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In Memory of Xander

January 01, 2007 – December 12, 2023

In February 2022, Red Bell Run participated in the rescue of a group of horses being severely neglected in Rutherford County. Our vet asked us to take the most severe cases. Xander, a magnificent (even in his emaciated state) black Friesian, was among them. He was starved and had a grossly swollen left hind leg. No animal should suffer from abuse like this, so we agreed to take Xander and four others.

Thanks to the dedication of our equine staff, wonderful vet techs and Dr. Emilie Setlakwe, Xander was refed to a healthy weight. His left hind leg was addressed which involved months of carefully cleaning and treating a long-standing skin infection. Proper hoof trimming improved his comfort, and Xander, who was a Labrador puppy in a horse body, took all of this with the grace and calm typical of his breed. Unfortunately, after several months, we discovered that Xander suffered from a condition called megaesophagus. This disease, found frequently in Friesians, causes a deterioration of the connective tissue in the esophagus which causes the horse to “choke” on his food because the esophagus cannot force the food into the stomach. Sadly, at this time there is no cure or even effective treatment. When we discovered that Xander suffered from this, we knew his time was limited, but we instituted the management measures recommended (hay up high in a small-holed hay net, grain “soup”, etc…), and monitored him closely. Signs of choke can be subtle. For most of the time, he was stable and happy, enjoying his pasture time and the company of his “ladies” at the Hilltop barn.
Xander began to have more “small episodes” of choking so we knew the disease was progressing. Yesterday afternoon, Xander had a choking episode which we couldn’t resolve. The danger is that this can lead to rupture of the esophagus or stomach which is extremely painful. After all that Xander had suffered, we were not going to let that happen to him. Our vet concurred that it was time to let Xander cross the Rainbow Bridge. Despite many broken hearts, we let him fly. Our thoughts are with Xander’s breeder who has always loved and supported him, all of our volunteers, staff members, and his many fans. He was truly magnificent and a credit to his breed. He will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him.



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