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!



  1. Glad to see the update! They are all looking great and very different now that they no longer have their winter coats. Great work you guys, keep it up!

  2. I'm wondering why in the world you drove FOUR hours to an auction when there are plenty of draft horses in this area to be rescued and saved. Not to mention on your FB page, these horses gave your whole rescue barn shipping fever almost costing the lives of several of your horses, one in particular you mentioned Chance? Why weren't they quarentined? Was the cost of shipping and vet bills and a quarentined barn worth it? Seems to me your resources could've been better spent in other more effective ways. With all the money you spent on vet bills lost in vistors and lessons, how many drafts from new holland could you have saved??? Probably more than 4....and maybe even ones that picked up their hooves.

    1. Taylor I have always said that there are 2 kinds of people , Do'ers & Whiners. You have the do'ers who do the work and the whiners who whine because the do'ers didn't do it the way they thought it should have been done.What effort have you put forth to save these magestic creatures that gives you the right to criticize these people ?

  3. Hi Taylor,

    I apologize it has taken a while to reply to you; Blogger has been giving me issues!

    There are a lot of things I’d like to inform you about, as you seem to have a misconstrued view of the Rescue and what we do.

    “I’m wondering why in the world you drove FOUR hours to an auction when there are plenty of draft horses in this area to be rescued and saved.”

    1. We frequent RSD Auction in Thurmont, located approximately half an hour from the rescue, and have contacts who are at every sale who alert us to drafts and draft crosses at the sale. At this auction, horses are more likely to be bought by a private home than a kill buyer (who aren’t even present at every sale).
    2. Have you ever driven on the Baltimore beltway and I-83 in the morning during rush hour, when you need to make it to New Holland relatively early on a Monday, especially hauling a large trailer up and down all those mountains? It easily takes just as long to get from the farm to New Holland as the Athens auction.
    3. We are very in tune with drafts who need help in the area, and frequently we network to connect those who need help to potential buyers, without the horse ever having to be actually “rescued.”

  4. “Not to mention on your FB page, these horses gave your whole rescue barn shipping fever almost costing the lives of several of your horses, one in particular you mentioned Chance? Why weren’t they quarentined? Was the cost of shipping and vet bills and a quarentined barn worth it?”

    1. These mares were quarantined from the rest of the horses just as any barn would have quarantined them. They made no physical contact with any of our horses, they didn’t share feed buckets or water tubs, they never entered another horse’s stall, they never entered the barn, everyone who touched the mares or anything they touched was required to immediately wash their hands and follow it up with hand sanitizer.
    2. We are positive that the breach in quarantine was caused by a volunteer who did not follow the protocol. We cannot supervise volunteers every single second of the day and expect them to work more independently than at other local rescues who have the staff to be able to do so. All it takes is one individual to expose the whole farm, which is how all outbreaks start.
    3. The mares had to remain at the main farm for quarantine, since Sunrise had her injured hoof and they all were in rough shape, so they couldn’t be left at another facility where they didn’t have constant supervision.

  5. “Seems to me your resources could’ve been better spent in other more effective ways. With all the money you spent on vet bills lost in vistors and lessons, how many drafts from new Holland could you have saved??? Probably more than 4…and maybe even ones that picked up their hooves.”

    1. Just because these mares weren’t at New Holland didn’t mean they were safe from slaughter. Did you read the part where I said we were bidding directly against a kill-buyer who frequents auctions all over the Mid-Atlantic?
    2. This auction house made New Holland look like a place you would willingly board your horses at. It was THAT bad. Did you really think we were going to leave an injured weanling who could barely walk in a place like that, to be sold, tossed on a truck with bigger horses where she would probably not even survive the trip to Mexico?
    3. As a stockyard that does not specialize in horses, the Athens auction placed these mares in greater risk for slaughter than they might have been at New Holland; there just aren’t enough good horse people who frequent that auction, whereas at New Holland, there are ALWAYS good horse people who can evaluate and have the resources to rescue what they can. No one but us and the kill buyer were bidding on the mares we got. So if we weren’t there, they would already have been on someone’s dinner plate, there’s no question of that. At New Holland, they at least had the chance to be seen by other knowledgeable horse people, even if they didn’t specialize in draft horses.
    4. We didn’t pay anywhere near meat prices for any of these horses. With the amount of money we bid on these four mares, we probably could have saved two drafts in good weight from New Holland.
    5. The man who these mares came from is practically famous in the PA/NY Clydesdale community. He shows regularly at big shows such as the PA Farm Show, and *most* of what he breeds is very attractive to those who would want to show Clydesdales. So one would think he would actually train them to pick up their feet. Patty is the horse he’d take often to the PA Farm Show, and she was one of the ones we just had to sedate extremely heavily to get her feet done. Their lack of training would be akin to a horse being shown at Devon without being able to stand for the farrier; it just doesn’t make sense!
    6. Our barn isn’t generally open to “vistors,” only volunteers and scheduled appointments, so no money lost there! And losing money from lessons? Did we ever give the impression we earn a lot of money from lessons? A private instructor, who has her own lesson barn, teaches a few lessons at the rescue, but we do not have a full-fledged lesson program that would be an essential source of revenue. Yes, it adds up, but Rescue is our business, not lessons. Almost all of our revenue is from donations (you’d have to ask Christine about the specifics, which she would gladly share with you).
    7. Yes, the vet bills were a good chunk of change. But get this: ALL of our horses had been vaccinated at least once within the last year against Flu, the show horses every six months. We know the vaccines worked to some degree, as not all of the horses fell ill, despite having been exposed to horses who did become sick from the same field.
    8. No horse is safe from slaughter. There is no way we can save them all, so every time we rescue one draft, we know there are at least a hundred drafts we couldn’t save and would be shipped and slaughtered within a week.

    Don't hesitate to ask more questions, as I will answer them all to the best of my ability. Where I might not know an answer, Christine certainly will share!


  6. I am not a "horse person" but I am considering getting 2 for the farm I own. I for one read Taylor's comments and while I don't know much about horses I would like to say this. God Bless you and the work you do. It's very easy to criticize any circumstance. The hard part is action. You take action and put you money, your work and your love where your mouth is ... Thank you for the lives you save.

  7. All horses are worthy of living a life free of pain and suffering. Regardless is that horse is near or far, will pick up her feet or not. Thank you for giving this filly a chance.
    No one should judge the good deeds of others- judge the people out there who are doing NOTHING to make this world a better place.

  8. Love the stories and thank you for all you do!

  9. My name is Vince Stead and I just got done looking at your site and really liked it. We make Horse books in Paperback, Digital and Audio too. You can see them at and the audio books are fun to listen to. Thank you very much and I enjoyed your site!

  10. Here you can sell and buy both new and used products.
    Free classified sites are perfect for selling just about anything at all.
    More at