By SANDY BARNOSKY
The Pet Lady
Lady, a 12-year-old mare, was underweight and suffering from a painful deformed hoof when Brenda Lewis first saw her standing in a paddock, knee-deep in mud. Scars covered her back where she had been beaten. Lewisâ€™s heart went out to her, and she struggled to come up with enough money to buy the frightened horse. This was her first rescued horse but not to be the last.
Years later, after raising her children, she and Shannon Edgar, owner of the barn where Lady was boarded, heard about some beautiful horses that would be going for slaughter at the Sugarcreek horse auction. Shannon had chosen a horse to buy, but when they arrived to pick him up they also found Chance. Standing alone in a field where he was left to die, he was 400 pounds underweight and foundered, with abscesses on all four feet. He was in such pain he couldnâ€™t move and couldnâ€™t be sold to slaughter because he wouldnâ€™t have made the trip to auction, Lewis said, adding, â€œI looked into his eyes and thought â€” this horse deserves another chance.â€
And so Lewis and Edgar founded Another Chance Equine Rescue.
Because Chanceâ€™s body was so shut down, the vet advised them to feed him small amounts of food and put electrolytes in his water. If he made it 10 days, he probably would live. Two weeks later, he began to move his head from the water bucket to the feed in the stall, Lewis said. Finally he swung his tail and started to look interested in what was going on.
To combat the abscesses, they soaked his feet, and four people held him up for the farrier to examine his hooves. His soles were the consistency of Styrofoam due to neglect, and it was found that his shoes had been nailed directly into his soles. Lame for more than a year, today he works with a trainer and is a beautiful, happy horse. All through Chanceâ€™s recovery, people in the barn fell in love with him and helped care for him, Lewis said, so volunteers were recruited.
Laurie Constantine, a registered nurse taking riding lessons, joined the organization when Ruby, a horse with a gaping leg wound was rescued. After several weeks of debriding and medication, the wound healed, and Ruby was adopted.
Knowing they could fix a wound like Rubyâ€™s, they took in Buddy, injured in a barbed wire accident two years before they rescued him. Open wounds on his cannon bone and inner leg had never healed, and his leg was swollen more than twice its normal size. He dragged it as dead weight, but after four months of loving care, the wound healed, and they discovered he was like a mischievous toddler, always getting into things. Heâ€™d clear a table of supplies with a swing of his head, knock over training cones and bales of hay. But even with his impish nature he found a perfect home.
Volunteers from all walks of life and various stages of horse experience are welcome to help out at A.C.E. Volunteering is a great way to learn about the ground work of horse care, Marie Shamberger said.
â€œWe learn how to walk them, what to expect from them, how to correct them and teach them manners,â€ she said. â€œIâ€™ve learned a lot about horses while also being able to help out and give back.â€
Due to her impeccable barn management, Cheryl Rourke, an experienced horse person, is called their â€œbarn angel.â€ She helps with training and mentions their horses have been through severe issues, so prospective adopters must understand the needs of the available horses. They must have some knowledge of horse ownership and pass approval of the board. Leasing a horse is an option if an adopter is interested in a horse but wants time to get to know it better.
Their most incredible adoption story is about a white horse named Ghost who had gone blind due to repeated blows to the head with a 2-by-4. Underweight, injured and left outdoors in a blizzard, he was rescued and renamed Casper.
He was posted on the A.C.E. Web site with little hope that anyone would adopt a blind horse, but they received a call from a woman who said Casper looked like a horse she once had many years ago named Ghost. The reunion was a sweet one, and she took Casper home.
Horses that suffer emotional abuse are harder to treat than physical injuries. Theyâ€™re spoiled with tenderness, understanding and caring, and eventually they begin to trust humans again. The group raises funds by bake sales, garage sales and at horse shows, with the next one held on June 21 at Achinâ€™ Acres in Hinckley Township.
Horse rescue is expensive, but worth the effort, the volunteers agree.
â€œEvery horse we rescued would have ended up in a slaughter sale,â€ said Lewis. â€œThis is their last chance.â€
Rescue Web site
To find out more about Another Chance Equine Rescue, their fundraisers, and adoptable horses go to: www.freewebs.com/anotherchanceequinerescue
Barnosky can be reached at 330-725-4160, ext. 4075, via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing The Gazette, 885 W. Liberty St., Medina, 44256.