Friday, October 7, 2016

Large Animal Rescue

A little housekeeping note....a bunch of people let me know that the blog list on my sidebar had disappeared.  I had nothing to do with this and would not even have noticed if you all had not told me about it.  Please don't take it as any sort of personal commentary about your blogs. Google is up to some trick and I have no idea why it evaporated into cyberspace.

I have added it back in as it seems to be a popular feature.  I tried to recreate the list without adding in any defunct blogs. However, I may easily have missed something.  If there is a blog you used to find here and want added back, let me know.  If you write a blog and want it added, let me know.  I'm sure there are many great blogs that I have missed and if you would like to share them, feel free.  I do reserve the right to choose what appears on my blog because it is my blog and I can do that.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program....


Part of the symposium included lectures and demonstrations on large animal rescue.  Horses and donkeys can get themselves into some awful predicaments as evidenced by the near miss over at the Shetland blog just a few days ago.  Fortunately, little Tiddles was found and rescued just in time and he is on his way to recovery.

I have had my own share of near disasters with horses.  One of which happened some years ago, in my pre-donkey days, to a big gelding named Cooper.  He was (and still is) a big, healthy horse in his prime.  He came to NY from the south and he had little experience with snow.  One day, in deep winter, I got up in the morning, looked out the window to check the herd (as I always do) and saw them all sleeping in the sun.  I thought nothing of it and headed for the shower.  About 40 minutes later I looked out again and saw Cooper still laying down and the other horses all gone and I knew immediately that something was not right.

I hustled into my boots and coat and ran out to see what the trouble was.  At the time, I was feeding round bales and Cooper had chosen to lie down in a hollow spot in the deep snow made by a bale that had been eaten. The only thing left of it was a curved, stiff, crust of frozen hay and the snow all around it was a good two-three feet deep.  The hay had just enough curve to it that when Cooper lay down in it, he and the crust tipped back just enough to take his feet off the ground and he couldn't get them under himself to get up.

He had clearly been lying there for several hours.  He was hypothermic and slipping towards shock.  The snow had packed in under the edge of the hay and I could not budge him.  I dashed back to the barn for ropes, blankets, shovels and to call for help.  I covered him in a thick blanket and dug the snow out from under the crust of frozen hay, all the while hoping he didn't start flailing around and crush my skull.  When Farm Buddy and a neighbor finally arrived, I had the snow moved out of the way and, with the three of us, we were able to drag him onto his chest, but he would not even try to get up.

This was a horse who had been imprint trained from birth and he felt safe lying down in our presence. He was weak and cold and decided to leave it up to me to fix the problem.  Trouble was, I had already given all the help it was possible to give.  He had given up trying to get up and without his help, there was no way he was ever going to get up again.

Which is when I did the absolute only thing I possibly could to save his life...I kicked him in the butt, screamed at him, hit him with my rope and told him I'd beat him to death if he wouldn't get his big, sorry ass off the ground. It is the only time in my life that I wished I owned an electric cattle prod.  After several minutes of this, he finally staggered to his feet and nearly went right back down - so I hit him again and drove him into moving forward.

As soon as he looked like he could walk without falling over, I got to his head and kept him walking/staggering until the feeling came back to his legs and he was moving freely.  I threw a heavy turnout blanket on him and after about five minutes, he started shivering hard and I knew he was warming up and going to be OK.  I walked him until he was warm, relaxed and steady on his feet.  I fed him a warm mash and told him I didn't really mean it, I did love him and I only hit him with the rope because it was either that or sit back and watch him die.  With a warm blanket on and a pile of food in front of him, he kindly forgave me.

I watched him close for any lingering problems, but he never took a foot wrong again and he never laid down in deep snow again either.

To be continued.....


  1. Hey your super blog is Haynets Blog of the Day! Come and take a look:

  2. oh wow. what a story- I'm glad that you noticed him. I hate deep snow.

    Also, my blog seems to be missing from your list. :) Glad you didn't cut me off on purpose.

  3. I had my young donkey Eddie do that. We were able to rig a harness for him out of a couple of rubber type cinches and a blanket. We slid them under him [he was imprinted too] and hoisted him with the skid steer. No amount of yelling kicking screaming poking...would get him up.
    So we put him in our round pen and kept him up and moving.
    Never an issue later. But that was scary!

  4. I enjoyed the story...that was one lucky horse! :)

  5. Very similar to my most-awful-accident story (

    My horse just lay there trusting us, and the vet had to hit him and yell to make him try to get up.

    I wanted to let you know the abcesses and "hollow wall" issues are slowly resolving but thrush like your Amos post rendered my horse lame last week and the hard thing is he doesn't want me to touch it. You might be interested in the photos where the thrush apparently spread to the heel bulb and exploded this week (disgusting, warning). Despite it all, the horse is moving around comfortably. I'm treating with Pete's Goo daily.

  6. oh no! Those are the type of stories that you live through, and when its all said and done, then you can fall apart and sniffle and deal with those emotions. He needed you and you were there; excellent horsemanship!

  7. Kris, this is such important information, thank you so much for posting it!