Callie, our February Bucket Fund horse is a wild lead mare of a herd in Nevada. The humans that look after and help this herd, saw that Callie was not doing well so they brought her in to check on her as they figured it was her teeth. Callie is very integral to the herd so her health is very important.
Well, we just found out per the equine dentist and her vets… SHE’S APPROXIMATELY 30 YEARS OLD!
You can read the original article here.
All donations are 100% tax deductible! We are 2/3rds to our goal. We just need $700 to reach our goal! We can do this for Callie!
UPDATE: The vet was out to see her! And she is approximately 30 years old!
We knew Callie was a very important mare… and we knew she was a matriarch… but this old gal has survived the wild for 30 years! Amazing!
Here is the information from the vet visit per Least Resistance Training Concepts Wild Horse Mentors
We took Callie to LRTC’s Lucky Horse Rehabilitation Center where the veterinarians were able to anesthetize Callie. (Remember, she is a wild horse so we needed to move her into a squeeze so she could be safely sedated, then anesthetized.) Then the dental procedure had to be conducted with her asleep on the ground.
Dr. Gerald Peck, having spent several decades treating wild horses, estimated Callie’s age at “somewhere around 30 years old; possibly a little less, possibly older.” That is a remarkable age for a range horse that has survived completely on her own, and especially one who has had as many foals as she probably had. Her most recent known foal appeared in 2017. (Comparatively, horses age at an average of about 4 years to every human year, so this would be a rough equivalent to a 75 year-old woman still having children.)
Callie was clearly very underweight, and the expectation that warranted intervention of a range horse was that she had dental issues that impaired her ability to properly grind grass and plant fibers. Those issues in turn reduced her ability to take advantage of the nutrition provided by low-grade range plants. As expected, her teeth were found to be in very bad shape.
Horse’s teeth continue to grow throughout most of their lifetimes. The silica in grasses, minerals they ingest grazing and such, wear on the surfaces and their continued tooth growth accommodates the effects of such wear. When teeth are not perfectly aligned, some tooth edges won’t wear properly and points are produced that limit the ability of horses to grind their food and also can produce sores in the horses’ cheeks. After decades of wear, Callie definitely had points that had to be removed in order to improve her ability to chew properly.
Callie also had a couple of broken molars. In her case, her teeth and gums were not inflamed or infected, so removing them could have actually created more issues than leaving them as found.
After the procedures were completed and Callie was sleeping off the anesthesia, Dr. Sean Peck took out a stethoscope and listened to her heart and lung sounds. He stopped, adjusted his stethoscope and reassessed those sounds. This activity worried us. But when we asked if anything was wrong, he replied, “No. Her heart and lungs are amazing. They sound more like what I’d expect of a teenager.”
Callie’s prognosis is excellent. She will be on a custom diet of pellets, rice bran (high fat content,) soaked beet pulp (for fiber and roughage) along with free choice hay. If she regains normal body weight as expected, an evaluation will follow as to whether she would likely be able to sustain herself if returned to the range or should remain on a supplemented diet and become a “domestic horse.” Now that she is back in Foster care, her Foster caregivers are being careful not to make her overly human-dependent in the event the volunteers are authorized to return her to the range. Meanwhile she has another rescue horse, “Sugar,” as a companion while in rehab.
If Callie can be returned to the range, she will be provided with temporary fertility control. She has already contributed significantly to the herd’s gene pool, and at her age she doesn’t need the added stress of gestating and nursing yet another foal.
The veterinarians also drew some blood for analysis. Range horses as old as Callie are not very common and it is hoped that the results will not only help any medical decisions regarding Callie, but could also provide some general insights as to how well many of the other older range horses are faring medically.
A FEW DAYS LATER…
Callie is already gaining weight! She is living with a friend and chickens for now.
Callie is gaining some weight but as expected, it’s going to be a slow process. Horses that have been undernourished for some time actually should be brought back cautiously and steadily to avoid unintended side effects.
Nonetheless, Callie is more alert and animated and is in good enough shape to stay with Sugar, a middle-aged domestic mare (abandonment rescue) along with their chicken friends. John separates them at feeding time so Callie can get her extra supplements. Once she is near normal weight the next test will be to see if she can sustain herself on grass hay or will need to stay as a “domestic” horse so she can access higher density feed.
Thanks for helping out with this project!
Agreed. That is the goal. She was starving, so she would have not made it without having her teeth done. If she continues to do well, she will be put out again to live the rest of her life out in the wild.
I am thankful for your helping her but at the same time can’t help but think she’d rather live out her days with the herd she called her family all these years. I do hope she will return to them soon.
She lived to 30 in the wild. Here’s hoping she survives (at age 30) the power dental tools now used by most vets (which usually also requires general anesthesia).
Having two of my horses’ deaths directly attributable to the extreme damage caused by two different, allegedly “qualified and trained” vets using power tools and the subsequent extensive research I have done on the subject there will never be another occasion in my barn for this dangerous protocol. And btw I also had another horse severely damaged by a third vet’s use of power dental tools – a sweet and talented gelding who never after the procedure was able to carry any kind of a bit and even a side pull bridle caused him varying levels of discomfort. The rest of his life he was ridden with a plain barn halter or a neck rope, obviously never able to be shown again due to this.
For my horses – never again.