Bringing Horses Back From the Brink of Starvation
In April of 2013, the Heart of Phoenix Horse Rescue discovered a pony named Turner (shown below). He had a severely injured leg and was scheduled to be shot by his owners. The rescuers took Turner under their wing and, with the help of Ohio veterinarians and farriers, he was given a clean bill of health just a few months later. It’s stories like this that show the true heart of these workers.
Tinia Creamer explained that the rescue was formed between 2009 and 2011 in the tristate area of Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky when her team recognized a huge need that wasn’t being met. The group operates solely within rescue homes and does not have a standing facility.
This operation is unique in that they see the most extreme types of starvation cases not always typical with rescues across the country. “We have a long history of remarkable recoveries with horses that experts said could not recover from gross starvation,” Tinia explained. Most of the horses come from animal control cases where the animals were seized with body scores of only 1 or 2.
It takes a lot of work and skill to bring these animals back when they are in such bad shape. When the horses first arrive, they are always vetted right away. “We get a fecal count, worm based on condition, and parasite load. We have teeth floated right off. We typically offer free choice high quality grass hay and loose mineral paired with a probiotic in the beginning.”
Once the horse is starting to recover its health, the team evaluates their training level. “If the horse is unstarted, green or has a problem area in its previous training, we have a few professional trainers that give us a reasonable discount. We will put the horse through 8-12 weeks of training before placing the horse up for adoption.” Almost all of the potential adopters are located through PetFinder or Facebook and must undergo an extensive background and reference check before they are approved. Still, the rescue’s biggest challenge is finding qualified adopters and foster homes.
Every horse rescuer fears that their animals will fall back into a bad situation after being rehabbed. To combat this, each of the horses that pass through this operation is freeze-branded and the Heart of Phoenix retains ownership to add an extra layer of protection. It takes a great deal of work and heart, but the Heart of Phoenix volunteers are up to the challenge. Their greatest joy is seeing a once starved horse thriving with a new loving family.