Last week we welcomed two new horses to Duchess Sanctuary who were in desperate need of our help—a mare named Anna and a gelding we call Captain. They were confiscated by the Nevada Department of Agriculture from a situation in which they were left to starve. Sadly, despite their rescue from deplorable conditions, their lives were still in peril. They were transported to the Carson City prison facility, where they were then scheduled to go to auction, where it was almost certain they would have been purchased by a kill buyer and sent to slaughter.
That’s when horse advocates from around the region began to collaborate to save them. Without the help of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, Equine Welfare Consulting Services, and the donors who helped make the placement happen, their lives would not have been spared. Working together, we rescued them before they went to auction, and brought them to sanctuary.
After their rescue, the horses were transported with great care to Duchess Sanctuary by Wild West Horse Transport. Jennifer Kunz, the ranch manager of Duchess, recalls watching them step out of the trailer for the first time:
To watch them step off the trailer was very emotional. Even though we knew they were in good hands being transported by Wild West Horse Transport, it was obvious that they had been saved from terrible circumstances. With a body condition score of barely two, Captain had us holding back tears.- Jennifer Kunz, Director Duchess Sanctuary
The Equine Body Condition Score (often referred to as the Henneke scoring system) goes from one to nine, with one being emaciated to almost the point of death, and nine being obese. As Jennifer noted, Captain scored a two. He was dangerously thin with sores on his hips and other body parts normally protected by a layer of fat. Although Anna had a few more pounds on her, she had still suffered a lot and had a lot of scars on her legs, fungus on her back, and a swollen knee. Both of them are estimated to be at least 20 years old, and along with the lack of food, they have had no farrier care in months.
The bond between the two horses was obvious, and heartwarming. When the two arrived at their quarantine pen, Captain walked around a few times then dropped down in the big pile of shavings for a lengthy roll. Anna headed straight for the feed and has been parked there for a week straight, which we couldn’t be happier about.
Now the transformation has begun. Although they are safe, there is much to be done to get them back to healthy and happy horses. A lengthy grooming session removed a lot of old hair and layers of dirt, but drove home the point about the severity of starvation as brushes bounced along bones we don’t normally feel, let alone see. Luckily they have good appetites, but because we assume neither horse has had dental attention in quite some time, we are offering them soaked feed four times per day along with good quality hay. Thankfully the horses are literally eating it up and are visibly improving each day.
We have provided them with fly spray and fly masks to make them more comfortable in the summer heat. Deep layers of bedding in a generously sized shelter provide a comfortable place for them to rest and recover. Their long, cracked, neglected feet will finally get some attention once they are both settled and stable enough to stand for foot trimming. And once they are strong enough for vet care, they will get a full work up, including dental work.
Captain and Anna’s suffering is over. They have found safety at Duchess Sanctuary, where they will take the long road of recovery back to the healthy, shiny horses they are meant to be. But we can’t do it without your continued support. Please consider making a donation to The Fund for Animals to help Captain and Anna on their road to health and happiness.