Sunday, September 09, 2012

Super Trooper

I just want to share our blessed rescue horse and his story while I have the chance.

34194 Kelso Dr.
A view of our pen at the rental house and the horses having some lunch.

At the end of May of 2012 my neighbor knocked on my door asking if I would take in a stray horse. Haha, I have never taken in a "stray" horse before, at first I thought she was pulling my leg.  We've had pleanty of stray dogs before, even a cat and a lizard once, never a stray horse.  As she was telling me everything I kept expecting her to laugh and say it was all a joke, lol.

Several of the neighbors found him out roaming around and were unable to find any one who recognized him. Nobody else really had room for him and at the time our pasture was empty, so we decided we were up for boarding him and figuring out whatever came next from there.

When I got to the neighbors barn to bring him home it was just a heart breaking site. The horse was just skin and bones, it was so sad. He was just so disconnected and sad, and moved so slow and broken down. Despite all that, he was still very friendly, tolerant, and calm. My good friend and neighbor Sherry who had stowed him in her barn long enough to come get me kept telling me what a sweet thing he seemed to be. None of us could imagine how he came to be so thin.

But if you could see past the bones, he was just a beautiful horse under all that emaciation.


This is how he looked when I brought him home that first night. It was May 25th.

Since we didn't get him until after 5pm on a Friday night, I wasn't able to get a vet out until the following Monday. I have never had a horse come to us anywhere near THIS thin, I was intimidated and super worried I might do something wrong to make him worse.  When I got him that night I had such a strong urge to make the vet come LIVE with us to be on the safe side, lol.

His feet were so sore, and a bit long. He was hardly able to walk from my neighbors house over to ours. He was trying his best to please us, but you could tell it was so painful for him to walk on the rough road. We had to stop several times because it was so hard for him. Once we got him to our pen and back on softer footing, he did much better.

And these are from the next day....
May 26th

Looking at these pictures still makes my heart sink...

All the many neighbor horses who lived around us were fat and happy and had lost their winter coats by this point. It was almost June and already getting pretty hot out, but this guys heavier coat remained because his body was so compromised and unable to shed.

Because he has such a noble face, and seemed to have such a faithful attitude despite having been through so much we decided to call him Trooper.

The following Monday our vet came out and gave him a full examination. They found he scored a 2/9 BSC on weight and needed to gain possibly up to 200lbs. If this is what a 2/9 looks like can you imagine what a 1/9 looks like?  All in all Trooper was diagnosed with a severe heart murmur, suspensory desmitis (ankles that have been broken down and don't stand up properly) in his back ankles, and thrush in is front hooves. She checked his teeth and said he was well over due for a teeth float (which she wasn't able to do that day because she had come out on such short notice). She estimated his age at 20-25 yrs old and felt he was most likely a Paso Fino with his build and gait. She did a heavy dose of wormer that day to take care of parasites and then had to go on to her previously scheduled clients. Although he seemed to be happy, she said he should never be ridden again because of his ankles and the heart murmur. Although a tad bit bummed, we weren't surprised.

So on the vets recommendation we began feeding him freely on orchard grass, and working him up to lots of equine senior each day. We eventually added rice bran and veggie oil into the equine senior and alfalfa into his hay mix, which worked out really well.  With proper nutrition came the ability to finally shed his winter coat by mid July I believe it was, and a body that was starting to function the way it should.

We were also able to get our "barefoot" farrier out right away, Troop had very under run heals and long toes to add to the already heaping pile of problems.  Poor boy, he just wasn't getting any good reports.

Later that first week in late May I found he was loaded FULL of huge ticks that had definitely been on him for a long time, but all of us missed them when checking him over because his body cavity went up so high on the inside of his hips. I could reach up to within an inch parallel of his hip bone, on the INSIDE of his thighs (you can see the hip bone sticking out near the top of his rump in the photos).  You shouldn't be able to reach that high up on the inside of a horses thighs, they are suppose to have a ton of fat and muscle up in there. Discovering the state of his under carriage was a whole new blow.  I felt so bad for Trooper.

My awesome neighbor Sherry and her son Michael came down that day to help me remove tick after tick after tick.  Some were the size of lima beans and it was tough getting at them because they were so far and high up into his thighs.  When THAT was over we all had a serious case of the eebie jeebies, lol.  I felt like I had ticks crawling all over me the rest of the day.  I think Trooper felt much better though!

In hopes that he had just been wandering for months and that some poor family was really missing him, we went knocking on doors around the neighborhood, checked craigslist, and also checked with the pound.  We didn't find anyone who was missing him.  When calling the pound I was informed the state requires that all stray horses be fostered for around a month in order to go to through a process of giving the owner time to come forward.  If no owner comes forward they begin advertising the horse and it's condition in local papers to be put up for auction. I had no idea we couldn't just keep him if owners didn't pop up, so that process had me really nervous. The bright side was that we were allowed to keep him with us and foster him here, but I was worried sick someone would out bid us on auction day and he end up in a bad situation. Many horses are bought at auctions in this area and taken to slaughter houses in Canada to harvest.  It's a harsh process to put a pet through.  Thankfully the auction was held at our house (which is pretty far out of town) over a month later, nobody else showed up to bid, and we got to keep him for the high price of $5.00. ::)

Best 5 bucks I can recall spending.
This was taken 6-7-12, about two weeks after we got him. Before the auction but still so very thin.

That process with the state is a whole other story in itself, I could go on about.  I'll skip it for today.


This was taken 8-23-12. This photo and the ones below are easier to see his broken down ankles. They are pretty bad and squat down pretty low. This isn't something that can be corrected according to our vet and farrier. I've not ever had a horse with ankles like this...  Thankfully, so long as he isn't carrying much more weight, they don't bother him. So far anyway.  So for that reason we probably won't be going for the goal of adding 200lbs as the vet first estimated.

After he was finally ours we were able to float his teeth, and make the last adjustments to his food.  It was then he finally started to really put some weight on. Or then that we finally noticed it anyway.

This is what our boy looks like today (9-9-12), about 3 months after he originally found his way into the neighborhood!

Trooper 03

Trooper 02

Trooper 01

Until writing this post I hadn't realized how much of a difference these 3 months have made for him.  Showing my mom today she said, "Wow, he looks so ROUND now!"  Haha.  He really is looking round now, less jagged and bony.  His hip bone still sticks out a bit, along with his spine, but his ribs are almost all hidden now.  We're all excited about the progress so far.

We've pretty much fallen head over heals for Troop, and he's made such a bond with us in return. His personality has blossomed so much in the last 3 months too.
It's always the rescues that seem to appreciate what they have so much more than the others isn't it?

Trooper has gone from disconnected but cooperative, to completely dependent and connected to our family.  He looks to me for direction, follows along for companionship, and seems to especially love when I pull his bangs out of his eyes.  He didn't do any of that when he came like he does now.  He now has a warm look of love and appreciation in his eyes, and he's one of those that wants to sit by your side and quietly just BE with you.  Does it get any better than that?  Yes it does!  My 4 and 5 year old boys can lead him around and groom him, he is so gentle and sweet. They are learning so much around him. Our mare Sage is very sweet but she is 6 and just doesn't know her own size, so I don't really trust my boys to just run around her at this point. Trooper on the other hand is so slow and steady, sweet and gentle, he is perfect for little ones to learn around.

And with hardly any weight, it doesn't hurt if someone accidently gets stepped on, lol.  That's truly the only positive I can think of with having a starved horse.

I let Trooper out of the pen during the day to graze in the lawn, and he never runs off even though he could. At the end of the day he goes to the gate and waits for me to come out of the house and let him back in the pen, I guess he likes it here enough to call it home.

Something else neat to discover is he seems to know it all, not in a haughty way, but with an old quiet wisdom. Even just his eyes alone show and old quiet and wisdom in them.  Beyond that I believe he was an amazing riding horse at one time. We've never ridden him, but figured out he knows how to neck rein, spooks at NOTHING, and knows his way around barns, farriers, tack and trailers better than any of us.  And back when he first came and colic was a much bigger risk, he moderated his food intake better than I did!  ...Our mare would eat until she burst if we let her, but Trooper just knows...

I don't know how much longer he'll live. Really, it may not be much longer.  I hope he has a few good years left in him but I don't really know at this point.  When we see he isn't happy or comfortable anymore we'll have the vet out to put him down, but we feel like God sent such a diamond in the rough to us when Trooper ended up in our neighborhood.

And that's Troopers story in just 3 months time.  People are nice and say how lucky he was to find us...  I never would have thought I'd say this about an unridable horse, but I think the blessing has really been ours.

Staying grounded.

34194 Kelso Dr.

Well our lease is about up, and all the expectations we had  have been thrown for a loop, lol.  That's life isn't it?

We have never changed our minds on getting back into the RV but God has made other plans for us, lol.

Have you ever felt like a sheep being herded?  Like each direction you wanted to take was cut off?  Or each direction you thought you were suppose to be headed in was blocked?  We've REALLY felt that way in the last few months, it was frustrating at moments, but more so exciting because we knew it was GOD guiding us the whole way through.

We've wanted to get back in the RV, but it turns out that's just an impossible goal with my dad living with us, which is rather indefinite at the moment - possibly permanent.  He's sometimes unstable on his feet and has falls occasionally after his stroke in January.  No big deal until you think about a grown man making a habit of falling on delicate RV walls, tables, chairs, etc...  So a few months ago we finally accepted we were gonna have to remain in a house.  Having dad with us is a huge blessing though, so it made the change in plans an easy one.

I was ready to continue to rent here at this house.  It's been a perfect location for so many of our families "special needs".

Without going into personal details of 2 of the members of our family and household on the world wide web, it has become more clear as time goes by what a necessity living away from town is when dealing with mental health issues.  Living so far out has helped in healing, even if it's only in small bits, instead of hindering healing.  I wish so much I could go into that further, but since those stories are not mine to tell I'll leave it at that.

Anyway, Marty really didn't want to stay here in the rental.  He wanted to go somewhere warmer.  Winters in Spirit Lake, ID are so similar to Alaskan winters, which is just what we moved out of Alaska to get away from, lol.  He really wanted to move to Florida.  So we began to look at finding a house down there.  But issues popped up with my dad again making that move impossible.  Another path blocked off by God.  I wasn't so bummed about this though - summers in Florida are a bit hot for my taste.

Soooo at that point I just wanted to stay put.  This rental is on ten acres in beautiful country and although winters kinda stink here, moving so many people in addition to the dog and 2 horses we now own wasn't sounding real fun to me.  Marty reluctantly agreed.  He didn't want to stay another winter here, but also wasn't ready to go looking for a rental in a warmer area or commit to buying a home either.  We just wanted to settle in, stay HERE and see what God had in store for our future when he was ready to reveal it.

It wasn't long, in fact a few weeks went by and we were notified the house we're living in was being put up for sale.  Ug.  Now we had to make a decision.  Stay and buy, or move...  And move where?  Buy or rent?

Marty didn't want to by this house - I was tempted because it's convenience but I didn't really wanna be stuck here for a few years - again, the winters are really what pushed us into looking elsewhere.

So after lots of praying we decided to look for a house in the Spokane, WA area or even in the Coeur D' Alene, ID area.  Both of those areas have very mild winters and are within an hour from us.  We decided we wanted a property with 10 acres (give or take an acre or two).  We found several properties that seemed like great fits, sometimes even perfect, but everytime we were ready to make an offer, even if it was a DAY after it went on the market, someone else beat us to it and had already locked the property down with an offer.  The first few times it happened I thought "well bummer, we'll get the next one."  But then it just continued on, every house getting taken off the market - fast enough to make our heads spin, I just knew God was blocking several more paths.

We were looking for a 4 or 5 bedroom house, with 10 acres - something private.  We really only need 4 bedrooms, but my dad needs his own living area, so he can get away from all of us and have some peace and quiet when he needs.  So either 5 bedrooms or 4 with a second living room.  We were hoping to find something set up for horses, but if not, Marty is fast at putting up fencing.  None of the places we were ready to make an offer on had any kind of horse set up, just the land to accommodation them.

So we were feeling very squeezed.  We're gonna have to move before winter, but there was no where to go, lol.  Not such a big deal for Marty and I.  Even the horses we could have found boarding for, but with the kids and dad, ug....  I was starting to feel quite a bit of pressure.  Which reminded me to rely on the Lord so much more.

Then by some fluke (I say that sarcastically - I'm certain God made this happen.) we were sent out another bunch of houses that were on the market.  It was from an automated search generator.  You put in your parameters, and it's all computerized and automatic from there.  It emails you when new houses come up within your search parameters.  It wasn't the only way we were searching for houses, just one.  Anyway it spit out a 3 bedroom house and emailed it to us.  Logically thinking, this made no sense - the computer shouldn't have sent us this one.  But looking at it, it seemed to have a large basement where we could possibly put up a 4th bedroom fast for my dad and still have a separate and second living area for him.  So we went to look at it.  When we got there we found that it had an office (with no closet) that wasn't listed in any of the ads or even on the realtors mls info.  How they forgot to mention this I don't know, but to me it was the 4th bedroom all ready to go!  We can add a closet later, or just put in a wardrobe or dresser and it's perfect for my dad.  I'm certain it hadn't been pounced on yet because that office wasn't listed, Praise GOD!!  It comes with 40 fenced acres, a great barn for horses and a garage my husband has always dreamed of.  There is an orchard with a variety of cherry trees, and apple tree, and a WRAP AROUND PORCH to LIVE MY DAYS out on!

This was taken when I first went out to see the house the first time.

I could go on and on and on about this house.  ON and ON.  It's truly more than we deserve. In short this was one of those moments God blocked our path at every turn, and saved the best for last.  What we thought would be perfect or fun or we could make due with - he said no to and gave us a gift far better than we had ever dreamed of.

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? ~ Luke 12:27-28

We're so excited and will be moving in, in just a few short days.  :D

Although I'm ready to go, I shall truly miss this house in Spirit Lake.  It has been just what we needed in so many ways.  Honestly I think of this house and the land like I do a dear friend who was there for us just when we needed it most, in all the ways we needed it.  God truly set this place a side for us when we were looking for a rental a year ago and we are so grateful.  We'll always look back on our time here warmly.