With great anticipation we awaited the arrival of our “Girls”. It was a warm sunny day in March 1999. Amazingly we had found these horses on the web. Never before had anyone at Golden Gate Park Stables bought horses on the Internet. This is all thanks to the amazing efforts of a woman named Gail Garrett of True Innocents Equine Rescue, www.tierrescue.org. Gail lives close by to a “Feed Lot” in southern California, a place where no horse should ever end up. Gail checks out the horses and tries to find them homes before they go to auction or slaughter out of state. Horses available for adoption are posted on TIER’s website, and many also are posted on BAEN.
We had no idea what to expect; when the truck finally pulled up and the trailer door opened we all gasped. These horses had such a look in their eye, one of complete despair and almost lifeless. They did not bound out of the trailer as most horses do at a new home. They came out very carefully and slowly protecting their various wounds and ailments. There were five in all – two Thoroughbreds and three QH/cross horses. The last horse to come out was in the worst shape we had ever seen. She could barely walk and looked so thin and sick. We named them Bramble, Hilda, Eina, Granny and Lucky. Lucky suffered from an ailment called purpura hemorrhagic and was the sickest of them all, hence the name. In the days and weeks to follow we gave them plenty of good food, vet care and love. Unfortunately, Lucky did not survive more than two weeks; she was so sick that no amount of vet care seemed to fix her. We were so sad to loose such a lovely mare, she became much brighter during the few weeks she was with us and even gained some weight, but her disease was too far advanced and just too hard for an old horse to battle.
The other four mares continued to improve, the look in their eyes changed to one of happiness and life, they ran and bucked and played when turned out and seemed to be happy. Their coats shed out, displaying a glossy, smooth summer coat. They filled out and started to develop some muscle. We felt they were now ready to ride, and what great horses to ride! How could horses like these ever have ended up in a feedlot, we asked ourselves. Bramble, Hilda and Eina soon became favorites of our lesson students, showing many people how to ride. Granny was not ridden, as her hind end seemed so weak, she had difficulty getting up in her stall and the turnout. We decided to give her time and see if she improved. However, the vet was not so hopeful as she was unable to pick up a hind limb without falling because her other leg could not support the weight. Sadly, Granny did not improve, her condition worsened, and we were forced to put her down in the fall of 1999.
As for the other three horses, they continue to do well. Hilda and Bramble have been turned out to pasture for six months for a holiday (all GGPS horses get regular “R & R” turn-out). Eina is on vacation at our stables, nursing her feet which have given her trouble on and off for several months.
Even though we have lost two of our girls, we know that we saved five from the worst fate known to horses. No horse should ever have to end up in a feedlot. These noble animals who faithfully carry us, our children and friends, and give so much love and pleasure, deserve more from their human guardians. We’re glad that we were there to give Bramble, Hilda, Eina, Granny and Lucky the “happy endings” they deserved.