was that these horses had very short tails, shorter than was normal for a Thoroughbred. These horses were so hungry, that they were eating each other's tails.
It was then that I felt hopelessness wash over me.
The owner of the farm managed to make his way to the barn where the foals were, in the company of the troopers. This man was cold, unstable and I couldn't look him in the eye - it was as if you were staring at the Devil himself, with some crazy thrown in there for good measure.
It should be noted that while we were touring the farm, which is on a busy road, many motorists driving by slowed down, honked their horns, gave us the thumbs up and cheered us on. According to the SPCA, they get calls daily about this farm and the condition of the horses from people passing by, concerned people who care about the welfare of these animals. That was about the only thing that warmed us on such a melancholy day.
After what seemed like forever, we were able to mobilize and begin getting the two foals onto the trailer. They were scared and not accustomed to people, but because they were malnourished, we were able to pretty much hoist them up into the trailer. Normally, foals are vivacious and will really give you a run for your money - but these two had clearly given up and just had nothing left.
Once they arrived safely at the farm, the SPCA escort did some photos of their condition and then left us to care for them. They ate their weight in hay, drank tons of water, and when Erin checked on them last night, they were both sound asleep, dreaming on the soft straw they'd probably never slept on before.
I took these photos today. They are a mess - caked manure and urine on their coats, and they are infested with lice. But they know. They know they're in a good place, and as a thank you, they have dutifully let us catch them and medicate them as needed.
The photos can speak for themselves.
The chestnut filly has a major rub on her nose - her halter was too small and was cutting into her face.
Once the lice issue is resolved (and should be in a few days), we can go in and groom them.