We have a veterinarian on our Board of Directors, Dr. Dennis Jenkins, who assesses each horse and recommends certain actions, such as worming, hoof work, dental work and special feed. The vet cares for open wounds or any other immediate medical needs. Our farriers also volunteer to work on the hooves. Then our “special needs” volunteers move in. Their specialty is soft talk, soothing words, gentle rubs — the ever-important T.L.C.
We lose some. Not all our battles have a happy ending. Some just took too much abuse, suffered for too long. When we receive a horse in borderline condition, we go into a “lockdown” mode at the ICU barn — no visitors, and a minimal number of very experienced volunteers. The sights and sounds of a close-to-death horse are extremely disturbing and something most people should avoid. The sad fact is that we can’t save them all.
But we win most of our battles, and we do our best to assure our winners a safe and secure home for the rest of their lives. Our job is to provide medical care, hoof care, dental care, proper nutrition and shelter. That’s just for starters. Our volunteers provide the most important ingredient: making each human/horse contact one of love and understanding.
Once a horse is well on the road to recovery, we assess and re-train the physically capable horse through “positive” training methods. No loud voices. No whips. No ropes. No bucking. Just gentle words and motions. That solves most of the problems.
Some horses are unfit for further training due to physical injury or mental condition. They are maintained on the same level as all the other horses; same stall space, same food — most of the time it isn’t the horse’s fault. Some things just can’t be undone.