A Stormy Rescue

A Stormy Rescue


The night promised to be one of the first breezy and rainy fall evenings in October, when HAHS received a call from the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) asking if we could help them with a long-standing investigation of horse neglect in central Illinois. The investigation had focused on the deteriorating condition of a herd of horses pastured on private central Illinois property, and specifically upon a little grey Arabian mare and her tiny foal. According to the IDOA, their health had been consistently deteriorating over the past several months of the investigation. After IDOA involvement, the mare began to improve, ever so slightly, but was still in desperate need of rescue. The foal, however, continued to fail. Of course, we said we could help.


The problem was going to be transportation from central Illinois to our facility. The IDOA reached out to some individuals involved in local rescues, and a caring woman from a local central Illinois rescue offered to trailer the mother and baby to us. Based upon the described condition of the horses, HAHS contacted the University of Wisconsin, School of Veterinary Medicine, to let them know that we may be sending some patients their way. We prepared a stall that could house the two of them, and we waited anxiously for their arrival. We also prepared the HAHS truck and Featherlite trailer, just in case.


It is a several hour trip, but the trailer eventually pulled in during the late evening hours. Through the darkness, we could see that the little grey mare emerging from the trailer was very thin, with a large, wormy belly; she surely needed evaluation by the team up in Madison. However, the baby was nothing short of pathetic. She was a bay, who is destined to be grey like her mother; she looked like a newborn foal, all legs, with fuzzy hair. Yet, she was all skin and bones, with a tremendously wormy belly, far worse than her mother's. That was the only substance to her. Her legs set at odd angles and she barely had the strength to walk. After looking at her, a HAHS staff member who has years of experience at breeding farms, looked at the filly and said "start the truck, this baby needs help." Off they went to Madison.


The initial reports about the mare were fair to poor. She was emaciated, with muscle wasting, and was given a body score of 2. She needed to be put on a re-feeding schedule. What's more, her udders were almost dry. She had nothing to give to her baby.

                                                     Breezy Before
The initial reports about the baby were worse. She was estimated to be between 5-6 months of age and weighed a fraction of what she should have. The veterinarians at Madison discovered that she had a huge parasite load (not a surprise, given her belly), and that she had been getting almost no nutrition, since her mother was not producing milk. The fear was that deworming such a large parasite load might create an impaction, killing her. The veterinarians decided to go ahead. It was really our only choice.

                                                     Rainy Before

She did well initially, and tolerated the deworming well. Then, after about three days, she stopped eating. The veterinarians said that they could do nothing more for her and that it was up to her now. They gave her a 50/50 chance. We made the decision to bring her home to HAHS.


Back at HAHS, a fantastic thing happened. She began to eat! She has been eating her hay, along with small amounts of grain, and grazing upon the remaining grass we have in her pasture. She is even gaining enough strength to play a little with her pasture pal S'mores the goat, during turn out. The team up in Madison weaned her during her stay there, so we gave her a goat friend as a pasture mate to prevent loneliness. They are a terribly cute duo, and S 'mores is very protective of her.

                                                    Rainy and S'mores


The mare, named Breezy, has turned into a gorgeous flea-bitten grey with a beautiful, floating trot. She remains very nervous of new people and can be hard to work with, but dedicated HAHS staff is putting much time and patience to help turn her around. Rainy, the foal, grew into a healthy (if somewhat small) young mare with a beautiful dapple grey coat. She has the sweetest personality and has been adopted into a loving forever home!

                                                    Breezy and Rainy After