Jewel & Gemma

Jewel & Gemma

Jewel & Gemma

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Ark Watch logo 2022

 

    Name: Jewel

    Type: Belgian Draft Horse

    Color: Flaxen Chestnut

    Markings: Blaze

    Sex: Mare

    Birthday: 1/1/1993

 

 

    Name: Gemma

    Type: Belgian Draft Horse

    Color: Flaxen Chestnut

    Markings: Blaze

    Sex: Mare

    Birthday: 1/17/2022

 

In late October 2021, a photo of an old Belgian mare came to the attention of the Ark Watch Foundation. She had been unceremoniously dumped in the Bowie, TX kill pen by her Amish owner when she was no longer of use to him. The mare was terribly emaciated. Her ribs were clearly visible and her hipbones were protruding through her skin. She was blind in one eye from an old injury. The mare’s back was severely roached from pulling loads heavier than she should have been asked to pull. Celine Myers bought the made thinking she was a euthanasia case, intending to save her a horrific trip to a Mexican slaughterhouse and instead humanely end her suffering. The mare came with paperwork that showed her registered name was “Sandhill Jewel”. Celine expected the vet to say Jewel was in pain from the deformities in her back and needed to be euthanized. Surprisingly, x-rays revealed Jewel had some remodeling to her spine but the vet did not think Jewel was a euthanasia case. Jewel was put on a refeeding protocol and, in time, slowly gained weight. Once Jewel was healthy enough, she was given mild dewormings, essential vaccines and some dental work.

At about 11:30pm on the night of January 17th 2022, animal rights champion Betty White’s birthday, the very elderly Jewel laid down and gave birth to a filly. Jewel had been recovering well from years of abuse and neglect, but her body was not prepared to nurture a foal. She did not have any milk to nurse the baby which meant she didn’t have the colostrum the foal needed. The placenta showed signs of placentitis. Blood tests revealed the baby was born with an infection and she had no immune system to fight it. Thankfully, the vet at Reata Equine Hospital had dealt with these issues before. The clinic had colostrum and plasma banked for just such an emergency. Very soon after her birth, the filly was given colostrum from a bottle, the first of two plasma transfers and antibiotics to treat her infection. Jewel was treated with a hormone injection to jump-start her milk production. By morning, Celine had a Facebook photo of Jewel and her foal waiting, along with a message that read, “Jewel gave birth to this little gem last night”. And so, Celine named the foal “Gemma”.

Little Gemma wasn’t so little. Thankfully, she was a large, fully formed foal. Jewels’ milk bag was beginning to fill and the baby was nursing. Jewel was an experienced mom! Within about a week, Gemma was thriving. Jewel did persevere, despite her age and previous neglect, probably because she had Gemma to live for. Gemma was born with an umbilical hernia that was repaired. Almost a year later, Red Bell Run was asked to take this pair so that Gemma could have the room she needed to grow and thrive, and Jewel (who has turned out to be 30+ years old) could get the specialized care she needs. Jewel is a “jewel” and sweet as can be. Her badly damaged eye has been removed so she is more comfortable. Gemma is quite the character and keeps her poor mom busy with her shenanigans. We’re happy to say both are now doing well in our Hilltop Barn! 

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Penelope

Penelope

Penelope

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    Name: Penelope

    Type: Haflinger Pony

    Color: Palomino

    Markings: Lightning bolt brand, Blaze

    Sex: Mare

    Birthday: 12/30/2001

 

Penelope was used in kids’ rodeos as a “bucking bronco” and then sold off. Since bucking is the only thing she knows, it made her dangerous for most homes, so she found her way to Red Bell Run through The Circle of Friends rescue group in Oklahoma. Penelope has Cushing’s Disease now and receives medication and monitoring for this disease. She has a very unique mark on her shoulder that looks like a lightning bolt. Penelope is now the Hilltop Barn mascot and hangs out with her best big friend, Shelby Ann.

Penelope
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Emmie

Emmie

Emmie

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    Name: Emmie aka Mabel Esther

    Type: Mule

    Color: Chestnut

    Markings: Star

    Sex: Mare

    Birthday: 12/31/2003

 

Emmie is a lovely, red molly mule who bears the name of Red Bell Run’s Founder’s beloved grandmother. Emmie’s full name is Mabel Esther since she was rescued on Easter and her nickname became  “M-E” or Emmie. Emaciated to the point of being skeletal with a rope halter so tight that it made deep grooves in her poor face, Emmie was in bad shape. The Circle of Friends Rescue Group in Oklahoma alerted us that there was an older red molly mule in need. If they could get her, would we take her? Who could resist Emmie’s sweet, sad face? Besides, it was Easter!

Emmie was duly picked up, underwent vet and farrier care, refeeding and rehabilitation in Oklahoma and then came to the Red Bell Run Florida facility where she became fast friends with our big draft mule, Shelby Ann. At first, Emmie was very shy and avoided people as much as she could – and who could blame her? We’ll never know her full story, but after several months, she decided people weren’t so bad and she has proven to be one of the kindest, sweetest mules at the Sanctuary. Emmie is quite elderly now and has DSLD, a disease of the suspensory ligaments that unfortunately has no cure – but for now she is comfortable on appropriate doses of anti-inflammatory drugs. Her caretakers watch her closely and evaluate her every day to be sure she is not in pain. She has also developed asthma this last year, but is quite tolerant of her treatments which involve inhalers twice daily. So far, she is still enjoying a good quality of life with her friends, her hay, grain, and of course…treats!

She and Shelby Ann are the first greeters whenever visitors arrive at the Hilltop Barn. With their smaller friend, Penelope, a Haflinger cross pony with a somewhat checkered past as a “bucking” pony, the three friends enjoy their hay nets, communing with the other Hilltop residents and entertaining us with their friendship. We hope our sweet Miss. Emmie will be with us for along time to come!   

Emmie before RBR

Emmie Before

Lacey

Lacey

Lacey

Lacy

 

    Name: Lacey

    Type: Horse

    Color: Dark Bay & White Tobiano

    Markings: 4 Stockings

    Sex: Mare

    Birthday: 1/1/2012

 

The first picture we were sent of Lacey was heartbreaking. In it she stood, her blind companion dead at her feet, starved and deathly ill herself, with both strangles and rhinovirus, either of which could kill her. She had the defeated, hopeless look of an equine who is leaving this world behind. My heart just stopped. We immediately facilitated her rescue, and with the help of several equine lovers and our talented Oklahoma vet, Dr. Grace Owen, she miraculously survived. She endured a long stay at the vet clinic, during which time our friend Janelle visited Lacey daily. When it seemed there was no way Lacey could survive, Celine Myers of the Ark Watch Foundation suggested a damp cloth with a couple drops of peppermint oil on it be applied to her muzzle. Lacey loved this! Janelle would arrive and Lacey would walk over and put her muzzle into the cloth and just breathe. The peppermint oil helped relieve the congestion and seemed to offer some comfort. Lacey wouldn’t eat due to the abscesses from strangles so Janelle tempted her with oatmeal balls filled with Well-gel, a nutrition supplement. Lacey beat the odds and after months of rehab she was able to come to Red Bell Run. 

Today, the hope has returned to her eyes and she’s a bit mischievous! She had developed uveitis in her left eye which we watch carefully, but now lives happily with her friends at our Hilltop Barn, spending her days knowing she’ll never be hungry again. 

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Lacy before RBR

Lacey Before

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Lacy in pasture
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Shelby Ann

Shelby Ann

Shelby Ann

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    Name: Shelby Ann

    Type: Belgian Draft Mule

    Color: Flaxen Chestnut

    Markings: Star

    Sex: Molly

    Birthday: 12/22/1996

 

Shelby Ann is a huge Belgian Draft Molly Mule. Her story is riches to rags to riches again. It will make you sad, and angry, grateful and happy, all at once. She is the most magnificent being we’ve ever encountered, and all who meet her are captivated by her magic. 

Shelby Ann was owned by an elderly farmer and his wife. Sadly, they lost their farm to bankruptcy and their possessions, including Shelby Ann, whom they had owned and oved forever, had to be auctioned off. She was their working mule and her owner had plowed many fields with her over the years. You can see the white hairs where her harness rubbed her withers and a few small scars around her mouth from a  bit rubbing there. She was auctioned at a local sale barn in Oklahoma frequented by the meat men; kill buyers looking to make a quick buck off of the unlucky equines that fall into their grasp. Shelby Ann’s luck was bad – she was purchased by one of the most notorious kill buyers in the country. The elderly owners who had attended the auction were devastated. However – a hero stepped in. A young man sitting next to them saw their distress, listened to their story, and contacted the Circle of Friends Rescue Group in Oklahoma, a group of ladies who save equines, but do not have a farm. They knew the kill buyer, though, and persuaded him to let them buy Shelby Ann back. But then…where would she go?

That’s where Red Bell Run came in. Shelby Ann would come to the Sanctuary. She went to the Florida facility where Red Bell Run first started. When Shelby Ann arrived, she seemed to be in shock. Her entire world had been torn apart. She was in a strange place with strange people, and the worried look in her eyes told the story of her profound sadness and confusion. It took almost a year of love and caring and reassurance before that look faded from her beautiful brown eyes. Shelby Ann shares the deep, soulful eye of the whale…dark, bottomless, wise and knowing. You can read her life story in them. If you’re quite and be still, she will envelope you in that wisdom. It is a feeling she has shared with countless visitors now, and people feel peace in her presence. It is as though she takes your troubles and soothes them away. 

We always thought of Shelby Ann as special, but in Florida, on a hot, humid summer day, we found out just how special she was. A distraught mother called. She had an autistic child, a young girl who was non-verbal. She wanted to know if they could come to the farm and see the horses. Of course, we said yes. That is the first time we realized exactly how special Shelby Ann’s magic was. This gentle giant carefully lowered her head, and the young girl simply put her arms around Shelby Ann and they stood there. Just stood there for an hour or more…it seemed like forever and we all wished it could be forever. None of us approached. We just watched the magic happen.

Later, the mother called. Her daughter had remained calm all day, something that was a struggle most times, and that evening had even made a few sounds – the first in many months. When you see something like this, you can no longer deny that equines have a deeper connection to humans, especially ones in distress or who have special needs that we are unable to understand. Today, in the Hilltop Barn at the Sanctuary’s North Carolina farm, Shelby Ann is a favorite among the visitors. Some come to see Shelby Ann specifically. Her face is whiter now and she occasionally scares us with a minor health issue, but so far has recovered well. Recently, we realized that the years of pulling a plow have caused some arthritis that she needs a little help with. She and her friend Emmie, a beautiful red molly mule who is her best friend, along with their smaller sidekick, Penelope, a Haflinger cross pony, now laze their days away, sunning in their “sandbox” of river sand, being groomed and cossetted as they deserve, and greeting visitors.  

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When people come into her paddock Shelby Ann lowers that great head of hers (it’s the size of half the human body) and politely asks for her ears to be scratched. She seems to know, somehow, the people who come with troubles. How she knows, why this happens, we don’t know. It is one of the great mysteries – and great blessings – of this life. Equines are a gift; they don’t judge. They mirror our emotions and let us see our true selves and, in Shelby Ann’s case, it is as though she gives some form of absolution, understanding and ultimately a gentle peace to those who need it. People often just stand there quietly, touching her, and our Shelby Ann, the Queen of Red Bell Run, gently surrounds them with her magic. 

Shelby Ann with Gabeirl
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