Yesterday afternoon we helped another of our old codgers across the rainbow bridge. Oreo, a Welsh pony, was one of the stalwarts of the rescue and a much loved favorite of young and old alike. We have no real way of knowing how old he was, but when he came to us in March 2007 he was already in his forties. His veterinary records are listed at 50+! His past history is mostly lost, but we know he was rescued at one point from a situation of neglect, and we understand that he was once a carnival pony. We always imagined him as a smart, show pony for some small girl, possibly called “Hercules” or “Lightning”, as he set out on his life’s adventure. Other than a slight “geezerish” attitude, Oreo was a friendly pony and like all our old codgers was a favorite of our volunteers and visitors, with much time spent by them working on his extremely shaggy hair (he had Cushing’s Disease). As usual, at this time of the year, we had just been discussing how to get his coat down to a reasonable length for the summer without destroying yet another set of blades! Then in the afternoon he started to exhibit signs of neurological stress and shortly after collapsed. Apart from requiring his daily Pergolide medication, and a strict diet, which also accommodated his “dentally impaired” status, he was a robust little pony. A great example of his breed. Requiring little more than his regular stall, and the company of his pasture buddy Wendy, he passed the years at White Bird a true inheritor of our tag line “…to live out the remainder of their lives in safety and dignity”. To say that he will be missed is an understatement, but today we know he will be enjoying the company of old White Bird friends and codgers Rodney and Mr.B, his long journey over. Goodbye Oreo, it was a pleasure knowing you, and we will never forget you.
Oreo Enjoys his “Day at the Spa”
Longwood MLK Challenge Volunteers
The Rescue was a grateful recipient of volunteers from Longwood University’s Martin Luther King Jnr Day service challenge. Every year LU run a MLK Celebration week, which this year was January 18-22. During the week the university hosts their the MLK Service Challenge, an opportunity for students to engage in the local community through service. On January 18th, MLK Day, they sent students out across the community to do miniature projects that benefited local agencies. White Bird entertained 10 of these community spirited volunteers, and on a cold, sunny day they ensured that the two new stalls built on the Eagle Scout project were fitted with mats. After hot chocolate, and a break for lunch, they then helped muck-out stalls. Thank you volunteers, and thank you Longwood University for yet another community friendly endeavor.
Thunderbolt and Tina
Whenever we are asked why we take in elder horses, when there are so many younger and “adoptable” horses needing rescuing, we point to Thunderbolt. She came to us in September 2013, along with her friend, Mona. Her owner was no longer able to care for her horses, and her two oldest had no takers, due to their advanced age. Both were in their 30’s. Thunder had been with her owner since she was 2 years old. She had been a capable and beloved trail horse, going on long trail rides in the mountains and giving her owner her best efforts for her entire life. She was a professional, with a work ethic, dignity and character.
Coming to the rescue meant an opportunity to just be a horse again, to graze and hang out with horse friends, and generally enjoy a retirement that had been well deserved. But for circumstances Thunder would have lived out the remainder of her life at the place she knew best, our preferred scenario for any horse that has given its best years in the service of its owner. If not, finding a good rescue facility is next best for a safe destination. We had always hoped that a suitable family would show up for Thunder who, as the photo shows, was still in very good condition in the summer of 2014. But we are also realists and know that caring homes for elder horses are few and far between.
Last fall, Thunder developed arthritis in her hocks that worsened quickly. While previcox and steroid injections kept her comfortable for a while, the colder temperatures ultimately proved too much for her joints and we no longer had a medical option for preserving her quality of life. Thunder has gone on her last long trail ride, free from aches and pains, having done her job well and having been rewarded with two good years in retirement. We will miss her, and we will continue to argue the case for taking in these senior horses simply because they deserve it.
Congratulations to Rob Halliday of Troop 2880 in Richmond on becoming an Eagle Scout! We have had the pleasure of the support of scouts and parents from Troop 2880 for several years, and we were pleased to be selected for Rob’s Eagle Scout project.
Due to a generous donation of stall fronts, and hardware by the Woodwards (thank you!), Rob and his team took on the task of producing a set of emergency/quarantine stalls at one end of our large pole barn. Over three weekends, the scouts, leaders and adult helpers from the troop set about clearing, marking out and constructing one double size stall and one 12×10 stall. These will be kept in reserve for more serious weather conditions, for emergencies where a safe place is required after disasters, for times when a horse must lay up but would benefit from extra room to move around, and for animal control cases.
Views of the stalls are shown below. Well done Rob and Troop 2880! We appreciate your support.
This morning we lost our shining Star. An Arab, he bore his various ailments with the stoicism of an Appaloosa, and his gentle nature made him a favorite of the many volunteers who worked with him. He came to us in 2008 after his owner became too ill to care for him. He was one of the most severely foundered horses we had ever seen, with laminar separation that caused his feet to look like Elmer Fudd shoes. But consistent, competent trimming, medication and a controlled diet left him with few visible signs of his old laminitis. A Cushing’s horse with arthritic joints, we were sure he wouldn’t make it through another winter three years ago. But thanks to the marvel of Previcox, he lasted several more and enjoyed a high quality of life for the remainder of his days. We will miss his cheery whinny in the mornings when we go down to feed the 10-stall horses, but know that he runs free again with the rest of the White Bird horses over the rainbow bridge.
We are pleased to announce that the Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority Sisters of the Longwood University Chapter have adopted White Bird as their local charity cause! Our relationship with the Sisters goes back over three years, thanks to the enthusiasm and hard work of Emily DeMasi and the energetic young women who have come out to the rescue and volunteered throughout that time. It has always been a pleasure to host Tri-Sigma, and we have appreciated their hard work, which has been performed rain or shine. We are particularly happy to give those Sisters experiencing withdrawal symptoms from being away from their own horses, the opportunity to return smelling of barn, horse and tack. For some, our residents have been their first exposure to horses, rescued or otherwise, and the many issues they face.
Thank you Sisters! We are honored and we look forward to many more years of collaboration in supporting rescued horses.
Below, Saturday’s group of smiling faces, along with Bugle the rooster (Tuna the cat was unavailable for this appearance), after a hard morning’s work spent making the stalls ready for the evening routine. A great job Sisters!
Since 2003, the White Bird Appaloosa Horse Rescue has come to the aid of Appaloosas and other at-risk horses. We rescue them, bring them into the best condition possible, correct any behavioral issues, and then find them caring and permanent homes. But over the last few years, this last service has become increasingly difficult.
Where we once took in a horse or two at a time, the number of animals needing immediate assistance has skyrocketed and we are now being asked to take in groups at a time. Within the last three years, Virginia has seen three large-scale seizures or surrenders that have required extensive resources and the participation of multiple rescues. At the same time, competent, capable homes are diminishing in number. As “Baby Boomers” age, many of the most experienced horse owners are unwilling to take on more horses because they no longer ride, and they may also be facing their own health and financial challenges. Their considerable knowledge is being lost. Meanwhile new horse owners are becoming fewer, as the economic realities of the past decade have discouraged horse ownership. There are also fewer emerging trainers, as this is no longer being seen as a promising career path, despite its critical importance . Given this unfortunate convergence, as the poet Yeats once wrote, “the centre cannot hold.”
So what is the answer? We believe it is two-fold. First, we believe that horse owners must face squarely their responsibility for horses they may have owned for decades. If they surrender older or unsound horses that have no real market value, those horses can go anywhere- from Craigslist, to auctions, to neglectful situations, to slaughter buyers, or to hoarders. That is the point we are making in publishing “Mr. Bowersox,” who served as a real life example of this downward spiral. Unless you have absolutely no other choice, please reconsider this decision. Second, we must address the current shortage of safe havens. To that end, we are reaching out to knowledgeable horse owners and pleading with you to consider opening your barn doors just a little wider, as an act of mercy and compassion. Are you a Boomer who doesn’t ride anymore? Great! There are plenty of older horses who simply need a roof and a meal, and we are betting that you have gained a lot of experience over the years. You may be the very best person to help an older guy finish his life in dignity. Are you a younger person with training skill? Fantastic! The foundation you provide for a deserving youngster will change his life forever. If you think you are up to the job, please contact us at: email@example.com. We would love to hear from you.
It is our goal to provide every single horse with a loving and permanent home. This is what one looks like. Our most sincere congratulations to Michael Rossner and Dr. Caroline Rossner (Southside Veterinary Services) on the newest member of their family, Blitzen (good-looking bay dude on left).
In October 2010, we were contacted by a person in Montana who had just rescued an abandoned pony at an auction in Montana. The pony had been run through the pit at Missoula Auction, but when the auctioneer and gallery realized he was blind, no one would bid even a dollar for him and the owner just drove away.
This was the beginning of our relationship with the famous Mr. Bowersox, whose amazing story so perfectly illustrates the problems that horses and ponies face in this country, today. The issues are many. They include the view of horses and ponies as utilities, the tendency of Appaloosas and other horses to suffer from blinding disorders, the overbreeding of equines, a lack of knowledge by unskilled owners, the perceived decline in market value over a horse’s lifetime, and a lack of awareness by many owners about how their actions can affect their horses. Their animals’ lives begin with doting owners in good homes, and end up on Craigslist and in sales lots, destined for foreign slaughterhouses.
Mr. Bowersox’s life was a good example of other things, too: Such as how a discarded, worthless animal can become a rock star to so many people, and how wrong people can be when assigning value to an animal. Because we would not have taken a million dollars for him. For the rest of his life, Mr. Bowersox was the grand, old gentleman of White Bird, respected for his bravery and loved for his kindness.
I AM Mr. Bowersox is his story, and the story of countless other horses and ponies just like him. It is suitable for the entire family (parental guidance suggested) and teaches children valuable lessons about responsibility and compassion. Your purchasing this book will ensure that other horses and ponies are able to find a safe haven, as 100% of the net proceeds will go directly to their care. Please help us to honor Mr. Bowersox’s life, and be a hero for so many others out there who are literally dying for help.
The digital version is available today, by simply clicking the banner at the top of this page! The paperback versions will be available later this week through the same page. These have beautiful, glossy covers and will make terrific Christmas presents for the horse lovers and children in your life!
Thank you so much for your support.
Mr. B and Mona
Mona crossed the rainbow bridge on Tuesday evening to be with her White Bird companion Mr. B. She didn’t show it, but she definitely missed him after he passed in June. He had been her permanent safe spot from when she first met him, following him around and rarely far from his back right leg. Never very demonstrative, and not a great people lover, she did enjoy the regular groomings that the volunteers gave her. So it was yesterday evening after a relaxing brushing and combing, and some mouthfuls of grass we said goodbye to this little old lady.
Mona looked like a Mini-Shetland pony cross, and we never knew her actual age. Already rescued once before, she had had a hard life, and came to us thin and weary having been overused as a kids ride at picnics. Blind in one eye and with poor vision in the other, Mona was very wary of people, but was a natural companion for Mr. B after his Allison died. Mona easily settled into the Rescue routine and gave very little concern, apart from the occasional “snotty” nose and an alarming tendency to foam at the mouth, both of which were seasonal and easily treated.
Tuesday morning she refused her feed, highly unusual for her. By the afternoon with her heart rate and respiration high, she was in that awful position that we reach with these old horses of deciding how much more she should go through. Our grateful thanks to Dr. Scarrow for his attendance after a long day and drive. His actions had this been a younger horse may well have had a happier ending.
Mona had a happy time at the Rescue and for that we are satisfied that she got, albeit short, her due retirement. If you ask why we should rescue these old guys when there are so many younger, well-trained horses out there in danger, our response is that they earned it. By doing what their owners asked of them. Mona had a clean, warm place to lie down in, and a good companion to share her time with. She was well fed and had space to roam. We believe we did right by her in recompense for those that treated her less well.
Goodbye little Mona. Run free with your good companion and the other White Birds out there. We will miss you and we will remember you. Rest in Peace.
This sweet guy really needs a hand. His current caretaker rescued him and has cared for him since last year. While her efforts to support him have been truly heroic, she cannot afford to continue caring for him.
Over the years, we have seen a lot of horses like this. They may not have much market value, but they ask very little of us. All most of them need is food and shelter and some compassionate friends. In return, we have found them to be among the most immensely rewarding of our charges.
Apache is blind and 31-years old. He has some minor issues typical of horses his age. He is also loving, gentle and easy to handle. Seriously, that face tells you everything you really need to know. We would take him, but he is too far away, and his situation has become urgent. Will someone in CA, or within driving distance please consider taking him in? His caretaker can be reached at: (661) 429-0428
, or firstname.lastname@example.org