Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lava Man-- A Commentary

I don't care how many quotes I read about how much happier Lave Man is now than when residing in a paddock somewhere. No doubt a good horseman can read his animal's emotions to some degree; but until Lava Man inks the contract himself and tells us all just exactly what he really wants to do, this is just another case of humans putting themselves before the animals they claim to love.
Obviously the connections of Lava Man will say they'll only run the old guy if they're 100-percent sure he's healthy and capable. And the truth of the matter is they will have no clue. Consult the spirits of Barbaro, Eight Belles, Pine Island, George Washington and Ruffian.

Since the official announcement of Lava Man's return to the race track I have received numerous emails, phone calls, text messages, commentaries, comments and now the latest, a petition to remove Lava Man from the race track altogether. For some reason, this request directed to the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB), Dr. Rick Arthur and Doug O'Neill has irritated me more than the others. There isn't a horse alive that "inks a contract" so the comment is hyperbolic at best.

I understand the emotion, I understand the fear and I understand the risk for any horse on any given day; including the risk associated with the "un-retirement" of Lava Man. What I believe has been missed in most of the debate is the potential that many race horses will have their careers extended with the advances of stem cell procedures such as Lava Man's.
I am in a unique position, having a small glimpse into Lava Man from my association with some of those involved with him. I can say that originally I was shocked when I learned that Lava Man was galloping and training at Magali Farms months ago. I love Lava Man as much as the next person, and have had the privilege of seeing him several times during his racing and resting periods. I know the care and condition that he was in before he left Magali and arrived at Hollywood Park. The pictures for this post are from my last visit with him four days after he arrived back at the race track. Does this look like a beaten down, broke down, unhappy horse? I beg to differ.
But his being happy is not what this commentary is about. This commentary is from another point of view. The stem cell research while expensive at this time could have far reaching ramifications for race horses. Much like Barbaro, Eight Belles, and Ruffian (the later having an equine hospital named in honor of her) their tragedies did make a difference, but AFTER their injury and demise. Lava Man is alive and well, and the research and results will be monitored and that means going back to the race track and entering in a race to really understand the full success or failure of this procedure. Absolutely there is risk involved with this, heart sick risk, but when I think of the numbers of horses that could race longer, retire sounder, or have a better quality of life because of advances in equine medicine when they can no longer race, I have to take notice. Others like myself, take in the broken down horses that can't race. At 2 or 3 years of age these horses become available to rescues/retirement facilities on a regular basis. What if these same horses were able to take advantage of replacement therapies as a viable option instead of being a disposable commodity?

In California while synthetic tracks have reduced somewhat the catastrophic injuries, it has been documented that the injuries now to race horses are of a different nature. More fractures and career ending injuries due to the new tracks. What if stem cell therapy was an answer to keeping horses racing longer? Thereby extending for a few more years their careers and alleviating the need to scramble to find them homes (meaning not dumping them when they can no longer race. The potential results, more race horses running, filling races, and keeping horsemen and owners in the game, which is what this sport currently needs especially in California. http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/49797/stem-cell-research-potential-benefits

The TOC (Thoroughbred Owners of California) recently produced a video of the presentation given on stem cell research perhaps if we educate ourselves on exactly what Lava Man has had done to him, we can better see the advantages of this medical intervention and remove emotion and name calling.

Let's stop for one minute, remove the emotion and outrage from whatever perceived ills the owners of Lava Man have done by putting him in training and let's look to the science of this decision for the greater good of many others. Perhaps this will make it easier to see that Lava Man may have not "inked" this deal, but I do know one thing, Lava Man is a champion in more ways than one, and could have the legacy that makes him one of the greatest for the sport of racing.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

USTA, Museum team up to host racing breeds adoption fair

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 - by Ellen Harvey, Harness Racing Communications

Freehold, NJ --- The USTA and the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame will team up to present an adoption fair, featuring race horses and greyhounds, on Saturday, October 17. The event will be held at the Museum, on 240 Main Street in Goshen, N.Y., from noon to 3 p.m.

About a dozen Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds, ready for adoption, will be housed as guests of adjacent Historic Track, located behind the Museum. The horses can be viewed by prospective adopters at the track and learn more about the groups offering them for adoption at booths in the Museum. Both the Thoroughbred and Standardbred Retirement Foundations will send horses looking for a home, along with Equine Rescue Resource, located near the Museum in neighboring Pine Bush, N.Y.

Also joining the adoption fair will be a few greyhounds seeking a permanent home through Greyhound Rescue and Rehabilitation, of Cross River, N.Y. Since horse owners must also have a barn cat to keep rodents out of horse’s grain, the Goshen Animal Shelter will have cats in need of a job on display for potential adopters. The greyhounds and cats will be on hand to greet prospective adopters in the Museum, as only horses will be at Historic Track. All groups will have booths at the Museum.

Those who cannot adopt a horse, dog or cat, can find out about other ways to help the equine, canine and feline adoption groups, including volunteering, providing foster care or providing a donation.

“As part of our mission to present the best about racing, we’re happy to educate visitors about the many terrific horses and dogs off the track and looking for a new job,” said Museum President Ebby Gerry. “After Saratoga County, there are more horses in Orange County than anywhere else in New York. The Museum is in a good position to help put together people looking for a horse with the right animal for them and we’re happy to provide the venue.”

There is no charge to attend the adoption fair. The Museum will donate a portion of the day’s gift shop proceeds to each of the groups in attendance.

For more information regarding the Harness Racing Museum http://www.harnessmuseum.com/

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

On the Road Again, the Tale of Trailering two Thoroughbreds

This past Thursday, Kimberly and I began the adventure of trailering Ocean Chief and Podger to their foster home. Now this sounds like a simple enough task to complete. We started the day with Kimberly (also the foster mom) driving up from Valley Center in the San Diego County area to Bradbury and Sunshine Farms where the horses had been at for the past couple months. The owner and trainer of these two horses had been waiting for an adoption that hadn't taken place, so these two charges were now the property of The Second Race. Ocean Chief "Chief" and Podger loaded up like champs, which is especially interesting as the trailer is a step up design and race horses are used to ramps. Anyway, Chief loads up after Podger and thinks that "bitey face" is a good idea, we secure Chief and began the 2 hour trip down the road. I was enjoying the boys with their heads out of the trailer, taking in the hot dusty air outside of Norco, when I heard a loud pop followed by the breaking up of tire tread bouncy off the freeway and the smell of rubber. Kimberly's trailer had a flat, and all I could think of was how would I keep two Thoroughbreds quiet on the side of the road. My mind raced as Kimberly pulled over to the median and we both got out to look at the damaged tire. We decided to limp the trailer along to the first off ramp and find a place to park. I said I would call my friends to help us out. Unknown to me someone on the freeway had also noticed the tire blow out and followed us off the freeway ramp. A young gal got out of her SUV and introduced herself. She had three stalls in her backyard, lived in the area and said that if were to be delayed for any length of time, she would be happy to allow us to put Chief and Podger in her barn overnight if necessary. Turns out she is a realtor in the area and as we chatted some more, she told me she had an older Thoroughbred that she was looking for a pasture mate for, or would be willing to have him adopted out for the same purpose. I called my friends to see if they could help us out. Mario who is a jockey and former trainer and his wife, Teresa live outside of Corona (where the tire had blown) and I was able to catch him prior to his leaving for Pomona to ride at Fairplex that afternoon. They have their own horse trailer and Mario said he would pull off a tire for us to use. While we waited for our guardian angels to arrive, we found literally the only shade tree in the shopping center parking lot for the horses, while they stayed in the trailer. The temperature was 100 degrees outside. Kimberly had some carrots and I had horse cookies in my car so we appeased the curious boys with goodies to keep them calm. Our 'angels' arrived and unfortunately discovered that we had a six lug nut tire and Mario's tire had five. Fortunately, Discount Tire was a few blocks away and the tire was replaced. All of this easily delayed our trip about an hour, but Mario was a champ and was able to hoist up the trailer (horses inside) with a jack and change the tire for us. (don't tell me jockeys aren't strong). Now the sidebar of this was when we returned from the tire store, we pulled up to Mario holding court with two ladies looking at the horse trailer and the contents inside in wonderment. They introduced themselves as visiting from Michigan and said "that had never seen a real race horse in person". They both remarked how beautiful the horses where and how they didn't look "like regular horses". One of the ladies and I struck up a conversation and it turns out she rescues rabbits and cats and has a national pet sitting business (which is why she was in the area). We exchanged information as she said she is often asked to place horses and didn't have a resource to go to. Now who can network two different resources while awaiting a tire to be fixed! I have always said there are no such things as "accidents" in the universe. We were back on the freeway heading down through the Temecula area when we approached dead stopped traffic, by now the temperature is soaring around 105 degrees. NOW WHAT I heard myself yell out, we inched along for almost one hour in traffic to find a jack knifed truck that had spilled it's load and fuel on the highway. Eventually we made our way past this mess and arrived 4 1/2 hours later from the original two. We hosed the geldings off as they left the trailer, gave them some water to drink, took pictures and then turned them out to the paddock to run and stretch their legs. Chief was the first let off the trailer, and the pride that I felt when he ran around, I can't describe. As I was leaving, Chief ran up to me, stopped, put his head down and leaned his forehead against my shoulder as if to say "thank you" and took off again farting and squealing with excitement. It was a glorious day!

Monday, September 21, 2009

C.H.A.N.G.E. Program - a Support Network for Somona County Animal Control

Working for CHANGE, One Horse at a Time

In a county with more than 20,000 horses, Sonoma County Animal Care and Control is stretched thin. It handles the needs of unwanted and stray dogs, cats and other domestic pets, as well as injured wild animals and livestock from the unincorporated areas of Sonoma County, the city of Santa Rosa and the town of Windsor. It also responds to calls about abused, neglected and stray horses and livestock.

Small animals find safe haven at the county’s Santa Rosa shelter, but horses do not. Currently, Animal Control does not have facilities for horses, or the funding, personnel or training to care for them. Despite the best of intentions, the County of Sonoma has never had a solid equine care and control program in place.

That changed in 2007, with the founding of the non-profit organization the Sonoma County C.H.A.N.G.E Program, or Coins to Help Abandoned And NeGlected Equines. Concerned about Animal Control’s limited resources for handling horse cases, a group of community members formed CHANGE as a support network for the Sonoma County Animal Control department to call on for assistance with horse abuse, abandonment, or neglect cases.

CHANGE provides housing, veterinary care, farrier care and adoption services for horses that enter Animal Control’s custody. Since the organization’s founding, it has assisted Animal Control with 37 horses, 20 of whom ultimately entered the program as foster horses. Eighteen of those horses have been adopted by area residents. According to Petaluma veterinarian Grant Miller, simply caring for horses who are victims of abuse and neglect without addressing the root of the issue “enables the problem.” Miller, who helped found CHANGE after euthanizing an emaciated and severely dehydrated horse left tied to a fence in 100-degree heat, describes a multi-pronged approach to the challenge of horse neglect in Sonoma County. It all starts, and ends, with the law.“ The law is the bottom line,” says Miller, “and if you enforce the law, you pull the situation up by the bootstraps.”

By offering intensive support and au-gratis expert witness testimony to Animal Control and the Sonoma County District Attorney’s office, CHANGE helps these organizations to more effectively build cases against and prosecute horse abusers. Several criminal cases have already made their way through the legal system, resulting in felony animal cruelty convictions in part because of the organization’s persistence. The Animal Control Department and the Sonoma County District Attorney have utilized CHANGE as a resource in handling cases effectively.

In October, 2008, former Bloomfield resident Salvador Barrera was convicted of felony animal cruelty by a jury and received county jail time for locking his emaciated, colicking horse, “Yiyo,” in a stall, where it died without medical care. Miller, who has forensic veterinary training, spent two days on the witness stand as he described the necropsy he performed on the dead horse. The trial played out before a courtroom packed with North Bay residents and attracted national media coverage, expanding community awareness of horse abuse issues. Barrera’s two surviving horses, “Jack” and “Katie,” were rehabilitated and placed into adoptive homes by the CHANGE Program.

Last September, one the county’s darkest and longest-running horse neglect and abuse cases quietly came to a head when Penngrove resident Pat Tremaine was convicted of two counts of felony animal cruelty. Tremaine, who kept two Thoroughbreds locked in 12 x 24 mare motel pens for upwards of 15 years, failed to provide the horses with consistent exercise or veterinary or farrier care. The horses subsisted primarily on a diet of stale bread and rotting produce. “Argus” and “Bobby” were relinquished to Animal Control and transferred into CHANGE foster homes. They were successfully rehabilitated by CHANGE volunteers and later adopted. Several more cases like these are pending. Before CHANGE, equine cruelty cases might never have made it to the courtroom at all, despite the best efforts of law enforcement and the District Attorney.

The organization recognizes that prevention of horse abuse and neglect before it occurs is preferable to prosecuting and punishing offenders. Knowing that Animal Control officers are on the front line in horse cases, CHANGE is working to offer education programs for officers in order to give them a better understanding of basic management and handling of horses, standards of care, and body condition scoring. In addition, CHANGE helps officers develop an educated eye that can alert them to abusive activities such as horse tripping. A component of underground Hispanic rodeo events, horse tripping involves making a horse run at high speeds and then roping it by the legs to pull it down. Horse tripping is illegal in the state of California.

Future plans for the organization include a traffic school-like program for offenders, offering education on animal cruelty laws and standards of horse care and management in place of a misdemeanor conviction.

It’s a tall order for a little organization that subsists solely on volunteer labor and donations from the community, but CHANGE is already showing Sonoma County that big changes can come from small efforts. “We’re taking a new approach to an old problem,” says Miller. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thoroughbreds Available in Florida for Adoption $ 75.00 Fee

Rescued horses need new homes
Staff Report

Published: Friday, September 18, 2009 at 2:48 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 18, 2009 at 2:53 p.m.
Marion County Animal Services recently won custody of 23 registered thoroughbred horses. Those horses are now available for adoption through Animal Services for only $75 each.

Animal Services seized the thoroughbreds in August after the animal owner, Lope Gonzales, repeatedly failed to properly care for them. When MCAS removed the horses from the property, the thoroughbreds were in various states of poor health, with approximately half of the then 33-member herd an emaciated 400-500 pounds underweight. The judge handling the custody part of the case awarded 10 of the 33 horses back to Gonzales. Criminal charges are still pending on the case.

For more information on how to adopt, contact MCAS at (352) 671-8700.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Nevada Horse Rescue Farm Has to Close, Horses Need to be Placed

Stories like this seem to be common place, and when the rescues themselves are at risk, well that is bad news on several fronts. It appears from the article there is only about a month or so left before the owner will close her farm. Several Thoroughbreds need to be placed and adopted in Nevada.

Posted by NVDaily at 2:00 AM Sep 16
Due to financial strain, woman must close farm devoted to saving horses

By J.R. Williams -- jrwilliams@nvdaily.com

BERRYVILLE -- Holly Tomlinson has living proof of her life's work.

Healthy horses -- temporary residents saved from slaughter or neglect -- roam her sprawling 40-acre farm in Clarke County.

For more than a year, the Healing Horse Farm has helped about 45 thoroughbreds and other horses find good homes. But the work comes with great expense, and Tomlinson said Tuesday that mounting financial pressures soon will force the farm to close.

Last week, she e-mailed to supporters a plea for manpower and financial support to keep the farm going. Some $25,000 was needed to keep operations afloat, it said.

"I have to go forward," she said in an interview. "Everybody who's on this farm as a thoroughbred could be on the slaughter truck."

But she sent out another message Tuesday, this time to announce the farm's closing.

"In the end I created a job for myself which I have neither the skills for or desire to do -- executive director of a nonprofit," the letter says.

As a former investigator for the U.S. Equine Rescue League, Tomlinson was involved in the rescue of eight horses from another Clarke County farm in November 2007.

Investigators found the horses emaciated and without food or adequate water. That case led to the development of Healing Horse Farm, and several of the rescued horses are still in good health there.

"I'm just heartbroken that we couldn't get funding," said Ronda Everhart, a volunteer at the farm who met Tomlinson during the rescue effort and adopted one of the sick horses.

"We're desperately trying to find foster homes. [Tomlinson] won't give a horse to just anyone."

Over time, the focus of the farm became rehabilitating racehorses, and partnerships were developed with nonprofits like Thoroughbred Placement and Rescue.

But there also were plans for the horses to facilitate corporate team-building and as a healthy activity for at-risk youths and other organizations.

Those programs, while not a full-time focus, had served groups like 4-H in the past, said Maureen Potts, another volunteer at the farm.

The farm's closing is "devastating," she said.

Tomlinson estimates she has about two months left at the farm before the land is turned back to its owner. Of the 19 horses there now, about a dozen will need foster homes, and Tomlinson said she still plans on finding homes for all of them.

Those who adopt horses from the farm typically pay a fee -- $200 to $500 -- and demonstrate that they're the "right owner," she said.

Meanwhile, the farm is asking for donations of hay and feed to Berryville Food Supply. Fundraising also will continue. Everhart is planning several rummage sales at the farm, one on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on Oct. 17 and 31.

Tomlinson said while she is unsure what her next step will be, she won't stray far.

"There's a language that horses have," she said. "There's a sensitivity that they have. You can give an individual insight into themselves. They are a perfect mirror for where you are."

To reach Healing Horse Farm, contact by e-mail at info@healinghorsefarm.org.

From Rescue to "Champion of the Day"

By Paula J. Owen CORRESPONDENT Worchester Telegram.com

Julia P. Connell and Monzelle go over a jump at Cornerstone Ranch.

PRINCETON — Monzelle, a spirited, young horse, was headed to slaughter before being rescued and went on to take the highest post in a horse show at the Cornerstone Ranch just three days after arriving at his new home.

The fate of thousands of horses each year — deemed worthless for a variety of reasons by their owners — is heading to auction where they most likely will be sold for slaughter using practices considered inhumane by many rescue organizations and animal groups.

Lucky for 5-year-old Monzelle, volunteers at Another Chance 4 Horses Inc., headquartered in Pennsylvania, spotted him and began working on finding him a home. For more than a decade, the nonprofit organization has been rescuing horses that are often slaughtered for their flesh and shipped overseas for sushi and steaks — their meat considered a delicacy. Some are racing thoroughbreds that run a few seconds too slow — a shortcoming that makes them almost worthless to their owners barring a few hundred dollars from a middleman who will take them to auction to be sold for meat.

Monzelle's life, however, would be spared, eventually getting matched with a family that would love him and find him useful. where he would be useful and loved at the Cornerstone Ranch.

Another Chance 4 Horses searched for weeks for a home for Monzelle, said Cornerstone Ranch owner Susan E. Connell, until she and her daughters saw him on the organization's Web site.

Little was known about the horse other than he was a “good mover” and had rearing issues, she said. That did not deter or alarm Mrs. Connell in the least. A determined, compassionate woman who founded the Worcester County Riders Association, she puts “problem” horses on a 60- to 90-day plan at the ranch and does not give up until they can be ridden successfully and safely by her children and students.

“I grew up in Holden where my dad was a horse trainer,” she explained. “Growing up we always wanted to work with horses that had issues and then we would sell them as horses for children. That kind of broke my heart so I vowed I wouldn't do that to my kids. We keep them all.”

Keeping them all has added up to a dozen horses at the 24-acre ranch in less than 10 years.

Several have come from an auction in Agawam, she said, where people who can't find homes for their horses take them.

“I don't go there directly,” Mrs. Connell said with a big smile. “I would be dangerous there with a horse trailer. I would be divorced.”

The horses the Connells have taken in would have had grim futures otherwise, Mrs. Connell said. At the Cornerstone Ranch, she and her daughters Julia P. Connell, 11, and Mary J. Connell, 13, work with the rescued horses and turn them around for use in riding lessons and shows at the ranch. Both girls have been riding since they were 2.

Julia Connell and Monzelle have hit it off since he arrived three weeks ago.

“It makes me sad to know people slaughter them,” she said. “I love horses and love to be around them. It's hard to believe such a beautiful horse like Monzelle could have been slaughtered.”

Before Monzelle, she was riding a 10-year-old Appaloosa named Ginger who she described as a great lesson horse, but not-so-great show horse. Though Ginger is still her favorite, she said, she loves Monzelle's “show-ability.”

“I wanted to take a step up because there was only so much I could do with Ginger,” Julia said. “Me and mom were looking for other horses from riding stables on the Internet and we found Monzelle in Pennsylvania. He was a really good price — only $25.”

She said she was a little nervous owed to Monzelle's rearing issue, but wanted to help the horse.

“I was nervous, but still wanted to get him so I could help him,” she explained. “Mom rode him for a couple of days before I did. Then my older sister rode him and then I tried. He never reared with me.”

Three days after she got him, she and Monzelle took “Champion of the Day” in a show at the ranch — the best you can do in a horse show, she said.

“He didn't rear with me, either,” said Mary Connell of her experience with Monzelle. “He only rears with mom because she pushes him.”

Mary Connell said it saddens her when she knows a horse may be slaughtered owed to issues it may have from a possible abusive owner. She said people should educate themselves before getting a horse to make training it easier.

“I think it is people not knowing what they are doing,” she said. “They don't know any better. It's really an awesome feeling when we are able to help a horse. You get this really good feeling when you know the horse has a good home and you rescued it from being slaughtered.”

For more information visit www.CornerstoneRanch.org or www.anotherchance4horses.com

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cavalia a Visual Treat for the Senses

From time to time everyone needs a break from their routine and responsibilities. While surfing the net I noticed that the phenomenal sensory overload of Cavalia had returned to the United States.

If you haven't had the opportunity to attend a performance of Cavalia, add it to your bucket list! I went three years ago, and can remember the show as if it was yesterday. I literally wept for joy watching the interaction between the performers and the horses. You will be transformed to a magical, mythical place where communication and trust are paramount and never a word spoken between either party but volumes are said.

Cavalia features pure white Lusitano stallions, Pure Spanish Breed horses, Quarter Horses, Appaloosa, Oldenburg and Criollo horses. There are acrobats and trick riders and princesses aboard these magnificent horses.

Tickets are a bit pricey, but I promise you that if you love horses, and if you like a Cirque du Soleil wonderland, than this is the show to catch in America or Canada.

The tour is currently in Washington D.C. through September 27 and then it appears its going to go to Atlanta.

For a diversion in your day I have attached a small video snippet. Enjoy!


Monday, September 14, 2009

Retraining Race Horses a 3 Day Event in Maryland & Buddy the Rescued Paint

A training symposium focusing on retraining the retired racehorse will be offered by professional three-day event rider and clinician Steuart Pittman Oct. 4 in Crownsville, Md.

The purpose of this event is to demonstrate the skills that a rider needs to train a retired racehorse and to promote these generous athletes.

In the first segment, Pittman will evaluate and ride some sport horse prospects that have recently retired from the track. A jockey will also demonstrate the way these horses are ridden at the track. Pittman will also work with horses in their first year off the track and with their new owners, explaining to the audience what the horses knew from racing, where they are in the process of becoming sport horses, and how the riders can improve their skills.

Finally, the audience will view the final product: a group of finished sport horses that began life as racehorses.

Tickets are $25, with some of the funds supporting Maryland Therapeutic Riding

Owner of the Week--- Sean Guffey and Buddy, his rescued registered Paint

Sean Guffey is an enthusiastic owner of a rescued paint horse. Sean rescued "Buddy" about three years ago. "When Buddy was found he was young and under developed still underweight from his former owner. After a year of hay, lots of treats, and patience I finally gained his trust". When the trust was earned says Sean the training began. "I worked with basic techniques at first then advanced to more complicated ones such as neck reining and various riding patterns. Patterns that included simple loops to barrels for co-ordination and endless obstacles that I could think to expose the horse all possibilities in the real world".

Last fall Sean and Buddy entered in a play daze and Buddy performed well for his first time ever. "He won lots of third places yes and even a few fourth and fifth but overall not bad for a first time out" remarked Sean. Buddy next training will involve working on his cow sense and water issues and he's showing promise.
Sean states "When I first bought him the Central Washington University Rodeo Club president called him a little horse and not worth the price". Now Buddy is about 15.3 hands high and approximately 1100 pounds. "Rescue horses are worth as much as a regular horse". I couldn't agree more. Good luck to Sean and Buddy in their future endeavors and competitions.

Freedom's Flight- The Story of a Rescued Race Horse Who Went to Hell and Back

MIAMI — When rescuers found the horse, he was tied to a palm tree on a Northwest Miami-Dade County farm where animals die for meat: a skinny, diseased wreck with rotting hooves and hide. Only the tattoo inside his upper lip hinted at his regal bloodline: Freedom's Flight, descendant of Triple Crown winners Seattle Slew and Secretariat.

"Anything that could be wrong with a horse was wrong with him," said Richard Cuoto, now Freedom's Flight's owner. "He's a fighter, but he had his head down, like, 'Just shoot me."'

Freedom's Flight's descent from the thoroughbred circuit's pampered paddocks into equine hell took just three months after a mishap at Gulfstream Park. It's not possible to document each step of his sad journey, but Cuoto, a board member of the South Florida Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, believes he was destined for the underground horse meat market.

"He was thrown away three, four times," Cuoto said.

Freedom's Flight was born Feb. 16, 2005, at Claiborne Farm in Kentucky's Bluegrass region, linked to greatness by sire and dam.

His father, Pulpit, is the grandson of Seattle Slew, who won the Triple Crown in 1977. Freedom Flight's great-great grandfather, the legendary Secretariat, won it in 1973. His mother is Heather's Flight, granddaughter of Nijinsky, great-granddaughter of Northern Dancer.

Herman Heinlein of Plantation, a retired New York landscape contractor, owns Heather's Flight and expected great things from her foal.

"We had high hopes," said Heinlein, 76, "but these things happen."

After the horse failed to draw a six-figure bid at Kentucky's prestigious Keeneland Yearling Sale, Heinlein sent him to Florida, where he raced for the first time Dec. 22, 2007, at Calder.

On April 4, 2008, after another two races, Freedom's Flight made his only run as a 3-year-old, at Gulfstream. Seconds after clearing the gate, his front leg snapped but didn't pierce the skin. He came from the back of the pack to finish third anyway.

"He's a competitor," Cuoto said. "When they're on the track, they know where the finish line is . . . The jockey didn't know he was injured. Right after finish line, he started to break down."

Trainer Jose Pinchin called Heinlein to report the injury.

"They told me his racing career was over," said Heinlein, who owns 100 horses. He faced a choice: pay to euthanize Freedom's Flight or, as Pinchin suggested, give him to Marian Brill, a 44-year veteran of Florida racing and a horse rescuer.

To a racehorse owner, an animal that can't run "is a broken machine that don't work," Brill said. "They get rid of it."

Heinlein says he kept title to the horse "because I didn't want somebody to get him back to racing."

Still a stallion, Freedom's Flight could have undergone expensive treatment for his leg then become a breeder, but "he never proved himself as a racehorse," said Brill, and since his famous ancestors begat hundreds of offspring, "Why breed the one that's farther down the line?"

Brill said she "started rehabbing him" but his injuries were too daunting. Then, she said, a man whose name she didn't know bought him for $500.

"They loaded him on a trailer and left," she said.

For the next two months, Freedom's Flight endured both insult and injury. Based on conversations with state parimutuel investigators, Cuoto believes that for part of that time, he hobbled along on his broken leg as a riding pony for kids.

And someone gelded him — ruling out any future career as a stud.

He was among several distressed horses that Officer Debbie Puentes of the Miami-Dade Police Department's Agricultural Patrol Unit spotted July 7, 2008, on Manuel Coto's property, which the Florida Department of Agriculture oversees as a "garbage-feeder farm," authorized to feed cooked garbage to swine.

"The guy buys and sells a lot of animals," said SPCA cruelty investigator Laurie Waggoner, who has responded to other calls at Coto's place. "I know they slaughter pigs and goats" without the proper permits.

Chickens, too, acknowledges Coto, who said he's in the process of coming into compliance with the appropriate regulations.

Waggoner doesn't know whether Coto butchers horses, and he adamantly denies it.

"Anybody asks me to do that, I'd send them to hell," he said. "I can kill a cow, but what are you gonna kill a horse for? I think that's bad."

Coto said Freedom's Flight was one of several horses he'd bought in Lake City "a couple of days" earlier. His price tag: $100.

An SPCA vet diagnosed Freedom's Flight with severe "rain rot," which made him lose most of his hair, bites, wounds, severe rashes, abscesses under his hooves, detoxing from steroids, a fractured right cannon — shin — bone, and strangles, a potentially deadly, highly contagious bacterial infection.

Yet sick as he was, "there was something about him," Waggoner said. "I didn't want to leave that horse there. He was still so trusting of people."

She offered Coto $200. He declined the money and allowed her to isolate the horse on his land until she could make other arrangements. Freedom's Flight spent the next five weeks in quarantine, getting treatment for strangles and, finally, his broken leg.

About a week into the horse's recuperation, Couto, the SPCA board member, checked the underside of his upper lip and saw the tattoo: I35289. The Jockey Club thoroughbred registry in Kentucky matched the number to Freedom's Flight.

"I adopted him two weeks after we seized him," Cuoto said. "By that time, I'd really bonded with him."

He says he's spent about $30,000 on vet care.

Today, Freedom's Flight cavorts in a lush pasture, his coat an iridescent copper — 1,300 pounds of rippling muscle and coltish curiosity.

Cuoto, a former motocross racer, says that Freedom's Flight changed his life. Now he's crusading against the illegal horse meat trade, which he said has earned him enemies — thus he prefers to keep his horse's whereabouts secret.

He believes that mom-and-pop butchers get $7 to $20 a pound for the meat and only sell to known customers.

"Most people buy it for medicinal purposes," he said. "They think it cures blood disorders, AIDS, and helps with the side effects of chemotherapy."

What they don't realize is that horse meat not raised for human consumption can be riddled with drugs, chemicals and disease, he said.

Freedom's Flight's story has gotten global attention. Now the SPCA hopes he'll become a star.

The group has entered him in a contest to play his famous ancestor, Secretariat, in a Disney movie.

He's the same color, has the same white "socks" and the same mannerisms, Cuoto notes.

Only the white blaze on his face doesn't match, "but they can fix that with makeup."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Interested in Setting Up a Non Profit Rescue? A Resource to Help

(photo by The Second Race, two residents of GEVA in Northern California)
Before I started The Second Race and went out on my own to rescue/retire ex-racehorses, I served on two boards of California based rescues. I learned from those that started their own, how difficult and the amount of work it takes to successfully get them up off the ground. I volunteer presently for CERF (California Equine Retirement Foundation) and see 25 years of experience in running a well organized and funded operation. Whether you are just contemplating a non profit, struggle each day to make it work, or have a relatively well known and funded group. It's a lot of work. Often folks go into rescue with the thought that they have a pasture area, pipe stalls and a willing heart, however many well intentioned (and some not so much) find it's not "easy" to open up a rescue facility for horses.

The Second Race does have it on the business plan to open it's own facility within five years. So I am learning and gathering resources all the time. I have discovered that the AAEP has put together a manual as a guide for those that would like to responsibly consider the creation of an equine rescue.
The introduction page from the manual reads:

In order to provide guidance to non-veterinarians at equine rescue and retirement
facilities regarding the care of a horse throughout its life, the AAEP has developed
the following care guidelines. Rescue and retirement facilities play a vital role in
providing lifelong care and/or finding new owners for horses that may be considered
“unwanted” or have been subjected to neglect or abuse. The AAEP recognizes and
commends the important services these facilities provide to the horses and individuals who benefit from their work. While many principles of basic horse care and management apply to all horses, regardless of their situation, those horses entering rescue or retirement facilities may arrive with unique health challenges. For this reason, employees and volunteers should be experienced in basic horse care and understand the health conditions that require medical attention from a veterinarian. Equine veterinarians play an important role in the care of the animals at rescue and retirement facilities and can offer valuable advice on many aspects of horse care. It is important that facilities establish a good relationship with an equine veterinarian. The guidelines presented in this manual are for informational use only and are not considered to be legally binding. Because appropriate horse care practices vary due to climate, region, use and many other factors, the guidelines are intentionally broad.

To read more or to download the manual here is the link:


Friday, September 11, 2009

Bo Derek Speaks Out Against Horse Slaughter & A Retired Racehorse at the Zoo?

“There have always been thoughtless people who starve or abandon animals,” Derek says. “But in spite of rewards and careful monitoring, officials tell us that there has been almost no increase in the problem since the closing of the slaughter houses in America.

“Slaughter houses in California were closed by a ballot initiative in 1998, but studies showed that there was no rise in abandonment. In fact, there has been a significant drop in horse thefts. As a horse owner, I am very glad of the ban and am calling for an ultimate federal ban to protect all of our American horses. There is simply no excuse for painting horse slaughter as a humane end-of-life option. Some Asian cultures eat dogs and cats. Does this mean we should have slaughter facilities for them, too?”

Some of the possible solutions:
1. Make sure people are heavily penalized for the abandonment or mistreatment of horses throughout America. 2. If the economy is at fault, make sure people have ways to solve their problem in a humane and decent way. There are many rescue organizations. 3. There are people who would love to have a donated horse. Healthy older horses are quite suitable for beginners and children to learn to ride. 4. There are several drop-off centers. The University of Davis has one. There, horses can either be rehabilitated or the gentle method of euthanasia can be demonstrated to the vet students. 5. Arrange a workable system where veterinarians can charge a lower fee for euthanizing a horse for clients they know are in need. 6. Check for burial sites at landfills at a reasonable price.
The people of America need to come together to help each other and our horses. Please send an email message to your congressman and your out-of-state friends, too. We need to end this tragedy.
(Portion of an article reprinted from Santa Ynez Valley Journal September 10, 2009)

A racehorse known as In My Lifetime when he sped around Northville Downs won a retirement sweepstakes of sorts when he received a new home at the Detroit Zoo.

The 5-year-old thoroughbred, who now goes by his barn name of Buster, had been adopted by a young woman through Communication Alliance to Network Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses (CANTER) in Emmett.

However, his new owner ran into financial problems. CANTER took him back because many retired racehorses face a sad fate, according to board member Gail Hirt.

"A lot of the horses that don't come to CANTER end up in low auctions where people -- we call them kill buyers -- buy them for $30 to $250, send them to slaughter and ship the meat to Europe," Hirt said. "We are a horse rescue but we like to be called a horse rehab."

The Utica bus driver helps find homes for retired racehorses after CANTER and Michigan State University take care of their medical needs, often surgery for knee chips and pulled tendons, and often socialization problems.

Buster had surgery about 1 1/2 years ago before he was adopted the first time. His disposition made him a good candidate for the zoo.

"He's very, very friendly," Hirt said. "These horses have been in stables for the last 3-5 years. They have to learn to be in pastures with other horses."

Buster now is living the good life in the zoo's barnyard with Trio, a 10-year-old retired racehorse accepted by the zoo earlier this year. Trio also was rescued by CANTER.

“Many horses are retired from the racing industry each year although not all are as fortunate as Buster to find a good home. He will make a great companion for Trio,” said Scott Carter, director of conservation and animal welfare.

The bay-colored gelding weighs 1,200 pounds and stands 16.2 hands at the withers. A hand equals 4 inches. A thoroughbred horse, also called Equus caballus, typically weighs 900 to 1,100 pounds and measures 15 to 17 hands.

Veterinary care for Buster and all the zoo’s animals is supported in part by proceeds from the upcoming Bank of America Run Wild for the Detroit Zoo. The 5K and 10K races and one-mile fun walk will be held on Sept. 20. Details are available at www.detroitzoo.org. Click on "events," then "run wild".

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Nearly 200 Horses Adopted Through a Service Provided by TheHorse.com

(photo by The Second Race-- Lord Let It Be, was adopted utilizing The Second Race's efforts)>

(Reprint of a published article)
September 09 2009, Article # 14869

We're only nine adoptions away from 200 horses finding new homes through TheHorse.com's Adoption Service for Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds. Originally launched as a Thoroughbred service in November 2008, Standardbreds were recently added into the mix.

The service is a bulletin board on which owners can list any Thoroughbred or Standardbred offered for free to a good home. It also features resources on horse adoption. Interested individuals contact the horses' owner directly.

So who will be lucky number 200?

How about Standardbred mare Another Super? The group caring for her describes her as big, sound, attractive mare who's ready to hit the trails. She raced twice as a 2-year-old before becoming a broodmare, but is now looking for a new career as a riding horse.

The woman who's transitioning her said: "This mare rides nice. She is sweet and loves attention. Super has excellent ground manners and hasn’t spooked at anything so far.” Use the link included in her TheHorse.com listing to find more info and photos.

In Florida there's a sound 13-year-old black Thoroughbred mare trained over fences and in dressage who's also looking for a home.

Her owner noted: "I want her to go to a home where she is used properly, not an ornament, not just a trail horse, and not a breeding machine." See her listing.

Need a kind mount for a novice rider? How about Big Bay? Located in Texas, his owner says: "I trust this horse with any level of rider. He is a good trail horse and come from a dressage background so he does a little of that too. He is easy to keep, stands tied, loves to be in your back pocket like a puppy dog." See the listing for this 17hh gentle giant.

These are just a few of the horses still available--there are 117 Thoroughbreds and 19 Standardbreds waiting to be your next horse.

We recommend anyone giving away a horse, whether to a private individual or a welfare/rescue organization, learn as much as possible about that person or group prior to giving the horse away. The article "Horse Rescue Organizations: Questions to Ask" offers some tips on making sure the person or group who takes your horse has good intentions.

Gainesway Farm sponsors the Thoroughbred listing, while the U.S. Trotting Association sponsors the Standardbreds.

Read some success stories from TheHorse.com Adoption Service.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Standardbred Retirement Organizations

I recently conducted a Google search to view Standardbred retirement/rescue foundations and organizations. I have to admit I have been slow to warm up to harness racing, and Standardbreds. However, they (the horses) are no different than my beloved Thoroughbreds. These horses find themselves in the same predicaments as other racers, they need to be protected, retrained and re homed whenever possible. Here are a couple organizations that I discovered and wanted to share with you the reader:
Raising The Standards (Australia)
THE new program to support retired standardbred horses, Raising the Standards, aims to save as many retired harness horses as possible from the knackery.

Hundreds of standardbreds are slaughtered each week.

"The publicity jumps racing horses received due to sporadic race deaths is amazing, yet the plight of harness horses isn't publicised at all," organiser Nicole Jovanovic said.

"These horses deserve a second chance and Raising the Standards has the facilities to save many horses from death.

"We are now focused on informing trainers. Most don't bother to search for alternatives, because there are so few.

"The horses in the program live in a family environment and are offered their own rug, and fed daily. All farrier, dental and veterinary care is also provided.

"Horses are given the chance to sample various riding disciplines and go to long-term, loving homes," Ms Jovanovic said.

The Standardbred Retirement Foundation, Inc. (SRF)

The Standardbred Retirement Foundation, Inc. (SRF) is a private, non-profit, tax exempt organization created to care for, rehabilitate and secure lifetime adoption of non-competitive racehorses, to ensure their proper care with follow up, and combine the needs of youth at risk and these horses in therapeutic equine programs to benefit both.

The SRF was created in 1989 by Mrs. Judith Bokman, wife of a prominent Equine Practitioner in New Jersey, Dr. Stephen Bokman DVM, when realizing what was happening to the Standardbreds that could no longer be competitive as racehorses. She contacted Mrs. Paula Campbell, wife of Hall of Fame Standardbred Driver John Campbell, who also realized the need and joined Mrs. Bokman in the development of the SRF. Later in the development process, the Youth Programs were incorporated into the SRF. It was granted exemption from Federal Income Tax status as a 501 (c) 3 non-profit Foundation in 1991.

Although the horse racing industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, the Standardbred racing industry had made no provisions to support these grand horses when their racing careers came to an end. Some horses end their careers at a young age with injuries or lack of racing ability, but with rest and rehabilitation provided by SRF, these lovely animals become wonderful riding, driving, eventing or trail horses. But some retire from racing not healthy enough to be transitioned to a new career. As a result, the SRF steps in to provide the adoption and rescue services necessary to ensure that these noble horses are retired with the dignity and care that they deserve and with the intent of finding them permanent homes. Many are never adopted due to physical condition or age and remain under the SRF’s care in various boarding farms. www.adoptahorse.org

New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program

New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program was founded in 1992 to offer retiring racehorses a safe-haven, rehabilitation, and continued education through placement in experienced, caring homes. Most of the horses arriving at New Vocations are injured and thin, suffering the normal occupational hazards of racing. Without a useful skill to offer their previous option was often a one-way ticket to the local livestock auction. New Vocations provides a safety net for these horses matching them with qualified individuals and following up on their rehabilitation and vocational training to ensure a successful transition. Additionally, the Program acts as an outreach to disadvantaged youth challenging them through the equine experience and motivational teachings to set worthy goals.

Over 2,000 retiring Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds have been placed in qualified homes through the New Vocations effort since 1992 with an anticipated 200 this year. These horses have come from 18 states and been adopted by families throughout the country. The Youth Outreach is coordinated through the West Central Ohio Juvenile Delinquent Center.

New Vocations has two scenic Ohio locations. The Laura facility is 25 miles NW of Dayton and encompasses 32 acres of rolling, creek fed pastures with multiple paddocks and barns. In Hilliard, New Vocations leases paddocks and stabling at the Sid Griffith Equestrian Center, a manicured showplace that is also home to a commercial boarding, lesson, and training operation.

American Standardbred Adoption Program, Inc. (ASAP)
American Standardbred Adoption Program, Inc. was founded in 1994 by a small group of dedicated individuals and professionals who saw a need for a placement service for non-racing Standardbreds. This placement service honors and serves the people and horses within the harness racing industry around the country, with special emphasis on Standardbreds in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. The American Standardbred Adoption Program also serves as a rescue facility and sanctuary for abandoned, abused, or neglected horses of all breeds, and is listed by the Humane Society of the United States as a humane equine rescue organization. Horses of all other breeds are accepted into placement by ASAP, Inc.

A great deal of the American Standardbred Adoption Program's efforts center around educating young people about horsemanship and harness racing. Youth programs focus on youth at risk and youth with disabilities, offering ASAP's facilities on an ongoing basis for community service or schooling involving horsemanship and riding or driving.

The American Standardbred Adoption Program seeks only the most qualified homes in the hopes of obtaining permanent placement for each horse in its care. A contract must be signed by potential adopters as a prerequisite to acquiring a horse through our program. An adoption fee is required. www.4thehorses.com

Friday, September 4, 2009

Update on the Arabian Horses Seized in Texas

I wanted to re-visit the seizure of the 76 Arabian horses and check on their status. The Humane Society of North Texas has received permanent custody of the malnourished horses. The published statement is:
On August 26, 2009 the Humane Society of North Texas received permanent custody of all 77 horses owned by Gordon Dennis Key of Renazans Arabians, Pilot Point, TX. Custody was granted after several hours of non-courtroom negotiation between legal representatives. Pertinent to the negotiation was the issue of registration paperwork for all horses, and by forgoing monetary settlement, HSNT will receive all paperwork relevant to registrations for each horse. HSNT staff felt that this paperwork was key to the arabian industry, and will benefit the future of each horse.

HSNT recognizes that this is a special herd of intrinsic value within the Arabian world and is currently working hard on a suitable adoption plan for the herd. At this time the most likely scenario will be an online adoption auction scheduled within the next 30 days, (subject to change as plans progress) with each horse having a minimum adoption bid preset and each bidder being assigned a bidder number after approval of a pre-submitted adoption application. It is the ultimate goal of HSNT to place these animals into homes where they will be well cared for and properly housed for the remainder of their lives.

The issue of reproduction of some of these noble animals will be allowed to be decided upon by approved bidders who are successful in the bidding process, as HSNT recognizes that this herd does not represent any group of animals currently overpopulated or commonly neglected. HSNT also understands the importance of some of the genetics represented in this herd, and wishes to allow responsible arabian enthusiasts the ability to continue improving this fine breed of horse as has been so thoughtfully done for decades. HSNT believes these animals will now have a chance to contribute their fine lineage to the promotion and endurance of the egyptian arabian heritage.

Please continue to go to HSNT’s website and fill out an adoption application so it can be pre-approved. Approved applicants wil be notified by phone or email. Details on the adoption auction, as they are determined, will be posted on HSNT website and will be disseminated via arabian website locations as appropriate. HSNT is proud of this victory for the horses. Donations to continue their care until new homes are found can be made at www.hsnt.org

Further details as to the exact time, location and manner for the Adoption Auction as well as a listing of horses, photos and information on each will be released to everyone as soon as it is prepared. Please be patient as this is a large undertaking.

Donations are of course encouraged and welcome. A heartfelt Thank You to those that have already donated to help these animals in need. The arabian community has been setting the standard for other equine breed organizations as this case has progressed, and the horses are the direct benefactors of your support.

Sandy Grambort
Equine/Livestock Program Coordinator


Susan Mayo, a Board member of the Institute, was in court this morning. There was no hearing, as the parties met first in the judge’s chambers and reached an agreement. Based on Susan’s oral report (we do not yet have a copy of the official court order in writing):

1.Mr. Key will surrender the horses to the Humane Society of North Texas
2.He will provide the “papers” for all the horses (we do not know what will be done about currently unregistered horses that may be registerable under AHA guidelines).
3.He will pay $5000 to the court, which will go toward the care of the horses.
There was no comment on whether he will face any misdemeanor charges or if this closes the entire matter.

Prominent Owner Maggi Moss Dips In to Retire Two More

Posted: Thursday, September 03, 2009 11:04 AM
(photo by John Chun)
by Jeff Lowe

Two recent winners of the Cornhusker Handicap (G2) are now retired after each was claimed for $5,000 this summer.

Prominent owner Maggi Moss was involved in claiming both Lord of the Game and Siphon City, winners of the $300,000 Cornhusker in 2005 and ’06, respectively.

Moss said Lord of the Game would return to his breeder, WinStar Farm in Versailles, Kentucky, after being claimed out of a second-place finish on August 29 at Mountaineer Race Track.

A half brother to WinStar Grade 1 winner and stallion Bluegrass Cat, the eight-year-old Saint Ballado gelding also won the 2005 Hanshin Cup Handicap (G3) at Arlington Park and finished second by a head to Super Frolic in the Hawthorne Gold Cup Stakes (G2) before spending more than three years on the sidelines with a tendon injury.

“He had a bit of a respiratory problem and the tendon is there—I don’t know how long it would have lasted—but he’s serviceably riding sound,” Moss said. “He needed some weight, but other than that, he’s a pretty happy camper.

“WinStar deserves a lot of credit. We need more breeders to stand up like that.”

Trainer David Fawkes claimed Siphon City on Moss’s behalf on June 28 at Calder Race Course. A $500,000 purchase in the 2004 Ocala Breeders’ Sale Co.’s Calder sale of two-year-olds in training, Siphon City scored by six lengths in the Cornhusker in July ‘06. He never won again in 17 subsequent starts, including six this year. He is now retired at a farm in Florida.

Moss is part of a network of friends and Thoroughbred rescue activists who have worked together to retire horses like Lord of the Game, Siphon City, and Tour of the Cat, an 11-year-old graded stakes winner claimed for $5,000 this summer at Presque Isle Downs.

“It’s from resources of the Internet and rescue operations throughout the country,” said Moss, a finalist for the Eclipse Award as outstanding owner in 2007. “Those groups are what start it, and there are plenty of horses that aren’t famous. There’s a Saint Ballado colt we took out of Mountaineer three weeks ago that someone was running with a fractured cannon bone. There was just a woman in Chicago that loved him and saved him. It’s what we call the good folks.”

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Fire Safety & Disaster Preparedness for Horses

With the recent death of 43 harness race horses and two grooms at a race track in Lebanon, Ohio. I thought I would repost this blog from September. In memory of those that were lost.......

Those of us that have grown up or spent any length of time in Southern California understand that wildfires are part of the cost of living in "paradise". Knowing what to do prior to a fire (wildfire or a barn stucture) or other disaster is paramount in saving lives, including those of your equine friends.

The NFPA states that the leading cause of structure fires in barns are due to heating equipment, followed by electrical distribution/lighting equipment, intentionally set fires and lastly lightning. Heat lamps are the leading heating equipment involved in these fires. Barn structure fires are more frequent in late winter, early spring months. 48% of barn structure fires occurred in the Midwest and 32% occurred in the south in 2002-2005 (Source: US Structure Fires in Barns, by Jennifer Flynn, NFPA, Quincy, MA 2008).

Noted fire expert Laurie Loveman states "There is no better way of protecting your horses than with either a wet or dry sprinkler system installed by a licensed fire protection systems installer. No matter how many alerting systems you install, if there's no one around to evacuate your horses within the first few minutes of the fire starting, their chances of escaping are very poor." "One thing you can do right away to make your barn more fire safe is to invite members of your local fire department to make a preplan of your property and your barn so they'll know what to expect if they're ever called in an emergency."
Disaster preparedness is important for all animals, but it takes extra consideration for horses because of their size and their transportation needs. During an emergency, the time you have to evacuate your horses will be limited. With an effective emergency plan, you may have enough time to move your horses to safety. If you are unprepared or wait until the last minute to evacuate, you could be told by emergency management officials that you must leave your horses behind. Once you leave your property, you have no way of knowing how long you will be kept out of the area. If left behind, your horses could be unattended for days without care, food, or water. To help avoid this situation, the Humane Society has prepared information and suggestions to help plan for emergencies. http://www.hsus.org/web-files/PDF/DIST_DisasterHorseBrochure.pdf

Some Key Tips from the Humane Society are:
1. Prohibit smoking in or around the barn. A discarded cigarette can ignite dry bedding or hay in seconds.
2. Avoid parking tractors and vehicles in or near the barn. Engine heat and backfires can spark a flame.
3. Rodents can chew on electrical wiring and cause damage that quickly becomes a fire hazard.
4. Keep appliances to a minimum in the barn. Use stall fans, space heaters, and radios only when someone is in the barn.
5. Be sure hay is dry before storing it. Hay that is too moist may spontaneously combust. Store hay outside the barn in a dry, covered area when possible.
6. Keep aisles, stall doors, and barn doors free of debris and equipment.
7. Familiarize employees and horse handlers with your evacuation plans.
8. Also keep your barn's street address clearly posted to relay to the 911 operator or your community's emergency services. Be sure your address and the entrance to your property are clearly visible from the main road.
9. Familiarize your horses with emergency procedures and common activities they would encounter during a disaster. Try to desensitize them to flashlights and flashing lights.

Horse Evacuation: If it is safe for you to enter the barn, evacuate horses one at a time starting with the most accessible horses. Be sure to put a halter and lead rope on each horse when you open the stall door. Be aware that horses tend to run back into burning barns out of fear and confusion.
Blindfold horses only if absolutely necessary. Many horses will balk at a blindfold, making evacuation more difficult and time consuming. Never let horses loose in an area where they are able to return to the barn.

Know in advance where you can take your horses in an emergency evacuation. Make arrangements with a friend or another horse owner to stable your horses if needed. Place your horses' Coggins tests, veterinary papers, identification photographs, and vital information—such as medical history, allergies, and emergency telephone numbers (veterinarian, family members, etc.)—in a watertight envelope. Store the envelope with your other important papers in a safe place that can be quickly reached.

Keep halters ready for your horses. Each halter should include the following information: the horse's name, your name, your telephone number, and another emergency telephone number where someone can be reached. Resources such as www.Netposse.com can help with the locating of lost horses.

After the fire, be sure to have all your horses checked by a veterinarian. Smoke inhalation can cause serious lung damage and respiratory complications. Horses are prone to stress and may experience colic after a fire.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Tireless Passion for Horses- Dude's Ranch Equine Rescue Center

Some of the residents of Dude's Ranch.

They have names like Fabio, Voodoo, Spirit and Don Cortez...names given to them by the woman that tirelessly works to provide them a soft place to land, when life has handed them something else. "Many of these horses have tattoos, or a story to tell, there isn't any one particular story or criteria in order to save them". Neglect is what fuels the passion Chellie has for her equine charges. A former marketing executive and fashion photographer, Ms. Testa has been rescuing and re-homing horses for over 20 years.

I recently was invited by Chellie Testa, to visit her equine sanctuary in Acton, CA about 40 minutes outside of Los Angeles. Dude's Ranch Equine Rescue Center.

I was greeted by the ranch dogs an assortment of Chows and Shepherd mixes, and was graciously welcomed by Chellie. Dude's Ranch was created in 2002 and named after "Dude", a former rescue. Dude's Ranch mission is to rescue horses from all ill-fated situations. Currently home to 30 horses, Dude's is a quiet "soft place" for the thoroughbreds, mustangs, paso fino, quarter horses, draft and PMU horses she has saved from as far as WA and NV. Literally picking up the horses herself to ensure their safety. "I have had some surprises along the way, pregnant mares, and babies born in the middle of the night".

To supplement the donations that the 501(c)3 non profit exists on, Chellie offers riding lessons, riding tours, camping experiences, private boarding, and communication clinics between horse and rider that serve as a "therapy" for both. "Our horses are well loved and cared for" says Chellie, "they are not tail to nose trail horses, but well trained horses that can be used for extended trail events and experiences".

The ranch has a "Ride A Horse, Save a Horse" campaign. Adoptions and sale of the some of the horses are made available to be able to assist other horses that would require a permanent home.

Dude's Ranch has an open house each Sunday from 1-4 p.m. Volunteers are needed, there is never a shortage of work to be done. Funds are low and resources are greatly appreciated.

Bring some apples or carrots, you will definitely make new friends. The ranch's number is (661) 269-2473 and operates from sun up to sun down, just like Chellie and the love she has for the horses. http://www.dudesranchequinerescue.org/

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