When I saw free horses on a local bulletin board I I new it was a bad situation.
It was the first thing I saw when I walked in to the feed store - a sticky note hastily written that said " Two Free Female Horses" Call Renoir with a phone # and a Morgan Hill address. I called as fast as I could dial. A man answered, an appointment was made and I ran home to get my trailer.
Free ads for animals almost always put the animals at risk from livestock dealers, dog fighters and other people looking for free animals for inhumane uses.
What I saw when I got there was even worse than my imagination had conjured up. Two mares enclosed in a small pen, severely underweight and there was no feed on the property.
I tried to take both of the mares
Fiona, the chestnut and the worse looking of the two was easy to catch and load but I had to leave the second mare behind. I couldn't catch her much less get her in the trailer. She had a badly deformed crushed hip and she was in a lot of discomfort. It was very sad and stressful to take her buddy and leave Alma behind in that condition. I had some fresh hay in my truck so I left a bale and promised her I would be back.
With Fiona in the trailer I called my vet and arranged to take her straight to the clinic. She was diagnosed with a chronic systemic infection on top of serve malnutrition and dehydration. We started her on antibiotics and slowly back on feed.
Home safe at my farm, Fiona whinnied in her paddock in the direction where she had come from, presumably calling for Alma. I knew had to get her out too but I didn't have the skills to catch and trailer a horse hell bent on not doing either. That's when I called Sheila. I didn't know what kind of help she could or would offer and I only knew her from a speech she gave to my Morgan Hill Rotary club.
Sheila promised me she would round up a volunteer that was excellent with hard to handle horses but I was still worried. Would they get there before someone else looking for a free horse?
My worries were relieved - by 10:30 the next morning Sheila and her volunteer had Alma in the trailer and on the way to Alma Bonita.
When Fiona was stronger we decided to reunite the mares at Alma Bonita. Fiona continued to require extensive veterinary care for her rampant infections that appeared randomly across her body. Alma blossomed and with feed and time she began to move free of pain.
Fiona took 6 months of veterinary care to finally be considered "well".
Today both Fiona and Alma have lifetime homes at Alma Bonita Animal Rescue where they run free with the other rescues and Gomez the 35 year old BLM donkey.
Fiona / winter 2021