Wednesday, October 1, 2008

So frustrating

First, the background story. On the highway to the town where I used to (and occasionally still do) work, there is a certain hilly area with a couple little houses and a really old barn-like structure. It is probably about 35-40 years old is my guess. Anyway, you can't really see much of the houses or the barn because the hill goes up very steeply right next to the highway and then levels out a bit and then goes up steeply again. There are trees and brush all over. Years ago I remember seeing a fuzzy bay horse grazing next to the barn/shed. It was probably at least 6+ years ago, but for quite a while after that I always craned my neck going past to see if I could see it again. (Despite having my own horses now, I'm still a kid when I see any horses. Not blase yet - I always like to watch horses!)

So, a few months ago I was driving past and I saw a bay horse next to the shed! I have no idea if it's the same one. I thought it looked a little skinny, but told myself not to be the nosy, hyperanxious lady who imagines abuse and starving animals everywhere. Every time I go past now I always look for the horse. It is hardly ever down on that level, and if it is there is only one spot it can stand where you can see more than its head or top of its back. About two months ago I got a really good look at the horse and realized I was not imagining things. Its spine is bony and has big hollows below the spine and above the ribs, all of which are visible. The hips are about what you'd expect, i.e., not really there, and the neck is also too skinny. At the time I thought it was probably a 3 on the Body Condition Scale judging by how easy it was to see too many bones with a glimpse at fast speed. I called the SPCA and asked if they could check it out. The officer told me, "Oh, I drive past that horse every day. He's probably just old. Besides, he has shelter so there's nothing we can do anyway." I realize that Animal Control laws are usually really hard to enforce, and that officers often do not have much horse knowledge. I also realize that it is possible that hearing all the stories about hay shortages and starving horses could be making me hypersensitive. Plus, I do not want to unnecessarily upset some poor old person who might be feeding their oldster that has health issues bags and bags of Equine Senior and just can't keep the weight on. That is possible, although unlikely from the way the horse and his enclosure looks. So, I kept trying to get glimpses every time I drove by. On Friday I saw the horse very clearly again, and he is probably about a 2 on the BCS now. I called Animal Control again and explained the situation. Today I called to ask if they could tell me if they did check the horse out (not what was being done about it, just if they did respond). She said they always check it out same day or the day after. I sure hope so, because he really doesn't look good to me.

I asked my vet about the horse last week and he said he had no idea there was one there, (remember, it is almost impossible to see the horse from the highway) but that he was out on three similar calls with Animal Control just in the last week! I don't like that number... So at least he knows there is something there and will probably be watching for it too.

I'm just frustrated because I saw the horse again today. I was hoping he'd be gone, or that he would at least be eating. Nope. Just standing there. I am doing my best not to get all mad for the horse's sake until I know more facts. But still! I suppose the next thing to do is wait a while and if nothing seems to happen, then try to get some photos without being seen and without trespassing (tricky) and send them to Animal Control with a copy of the BCS. I know there are horse people in the area who would take in this horse if the owners gave him away, so if the officials can't do anything and the horse continues to look worse then I will figure something out with them.

The situation just kills me, though, because the horse is literally a half mile from the feed store!

Sorry for the rant, I'm just worried.


1 comment:

OnTheBit said...

Oh dear...not good! As for horses just getting skinny when they are old...they will loose their top line. My 16 year old who is retired has lost a lot of muscel in his back and neck. But I don't think you could say my horse looks skinny. And look at Jack, the horse I wanted to take, he is well into his 30s and gets his teeth done, worming, a high protein, low starch grain, and free choice hay and I don't think people will call him skinny ever And we just lost a 42 year old at that barn back in the spring and he only had 1 tooth left and again no muscle on the top line, but no ribs were visable. I hope you don't have to sneak around to take the pictures because Animal Control does something first. I know that they can't really do anything though as long as the horse has acess to shelter, water, and a food source (any grain, any hay, any grass ever). Keep us all updated! Oh and I am totally like you and still a little kid and must turn and look at a horse when I see it. On the high way I ALWAYS look in the back of horse and stock trailers trying to pony spot.