Saturday, March 10, 2018

Jo Jo News and Mini Rescue (Finally)

Hey folks, it's been a while, sorry about that! I find that as the months and years go by, I'm spending less and less time blogging, and more time doing "real world" stuff. That's probably good, but I miss all of you wonderful readers. Today I'm going to make it up to you somewhat-- you're in for a treat, because we have a bit of a double feature!

She's Baaaaack!

Yup, it's Amanda "Jo Jo" Everhart again. If you haven't read my main blog post about here, go do that here and catch up. If you're well aware of the insane depravity already, read on (but maybe go click that link later, because I've added and reorganized things).
Jo Jo is trying to re-start her scammy "horse rescue" somewhere else in Wisconsin. I'm not sure what to be more appalled by, the fact that she claimed to have saved 57 horses last year, or that she re-named the rescue after the horse she starved (Phoenix).

Last I knew, Everhart was living in a house in town so if you know where (in general) she's rented her new ranch, let us know so that we can all warn the locals. We don't need an address, just a vicinity.

NOTE: Do NOT contact her directly. The goal here is not to harass her, as that is 1) illegal and 2) only gives her the ability to play the victim. Also, 3) she is crazy and may come after you if you do.

How crazy is she? Oh my God, sooooo so crazy. And not in a "this bitch is being dramatic" kind of way, but in a truly pathological, serious way, to the point that... Well, I could write a whole book about it, but it seems wrong to dwell on the whole ugly, trashy saga. Suffice it to say, save your hard-earned money for a real charity, don't donate to her Go Fund Me campaigns or her "horse rescue." Moving on!

Mini Rescue

It's taken me far too long to write this, but it seems like it only just happened.

In late July of 2017, I went to rent some large equipment from guy I'll call "Chad." I'd never met Chad before in my life, but his hand-painted sign on the side of the road had advertised what I needed. I called him, he seemed pleasant enough, and we quickly signed a very basic rental contract in his garage, whilst an adorable pit-bull puppy attempted to chew my on boots, old beer cans, and its own ears.

Chad seemed like a decent enough guy; young, hard-working, rough around the edges but raised well. Like many of us in Wisconsin, he had a lot of side gigs going, trying to make a buck or two before and after his "real" job. When I pulled down around the back of his place to load up my equipment, I caught a glimpse of one of those side gigs:

This mare and her stallion buddy were tied to rusted-out vehicles in an overgrown field. Other than the junkers and a wrecked chicken coop, they had no shelter from the sun. There was an empty cat litter tub nearby, perhaps hinting that there was water sometimes-- but neither mini could currently reach it. The mare was tangled up in the nylon kind of combination halter-leadrope normally used on calves. Her hooves were long and deformed. The stallion was tied up short. Both appeared desperately unhappy.

"Well crap..."
I knew immediately that calling the authorities would be useless, since they often don't get involved even when a horse is actually dying of starvation in front of them. Even if I could convince a cop or deputy to come out, he would take one look at these fat ponies and say, "What's the problem?" To non-horse people, if an equine isn't skin and bones, it must be doing fine.

With official assistance unlikely, I just had one question: should I take these minis home today, or not? It really depended on whether Chad was open to change. Maybe I could education him a little. Maybe I could mentor him, keep an eye on things. After all, I had just adopted out my last horse, and I had been looking forward to the rest of the summer "off." So when Chad came down to help me load up my equipment, we had a little talk. I was polite, friendly, encouraging. I didn't want him to be on the defensive, I wanted him to be open-minded about doing things differently. Over the course of the next hour, I learned the following:

- A year ago, Chad had bought the stallion at an auction on a whim, "because he was kinda cute." At first, he had tied his new pet, "Winston," to a steel truck rim lying on the ground. Of course the pony dragged it for miles across the countryside, eventually stopping to *ahem* chat with some mares. The irate owner of the mares called the nearest humane society, which picked Winston up. Chad had to pay $35 to "bail him out." That's when Chad started using the junk trucks as hitching posts.

- Chad bought the mare from a neighbor because he thought she and Winston would make an adorable baby, which he could then sell for a quick profit. He was deeply disappointed to find out that foaling takes, "like a whole year!" When he had gotten the mare, he said, she had even longer hooves, but his cousin had helped him take a hacksaw to the worst bits. The previous owner explained that the mare had lost her last foal, and Chad wondered if that had to do with the feet. When I saw the mare, the feet weren't the skis Chad described, but clearly hadn't been seen by a real farrier.

-Ever since Winston and the mare (which he never named) "got together," Chad had been surprised and displeased at how uncontrollable the stallion was. Hmmm, shocking!

-Chad had no idea what a farrier was, had never wormed the ponies, called halters "collars," and had never had a vet out. He didn't know about founder/navicular, was unaware that equines needed salt/minerals, and was under the impression that miniature horses,
"get smaller as they get older, don't they?"

Needless to say, I did not feel comfortable leaving the ponies with Chad. He was a nice guy. He meant no harm. But his busy schedule and the sheer magnitude of his ignorance had led him to  neglect his minis. Perhaps he sort of knew that already, because he was willing to sell them.
I knew I was going to spend an exorbitant amount of money doctoring them. I didn't really want to give this guy any money. But I was also eager to get the ponies out of there, and unwilling to risk blowing the deal, so I shelled out a few hundred bucks. By late afternoon, the ponies were home safe with me.

The first thing they did was to attack the salt and mineral blocks. They didn't just lick them, they broke off chunks and swallowed them whole. Alarmed, I asked my vet whether this would do any harm. Nope, not as long as they had access to plenty of water.

Apparently the poor little dudes had been so long without salt and minerals, their bodies absolutely craved them. Equines especially need salt during hot weather, when sweating causes them to lose it by the liter. In the wild, mustangs (and deer) will actually lick and even chew dirt that has a high mineral content in order to get what they need.

Reminder here: do NOT give your horse mineral blocks meant for cattle. Eating even a tiny amount can KILL your horses within a day or two. Cattle minerals and feed may contain ionophores, including lasalocid (Bovatec), monensin (Rumensin), salinomycin, narasin, maduramicin, laidlomycin and semduramicin.

These additives can't be seen, smelt, or tasted, and horses are twenty times more sensitive to them than cattle. There have been some famous cases of horses that died from poisoning simply because the local feed mill made pelleted cattle feed with an additive, and then didn't clean the equipment prior to mixing a batch of horse feed. For more info, check out these links:

Wisconsin Family Loses 12 Belgian Horses to Accidental Poisoning
Feed Manufacturers Settle with Horse Owners After Fatal Monensin Poisoning
Equus Magazine: Don't Poison Your Horse with Cattle Feed
Monensin and Horses: A Deadly Combination
Poisoning in the Feed Room

p.s. Chicken feed can contain these some of these additives as well!

Okay, back to the ponies!
Those poor, poor things.

Their manes were infested with mites, their teeth were terrible, and the mare had a weird eye.

To get rid of the mites, the first thing that happened was major haircuts. Then came baths with regular shampoo and water, then iodine baths, then a good strong insect repellent.

The eye was oozy and misshapen. 
I think what happened was that she'd torn the lower lid at some point, and (because of course she'd never seen a vet in her life) it healed weirdly. There was nothing to be done for that except keep it clean.

The mare's teeth really needed a good floating, but other than that were OK. Winston the stallion, however, had sharp/hooked teeth, an under-bite, misaligned teeth, and missing teeth. His mouth looked like he'd tried to eat a blender. My wonderful vets spent a long, long time doing the best they could. Fortunately, modern sedation allows vets to work miracles...

...including brain surgery!

Yes, of course I had Winston gelded ASAP. The world did not need another grade stallion making grade babies, cute or not. Those testicles really do look like little brains, don't they? And of course he was much, much more level-headed after a couple of weeks without them.

During those weeks, however, we had some rough times. You see, many vets recommend that after a stallion is gelded, he should be trotted for at least ten minutes two or three times per day.
This is so that the cuts down there heal cleanly.

Poor Winston-- he'd just had his hair chopped, his teeth ground down, and his balls chopped off, and now I had to make him run!

Winston wasn't the only one who started to hate me. I named the mare "Margaret," and right away we got off on the wrong foot-- literally. Her feet had to be trimmed, and then afterwards treated for a massive thrush infection. Not surprisingly, Margaret wanted nothing to do with people anyway, after a lifetime of neglect. Now she was being forced to pick up her painful feet.

These are before-and-after pictures of Margaret's right rear hoof. The bottom of her foot was completely encased, trapping the thrush infection inside to fester. She was walking on hoof wall that had curved underneath. Her other rear foot was similar. Her front feet were in poor shape, but not this bad.

After trimming, she still had long feet, but my farrier said that taking more would make her bleed. When a hoof becomes very long, blood vessels grow along with it, so you can only take off so much at once.

 The right hoof is obviously worse than the left. My farrier filed a flat surface on the right side of her outside hoof wall to help her balance, but did not take so much off that doing so would damage the hoof. It's a fine balance between keeping her as comfortable as possible and encouraging that foot to rotate upright.

Margarget's feet may never return to normal. her hooves were overgrown and twisted for so long that the tendons and even bones remodeled their structures. However, with frequent, consistent trims, she will be much more comfortable, and with time she may straighten up a bit.

When I got Margaret from Chad, I asked if she was pregnant. He said he was pretty sure... but of course he'd never thought to have an ultrasound done.

Ultrasounds are just as necessary for horses as they are for humans-- maybe moreso. We humans have shorter pregnancies, we are less at risk of infections, and our babies don't have incredibly long legs to get tangled up in the womb. Finally, while twins are pretty safe for us to carry, twins are very often deadly for mares. To find out why, read "The Trouble with Twins."

Margaret's ultrasound showed that she was indeed pregnant, about 2-3 months along. I was able to watch the foal's heart beat in real time. In the heat of a summer afternoon, the double miracles of new life and high technology left us silent in wonder for a time.

Unfortunately, we could not take joy in Margaret's pregnancy. The vet estimated she was 18 years old (Chad had told me 9). Her twisted feet were obviously painful, and the weight of her pregnancy would only increase her suffering. It might even cause her to founder. Although she was at a good weight, she'd been nutritionally deprived during the early stages of her pregnancy, which was bad news for both her and her foal. Finally, Chad had said that she'd lost her previous foal. Every sign pointed to a pregnancy that was, at best, a tenuous one. At worst, attempting to keep the foal might mean the death of both mare and her offspring.

I looked at the vet. "Is it too late to terminate the pregnancy?"
"No," she said.
A baby horse is not the same as a baby human.
Still, I struggled with the decision.
"Would I be doing the right thing?"
"Yes. It's what I would do."

We talked logistics. Margaret would need a shot of Lutalyse every day for five days. Lutalyse is the brand name of a synthetic prostaglandin which occurs naturally in most mammals. It's not quite a hormone, but the effects are the same. The injections would cause Margaret's body to have uterine contractions and go into heat, which would cause her body to abort/absorb the fetus. (Ironically, Lutalyse is also used to help mares and cows get pregnant when using artificial insemination.) There was very little risk involved. After a couple of weeks, we would do a follow-up ultrasound, to check and make sure everything was OK.

So for five days without fail, Margaret got an injection in the butt. The shot was not only painful, it gave her cramps. On top of that, I was taking her buddy Winston away several times a day for jogging. And they both got baths and mite treatments. They hated me, those poor ponies, they really did.

It wasn't all suffering though. No longer tied up to junk vehicles, they could eat and drink and wander as they pleased. The got to taste peppermints, carrots, and apple slices. Instead of being stuck in the hot sun, they could rest in the cool, shady barn. And of course they got all the petting and scratching I had time for.

The second vet appointment went very well. Margaret's follow-up ultrasound showed that her womb was empty. Both ponies got wormed and vaccinated (something we didn't do the first time around because we didn't want to stress their systems with everything at once). My farrier declared Margaret thrush-free. As summer turned into fall, the ponies became healthy and happy. Margaret still had a grudge against me, and was even hard for me to catch sometimes-- she got quite quick on her feet. She was much nicer to strangers, however. Winston was like a puppy dog. I took them both to Story Time at the local library, and they did pretty well-- especially Winston.

I was very fortunate to find both ponies a truly fantastic home. Margaret and Winston got new names, new halters, and a new life. They stayed together, not far from where I live, and I get picture and video updates from their new owners. As for myself, I (eventually) paid off the vet bills, and was able to enjoy the whole winter without having to go outside to feed or scrape frozen manure or de-ice any hoses. I am still horseless... until the next rescue.

Many thanks to those who made this rescue possible:

The wonderful family who adopted Margaret and Winston;
My own wonderful family, who supported me fully when I showed up with unexpected ponies;
My friend Deb, who left her own busy life on the back burner to assist with pony wrangling;
My excellent farrier, who took off from her "real" job to help me;
The excellent vets that charged me as little as possible and worked hard in the July heat;
...and finally, Midwest Horse Welfare, the horse rescue that inspires me to do the right thing, always. They deal with these kinds of situations (and much worse) on a regular basis. If you'd like to donate money to me, donate to them instead.

Miscellaneous Pictures:
Winston, with a buzz cut, begs for a treat.
Margaret's left rear hoof after the first trim.

Margaret's dental work.

Winston often had a flehmen response after smelling Margaret's hormone shot.

Bright-eyed, happy ponies in their new home.

*P.S. Yes, I know miniature horses are not technically ponies, but to my mind anything under 14.2 is a pony, period. Fjord? Pony. Falabella? Pony. Small mustang? It's a pony.

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