Tuesdays with Tony
How, you ask, are starvation, breeding, and microchips related? What weird cat logic is this? Read on and find out. I’m dropping some serious cat wisdom this week.
Recently Dr. Vurgason and Dr. Lacher had the daunting task of working with a group of 18 incredibly thin horses. Like, body condition score 1 out of 9 for a majority of these horses. Dr. Vurgason worked on one who was in such bad shape he was down for 24 hours because he didn’t have the muscle mass or energy reserves to stand. That’s bad! I hope to only be able to imagine how these horses felt. I’m the one starting to insist on dinner at 4:30 pm when it is never served before 5:30 pm.
There were abrasions on hips because the skin couldn’t take the pressure of the bony points with absolutely no covering. Remember all that rain recently? Many of these horses have just about no hair thanks to horrible cases of rain rot. When I say this was a sad bunch of horses, I really, really mean it. Luckily they found their way to a great rescue (and, trust me, they aren’t all great). If these horses can handle the introduction of food over the next week or so, they’ll be ok.
The rescue that has this herd pulls a lot of horses from very low level auctions. The kill pen kind of auctions. I asked what breeds they see most often. My guess was going to be thoroughbreds. Yvonne told me my fine feline instincts were wrong. At first I was horrified to be wrong, but then I listened, and learned. Most are Quarter Horses, followed by Standardbreds, and draft breeds.
Why is it Quarter Horses? Because of the huge breeding operations that exist with little outlet for the ones that “don’t cut it.” Literally don’t cut it, since many of these are breeding for horses that work cows. I beg of you guys out there looking at pretty stallion pictures right now, anxiously awaiting the upcoming breeding season. THINK about whether this is something you really want and need to do. Could you find the horse you’re looking for without having to breed? Is your mare so special that it has to be her?
I don’t mean to take away from your horse, I mean to have you think about breeding. There are tons of great horses in backyards starving, and in kill pen auctions. What would it mean to a horse to never have to end up there? How great would it be to check out the foals, weanlings, yearlings, or even two year olds at a great breeding program, and pick out the one that was the color and sex you wanted? Let me tell you, that never happens when you breed your own. Just ask Dr. Lacher, who prefers geldings, and got 4 fillies and 1 sweet but not-talented gelding.
How the heck do microchips end up in this story? Simple. At one time, these horses were likely bred or owned by someone who hoped for the best for them. That’s not how their lives ended up. If those owners had microchipped these horses, they would at least have a way to be contacted. We talk about microchips most frequently when it comes to natural disasters, or downed fence lines, but what if you got a call about a horse you sold 10 years ago? I’m guessing most of you would want to know that horse would have a soft place to land. So microchip your horses. It can do way more than bring them back if they’re wandering lost after a hurricane.
The unwanted horse is an incredibly complicated problem. They are big, expensive animals. If each and every person in the horse industry took a moment to be sure they were helping, and not contributing to the issue, we could reduce the suffering of horses. I have faith in you humans, even if I don’t usually come across that way.
Now be a good human and subscribe to my weekly drop of cat wisdom.
Until next week,
P.S. I know I usually remind you about the podcast that the humans do, which is pretty popular. You should definitely check that out. However, this week is a special announcement! The humans, or Dr. Lacher’s husband, in particular, have published a book called Adventures of the Horse Doctor’s Husband. It’s pretty good, and I’m not just saying that because I have a cameo appearance in it. Speaking of rescuing horses in bad situations, remember Highway, the horse that fell out of the moving trailer last winter? You’ll recognize him on the cover, and if you buy the book, you’ll be making a contribution to him. It’s a win-win for everyone. Just click on the banner below to learn more about the book.
Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!