Markings: Blaze, 2 stockings, sock
Pops was seized as part of a law enforcement abuse case that was one of the most horrific we’ve ever seen. Along with over two dozen other equines, he was seized from a place that was literally a graveyard for unfortunate equines. The person responsible for this has been charged with felony animal abuse.
Our vet, who was involved in having the horses seized, asked Red Bell Run to take Pops in as part of a group of four critically ill equines, because she felt he was so critically starved that he would need her constant attention. That could best be done at Red Bell Run since she is here several days a week caring for our other equines.
Pop’s condition when he came to Red Bell Run was heartbreaking. He was literally a skeleton covered with hair. There is a scale that veterinarians use to determine an equine’s body condition. A score of ‘1’ means that the horse is skeletal with no underlying fat and is in danger of dying from starvation. Pops was a score of ‘1’ when he came to us. Pops was so starved that the area surrounding his heart didn’t have enough fat or muscle to hold the heart properly in place. This is why many starvation cases like Pops have severe heart murmurs. Sometimes with proper diet, these heart murmurs resolve – and sometimes they don’t. We were extremely careful with Pops’ diet and today the heart murmur is barely discernable although his heart muscle probably sustained some damage. The body feeds on itself (including muscles like the heart) when there is no other source of nutrition.
As much as we wanted to just give Pops as much hay and Senior feed as he wanted, we couldn’t. Suddenly feeding a starved animal a lot of food can kill them because it causes a cascade of events that can shut down their organs. The body has to get used to having food again – and that means 6 to 8 small meals a day, very gradually increasing the amount of food each time until they have a chance to recover and begin processing nutrients properly. I will tell you that it is one of the most heartbreaking parts of rescue to have a starved animal, begging for more food and knowing that you have to deny them because you could kill them. Pops endured six weeks of slowly building up his tolerance for food. Now he is happily munching on hay, fresh grass and Senior feed to his heart’s content!
In addition, Pops was suffering from a severe case of rain rot, an infection of the skin caused by lack of nutrition and care with no protection from the elements. The condition can be extremely painful to treat because the fungus wraps around the hair shaft. In Pops’ case this meant hours of separating the small hairs from the sticky fungus, washing him with special shampoo and gently removing what we could so that his skin had a chance to heal. He was always a gentleman about it, and today has a beautiful shiny coat.
Along with the rest of his body, Pops’ hooves were infected. He was so weak, though, that we couldn’t lift a foot to treat the infection because he would fall down. Gradually, over a period of several weeks we were able to treat his feet as he became strong enough to pick them up for us. The black, smelly infection is finally gone and Pops now has his feet trimmed every six weeks and we keep a careful eye to make sure the infection doesn’t return.
This is what we help equines do – overcome the neglect and abuse that they endure through no fault of their own. From a Body Condition Score of ‘1’, so weak he couldn’t pick up a foot to have his hooves cleaned, to a gorgeous chestnut Quarter Horse who is eager to greet visitors and happy for attention, Pops has shown that with help, these beautiful animals are survivors.