Friday, November 2, 2012

Cappy – The Back Story

Well, it’s been two and half weeks and I still haven’t gotten any write-up from the gals that initially rescued Cappy, so I’m going to go ahead and post this. 

Disclaimer: Names have been changed to protect the idiotic, or in some cases, are made up because I don’t know the name(s)… And some of the story is my personal interpretation, based on what I was told.

Jenny wanted a horse – BADLY!  She saw a Craigslist ad (oh…how we LOVE Craigslist!!) for a FREE horse!  So she called Taylor and Jennean – “Come with me to look at this horse. The guy who has him says he is a little thin, but has ridden him and he did fine.”  So off they go to look at a horse.

What they find is appalling… the little gelding was a skeleton with skin.  No muscle tone, dull brittle coat, sores on his back, neglected feet, mane and tail hair falling out, foul smell, dull eyes.  The horse was dead.  He just hadn’t lay down and quit breathing.

The guy who owned the horse said he had been thin when he was purchased at the auction, three month prior.  When the horse kept losing weight, he thought he had worms, so he’d dewormed him… twice in the three months he’d owned him.  He also said that he had hay, but that the horse just pushed it around, so he switched him to oatmeal.  (It’s unclear how MUCH but obviously not enough)  They all decided that they could not leave the horse to die.  (At some point, the guy’s neighbors were talked to and it was learned that one of them was throwing their own hay over the fence, which of course, he couldn’t eat.)

The little red gelding barely made it the fifteen minute drive to Jennean’s place.  At some point, Jenny asked when she could ride him. The answer was “Next spring.  IF he survives.”  Jenny decided that she didn’t want the horse anymore.  The other women fully expected to find a dead horse in the pen the next morning.  Hay that was given the night before was mostly gummed, but not eaten.  The vet was called.  The vet determined that the little guy was missing teeth…a LOT of them, making it impossible for the horse to chew hay.  He could slobber and gum it, but in the end, he just spit it out.

Off to the feed store they went to buy hay pellets and Senior Feed.  Feeding a horse this was expensive, so the women contacted friends and relatives to help with funding.  They also created a Facebook page for the little guy – which you can find when your search “Support Sparrow”.  Folks donated to pay for his vet bill, farrier visit, brushes, blankets, and treats.  All the donated blankets were too big, so Jennean purchased one that was the right length.  It would keep him warm until he could fill it out. 

For the next 30 days, they watched and waited and the slow re-feeding process began. After a week, they experimented with the feed ratio, water or no water, desperate to find the magic combination to get Cappy (as Jennean calls him) or Sparrow (as Taylor calls him) to gain weight.  Winter was coming, and it was coming FAST!  With very little muscle mass, and no fat reserves, getting weight back on was going to be a huge challenge.

To complicate matters, there was no shelter for him.  He did have the wall of a shed to block wind from the south, but nothing to keep him dry in the rain, or protect him from a cold north wind.  A friend of the women, Adele, offered to buy feed until a more permanent home could be found.  Jenny showed up with a bag of senior feed.  The women posted an ad on Craigslist, asking for donations to build a small shelter.  Many of the response were “Why don’t just euthanize him.  You’re just wasting your money!”

One person who responded said she absolutely knew the horse and that he was around 23 years old.  He had been a rope horse and that his owner had been sent to prison.  By the time she learned of it and went to offer to take the horse, he had been taken to the auction yard and sold.  She had always wondered what had happened to him. (I’m not clear on how long ago this was)

Euthanasia wasn’t a preferable option for them.  They absolutely WOULD have had it done if the horse was suffering.  But, first of all, they had become attached to the little red horse.  Second, he had a fighting spirit.  The once weak and depressed little gelding had a spark in his eye and a spring in his step.  The most amazing thing, was that he hadn’t lost faith or trust in humans.  Each morning, he greeted his “servant” with a nicker, diving into his feed and coming up to look around and show his slobbery lips.

As much as the women got attached to Cappy, all of them recognized that they were over-extended financially.  They had gotten the horse through the first critical 30 days and were able to get about 50 pounds on him.  Someone forwarded the Craigslist ad to me, asking if I could help.  I have space with shelter.  Lacey had given me bags of alfalfa pellets last spring.  A friend offered to assist with fuel costs and to help provide feed when more is needed.

I replied to the ad offering to take Cappy.  Naturally, there was some suspicion about my motives; after all, who in their right mind offers to take on a project like this when fully trained, papered horses, in good weight and health, are available for a few hundred dollars at any auction you chose to attend?  After providing some information, including references, the women collectively agreed that Cappy could come live with me.  The question was - Is Cappy strong enough to make the trip?  After consulting the vet, who said “Yes, with stops along the way for rest”, the deal was done.

I wanted to get Cappy moved as soon as possible for a couple reason.  First and foremost, I don’t haul when there is snow or ice on the road.  If the road is not bare and dry, I leave the trailer at home.  Second, it is 15 – 20 degrees warmer where I live, compared to where Cappy was.  By moving him right away, we could take advantage of that and get more weight on him before it really turned cold.   So on Sunday October 21st, I headed north. 

It was COLD when I arrived at 11:30 am.  The truck thermometer said it was 44 degrees, but even though I was wearing jeans, a t-shirt, a sweatshirt, AND a windbreaker jacket, I swore I was going to freeze to death!  “Mom”, who was there to meet me and say goodbye to Cappy, loaned me her quilted, double layered jacket, which saved my life!  We talked at length about Cappy, what they knew, and what they had done for him.  I asked that everyone write up “The Story” from their own perspective.  By the time I wrote this up, I hadn’t gotten any response.  I’m quite certain though, if I have any facts wrong, they will be corrected in the comments.  These women did a tremendous job getting Cappy 30 days closer to health and are to be commended for their concern and care.

There you have it.  The back story as I know it.  What is next? Lots and lots of pellets.  Right now, he is doing a good job eating the pellets dry.  Naturally, a concern is that he won’t drink enough water and that will create an impaction.  This is a possibility, but for now, his poops aren’t hard and dry.  I will be adding psyllium to his feed, one week per month.  When a horse is starving, they will nose the ground looking for any edible crumb, and often intake sand. 

I would like to add Purina Amplify to his diet.  It has 30% fat content and will help him gain weight.  It will also help build his fat reserve in the long term, and provide energy to keep warm and rebuild muscle in the short term. 

I offered to help Cappy because I can, however, if you would like to help out with any costs, I certainly won’t turn you down.  If you don’t want to, well, that’s fine too.  I look forward to seeing continued improvement in Cappy’s health.  I am excited, thinking of all the progress he will make and the prospect of posting comparison pictures.

Aside from starving due to the condition of his teeth, and ignorance of former owner(s), it doesn’t appear that there is anything wrong with Cappy.  His legs are clean, it doesn’t appear that he has foundered, he has nice big feet.  He also appears to be completely sound.  He is a TINY little dude, maybe 14.2 hands.  His weight at the time of rescue was 650 pounds.  In nine days at my house, he gained 100 pounds.

I’m pretty sure he is sorrel, but when his healthy coat grows in, it’s possible that he is a chestnut.  We’ll have to wait and see on that.  He has some weird roaning around his throat – as if he wore a rope that was too tight at some time in his life.  He has a star in shape of a shield – as Jennean’s daughter stated.

So there you have it… He “sings” for his breakfast and his supper, chatting at me the whole time I giving hay to the other horses.  He will also bang his bucket if it’s empty.  But ALWAYS, he wants attention.
I took some videos today-11/02/12 - twelve days after arriving in Pasco.  I'll get them uploaded soon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This makes me so happy to read!! Thank you thank you thank you for finding a spot in your heart and your barn to give this boy a good life...he so richly deserves it. I miss him and at the same time I have such a feeling of relief every time the snow flies or the bitter winds blow here and I know Captain Sparrow is safe with you and yours! He is a special guy. Unfortunately I and a friend who rescues has an even sadder case now, but she's going to make it too. I don't know how people can live with themselves and do this to their loyal creatures.
Happiest of holidays to you and your family, I wish we could have met but I was too upset to go say goodbye to that little guy!