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Thinking of Adopting a 30yo Belgian Draft Mare....

14520 Views 151 Replies 26 Participants Last post by  twixy79
Ok so I will try to make this short and sweet. I have never owned a horse. In NYC there aren't many horses around aside from Carriage horses and Police horses. I moved to rural Maine about 2 years ago, and even then, never dreamed of buying/adopting/fostering a horse. Actually, I thought that I was afraid of horses. But that is neither here nor there. A few days ago I read an article about a group of giant draft horses that were surrendered to MSPCA and they gave a link to petfinder. Petfinder... darn them. So I click the link and of course I found none of these giant horses, so I searched for draft horses think I'd find them just so I could see just how big "giant" was.

None of those horses have listings on petfinder yet as they are still being vetted. Lucky me. BUT I saw a posting for a 30 year old belgian draft mare who was surrendered when she was no longer useful on her working farm. She was a work horse her entire life, plowing, hay, lumber, but when she started getting arthritis in her hind legs she wasn't pulling her weight and her owner gave the rescue the choice of take her, or she will go to a horse auction for slaughter. Don't even get me started on how sad that makes me.

Anyway, I saw how sad and empty this horse looked. I know nothing about horses, but I think she is missing her purpose in life. She is in a pasture pen ALL day long with limited interaction as her foster has other animals to attend to. Needless to say I knew I needed to find a way to make this work. I don't have the space/barn at home to house her here. I have found a local facility about 5 miles away from home that is willing to board here despite her age. She would have her own 12x12 stall in a heated barn on a padded floor with a 120x100 pasture right at the door. There are no other horses in that barn at this time, so she would be all by herself.

The rescue has been open and honest about her arthritis, and has told me she requires bute before each farrier service. I also plan on talking to the vet when he comes out for the first visit (if I am approved) to see if starting her on some supplements would help any. They have told me that she could have a year, or maybe 5 if I am extremely lucky. I basically just want to give her a comfortable spot to spend her retirement (i have no plans on riding her) where she can get lots of love, and get a little spoiled.

Is there anyone out there that can give me some ideas on what I can look forward to with a 30 year old horse? I know I need to have the vet check her teeth, see when the last time they were floated was, to check her for cushings, and check the condition of hooves. Do horses have hooves, or feet? I guess I need
to do some more googling...

Anyway, any info or help that you guys can provide is greatly appreciated!
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@twixy79 my daughter cleans stalls at a barn and says the same thing. So many owners don't show up hardly at all. Others show up only if they have a lesson. My daughter is a college freshman and works 2 different jobs to help pay for school. Our horses are here at home and I do the stall cleaning and turn out. Still...... every single day she goes out to see her horse. Even it is just to give her a quick pat or a treat.

For some (and I am not judging) the cost of full board is very small since you know your horse is well cared for when you cannot be there. And it sounds like you have a great BO!
 

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Discussion Starter · #142 ·
@twixy79 my daughter cleans stalls at a barn and says the same thing. So many owners don't show up hardly at all. Others show up only if they have a lesson. My daughter is a college freshman and works 2 different jobs to help pay for school. Our horses are here at home and I do the stall cleaning and turn out. Still...... every single day she goes out to see her horse. Even it is just to give her a quick pat or a treat.

For some (and I am not judging) the cost of full board is very small since you know your horse is well cared for when you cannot be there. And it sounds like you have a great BO!
Carshon... I was really surprised at how little I see other owners there. I just assumed you make a big purchase, and put money into something, you want to see it grow. I know that sounds business-like... but that's the only way I could think to explain it. I work all day, and still, make sure I make it out to see him for at least an hour or two after work. My dogs can wait, they get to spend all night with me, and all day with my husband, since he works 2nd shift.... Even when we had terrible downpours, I was out there, up to my ankles in mud and who knows what else... making sure I got his thrush medication on, making sure he had fresh, dry hay, I put in some clean, dry bedding in the stall, and even used the sweat scraper to get some of the rain off of him. I get that horses exist in the wild without people tending to their every need, but hell, I want to make sure my boy is happy and healthy... even if that means I am the annoying, over-protective horse-mom.

We love our BO and she loves us (since I do most of the clean up because I have OCD) and she does give all of the horses a lot of individual attention. She also has a few people that come in and help her out with the heavy duty stuff. One guy comes when she goes on vacation, which, hopefully, she will since she is getting married on Saturday.... She has another who used to board her horse there (he/she has since passed) but her and the BO became such close friends she comes by to work with and ride the BOs personal horses... I can't really say anything negative about the people there. It just totally boggles my mind that out of all of the people who board there, I have only met 1 other person.... ONCE. I guess what we pay for is peace of mind. Well for some it is peace of mind. I still like to witness things for myself :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #143 ·
It's been a few days. It's been busy. So let's start with the wedding. The weather was dicey for a little bit so the BO decided to use classic cars to move guests. So no work for Duke. That's ok though. There will always be more work for him.

The last few days it's been pretty cool. At night it's already been getting down into the 40s. I have been pretty under the wether since the weekend so I didn't go see him on Monday. It's the first day since we have had him that I didn't go see him. I did stop to see him yesterday to make sure he had his meds and today was another vet. Today he got another adjustment, and some shots in his hocks and fetlock doe arthritis. The vet sedated him so that he could do the shots so it was the first time I have see. Duke sedated. I have to admit it was pretty comical to watch him go weak in the knees and catch himself.

Anyway I am hopeful that the objections and everything else we are doing for him will help him be more comfortable. I did notice that when I went back tonight he had a bit more pep in his step. Hopefully things are starting to look up for him.

The vet said his thrush is doing much better. And next time the farrier comes we should have her clean up some of the dead tissue he has. Last time she was here she couldn't do much with those feet since they were so sore, but they are doing and looking so much better.

Anyway, there isn't much that's new. We did give him a sponge bath on Sunday. We scrubbed all the dirt and grime off of him and as soon as we were done he went and rolled in mud. Go figure.

I did include some new photos from today. I'll try to get a new video this weekend once his shots kick in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #146 ·
It has been a crazy few weeks! I don't even have kids, but back to school season has been chaotic for us! So where did I leave off... Oh yeah, injections...

Duke ended up with 8 injections, 4 hock, 4 fetlock.. basically one on each side of the joint... on both legs. He was pretty stumbly the rest of that day from his light sedative, so we basically just went and checked on him to see that he was ok.

After 2 days, he was like a new horse. He still hasn't gotten up to a trot or gallop... but he is moving a lot faster, and easier. He is no longer leaning on that good leg, and even lets me pick up his rear left (the really arthritic one) to hoof pick and put on his thrush meds. As soon as his pain lessened, he became a different horse. A more stubborn horse. But that's ok. I enjoy a good challenge. When Duke decides he wants to go, he goes. I have been dragged down the dirt driveway while doing my un-coordinated jog/run/trip trying to keep up. He mostly heads straight for the grass, so I really should just let him go get his grass, and get it out of his system. But apparently I am as stubborn as he is.....

He had one pretty lousy day. We had rain all of last week and his pasture was pretty much nothing but slippery yucky mud. At some point, something clearly spooked him, and he tried to take off, lost his footing, and "tweaked" something in that rear left again. How do I know? Well aside from the fact that he had mud caked all over the front and back of that leg, there was a nearly 9" deep gouge, extending about 4 feet in the mud... Since Cassie (the pasture pal) has tiny, dainty little feet, is white and was clean as fresh snow, I know it wasn't her. So here I am, thinking that I wasted 700 bucks on this round of injections and its been like a week and he is already standing like a tripod again... I stalled him that night (locked him in for the first time ever) gave him lots of fresh hay, lots of fresh water and some extra grain and treats. I went by the next day and he was good as new (well as new as a 19-year-old work horse can be....)

My husband finally got the move to 1st shift, so now we are working the same hours. Duke has had the pleasure of both of us after work, which means we get to go for long walks, and there are more treats to be had (since there are more pockets). We have been walking up and down the long dirt driveway in preparation for getting him onto the horse trail. The BO has 2 horses that she frequently let's graze on her front lawn, so Duke is getting used to seeing other horses doing their own thing, while he focuses on his job, which is really just walking. Luckily both of those horses are special needs and cant take off after us for treats, but we don't tell Duke that... We just let him think they are regular, running, stampeding horses.... Confidence booster, right?


We have also had a lot more time to work with him in the round pen. We have been working with him on walking (no lead) next to us, stopping/standing when commanded to, and picking up those heavy hooves! The hooves is so far, the hardest part. I sometimes think he is hard of hearing when I am working with his back legs. He will usually pick up the front for me and hold them up for a few seconds when asked, however the back legs I usually have to turn around and almost yell at him before he realizes I am talking to him. Or maybe he is a typical male, and ignoring me... Both are real possibilities.

We are kinda bummed because we found out the owner of the horse that Duke has been sharing his pasture with is trying to rehome her. Duke seems to really enjoy her company and I hate for him to become lonely again. I think its important for him to be with a submissive male, or female. He needs to build his confidence up around other horses. Something that we have been trying to work on, but has been difficult since most of the horses there have been in the pasture with one another for YEARS....

Anyway once I get this stupid app downloaded, I will put up a few newer pictures!
 

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Discussion Starter · #149 ·
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Thank you for the update! sorry to hear about the gash
Oooo... the gash wasn't on him... sorry if i made that confusing. it was in the mud! Luckily, he was just dirty and gimpy. He is all better now, and I filled in the hole and raked everything level, which will really only last unitl we have the next rain storm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #150 ·
Duke Update!
Farrier came out on Saturday. Said that his hooves are looking great. Thrush is totally gone, and she suggested using Thrush Buster for a few more weeks to dry everything out. Duke also did MUCH better this time with her. She was actually able to do all 4 hooves with very little fight from him. She also trimmed his right left frog down since she was unable to do much on that leg last time. All 4 hooves are level, with nice clean, healthy frogs, and no thrush!

We have been absolutely ANAL about keeping his stall and paddock clean. There isn't much I can do about the mud, but I can at least scoop poop and make sure there's lots of fresh dry hay and lots of ice cold water. We are going to try to get new pics this week. Our schedules have both been so hectic.

On another note, we are going to look at a property tomorrow. It is an old 1900s farmhouse with 24 acres. It already has a pasture set up along the driveway, and the potential for pastures in several other areas (if we decided to clear out the woods). The front pasture already has a well (not sure if it works though) and it has a dog run next to the garage as well. The price is a little steep since the house needs a lot of work, but we are excited about the potential of having our own little slice of heaven and being able to have Duke "home" with us all the time.
 

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@twixy79 what an awesome update! No Thrush - good for you for being diligent. Having a horse at home is wonderful but has its pitfalls too. No helpful Barn Owner for advice etc - and worst of all no social life when you need to go out of town or away for the evening. Food for thought- but I do love having my horses at home. good Luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #152 ·
@carshon, thanks! keeping up with, and trying to get ahead of the thrushy feet took us 6 weeks of treatment. 4 weeks of daily treatment. 2 weeks of every other day. on top of that, i made sure that his stall and pasture were as clean as humanly possible.
We are really lucky to have such a wonderful BO. But at the same time, it'd be nice to be able to know the quality of care he was getting. I am a perfectionist. When I am there now, I am constantly cleaning up after him and his pasture mate. Not because the BO doesn't, but because if I see poop, I feel compelled to scoop it. I wouldn't want to step in it, and I don't want the horses to step in it. yeah yeah yeah, I know its natural, and it happens. But, well, like I said, I am a perfectionist. It'd be nice to be able to care for him at home, especially since I spend SOOOOO much of my time with him anyway. It has been difficult balancing my Duke time, with spending time with our other pets. The home has enough pasture land where we can let him graze some, and let some other fields grow for hay. Plus, with 24 acres, we can clear as much of the timber as we want for more and more pasture.

As far as no social life, we live in rural Maine. With the exception of our occasional "date night" at the movies or going out to dinner, we aren't very social. Ironically enough, our pet sitter to currently watches our heathens cares for horses as well. Actually, she is more of a horse person than a dog person! Plus, I have a few friends that I'd be comfortable letting stay at my house and watch Duke + the pack when we go away. I have made a great friend from the barn. A friend of the BO who loves horses, but just cannot afford one. The BO lets her ride her own personal horses, and she has asked me if I mind if she goes down and spends time with Duke. Duke never turns down attention, grooming, food or treats, so of course, I said yes. Plus I have seen the way she is, and her kids are with horses. They are much more natural around them than my husband or I. So I'd trust her or her kids as well.

Ironically enough, we have our cruise coming up in November, right after Thanksgiving. We are having the pet sitter watch our "home" pets, and my barn friend will be checking up on, and loving on Duke while we are away. I try to get all my bases covered well in advance.
 
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