Posts Tagged ‘equine’

A few days ago I lost a very good friend. He was a tall, dark and handsome fellow. He had a tendency to be shy but he was always sweet. He walked with a limp like an old time pimp, but he was never mean to anyone. People gravitated towards him because he had such a welcoming presence.

His name was Feten and he was a horse.

He wasn’t just any horse though, he let me pretend that I was the horse whisperer. In fact, it became somewhat of a nickname for me on Sunday mornings at SASHA Farm Animal Sanctuary where he lived and I volunteered. (Volunteered being past tense due to vehicle issues.) I’ve always been incredibly fond of horses since I was very young but never did I have a relationship with one like that of Feten. Really, I think he just humored me but that’s okay.

I’ll never forget my first serious conversation with Feten, yes I said conversation. It was morning grain time for all the horses and while all you had to do to get everyone else out of the pasture to come and eat, was yell “Come and eat!” However, Feten just stood there watching the rest of the herd run for the goods. When he didn’t attempt to come I walked out to meet him part way. He just stared at me. I told him, “Come on, it’s time for breakfast!” He just stared. I was at a loss, how did one convince a horse to come eat? I crossed my arms, “I feel stupid whistling at you because you’re not a dog.” He continued staring. If he didn’t get there soon, there wouldn’t be any grain left for him. In a last ditch effort, I patted my thighs and said, “Come on buddy.” He strolled right up to me and then walked the entire way with his head over my right shoulder, keeping pace the whole time. He had no halter or lead rope on, but he just kept walking right next to me until he saw that glorious bucket of goodies. This is forever ingrained into my memory it meant so much to me. Why, I could probably never describe. This is but one story in our two years of friendship.

My heart hangs heavy with his loss but also rejoices in his life. He had such a beautiful soul. He frequently encouraged me to scratch his belly for him. He was an ex-race horse that was injured and then surrendered to the sanctuary where he spent the remainder of his life, naked, free, loved, and catered to daily. I know how much love and attention he received, not just from myself of course but from other volunteers and the owners of the farm as well. He would never again be tossed aside because he couldn’t bring in the money. He knew only love and understanding for all the rest of his days, and I am thankful that he shared his love and life with me.

Feten, the handsome fellow that he was.

Feten, the handsome fellow that he was.

Please take the time to volunteer or donate money and goods to sanctuaries. I know that Feten would greatly appreciate people giving a second chance to someone like himself.

Sashafarm.org

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So it just so happens that March 1st is a day to celebrate our hoofed friends of both the swine and equine variety.

National Pig Day:

Evelyn being playful with a stick. :)

Evelyn being playful with a stick. 🙂

If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to get to spend some time around pigs, you’ll know just how intelligent, funny, and awesome they tend to be. We’ve both had the pleasure of getting to know some of the pigs through volunteering at SASHA Farm Animal Sanctuary, and let us tell you, they’re some real characters! A lot of people are surprised at just how smart and affectionate pigs can be, but they really are a joy to be around.

Louie the potbelly when he was just a little baby!

Louie the potbelly when he was just a little baby!

Louie all grown up and still adorable.

Louie all grown up and still adorable.

National Horse Protection Day:

Rain being super cute and fuzzy.

Rain being super cute and fuzzy.

Nobody likes to think about a horse being abused or neglected, or even sent to slaughter, but unfortunately, horses often fall victim to those very things. National Horse Protection Day exists to bring such injustices to the public’s attention and educate people on how they can help. Horses may not be able to speak out against those that would do them harm, but we can and we should. We know how it goes, wanting to help but knowing that adopting a rescued horse just isn’t a realistic option at this time. But there are also plenty of other ways you can help. Some of things you can do include:

  • Volunteering your time at an animal sanctuary or horse rescue. (Trust us, it’s just as rewarding for you as it is for the animals you’ll be helping!)

  • Helping spread the word, simply by helping raise awareness, or sharing news of horses in need of adoption in your area.

  • Donating to a horse rescue (aside from money, rescues are always in need of food and supplies. You can often find wish lists of the items they need right on their websites.)

Some horse rescues in Michigan include:

Starry Skies Equine Rescue and Sanctuary (Ann Arbor, MI):

http://www.starryskiesequinerescueandsanctuary.com/

 

Northern Michigan Horse Rescue and Rehabilitation (Gaylord, MI):

http://www.nmhrr.org/

 

Beyond the Roses Equine Rescue & Retirement (Emmett, MI):

http://www.beyondtherosesequine.org/

 

SASHA Farm Animal Sanctuary (Manchester, MI):

**This one is a sanctuary for all kinds of farm animals, with several horse and pig residents!

https://www.facebook.com/sashafarm

Feten, one of the lucky horses who get to live out the rest of their days at SASHA Farm Animal Sanctuary.

Feten, one of the lucky horses who get to live out the rest of their days at SASHA Farm Animal Sanctuary.

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Ann Arbor, MI.

Starry Skies Equine Rescue and Sanctuary in Ann Arbor, MI.

Starry Skies Equine Rescue and Sanctuary in Ann Arbor, MI.

One of the most endangered breeds of horse has its roots planted firmly in United States soil. The American Cream Draft Horse is the only draft horse to originate in the U.S. The breed goes back to the early 1900s and it’s founding mare Old Granny. She was a mare of unknown ancestry with an outstanding cream color in Central Iowa. Her offspring were bred with other well known draft breeds to improve type and quality while maintaining the champagne color.

 

Admired by all who saw them, Creams began gaining in popularity. In 1944, the American Cream Draft Horse Association of America was granted a charter by the State of Iowa. The breed standard is a horse that is cream in color, pink skin, and amber eyes. (Commonly have a white mane and tail.) They stand between 15 and 16.3 hands high. Mares generally weigh about 1600-1800 pounds, while stallions weigh in at about 1800-2000 pounds. They are short with well-muscled hindquarters, wide chest, and a short, strong back.

 

Unfortunately, when the age of machines arrived, the ACD nearly became extinct. In 1982, several members reopened the organization registry, which had become inactive. Since then, the Creams numbers have slowly been increasing. However, there are less than 400 animals registered today.

 

One flaw in the breed is that some Creams have been found to have Junctional Epidermolysis Bullosa (JEB), also known as Red Foot Disease. It is a disease more common in Belgians, but has been found in a few Creams. JEB causes newborn foals to lose large areas of skin to blistering, and can affect the mucous membranes which makes it difficult to eat and digest food. Most often than not, this disease leads to euthansia of the animal.

While browsing forums of breeders and breed enthusists, the general consensus seems to be that the Cream has a calm and willing demeanor. They enjoy the company of people and are content in whatever job they are given; hobby farming, logging, driving, hay rides, riding and even dressage. They don’t generally spook easily and make a great starter draft horse.

 

(All images from Google. We don’t know anyone who personally owns an ACDH.)