Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A horse community coming together

Monday was a hard day. As many of you know BITS has been raising money to help Gina, a 29 year-old Rocky Mountain mare with severe laminitis. Her owners had come to the conclusion that no more could be done to ease her pain and that her time had come. After much heartache they realized that they could not afford to lay her rest.
 A caring friend offered to help find a solution to their problem and was able to find our low cost euthanasia clinic on-line via Google. Unfortunately, she found our information just days after our June 17th clinic. Once Gina's condition was made know to us we knew we could not turn our back on this poor gal and her owner. Thankfully, BITS has an amazing team of generous vets and we were able to secure Dr. Jeske for Monday. This gave Gina and her friends time to say goodbye and they took every opportunity to spoil her rotten. Gina's last days on earth were filled with grass grazing, baths and lots of treats.
As you can see from these photo's Gina's hooves had been casted to try an alleviate her pain caused by laminitis. Her hooves would gently rock with each step.
There was also a large growth on her right leg
as well as many body sores from her constant laying down.
It is obvious that even a short trip in the trailer to our Elk Grove clinic would have been extremely hard on Gina. BITS is grateful to Naturally Cowgirl, Horses, Hope & Healing, the friends at Craigmont Equestrian Center as well Kat, a very dear friend of hers, for their generous donations which allowed for Gina to pass on peacefully at her home.
On a brighter note, our trip to Sacramento for Gina resulted in our meeting up with Horses, Hope &Healing a youth program in the Sacramento area. Tiffany Oreglia, founder, was available to show us around, introduce us to the horses in her program as well as explain her organization and the great work they are doing for the underprivileged youth in the area. Her program includes gang intervention and education, homework assistance and tutoring, teaching leadership skills, safe after-school and week-end activities as well as giving the children the opportunity to participate in horse related competitions.We cannot wait to meet up with her again!
We are also extremely excited; Kate, Gina’s friend, has pledged to be our first monthly Hay Bank donor! With these funds BITS is able to help support and feed horses of responsible owners who have come on hard times. When life throws us a curve ball we need our horses more than ever. Their friendship and trust is what gets us through on our hardest days. Please consider becoming a donor as well, and help keep a horse in it’s loving home during job loss, illness, military duty and family displacement. Together we can make a difference in the lives of our fellow horse lovers.
We hope everyone is enjoying this great riding weather and we wish you all a great 4th of July!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

June 17th Euthanasia Clinic

On June 17th, BITS held it's 3rd Low Cost Euthanasia Clinic. We had only 6 horses this month which is 5 less than our last clinic. We are hoping the drop in numbers is a indication that horse owners are doing better during these summer months. Euthanasia is a last resort, it used when nothing else will keep a horse safe, healthy and pain free. We hope that by offering these low cost clinics that we are keeping horses out of horribly uncomfortable and dangerous situations.

BITS had a double whammy when it came to passing of two "first horses". Mandalay, was a 26 year old Arabian show horse who had made it to Arizona 10 times. He was retired from his career and has spent his last 5 years being the first horse to a lovely little girl. The condition of Mandalay showed how much he was loved and adored. His girl had taken just as good of care of him over the years as he had her. They were best friends and he had the charm to prove it.
Putting Mandalay down was not an easy decision for his owner, and as a single mom of two and an employee of a county agency that is being shut down, she was grateful that we were able to give her the option to do what was right by a horse that had given her family so much. Mandalay's girl was there and was able to sit with him long after he was gone. She was also able to take a piece of him home with her since the family made a mold of his hoof as a keepsake and a way to remember a first horse who was worthy of all the tears his girl shed in his honor.
Our clinic is a compassionate one, we are happy to allow horse owners the opportunity to stay with their horses until the end, we are also happy to take on whatever part of the process they feel they can not handle. Our goal with the euthanasia clinics is not only to help relieve the suffering of horses but also to aid horse owners in the process. It is one thing to have to make the decision to put a loved horse down, it is quite another to be unable to afford to do. We know that those who come to us for help as doing so by putting aside their pride and doing so for the best interest of their horse. At our clinics we begin to build a friendship based on a common bond. We are all here to help the horses and our compasion for one another is evident in the sharing of the hoof compound used by Mandalay's owners.

Danskin was a 26 year old Arab mare, a first horse that was sold 17 years ago. She was recently reunited her with her first "girl" who now had a "girl" of her own. She was older but still the same old horse with the same old babysitter instinct. Unfortunately, it was not long before she showed signs of fast growing tumors all over her body. Her first girl was hoping to spend a few final years with her but after the tumors showed their aggressive side, she made the decision to put her to rest before the pain got any worse.
On top of all the sorrow she was laid off. BITS was able to take away the finaicial burden and allow her to lay Danskin to rest with her old girl and her new girl by her side. After she was gone, her "girls" were able to make a print of her hoof to take home, thanks to the generosity of Mandaly's "girls".
Mooley, a blind 32 year old gelding, and his seeing eyes companion, 34 year old Avalon, were laid to rest. These two older gentlemen had worked on the pack trail together for over a decade. After Mooley lost his sight Avalon led him around daily and they were able to retire to pasture together for the last 6 years, thanks to a local rescue. This last winter left it's mark on these two old men and everything about them was saying "it is time to go". They were laid to rest side by side and now live together pain free. Many horse rescues are functioning on limited funds. The average donation base has decreased by 20% with the recent economy. BITS is proud help others who have the same passion to help horses. If our low cost clinics can help save rescue funds, funds that can be used on vaccinations, training and medical expenses for horses in need, then we feel that everyone benefits.

Two other horses, a older TB mare named Big Momma and a BLM mustang, were also laid to rest. Big Momma had lost all use of her incisors and was unable to process her food. The BLM mustang was untrained and aggressive to humans, she was deemed unadoptable by the rescue and brought to our clinic as a last resort. With the amount of horses looking for homes in a time when many land owners are unable to afford them, rescues are having to make hard decisions when it comes to the horses who have potential to be re-homed and those who are simply unwanted. Limited funds and growing numbers of abandoned horses make it obvious that we cannot rescue ourselves out of the unwanted horse epidemic. We must take pro-active measures such as proper breeding regiments, increasing the number of low cost castration clinics, and educating new horse owners on responsible horse ownership.

As many of you know the average cost to euthanize and render a horse is $500 which many horse owners are unable to afford, which is why we are coordinating these clinics. I have heard "if they can't afford the cost then they should not have horses" too many times. I would like to ask everyone to take moment to walk in the shoes of a horse owner who after 15 years of working for the same employer has just been laid off. For 15 years you have been able to make your house payment, trim and shoe your horses regularly, send your children to horse to camp and team pen every Saturday night. Now you are faced with making a mortgage payment on unemployment benefits, canceling Dish Network and selling off extra vehicles. You may be faced with the cost of $500-$1000 a month payment on Cobra benefits so your children have health insurance. You may also have to take a look in your pasture and sell some of your livestock, only to find that many of your horses are not worth money on the current horse market. An older lame gelding who totes your young children around on the property may be worth their weight in gold to you, but realistically in this horse market is worth "free". With no monetary value, we are unable to guarantee our older horses a safe place. Many of our young horses, even those with great bloodlines, are fetching a low percentage of what they are really worth. What is a horse owner to do?? They may no longer be able afford a horse that they could rightly pay for 3 months ago, but what options do they have today? The answer...very few.

Please keep an open mind, BITS has set up low cost gelding clinics to help offset the cost of castration for stallions helping to reduce the number of foals, we have a hay bank available to aid in the feeding of horses whose owners are under financial crisis and we have the euthanasia clinics to help end the suffering of horses at a cost their owners can afford. We are here to help anyway we can and with your donations we can help all those who walk into our barn.