In the last few decades, the products and services developed to keep our equine companions healthy and happy have vastly improved. As a result, horses are living longer than ever. At White Bird, we have several residents in their 30s and even 40s. But few of us know what twists and turns our lives are going to take over this long period of time. Suppose the unthinkable happens. Suppose you lose your job, your farm, or even your life. What will happen to your aging companion?
People with foresight and resources sometimes provide for their horses in their wills. These folks are doing the best thing possible for their equine friends and they are to be applauded for their good planning. But most of us don’t do that. Why? Because we just don’t believe anything bad is going to happen to us! And it might not take anything more than the loss of a good job or an illness to make caring for your horse impossible. If you have no friends or family willing to care for them, at some point someone will think to contact an equine rescue.
We get these kinds of calls frequently. “Owner died” or “serious owner health problem” are surprisingly common reasons for people to request our help. But all over the country, equine rescue groups struggle to make ends meet. The fact is, without support, they cannot be there for either you or your horses when you most need them.
Supporting your local rescue is an insurance policy. It ensures that if something happens to you, there is a healthy organization there to step in for your horses. Developing and maintaining a good relationship with your local rescue can be lifesaving if disaster strikes.
For your horses’ sake, we ask that you:
1. Make prior arrangements for your horses in case of your death.
2. Consider leaving a contribution to an equine rescue organization.
3. Donate regularly to your local rescue to keep it strong and functional.
4. Volunteer! This will also help other horses who may not be as lucky as yours.
The world is an uncertain place. That is part of its beauty. But if tragedy strikes, you will want to be sure that your horses remain safe and cared for. Please support the rescues that will be there to help, when others cannot.
Top: Our beloved Rodney Dangerfield, who passed away in his mid 40s. Below: Oreo, also in his mid-40s, enjoys his retirement at White Bird.
Part of the Sparky Herd April 2014
We are and pleased and humbled to announce that White Bird has been awarded the GFAS 2014 Carole Noon Award for Sanctuary Excellence for the Sparky Project, our ongoing large herd rescue project in northern Virginia. This is a tremendous honor and we are grateful to the GFAS for this recognition.
This award is especially meaningful to us because, as a relatively small rescue, we sometimes struggle for resources and we are limited in the number of animals that we can take in. After all, we don’t want anyone to need to rescue them from us! When we were contacted about this herd, we knew we’d need to be very innovative in order to handle this large number of animals (and stallions!), especially as they were unhandled, many needed medical care and the site presented a number of challenges due to its large size, layout and topography, lack of fencing and occasional weather-related, impassible conditions. We also knew that we would need the support of the entire equine rescue community.
And support we got! We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to our fellow Virginia rescue organizations. We are fortunate to live in a state where the bar for rescues has been set so high. Some states have virtually no reliable organizations on which to draw. Virginia has a wealth of rescues with many years of experience, and we are grateful to every one of you. We owe an equally large debt to the ASPCA, who unflinchingly granted us the funds to cover the substantial medical costs for this operation. Their generosity allowed us to concentrate on the rescue itself when the situation was urgent, rather than having to spend that time fundraising. We thank the GFAS for helping us to get the word out about the need for assistance. We also appreciate our donors, who stepped up with hay and funding to help this effort succeed.
Last and most important, we’d like to thank our volunteers, trainers and fosters. Simply stated, all organizations are made up of the people who actually do the work. No catchy name, slogan or web site will ever take the place of the people who show up. These “boots on the ground” have worked many long hours in very stressful conditions to get these horses to safe havens. And some do this every day, regardless of the time demands or weather, for only the satisfaction of knowing that they are doing something important for horses who need their help. These folks are the lifeblood of any rescue, and they have been the lifeblood of the Sparky Project.
So, it gives us great pleasure to recognize the entire Sparky Project Team in receiving this Award. You have literally been lifesavers.
On Site Veterinary staff: Beth Eichberger, DVM, Ray Hyde, DVM, Hanina Hyde, EqDT
Loading and Transport: Chris Clendenin, Sam Jessee, Allie Sowden, Chyna Hudson-Berben, Mike Smith, Meredith Barlow, EqDT, Tina Gysin, JoAnne Miller, Sharon Hancock, Cindy Smith, Tom and Jorg Mayfield, Claudia Sadler
Site logistics and corrals: Chyna Hudson-Berben, Justin Berben, Mike Smith
Emergency Hay Donors: Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary, Paul Frappollo, Alice Chitwood
Gelding Team: Ray Hyde, DVM, Hanina Hyde, EqDT, Beth Eichberger, DVM, Tom Mayfield, Mike Smith, Chyna Hudson-Berben, Chris Clendenin, Tina Gysin, Dustin Berben
Training and handling at WB: Allie Sowden, Tina Gysin, Claudia Sadler, Tom Mayfield
White Bird’s Sparky Project Fosters: Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary, Theresa Roark and Jamie and Wes Woodruff.
And the Assisting Rescues: Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary, Brook Hill Farm Sanctuary, Blue Horse Mukwa, Central Virginia Horse Rescue, Lily Pond Foal Rescue, Middleburg Humane Foundation and the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch of Murchison, Texas.
Back in February, we posted regarding an 18-year old stallion named Victory who was in need of a home. Today, we are pleased to report that Victory has indeed found his forever home. This is due largely to the efforts of a caring friend (not his original owner), who provides us with a great example of how to do a few basic things very well. Our advice is as follows:
1. Be patient. Stallions can be hard to find good homes for. Note that we said “good” homes. Bad homes are a lot easier. Be in this for the long haul. Don’t get discouraged. Keep knocking on those doors.
Cherokee was a friendly stallion and is now a friendly gelding needing a home.
2 Cast a wide net. Talk to your friends, family, rescues, people in the breed clubs and industry and anyone else who might know someone who knows someone. Often reaching the right person is a matter of exposure, persistence and just blind, dumb luck.
3. Consider gelding your boy. A nice stallion will make a nice gelding. A poorly handled stallion may be easier to train if he’s not busy checking out all the neighboring mares while you are trying to work with him. If your guy is very senior, you may want to check his testosterone levels before doing this. He may not need to be gelded at all.
4. If he is not well-behaved, straighten him out! We’d give the owner of any horse the same advice, but given the trepidation that many people have about stallions, this is especially important. If you care about him, invest some time in training him. If this is outside of your skill level, find someone who can. The idea is to make him attractive to a new home and he won’t be if he is badly behaved.
Murphy in stallion mode, injured and preparing for combat
Stallions are not all the fire-breathing, nail spitting dragons that people often believe them to be. If they are well-socialized and handled, they may differ from geldings only in their interest in the girls and their behavior in herds. Many are routinely ridden and continue to be good equine citizens. When considering adopting a stallion or a recent gelding, you will want to consider the individual. Is he disrespectful of people? Does he challenge other horses, especially geldings? Does he respect fences or is he the neighborhood Romeo? He can be badly injured trying to cross barbed wire and your neighbors won’t appreciate his friendly visits. Most important: do you have mares that can be accidentally bred? If the answer to any of these is yes, you will make everyone’s lives easier by gelding him.
Murphy as a gelding, relaxed, happy and ready for a new home.
Most rescues will not adopt out intact boys. This is because there are already too many homeless horses out there and frankly, we don’t really want to see some of these genes perpetuated, no matter how well the horses are pedigreed. The fact that these guys have all their parts does not entitle them to progeny. But we often advertise intact horses for owners who can no longer keep them. And we are acutely aware of the fact that finding homes for stallions is difficult, due to some of the misconceptions that are out there. So we’d like to respectfully suggest that, before you turn away a horse needing a home simply because he is a stallion, take a second look at the individual. Many of these horses are good boys and solid citizens. If so, they will be good boys and solid citizens as geldings, for about what it costs for a month’s expenses. Some seniors may not require gelding at all. Let’s give ‘em a chance.
What a ride! This last month has been a busy one and we have lots of news to report.
We are still working hard to treat, vaccinate, geld and rehome the horses of the Sparky Project. To-date, we have either rehomed or found available rescue space for 22 of the 41 horses on the farm. We are currently gelding stallions and this has gone very well, aided in no small part by the fact that these are sweet horses, unhandled or not. Available horses are being featured on our “Sparky Project” Facebook page, which we created specifically for the project.
We are deeply indebted to the wonderful folks at the ASPCA, who have ensured the success of this project through their generous grant. We are also in complete awe of the other Virginia rescues who helped out by opening their doors to these horses- and we know darned well how full you already were. These include: Brook Hill Retirement Center for Horses, Blue Horse Mukwa, Central Virginia Horse Rescue, Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary, Lilly Pond Foal Rescue, the Middleburg Humane Foundation and also our wonderful rescue fosters, volunteers and the absolutely awesome transport drivers Sam and Chris. Special mention goes to Allie Sinclair, who will be working so hard to make these horses good equine citizens, and to Dr. Ray and Hanina Hyde, our talented feral horse veterinarians! The horse in this picture is fine, by the way and he is enjoying his new life as a gelding!
Last weekend was also one of our two annual hay-cutting events. We cut, baled and stacked about 800 bales, of the 2000 that we use annually. We’ll have a second cutting in the fall, so we are doing well so far. We owe part of this success to Jay Rupky and the kind donation of his standing hay. We would also be remiss if we neglected to thank the fantastic Paul Frappollo, for his donated hay over the course of many years.
The ASPCA Help a Horse Day Benefit Horse Show was a resounding success! We are sincerely grateful to our Trainer Allie Sinclair and the many people who volunteered their time, their hard work, or even their leisure time, to come out and enjoy the beautiful weather and just play with us and our ponies!
This weekend, if you are in Virginia, you can visit the White Bird crew at Tractor Supply Stores in Farmville, Midlothian and Manassas, as we will be out to meet and greet! Please come by and say hello, and consider supporting our efforts to save horses in urgent need. Rescuing horses is truly a “village” effort and we could not do this without the support of many people. If you can’t come visit us, please consider making a donation through the “Donate” button on this page. No donation is too small, and this is more important than you can imagine!
It is with the greatest of sadness that we had to help Bear across the rainbow bridge this afternoon. This indefatigable little Appaloosa with the huge heart has made so many friends since he came to us in 1997. At that time, his estimated age was 27.
Grandchildren have ridden him in from the paddock bareback, and if he had a soft spot for little girls and mares, he had no love of other geldings. Bear never knew he was a pony, and no male competitor was too big to take on. His early adulthood as a stallion gave him ownership views on any mares in his paddock. In a mixed herd, Bear just made everyone uncomfortable. He’d pick on the geldings and round up the mares, guarding them in a tight group. For that reason and his failing eyesight, he spent his later years happily with one companion mare.
Bear came to us because a divorce situation resulted in him living in a mud lot with nothing to eat. Emaciated and ill, he took some time to turn round. But recover he did – and with a vengeance. He and his new “roommate” Sunny (a gelding) were never good companions. As soon as he recovered, Bear began to needle Sunny mercilessly until the latter finally called a stop to it, and from then on they had to live in separate paddocks. Sunny passed away late last year, at the age of 30.
Always a favorite of visitors and volunteers, Bear leaves a huge hole in our lives and in the White Bird community. We have no doubt that he and Sunny are reunited and perhaps age will have mellowed Bear a little, so they can enjoy the green grass of the Elysian Fields together. More likely, he is figuring out how to bite Sunny in the butt. See picture below.
Bear Chasing Sunny
On Friday, we welcomed our new resident, Cheyenne, to the rescue. Cheyenne was surrendered due to owner hardship, after having lived with this family for nine years. He was originally rescued from a situation of serious neglect and then rehabilitated. Cheyenne is a big, energetic guy in his early 20′s, with no known health issues. He is sweet and cares what you think, but is still a little anxious. He is saddle trained, but needs a tune-up and will be best suited for a confident rider who will develop a trusting relationship with him.
We have the following urgent request from Tranquility Farm for the rehoming of four horses. Time is short to find them homes, so if you are in the Culpeper, VA area, please consider opening your barn doors for one of these deserving animals:
“Sadly, due to family circumstances, Tranquility Farm Equestrian Education and Renewal Center is being forced to close its doors. We have been able to rehome all of our animals except four, and we are hoping that you may be able to help us find these wonderful horses a new forever home:
Um’lette is a Standardbred mare for advanced rider. She is 20 years old and in good health. She currently receives MSM and Glucosamine. She had arthroscopic surgery on her knee and had a club foot as a foal, but seems to have no lingering issues.
Star is a 12 year old standardbred gelding. He has been ridden, but needs more schooling. He bites around feed because he had been starved as a youngster. He’s a gorgeous guy now.
Cocoa is an 18 year old thoroughbred mare. She has slightly limited vision due to an injury to her left eye. She had been kicked by another horse while at auction. She was saved while in foal from the slaughterhouse.
Tucker is a 10 month old colt that was born on the farm. He is Cocoa’s foal. He is in excellent health and has lots of spirit, but needs to be gelded.
A signed humane contract will be required of new owners.
Please contact the owner (not White Bird) through the contact information, below. Please keep in mind that these horses need immediate rehoming, so time is of the essence:
Sarah at: 540-718-8305
Want to help the White Bird Appaloosa Horse Rescue get more donations? If you nominate us for a 2014 Top-Rated Award you could help us gain an online promotion worth $20,000, or a trip to the annual Technology for Social Good event in California to meet with potential donors. Just write a new, positive review, either 4 or 5 star, and if we receive at least 10 new, positive reviews during the campaign period (January 1, 2014 to October 31, 2014) we will be Top-Rated for the year and will be eligible for prizes.
You can help the White Bird Rescue meet its goals, reach and help more horses, and get the attention it deserves!
and type in “White Bird Appaloosa”. Write a short review, give us a five/four star rating and help us win the 2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit!
Yesterday, we were able to set up the round pens that will help us round up and transport horses and start gelding the boys. We have received a lot of inquiries about these horses. We will respond to everyone as soon as we are able to, but here is what we know.
The horses are unhandled, not wild or feral. You can walk right up to them. Most will move off, but they do not run away. Quite a few are just curious and will reach over to smell you. One mare will touch you. These are sensible, calm horses that just need time and groceries. There are about 20 stallions and colts, but only a few breeding boss stallions. The younger boys are in non-breeding groups together and do not show any stallion characteristics. They will make nice geldings- they are not studdish at all. The average age in this stallion group is about 4, with some older, some younger. The nice looking Appy in the photo is “Patrick” and he is about 5. He’ll make a real showstopper horse buddy. There are many blanketed and roan Appaloosas and some are in better condition than others. We will be gelding all of them.
Many of the mares are pregnant or exposed. We are trying to move these out immediately because the fescue grass is causing them huge problems and the mortality rate of the mares and foals is high. At least two of them are definitely not bred, and that includes the very friendly “Patrice.”
Because these horses do not lead or halter, we are having to use the old “squeeze play” to get them into the trailer. This is the safest way we know for both horses and people. The pictures show how this works. We entice the horses into a corral with feed, which is also open to a stock trailer. We then start removing panels, making the corral smaller and smaller, gently pressing the horses into the trailer. Eventually, we just squeeze them in. Cora (who needed immediate treatment for an eye condition) and Ruby (who just lost her foal) were taken to Traveller’s Rest, where they will start their new lives.
All of this takes many hands! Yesterday, we were grateful to have the assistance of the folks at Traveller’s Rest, Andrea from ERL and Meredith Barlow from Equidentistry, in addition to Chyna Hudson who has been so instrumental in coordinating this effort. I know I have left some individuals out, but we deeply appreciate your assistance, nonetheless.
All of these horses are going to need veterinary care. The boys will need gelding, they all need vaccinations and Coggins testing and the mares will need special care. Some of the foals will be orphaned because the fescue is causing some mothers not to lactate. All of the horses need worming badly. We need gas money to help the volunteer transporters get them home.
If you have every considered donating to an equine rescue, now would be an excellent time to do so. The costs associated with this operation will be very high and we need your help to get these horses to safety and to take care of their medical needs. If you can find it in your heart to help them (especially you Appaloosa folks, who are our peeps!) please do so, by using the Paypal button on the site. Your support matters more to us than you know.
We are seeking the assistance of good rescues and qualified homes to provide immediate assistance in the rehoming of a large group of needy horses. This herd consists of approximately 40 horses of varying age, most between 2 and 10 years old, containing stallions, mares (many in foal), geldings and colts. They are primarily Appaloosas and we have been asked to provide assistance in rehoming them. They are a semi-feral herd who have been around people but are timid and have not been taught to halter, lead, or pick up feet. Some are in need of immediate veterinary care. Many are beautiful animals that will make wonderful companions with just a little TLC. The horses in the picture are not a part of this herd, but they will look just like this with a little care.
The condition of some of these horses is extremely fragile. This is especially true of some of the mares in foal, and we are seeking immediate assistance from experienced rehabilitators, both as fosters and adopters. We also look forward to hearing from individuals with training backgrounds who can assist these horses in their journey to becoming good equine citizens.
Potential homes should be aware of the time and space requirements needed to work with these horses. You will need a small paddock to work in until you are able to comfortably catch them, and we recommend daily interaction until they are well-socialized. We will be looking for homes that meet our normal standards for adopters and this will include a good veterinary reference, safe shelter and fencing and a source of clean, fresh water. Given the uniqueness of this situation, we are willing to be flexible in some instances.
If you have space in your rescue, farm or heart, please fill out the adoption questionnaire at: http://www.whitebirdapps.com/adopt-a-horse-in-need/ and tell us about yourself and the kind of family your new friend or friends will have.