Saturday, May 28, 2011

Quick Update on the Arabians

This past week, Marsha Parkinson (the woman the Arabs were seized from) appealed to court to get her animals back on the grounds that they were seized illegally. Back story- the local animal control officers gave her a month to clean up her act and get her horses back into good condition.  Two weeks in, conditions had only deteriorated and several horses were in dire straits.  Obviously, they weren't going to wait another two weeks.  There would have been carcasses on the property had they waited that long.

The judge denied her appeal to get the horses back.

I'm not a lawyer, so correct me if I'm wrong - This doesn't necessarily mean the Arabians are safe from ending up back in Marsha's hands.

We are still waiting to hear about criminal charges to be brought against her, and the fact that it is taking so long has all of us concerned that the authorities might be negotiating something with her.  Any negotiations can result in Marsha getting some horses back.

She should not get any horses back.  Period. 

What kind of responsible horse owner thinks it's okay to have a massive herd of horses that look like this?


Monday, May 23, 2011

The PA Clydesdales

At the end of March, we picked up four Registered Clydesdale mares from a very sketchy livestock auction on the PA/NY border.  During the bidding, we were going head to head with a well-known kill buyer for the four mares we ended up with.  Being unbroke, unhandled, and thin, they didn't have a chance of finding a good home.  Being registered doesn't save a horse from being sent to slaughter.

The young filly was dead lame and could barely put weight on her right hind.  We knew it had something to do with her hoof, but she was scared out of her mind and wouldn't let anyone examine it (not that there was enough light in the place to see anything).  We knew no one would want to put enough money into her to save her from the kill buyer, so she was on our priority list to save.

The other three Clydesdales from the same owner that we didn't get (two pregnant mares [one about ready to foal] and a stallion) went for the highest prices the auction had ever seen.  At only $2,380 for the stallion as the highest price ever, it makes you realize how BAD of an auction it is.  At almost any other auction, that stallion could have easily gone for twice that.  If advertised properly, I believe a private sale for the stallion could have brought the owner at least $15,000. Those three horses were well-bred and attractive, and there were a good number of locals wanting to get their hands on them.  They all went to private homes.

We ended up with Young's Real HP Sunrise (the injured weanling filly), Young's Real HP Patty's Penny (coming 3 filly, daughter of Patty), Patty's HP, and Young's Real HP Dee Dee, all at well under meat prices.  We don't have Sunrise's registration papers yet, but we think she might be a daughter of the heavily pregnant mare that was sold to a private home.

The trip that took us four and a half hours to get there turned into a ten hour ride home.  We blew a tire on the dually somewhere around Scranton.  At midnight.  When no one would come near a dually with an inner flat tire that was hauling a trailer with four big horses in it.  We finally were referred to a truck service guy who just happened to be two blocks away from where we pulled over.  So we just had to wait for the guy to show up at the garage after another call (add two hours to the trip...  there might have been some song writing involved, but it should never see the light of day).  Once we got the truck and trailer into the garage, it seriously only took fifteen minutes for him to get the tire changed, with the trailer still attached!  We'd thought we would have to unload the horses and tie them to a light pole or something to get the trailer unhooked in the middle of downtown Scranton!  Nope, he just used a hydraulic lift to hold the truck up, got the outside tire off, and did his thing.  Boy, did he get a big tip!  Although I'm not too keen on repeating the experience, it's good to know there are folks out there who don't bat an eye at little problems like a flat tire on a dually... hauling a huge horse trailer... loaded with big draft horses, lol.

Then... a few miles out of town the trailer's brakes decided to test themselves.  On full.  So add another half an hour to check on the horses and make sure the trailer's emergency brake pin hadn't slipped to cause engagement, and another half hour to change our pants!

We finally rolled into the barn around 6am, completely tuckered out. 

Later that day the vet was out on an emergency call to look at Sunrise's foot.  This is what happened (kind of graphic!): 

That is a four-inch framing nail.  The nail was removed after the vet did some x-rays:

We were told that the filly was kicked in the sale pen by one of the other horses, and that was why she was lame.  Um, yeah.  See that darker bubble at the tip of the nail?  That is a gas pocket created by the bacteria that the nail injected deep into her hoof.  It would have taken more than a day for a gas pocket that size to develop.  This means that the mare was put into the auction without being able to bear weight on all four limbs.

Fortunately, the nail didn't hit any bones.  It went into the fleshy part and was almost sticking out of the top of the foot behind the pastern.

We immediately started Sunrise on IV and oral antibiotics, regional limb perfusions, along with foot soaks, and wraps designed to draw out the pus and bacteria.  For several weeks, she had a very guarded prognosis.  Since a horse's feet don't get much bloodflow, it is difficult to get enough antibiotics to the area to kill off the infection before it spreads to the rest of the body.  The regional limb perfusion involves pumping antibiotics straight into the lower leg to attack the infection.  Oftentimes, nothing can stop the infection from causing a systemic infection, and something as simple as stepping on a nail can easily kill a horse.

After much treatment and rehabilitation, Sunrise is now in a regular turnout situation per the vet's advice.  She is still a little off on her foot and has some swelling, but is well enough to run around her field wreaking havoc.  Only time will tell if she will remain lame or if she will grow out of it.

Sunrise still has a lot of growing to do!  She will be a yearling in July, and has already grown a hand and a half since she's been with us.  Now that she is well and has been on nutritious food since coming to us, I think she will maybe finish out around 17 hands tall.

Penny is turned out with Sunrise, and they do everything together.  Even though she is almost three, she is growing just as fast as Sunrise, and I wouldn't be surprised if she gains another hand or so.  We see this a lot with young malnourished drafts.  If they don't get proper nutrition as foals, it's still possible for them to not be stunted if we get a hold of them before their joints close.  We saw the same thing with a Belgian named Cricket.  He came to us as a three-year-old, but was the size of and eight-month foal!  With the right food, he kept growing and growing, and his adopter reports he is still growing!  When he left the farm, I think he was around 16.2hh, but he was still rump-high so he's probably growing into it.

Dee Dee and Patty are with our largest herd, which gets stalled during the heat of the day right now.  They are *almost* at full weight, and it won't be long until they are fat and sassy (well, they already have the "sassy" part down).  We were told one of them is broke to ride, we just don't know which yet.  They will be evaluated within the next couple of weeks and then begin their training.

This past weekend was incredibly busy, so while I had planned to bathe them all and get photos, it just didn't happen.  I might have time later this week, I'll be sure to let you know!


Friday, May 20, 2011

Dishonest Horse People

We stumbled across this ad recently, advertising a Warmblood schoolmaster:

Sounds great, right?

Wait... why is she only selling for $2,700?  If she is really a schoolmaster and as good as they say she is, shouldn't the asking price be closer to $27,000?

 Hold the phone... here she is again, also listed for $2,700...

Ooookaaaaay... maybe she's injured or arthritic?

Oh wait!!!!!  There's this ad from FEBRUARY, when Talbot Run sold her to South Ridge!

The mare is listed for $350!!!

Okay, what the heck is going on?!?!

Talbot Run sold the horse in February to South Ridge Equine for $350...

And now South Ridge is trying to sell her as a schoolmaster for $2,700...

Something just doesn't add up!

More digging....

As it turns out, Talbot Run had a verbal agreement with South Ridge saying that she was being sold as a broodmare ONLY, and at $350, it's pretty obvious she isn't rideable for some reason or other.  While the original ad doesn't say so, the mare hadn't been ridden in years.  So what does South Ridge do?

They put her in the LESSON PROGRAM!

But apparently it isn't working out... the mare goes nice for maybe half an hour and then violently EXPLODES.  Yes, you read that right.  She absolutely loses her marbles and outright explodes.

What's the obvious course of action?  Post an advertisement that says she is a schoolmaster, perfect for kids, and yours for only $2,700!

*Head explodes*

Does that make sense to anyone?  Here's how a visit from a potential buyer would go: Groom and tack up the mare, try her out for 10-15 minutes, decide she's great for their kid or their lesson program, then buy her on the spot.  Get her home, let her settle in, school her for maybe 15 minutes before tossing their kid up there.  15 minutes later, the mare explodes, takes off, bucks your kid off into the arena wall, and you're left standing there with no idea what just happened and a seriously injured or dead child.

Makes you nauseous, doesn't it?

AND more awesomeness!!!!

This mare is going to Eyler's Auction (now RSD Auction) tonight!

For those of you not familiar with how Eyler's works, you can look at horses ahead of time and try them out in their arena.  So she will probably get a couple of short rides in and do well.  Everyone will see she's a "great" mare, and will want to give their kids a chance to hop on to give her a test drive.  Owners are not obligated to disclose any information about the horses they bring into auction, so buyers have no idea where a horse has been or what its history is. 

The mare will be bid upon by people looking to buy a schoolmaster for their child or lesson program, with no idea that she will explode and probably kill someone!  And who will be the ones to discover she has a problem?  The lesson kids!

All my readers right now must be thinking that these stables are low-end, and that their own barn's horses are going to always be safe...

Both of these barns are very high-end expensive stables.  But that doesn't stop South Ridge from dumping lesson horses on a regular basis at Eyler's!  Just like at any other auction, all horses are at risk of being bought by a kill buyer or ending up at New Holland the following week.

While I don't know the quality or condition of horses South Ridge dumps at Eyler's, I can't help but wonder how many other dangerous horses has she pawned off to unsuspecting families?

These aren't backyard stables by any means.  They are lucrative professional barns where many people would love to board or take lessons.  South Ridge bought the mare, knowing full-well that at $350, it was obvious she was unrideable.  But they still get on her and try to turn her into a lesson horse.  And when that doesn't work out, they dump the mare at an auction!

When professionals act this way, it hurts everyone!  It hurts the buyers, it hurts the seller's reputation, it hurts the horse!  If the mare is bought by an unsuspecting family tonight, it could very well end up that the horse is euthanized or at New Holland within a week, and a seriously injured or DEAD child.

EDIT: Yay, Talbot Run is going to Eyler's tonight to try to buy back their mare!  Kudos to you for recognizing that this horse was in danger, and for doing the right thing to get your mare back!

It wasn't my intention to make you look like the bad guy, quite the opposite in fact.  I hope to use this blog to educate horse (and non-horse) people about the risks you take when you sell a horse.

Unfortunately, you all got put in a bad spot when a client didn't follow a verbal agreement.  I've heard of people giving a horse to a best friend who they believe will keep the horse forever, and then the horse ends up on the auction block a week later.

I hope that in the future everyone will rely on written contracts, because there are plenty of scum bags in the horse world just like South Ridge.  Just because someone seems trustworthy doesn't mean they are.  Cathy at Fugly Horse of the Day pushes practically stalking people who will be handling or purchasing your animals.  If there is dirt to dig up on someone, it's not that hard to find. 

Entering into a contract and researching folks is a great way to weed out some of the unscrupulous horse persons out there.  While a piece of paper might not fully protect the horse, it certainly gives you a lot of leverage in court.  And take the time to do a little on line research, you'll be shocked at what you find!

EDIT: Fortunately, this story has a happy ending!  Talbot Run successfully bought back Zingara from Eyler's Auction this past Friday night!  I don't know if there were any kill buyers at the auction that night, but the price she went for could very well have landed her either at New Holland or someplace worse.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Polish Arabian Mares, Part II

Farrier Day!

Well… Last Monday was Farrier Day for the Arabian mares (there were a couple of posts I had to get out of the way first, sorry!).

All but a couple of them stood great!  They all knew what to do, but a couple of the younger ones were a little squirrelly.  There must be a high incidence of ADOS in Arabs… Attention Deficit… Oh Shiny!!

The mares are incredibly herd-bound, which makes our job easier in terms of moving them between pastures and feeding, but it also makes it more difficult when only one horse is pulled at a time and the herd decides to move out of sight.

Only one mare was difficult enough to have to forego having her hinds done for two weeks, during which time she will have TONS of practice having her feet messed with [Edit to add one week later: success in getting her to pick up her feet and pick them out! AWESOME!!!].  This was their first time being trimmed while in the Rescue’s care, so we wanted to make it a positive experience for future trims.

They ALL had significant hoof neglect, and many hooves showed signs of past founder.  Our farrier on average trimmed off an inch off of each hoof!  They all have cracking and chipping to some extent, a few have stretched white lines, but fortunately there were no elf-slipper feet!  Good thing, too, because we couldn’t find an extension cord for the Sawzall, haha.

After the Arabians were done, we also did the Haflinger weanlings (actually, they’re probably yearlings now!).  They didn’t like it so much, but fortunately our farrier is FANTASTIC with babies.  By the time he got to their last foot, they were standing nicely and managed to put their eyes back in their heads.

If only all drafts were started by someone like our farrier!  Do you know how hard it is to find a farrier who is willing to do draft feet?  Unfortunately, if you do not teach a draft horse how to stand for the farrier at a young age, you’ve missed a very important opportunity.  With smaller horses, you can deal with leaning or fussing to some extent.  With a draft horse, you can’t start a wrestling match and expect to win it! 

It takes a LOT of time and patience to train a fully-grown draft horse to pick up their feet and stand for the farrier.  For some drafts, you need to turn it into a fun game.  Others need to be in “work” mode.  And others just require a distraction, such as a flake of hay in their handler’s arms or someone scratching their favorite itchy spot.  

Every single horse that goes through the rescue stands nicely for the farrier by the time they are allowed to leave it, no exceptions.  We may be able to handle a difficult horse, but we don’t expect our adopters to have to wrestle a 2,000lb. animal to just get their feet picked!


Polish Arabian Mares, Part III

The mares are doing very well!  They are gaining weight well, and look like different horses!

Things we've done to them in the past couple of weeks:
- Rescued April 29th (corrected from May 6th... where the heck did I get that from?)
- Intake forms (cataloged hip numbers, pics from all angles)
- Dewormed
- Full vetting (exam, vaccs, Coggins, teeth checked)
- Hooves trimmed (see Polish Arabian Mares, Part II)
- Fully groomed several times a week (especially working with the younger ones' feet)

I took photos over the weekend so I can show you how much weight these girls are putting on!  It's pretty easy to tell the difference between the Before and Now shots; just in case you'd like a hint, the ones on top for each horse are the Before pics.

*As you look at the pics, keep in mind they were not fully shed out when they arrived, so they were actually more thin than they looked!*



"Rose Grey":

Nosey Rosey:




Stormy: (Note her full winter coat in her Before pic- she was thinner than she looked!)



It just goes to show they must have had NO food whatsoever.  They aren't getting anything that special- 24/7 on pasture and 3 quarts of Senior feed once a day.  A couple will be ready soon to have their grain ration reduced!


Friday, May 13, 2011

Polish Arabian Mares, Part I

Two weeks ago, the Rescue assisted in the roundup and transportation of 150 neglected and starving Polish Arabian horses (mares, colts, and stallions, no geldings) on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, transporting a total of twenty and housing ten mares.

All are settled in to their lush pasture and definitely already putting weight on.

There is a lot of hubbub on the Internet about the seizure of these Arabians, and the rumors flying about are enough to make you dizzy.  Let me tackle a few of these rumors.

- “These animals weren’t in bad enough shape to be seized!”

Putting aside the fact that a dozen of the horses seized had to be EUTHANIZED due to their suffering, and putting aside the fact that the owner’s own vet agreed they needed to be put down… NONE of the mares we have rated above a 3 on the Henneke Scale (1-9) by our vet.  None of them had seen a farrier in MONTHS (several have never had their feet touched EVER).  All of them have horrible teeth- their teeth are so painful that it is heartbreaking to watch them eat.  Here’s the kicker- None of them are in good enough condition to have their teeth floated yet!

- “They were all on lush green pasture, they’re all just skinny because they’re old.”

None of these mares is over the age of 18.  As a matter of fact, most of them are less than 10!  Since when does that qualify as “old”?  Oh, and those “lush green pastures”?  ALL WEEDS.  If those pastures are "lush and green," why is it that they have each gained at least 50lbs. in the couple of weeks of being on GG’s field, where they’re not even touching the hay because there is so much grass?

One mare was so skinny that she aborted a near-term foal approximately a month before we got her!  She was so close to giving birth that by the time we got her, her body was producing milk for her now never-to-be-born foal.

As for the Old = Skinny argument… meet Noel, a 35+ year-old Belgian mare.  She was rescued around Christmas time with a BCS of 1.   She was a walking anatomy lesson.  Notice how you can count her ribs in her winter coat?

After a couple of months being fed stuff she could actually eat, she looked like this (below) in March, and is still putting on weight as well as muscle tone, since she is now strong enough to romp around in her pasture and boss around Penny and Sunrise.

Noel Mid-May, all shed out and GAWJUS:

 It looks like someone forgot to tell Noel that since she's old, she's SUPPOSED to be skinny!

She's in waaaay better condition than the Arabs.  The fattest one is maybe four years old, and you could count five of her ribs the day they came in.  The thinnest mare, I'd say if Noel's Before pic were in the summer without the heavy winter coat, you'd be able to see the same bones.


Anyone who has any of these horses in their custody is not allowed to make any changes to the horses except for medical care, farrier, and dentist.  While the rescues who took in the 80-some-odd colts may choose to geld them if awarded ownership, they cannot do so until they legally possess the horses.  We’re not even allowed to do any training.

What a lot of people don’t realize is that there aren’t going to be 80-some-odd homes out there with the proper facilities (as judged by a rescue and its adoption policies) to house a stallion (which all of these colts will be by the time any court case closes).

Yes, I agree a few are breeding-quality stallions, but it is going to be all on the rescues to find them good homes.  Honestly, how many people are out there looking for a stallion to OWN?  Let me rephrase that- How many responsible horse owners are looking to buy an untrained, somewhat feral, unshown stallion?  (Do I hear crickets?)


In other news relating to the Arabians… PetSmart has just granted us $6,000 towards their care!

What will this cover?  Each Arab will get:
- 1 hoof trim
- 1 dental floating (teeth filed flat so they can chew correctly)
- 1 full vetting (Exam, vaccinations, boosters, bloodwork)
- Grain, hay, and board for almost 1 month

While getting this grant is fantastic (many thanks to Christine’s fabulous grant-writing skills!), we are going to have the Arabs for a long time.  I don’t know if there is going to be a court case, but we had Tess and Tucker for almost a year before their court case was resolved.  Since this case would be so much larger, I honestly have no idea how long it could take for us to gain ownership of the mares and get them adopted out.   

I believe we are looking at having them for at least a year (plus training time once we're allowed to train them), so keep those donations and volunteers coming!  I am working on adding a PayPal link, but in the meantime, you can donate directly at our website.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

First 2011 Schooling Show!

This upcoming Saturday (May 14th) is the first Schooling show hosted by Gentle Giants of the season, and is being held at Schooley Mill Park (12975 Hall Shop Road, Highland, MD 20777).

First class starts at 10am.

It’s a very relaxed atmosphere, the perfect place to bring out your greenies (two-legged and four-legged alike)!

Each class is $6, and each Division will have both Champion and Reserve-Champion.

All classes are open to all breeds!

     -  Current negative Coggins
     - Hard-soled shoes
     - Certified riding helmet worn at all times while mounted, regardless of discipline

Prize List:

Leadline (Riders 10 years or younger with parent or coach leading the pony; judged 100% on the Rider)

       1.  Walk
       2.  Walk/Trot
       3. Walk OR Trot over Poles

Novice Junior (Riders 15 years or younger; judged 50% Rider, 50% Horse/Pony)

      4. Walk/Trot
      5. Walk/Trot (again)
      6. Over 4 Fences 12” (Trot or Canter)

Novice Adult (Riders 16 years and older; Judged 50% Rider, 50% Horse/Pony)

      7. Walk/Trot
      8.  Walk/Trot (again)
      9.  Over 4 Fences 18” (Trot or Canter)

Green Horse/Pony (Horses with 2 years of show experience or less; judged on manners and willingness)

     10.  Walk/Trot
     11. Walt/Trot (again)
     12.  Over 4 Fences 12” or 18” (Trot or Canter)

Open Command (Judged 50% on Horse/Pony and 50% on Rider)

     13. Walk/Trot
     14.  Walk/Trot (again)
     15.  Walk/Trot/Canter

Open Equitation (Judged on hands, seat, legs, and control of mount; judged 100% on Rider)

     16.  Walk/Trot
     17.  Walk/Trot Equitation Pattern
     18. Over 4 Fences 18” (Trot or Canter)

Open Hunter I (Judged on manners, way of going, and suitability to Rider)

     19. Walk/Trot
     20. Over Fences 18” Course A
     21. Over Fences 18” Course B

Open Hunter II (Judged on manners, way of going, and suitability to Rider)

     22. Walk/Trot/Canter
     23. Over Fences 2’ Course A
     24. Over Fences 2’ Course B

Courses will be posted the morning of the show.

Can't come to this show?  We're also hosting a schooling show on Saturday June 18th, so be sure to put it on your calendar!

Any Questions?  Call (443) 277-8136 or e-mail

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


This blog is specifically for Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue, a 501 (c) 3  located in Central Maryland.   A little [as I finish up this post, I now see it is a LOT] about the Rescue:

The Rescue was incorporated in 2005, but was started by now-President Christine Hajek as a hobby for years prior to that.

Today, the Rescue cares for 55 horses on several properties in Central Maryland, including those in professional training off site.

You have probably heard of Clydesdales and Belgians, but there are a bunch of other draft breeds out there.  At the Rescue, we have Clydes, Belgians, Shires, Haflingers, Percherons, Spotted Drafts, and I’m probably forgetting a couple.  We’ve even had mules and various crosses between drafts and other breeds, such as Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, and Paints.

We wouldn’t be anything without our network of incredible volunteers!  XOXOXOXO

We also wouldn’t be anything without your donations!  While every once in a while we will be astonished by a large donation, those small donations add up tremendously and are a vital part in funding our day-to-day operations.  Let’s face it- draft horses eat A LOT! 

Speaking of food… did I say draft horses eat a LOT?  Well, let’s emphasize it again… they EAT A LOT!  The majority of the horses get some amount of grain every day.  Our feeds are specially-formulated and made by the Farmers’ Cooperative Association in Frederick, MD.  They are always fresh and tempting enough to want to take a bite yourself! 

More food fun-  We go through a tremendous amount of hay.  The horses who are stalled overnight (approx. 10) get fed a delicious Alfalfa-Timothy mix grown and baled locally.  All of the fields have free-access to a just-as-yummy Orchard grass hay in round bales.  It’s a sight to see when half a dozen draft horses are chasing the tractor as Jamie is putting out hay!

Being called “Gentle Giants DRAFT Horse Rescue,” one would think we only have draft horses… but where there is a horse in need, we do what we can with the resources available to us.  We just assisted in a huge seizure of Polish Arabians, transporting 20 and housing 10 mares (more craziness about them to come soon!). 

Did I mention our incredible volunteers?  They are absolutely critical to keeping the farm up and running!  They help with feedings, mucking (all that food they eat has to go somewhere!), scrubbing water troughs, grooming, basic maintenance, cleaning, handling, training, showing…  whew, I’m getting out of breath just typing all that they do!  Our volunteers are incredibly efficient, too… occasionally, we even get chores done before noon!  Volunteers are rewarded with the opportunity to ride once they put in 20 hours of work.  They even get super-cool GG shirts! 

I plan on doing several blogs a week concerning the goings-on at the Rescue, and I will feature horses up for adoption as well.  If there is some big issue going on in the horse world, I will probably put in my two cents, especially if you all, our readers, bring something up.  So speak up!

This blog is designed to be a relatively family-friendly atmosphere, so please keep swearing to a bare minimum, and if you must have a vicious cat-fight with someone, please take it elsewhere.  I welcome friendly debate between adults, not tantrums!