Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hitting the trail at Spenceville.

Aurora and I took a trail ride at Spenceville Wildlife Preserve. The Epic Journey as Aurora calls it, started at 8 am at BITS to load up Emmy. Emmy loads herself on any kind of trailer and would probably drive if she could, so that part was easy. Needing a new battery for my truck, getting lost (there are no signs as we were told there should be) and getting directions such as "turn where the road turns" and several roads named Spenceville Road didn't make it easy to find. We finally arrived as the trails and although it was incredibly hot we did enjoy the peace and quiet and a nice cool dip. We did not see much in the way of wildlife , unless you count the red dun hippo. Emmy we have decided was a hippo in another life, as she will put her whole head under the water and blow bubbles out her nose as well as graze underwater.

Aurora's Arab had never crossed a creek before and he was very brave and jumped right in. In fact he has decided that cool creeks are much better than hot trails anyday. He is a great trail horse who can really step out  and now he can add creeks to his list of accomplishments.

All in all , it was fun to go riding. The horses were absolutely perfect and it beats a day stuck behind the computer working or in front of a TV anytime.

Emmy jumped in before we could even get her leadrope on .

The Red Dun Hippo- the only wildlife we spotted other than a squirrel

Aurora and her cute Arab Blaze

Emmy and me

Guess who LOVES creeks now?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Bale Out Calendar

 Show off your horse and help a fellow horseperson in need!
BITS is having a calendar contest to raise money for an emergency hay and feed bank for horseowners in  financial crisis. If we can help a horseowner through a tough time that keeps one more horse in a home. Our hope is to help horses before they end up in rescues or worse. The calendar will be titled..

Get Back In The Saddle America!
Our hope is to rebuild the horse community and economy by getting people back in the saddle, keeping horses in homes and getting more horses and riders exposed to different horse activities. Show off your horse in red white and blue, take a picture of your horse in a beautiful American landscape, send a picture of your horse under the stars and stripes.  You get the idea now go get the camera! One of these horses will be the cover model is it yours?

Every person entering gets a copy of the calendar and a chance to get your horse featured on a calendar.
Show off your horse , help feed a hungry horse and keep one more horse in a home and get bragging rights!

You can read more about BITS and the calendar contest on our website:
or below to enter

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Update from the Homefront

On Monday, Deb took Repo back down to UCDavis Vet Hospital to do a re-check on his eye.

Apparently Deb and I are really good at rehab since the whole staff was amazed at his recovery. The ophthalmologist said most times owners take horses home who need meds every 2-4 hours round the clock they come back and look worse.

Deb's dedication to Repo paid off. Poor thing she slept on the couch and put most of her own life on hold to make sure Repo made a full recovery. Neither of us could stomach the fact that such a young and promising horse could loose his sight.

Here is how it looks two weeks later...

So now that the Repo eye drama has subsided, we are back to setting up the Low Cost Euthanasia Clinics.
3 more vets have signed up to donate their time along with another livestock removal company. We are on our way to being able to provide low cost clinics in various locations throughout Northern California. We are confident that by taking this service to areas where there is a large cost to euthanize we will be able to reach those who really need this service. Please help us spread the word that help is available!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Can you help?

BITS is here to help desperate horseowners, so when this can across our email we thought it appropriate to send out. If you know of anyone who might be able to help this mustange out please contact his owner. If you know of anyone who might be willing to sponser this mustange to live with BITS until his owner returns from Afganistan or can be re-homed please have them contact us at

PLEASE cross post wherever appropriate!

Lucky is a 19 year old sorrel BLM mustang gelding. He is owned by Thomas Glover in the north Reno area. Thomas is a National Guardsman who has just been called up and is being sent to Afghanistan.
Thomas will be unable to board Lucky while he is deployed so he needs to find either a temporary or permanent home for the horse. Otherwise he will have to consign Lucky to a livestock dealer when he has to ship out, which he clearly does not want to do.

Lucky can be ridden, stands for the farrier and trailers. Tom will be happy to trailer Lucky to anyone in the region who could take him.

Let's not send Tom to serve our country in Afghanistan worrying about what will happen to his horse. If you can take Lucky or provide Foster Care until he can be placed or until Tom returns.
Please call Tom at 775-997-4545.

On another note, thanks for the kind words on We will do our best to make you proud!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Repo and the EYE

So Deb has been up every 3 hours, walking to the barn in the dark to deliver Repo his eye meds. I know we have promised pictures for awhile, so finally they are here. Here is Deb as the sun rises giving Repo his dose of 4 liquid eye meds and Banamine.
Way way too scary of a picture.

Of course he had to tear out a part of the catheter and needed a visit from the vet to fix the missing pieces and adjust the eye piece. Repo is such a good patient, he is getting a little fussy after the week of medication; however, he remains he great self, calm and ready for anything. 
We wish we had pictures from when the eye first became infected, but here is what it looks like today, about 50% healed and 100% bettter! Keep Deb in your prayers, she has taken on this huge task of medicating Repo every 4 hours and even every 2 hours yesterday to make up for the tear in his line.

Poor guy, he really wants to make his way to the pasture on run with his buddies. I doubt we will be able to coax him into a stall again anytime soon.
It's looking better everyday, and tomorrow morning he is going back to UC Davis for his follow up exam; hopefully everything checks out okay.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Great News!

Three veterinarians from the Livermore area returned our calls today, and every one of them is interested in donating time to our Euthanasia Clinic. We hope to have everything worked out and ready to go for an October 25th date. The vets are also interested in doing low cost vaccination and gelding clinics! We are so excited to be able to offer these programs to struggling horse owners. For more information on our clinic please click here.
BITS wants to stay proavtive and try to help horses and their owners before they become desperate. If you know of anyone that might benifit from our clinic, or might be willing to donate, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are here to help the horses! Click here to donate!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

We are so proud of our Lil Bit

Lil Bit is coming along soooo well.
We are so proud of the improvements he has made.
Notice no more goat hairs on his face?
He still has a long way to go, but he is starting to socialize well with the other horses (something he did not do well when he got here), and is allowing us to touch him more and more without fear.
He is pictured here with his mate, Tonka.
He is set to have another lesson with Erin Murphy of Equestrian Partners Inc next week. He still has a scratching issue, which we belive is due to fungus so his daily bath with anti-fungal wash continues!
Deb and I took another trip to UC Davis Vet Center today. Anyone who has dealt with a melting ulcer of the eye will know what we have been through. So not only did I have to put Handsome Jack down on Saturday, after the long morning Deb and I headed out to Davis to take care of her horse Repo's eye. The whole story with gruesome pictures and the medication schedule tomorrow. BITS wants to know, did you ride your horse today?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Time to Say Goodbye

As many horse owners know, having to put our trusty steads down is one of the hardest decisions we make as horse owners. Saturday was a doosie for the Back in the Saddle founders. "Handsome Jack", was a rescue horse I adopted the day after mothers day this year. He came to the rescue where I saw him with a body score of 1 and a tired look on his face. I knew Jack had to come home with me, whether he would ever be a great ride or not. He had been left to die in a pasture with his mate, Pike,the least I could do was take him home and try to make it up to him.He needed me- I knew that.
So he came home and he got custom mash made by his little girl, and lots of love and attention. He was 25 year old and quite large. When my vet came out two weeks ago to winterize my herd she said the words I knew I needed to hear. "Jamie, you did a great job rehabbing him- he really looks great. But I have to tell you that I think this winter is going to be really hard on him and the more weight he gains the more uncomfortable his hind end gets". So there it is. I had to say goodbye to my Handsome Jack Saturday morning. Thank god for Deb, she held him when it was time while I sat and cried on the front deck. This is his last picture:
Good Bye Handsome Jack, we will miss you!

In honor of Jack and those oldies but goodies like him, Back in the Saddle is starting a low cost euthanasia clinic. We hope to allow other horse owners of seniors and uncomfortable horses allow their beloveds to pass quietly and with peace. When I called to get an estimate on putting Jack down I was shocked. It was going to cost around $300 for vet and rendering fees. I know how tight my budget is right now and am thankful that I was able to afford it. But that left us thinking, what if we could not afford it? What happens to all the elderly arthritic horses who's owners are not able to afford their peaceful passing?

We are almost there, Janice Pemental has already taken care of the rendering and place to hold our clinic, so now all we need is a vet to donate their time. If you have questions or want to help, please email me at or click here. We are asking for donations for this program, we would like to be able to cover any cost the owners can not.

Our first clinic will be held in Livermore, where we will be able to reach many horse owners in need of some assistance. Back in the Saddle wants to help all horse owners, and we feel that this another way to do so. Please help us help them!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Horse Rescues 101 - Wordy but worth it.

Most people think that horse rescues are noble, big-hearted people who have dedicated their lives to help horses . Well, sadly that is not always the case and considering the recent stories on the news as well as the countless email groups, blogs and internet forums dedicated to reporting about the fraudulent or neglectful horse rescues . I would have to say finding a good rescue is not as easy as you would think. In fact although the original plan was to start a horse rescue , we at BITS decided not to jump so quickly on the rescue bandwagon but to work pro-actively rather than retroactively to horse neglect.

We will take in horses that cannot be quickly re-homed and those horses will be accepted into the BITS 4R program ( Rehabilitation,Re-conditioning, Re-training and Re-homing.) However we will not be bringing horses into this program until we have the adequate vet and training funds to assure the program is successful, and does not rely day to day off of donated money . Our standards are non-negotiable when it comes to horses. While we applaud the rescues who do take great care of the horses entrusted to them , it is far too common for rescues to cut corners for various reasons at the facility while posting happy stories on the internet.

Our focus at BITS will mainly be on taking a new approach to helping horses and horse owners. While not as emotionally stirring as pictures and stories of starved horses , we do feel that our programs will help prevent the neglect for many horses for a longer period of time. Simply put we feel that EDUCATION for horse and horse owners is the long-term approach to the unwanted or neglected horse problems .

Rather than dwell on all the endless reports or even our many personal experiences about fraudulent horse rescues or horses being neglected , starved , suffering and worse in the hands of horse rescues , lets talk about what makes a good horse rescue.

Any rescue should be following or exceeding the guidelines for horse rescues written by the American Association of Equine Practitioners. Here is a link to the document it is a fantastic resource for any horse owner and a must read for anyone in rescue. The guidelines have a checklist of things to help any donor or visitor evaluate a rescue as well. While animal rescues may be operated in a perfectly ethical and legal manner, many are not and usually the person who has sent their horse to the rescue does not realize it until it is too late.The BITS staff actually feel that these guidelines should be strict policies and rules of all rescues and hope someday they will. AAEP Rescue and Retirement Guidelines

The following BOLDED paragraphs are excerpts from the AAEP guidelines . The first section listed seems to sum it up very well .

Ultimately, the best indicators of proper management of an equine rescue/
retirement facility are the physical and emotional health of the horses and the overall improvement in horses previously suffering from disease, trauma or neglect. Unless
there is a medical explanation, all horses should regain and maintain an acceptable state of health and well-being with proper care.
Allowing rescued horses to deteriorate due to inadequate care, resources or space
is no favor to them and can progress to the point of cruelty. Those who take in very
animal, regardless of their ability to provide care or refusal to recognize when an
animal is suffering, are hoarders, not rescuers. All rescue and retirement organizations should periodically reevaluate their principles, practices, capabilities and goals with the help of objective, knowledgeable outsiders, such as their equine veterinarian.

**Tax exemption status 501 c3 has nothing to do with the type of care provided. The IRS does not evaluate horse rescues. In fact there is no regulation of horse rescues other than the local Animal Control who often have no experience or training with horses.
**We highly recommend that anyone donating to a horse rescue facility or surrendering a horse to a horse rescue visit in person and really check things out.

Here is a list of questions to ask and things to look for when visiting the facility or even just checking the website out. All photos below were taken at rescue facilities that have been cited or shut down. Please understand that BITS does not believe that all rescues operate this way, we are just interested in educating supporters that this has, does and will continue to happen until there are monitored guidelines for rescues.

1.Ask how long a horse has been there? When looking at horses a lot will depend on the horse's condition when it came in and underlying medical conditions but if the horse has been there for more than a few months , has lost weight or condition or still looks like a severely neglected horse, in most cases it's because -IT IS. Horses can suffer from neglect at rescues.

2. Clean and full water troughs. No algae , feces or empty water containers.

3.Is there enough and adequate shelter from sun and bad weather as well as stalls for horses that need to be contained while injured or ill?

4. Is it overcrowded for the size of the facility? Horses are not dogs or cats and need room to move around. Horses are susceptible to parasites, overcrowded conditions , uncleaned pens and animals that graze or eat from the ground is a recipe for a parasite infestation. Horses will fight , particularly over food and water when overcrowded serious or even deadly injuries can result.
As the AAEP states;hoarding is not rescue.

5. What is their quarantine program like? Would you believe there are rescues who do no quarantine at all ? Horses who are new or ill should be kept in quarantine and the quarantine area must be separate from other horses. Adopters should be very careful that they do not take a horse that has not been properly quarantined and expose other horses to diseases.

6. Are older, or weaker horses kept with younger or healthy ones? Weaker horses will not get their fair share of food in a herd situation.

7. What is their worming program , farrier schedule , shots, feeding schedule including types of feed ? These are real basic needs if there is no documentation on when the horse had shots wormer or it's teeth or hooves done- you can probably bet that it's because it has not been done. Always get an outside vet check on any horse from rescue or private party.

8. Do they provide more than just food, water and shelter? Are the horses groomed? Do they know the horse's personality or training? Every horse should be evaluated thoroughly if it is up for adoption. No excuses.

9.Who is running the horse rescue? Are they knowledgeable horse people? Do they have a Board of Directors and staff that are knowledgeable horse people? Some common factors among rescues that have gone bad are ; operators who rely on the rescue for their income, absent or unknowledgable about horses Board of Director members, relying on volunteers and no real staff taking in far too many horses than the on site people could possibly care for properly.

10.Is the rescue truly evaluating the potential adopter and where the horse will go and are they following up with the horses they have adopted out?

11. Is the rescue ran with a standard of ethics? Many times rescues will charge an owner of a surrendered horse a fee to “take it off their hands” and then turn around and charge the adopting family a fee. The rescue may even take the animal from the adopting family after a certain period of time, but never refund the money to the adopting family, again finding a new adopting family and take another sum of cash from them.

Again we cannot stress enough how important it is that you know exactly what type of rescue you support and the only way to know for sure is to visit the facility yourself , ask questions and be aware that calling themselves a rescue does not make them a true rescue. Just because the word “rescue” or “humane” appears in the name of the organization does not mean that they will follow through in taking care of the animal.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

More on Lil Bit's Makeover

So sorry for the long delay in posts. It has been a busy few weeks here at Back in the Saddle Project. We getting great response on our project ideas and are heading down to meet with a few other non-profits in the area to see if we might be able to do some good together! We are gearing up to kick off our first month of clinics, events and fundraisers in October, so keep a watch on the "Coming in October" section at

So Lil Bit is still undergoing his transformation, below are pictures from his dental and nasal flush from the other day...
It all started out with a walk with his girl. Miss Ruby Jean is Lil Bits favorite person, I think it is because they are about the same size.

Once the vet arrived she did a full exam on him. I was worried about his eyes, they have a lot of discharge. As you can see his left eye lid was torn and as far as we can tell, not stitched back properly allowing debris to come. He wears a fly mask to help keep debris out.

Once the exam was over it was time to get the little guys teeth taken care of. Anyone tried to do a dental on a mini lately? The flush begins..

He was such a good boy. I wish you could see how scared this little guy is- it was amazing at how well he trusted us during this procedure.

Now time to get the dental contraption on the sleepy minis head..

I had to tell him how much we loved him, and assure him that we were here for him

He was relaxed and the dental began

Then his girl came around the corner, and said "What you doing to my mini horse?"

Then it was time for the nasal flush.

His was totally blocked on his right side and surprisingly enough the left side, with the half lid, was totally fine. Lots of gross stuff came out, and hopefully it will help with the discharge
As you can tell, we love this little guy. He is getting better and better everyday. His wormy itch is gone and his coat is finally showing signs of being healthy. Tomorrow I will post his haircut- we took out the clippers while he was still sleepy, and went for it. Check back and see how CUTE he is now.