Yesterday, I got a little up in arms about owners that could and should but don’t do anything for their badly injured horses. Many of you were upset and angry. I understand. Me, too.
So, today I thought I should post a happily ever after. Hmmmmmmm.
Ah ha! I have it! An even worse case than yesterday’s! First, I must credit Darla from Strawberry Mountain Mustangs, Inc in Oregon. She saved this little guy, Mac (MacGuyver) from his horrific state.
“Friday the 13th is notorious. People tend to tip-toe around as if they are avoiding black cats and crossing under ladders. Friday, April the 13th will always have a very special place in our hearts however.
Late in the day I received a call from our local zoo, Wildlife Safari. They are often called by horse owners to euthanize and haul away animals to be used for food for the big cats at the park. The call they received this day, however, just didn’t “feel right”, so they did something wonderful – and for which I will always be grateful. They called me.
The horse they were called to pick up was a young Quarter Horse colt, less than a year old, not even weighing 500 lbs. The story was that he had tried to jump a fence and had cut is leg. According to his owner, his nasty, aggressive disposition made him “not worth saving”.
Although the story varied with each telling, what we were able to piece together was this: some time the previous day (Thursday) the husband had decided it was time to halter break that rogue colt. After running him relentlessly for THREE HOURS and not being able to wear him down, out came the lariat. At this point, the little boy was doomed. We often hear of these young horses being roped and yanked off their feet, usually when patience wears thin and the macho side of things really comes into play. The owners claim that after he was roped, he tried to jump out of the makeshift round pen and injured himself. In my opinion, this very stiff, very severe lariat became wrapped around his leg and they refused to let go. The outcome was horrific.
I was able to talk the owner into giving me this “dangerous aggressive colt that wasn’t worth saving” and with the help of 3R’s Ranch and fellow rescuer Julie – we headed right out there. This young boy was in shock, standing with his head down, the lariat still choking him and tangled about his feet. He was only too willing to walk away from his previous owner and climb into a stranger’s horse trailer. Once inside, I approached him slowly, talking quietly. His first reaction was to pin his ears as if defending his space. Once my hand was on his neck, he seemed to sigh and settle instantly. I was able to remove the rope from his neck (which at this point had been on for probably two full days) and threw it out of the trailer. The feeling of that bloody, stiff rope is not something I will ever forget.
This little man’s injury starts right below the flank and runs horizontally almost completely around his leg. The top of the wound is a clean cut, most likely where the rope sliced through. From there, the leg was degloved, the skin rolled down like a tube sock to his hock. Because of the length of time that had elapsed, only part of the skin could be pulled back up and saved. The rest of the gaping wound (if laid flat – exposed muscle and tissue would measure about 1ft tall by 3 ft long – running almost the entire circumference of the upper leg) must be left open and exposed, although bandaged, and will eventually regrow new skin. No tendons were injured and there was very little muscle damage. Remember, “he’s not worth saving” was what we heard over and over.
That Friday the 13th was the beginning of a new life for little Mac. (Mac is short for MacGyver – due in part to all of the duct tape and other creative bandaging ideas we’ve had to use!) The vets worked on Mac for several hours that night and we brought him home the next day. The bandage that finally held? Incontinence pads (the only thing big enough), duct tape, vet wrap, elastikon and SUSPENDERS!!!
The most difficult part of this amazing rescue? Believe it or not, it wasn’t seeing him in this horrible shape, it wasn’t seeing the vet bill, it wasn’t trying to “play nice” with the owner to get him out. I have learned to put emotion aside at times like those and get done, what needs to be done. The gut wrenching emotion comes later. At times when Mac stands quietly without sedation while I fumble and fuss with his bandages. The tears come when he jumps because I let a rope touch his haunches – and he looks at me as if to say “WHY would YOU put a rope there?” The anger comes when he sighs and leans in to me for a scratch or some love. For, after all, this is a colt “who wasn’t worth saving”.”
OK, are you angry again? Well, don’t be. This all worked out. Mac healed, if you can believe it! Here are a succession of photos.
What doesn’t show in these photos is the amount of time, love, tears, frustration and courage that it took to come up with a way to heal this boy. Darla told me that she was in a fit of tears and exasperation after nothing, NOTHING, would stay on the would to cover it. She knew she had to keep it protected since the original skin flap eventually died. Darla had tried everything with the same, result — fail. On the floor in a tear puddled heap, the idea came to her… suspenders. So, she wiped her face, stood up and made a plan. Diapers, duct tape and suspenders. Off to the market once again and back to give it another try. It worked! Finally. And, the whole time, Mac just stood there and took the pain and aggrivation like a champ. Atta boy!
Darla ended up adopting Mac herself. As a rescue, you try not to do that but she loves him and he loves her. Can you imagine the dedication it took and the bond that formed between those two? Darla changed Mac’s bandage, without sedation, every day twice a day for five months. He trusts her. Yeah howdy! This is a happy ending!
Darla says that today Mac is as sweet as can be and grins and bears it for all the visitors who come through the rescue. Of course, his story is very dramatic, especially with his scars, so he is on display often. He may not like that much attention all the time, but he does it. Mac knows it is part of his job. He’s giving back the horsey way… However, I find it interesting that Mac still pins his ears when he sees a lariat or feels a rope on his hind quarters… but then again, can you blame him?
I wanted to mention the DRs that saved him. Dr. Craig Downie is from Bailey Vet Clinic in Roseburg, Oregon. Dr. Downie did all the follow ups, the skin grafts etc. Darla says that every time Dr. Craig would come out the back door of the clinic heading across the lot to see Mac and Darla he would yell “How’s my Macaroni?!?!?!” and Mac would shriek back in response. He loves his Dr. Craig.
I guess the most poignant point Darla expressed to me today is that a few years ago, it was much more possible to help such injured horses. But today, with the economy the way it is, she would have to make a difficult decision in the same situation. Ugh. This is why it takes a very strong person to be a horsey angel. It is like SOPHIE’S CHOICE, the movie… Did you see it. Meryl Streep has three kids (or is it two?) and only one can be saved from Hitler. She has to decide… and it is gut wrenching.
For me, I hope the tides will change for the horses. I hope all of our voices will rise and eventually the horse will have the same value as other companion animals. That is why I blog. That is probably why you read. We all try to do our part to add to the happily ever afters.
So, two days in a row I want to give a shout out to all the horsey angels out there. Bravo!
If you feel moved to donate to SMM’s vet bill at Bailey Vet Clinic just click here (SMM has a running balance). If you’d like to visit SMM click here. and if you would like to donate to SMM (funds always appreciated and needed for every horse who arrives), please click here.