On September 24, at the request of the Days End Farm Horse Rescue located in Howard County, MD, members of the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team were dispatched to assist in the care of eight critically ill and neglected horses seized from an equine rescue group in West Virginia.
In late September, authorities served a search warrant to Mary O'Brien, founder of Hidden Meadows Equine Rescue in Martinsburg, WV, where more than 50 severely neglected equines were found living without access to food or water. Days End Farm Horse Rescue was contacted and accepted eight of the most critically ill horses, transporting them to the farm for emergency care. Unfortunately, one of the equines did not survive.
Kristen Limbert, Manager of Field Operations for the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team, is currently on the ground in Maryland with other ASPCA team members skilled in horse handling. "Our immediate goal is to help the Days End Farm Horse Rescue care for these neglected horses," says Kristen. "The staff here is very dedicated, but providing 'round the clock care is hard work—we are glad to provide them support."
The following entries are from a series of field reports from Kristen on the ground in Howard County.
Field Report 1
Tonight is long and cold—it's in the 50s and pouring rain. The horses must be fed every two hours, on the even hour. They can eat hay around the clock, but it is fed to them out of a bag with two-inch holes—this way, they must pick at it, eating very slowly.
Since they are so emaciated, ingesting any large amount of food at one time could be deadly for them. Since the horses require 24-hour monitoring, we are taking turns sleeping—a couple of hours each on a folding chair wrapped in horse blankets. We blanketed the horses as well. Healthy horses would be fine in this weather, but these seven have little fat to keep them warm—many are actually shivering, which I've never seen a horse do before.
Field Report 2
They are all such great horses, with amazing personalities—especially given all they have been through. I groomed them all today, and treated them for hoof infections. A few showed sensitivity to being brushed because they are so thin. Despite it all, I am continually surprised at how cooperative they are—there is no doubt they know we are here to help.
Two of our sickest horses, Zodiac and Yogi, especially understand that we are here for them. Zodiac fell down and did quite a bit of damage to his frail body, with cuts and bruises everywhere. He is now supported by an Anderson Sling—he simply isn't strong enough to hold himself up. His eyes are infected, too, and it's hard for him to keep them open. In spite of his poor health, he keeps on fighting to survive.
I have also become especially close with Yogi—a feisty mare who is just skin and bones. Throughout the day she spikes fevers, requiring alcohol baths to help bring them down. I have found myself working with both of these horses nearly all the time, as they require the most care. I am just so moved by their will to heal—and the trust they are beginning to show me.