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November 15, 2008 | | Comments 0

Horse Rescue Story – 600 pounds at 16 Hands

Horse Rescue - Joe After Rescue

Horse Rescue - Joe After Rescue

600 pounds at 16 Hands – Horse Rescue of Joe

Written By: Kate Manning

This is an accolade to two horse lovers from Florida – Gaetan and Michele – who over the past 20 years have taken on and cared for many horses after they were abandoned at their former boarding stable – turned rescue home – by their owners. But one horse in particular holds within his memory, a life that one can only speculate and imagine..

One day in March 1999, Michele received a call from someone enquiring about boarding. When she asked what breed of horse the owner had, she was told that the horse had not been bought yet! Still, what they expected, and the horse who slid off the trailer, were two very different things.

As Joe, what should have been a quarter horse, exited the trailer, he fell over and sat down. Michele immediately called the vet. This heap of skin and bones was bought at auction for the rock bottom meat price of $200. Not that there was any meat on him, luckily!

Joe was just too weak to support his own weight and for many days could not even stand up. Joe was wormed and tests were taken to determine his health and the likelihood of his survival was looking dim. He weighed in at a dismal 600lbs. For a 16.2hh horse that it a pitiful weight.

Rehabilitation commenced. He was fed small portions and often. He had ample hay and bulk feeds, and they also determined that when they fed carrots at night, his preference was peppermints! And why not the boy deserved them!

During the first week, Guy had no choice but to remove Joe’s waste manually. Reaching in and taking out feces many times a day was not a nice task but when you care enough about someone or something, you go above and beyond without hesitation.

As for Joe’s new owner Guy and Michele received the first month’s board fee. The next month they were met with a rubber check. After that, they received on half of the months rent. Then – nothing. Poor Joe had been abandoned again, but this time into the right hands. Having worked so hard at keeping him alive and regain his strength, they were not about to give up on him now. Gaetan and Michele were the proud new owners of a bag of bones!

Miraculously, Joe soon found his feet and started to gain weight. He was given free grazing of the whole property, and could wander freely. He started to become acquainted with the other horses as well. Although it would still be a long way to go before he could be classed as in the safe zone’. But the fates turned. Call it coincidence or extremely bad timing. Shortly after becoming Joes new owners, he contracted EPM. One morning they noticed that he was not moving his back end properly. As he walked, he was somehow dragging his legs. The vet was called again and treatment began for the EPM.

This neurological disease was treated daily with a medicine that was shipped in from Canada, consisting of Pyrimethamine and sulfadiazine. He was also given spinal taps of medications. During one of these, while outside, Joe suddenly shot up and tipped over backwards. He went shooting off with the needle still in his back! Joe has had a habit of tipping, since long before they owned him. One can only speculate as to the treatment he has received in that past, but he has cribbed (wind sucked) since day one. When applying a cribbing collar he also flipped and he would also flip when a farrier tried to trim his back feet. The farrier episode is probably a result of the EPM, since it may have caused a trapped nerve which hurts when he picks his leg up too high.

For a horse of his size, things did not look good from day one. The daily treatment for EPM continued for a month. Shots, pastes and other treatments were performed on a wing and a prayer.

The treatment was continued, and thankfully, at the end of it, Joe recovered from the disease. Ever since, he has always walked slightly oddly with his backend. He still picks on leg up a little higher than normal when walking.

For the past 9 years Joe has lived in Florida with Guy and Michele. They put weight on him, rehabilitated his health and now, only the way he walks is a physical reminder of what they all went through. It is tough to imagine just what he went through before he arrived at their farm. Joe is loved by everyone, despite the fact that he does hold a slight disrespect for someone standing in his way, especially for a cool blooded quarter horse. Perhaps rightfully so, considering what people have put him through. Although, we do say that he is Quarter horse and three quarters bull!

Joe has learned to love people again and lives happily on the farm here, roaming free around the 10 acre property. His only qualms include the flipping when a crib collar is put on, and if the farrier tries to lift his rear legs – as well as the occasional going through the fence! But he is such a wonderfully sweet horse. His story is one of success and respect for mistreated horse and the people who strive to help them recover and return to being what a horse should be.

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