Monday, January 12, 2009

A Cindirelli Story

Ok, I know it's spelled Cinderella but this one is a little bit different.

Back in July 2008, one of my owners purchased a 4 year old filly, sight unseen, based on a photo, her pedigree, her race record, the word of a person who was acting as the sales agent and the fact that this filly had just raced last in May.

Her price was set at $4500, which in this economy, is pretty steep, even for a mare with her breeding [by Capote out of Fundraising by Black Tie Affair (IRE)]- nice family, top and bottom.

My owner was able to negotiate the price down by a couple of thousand dollars.
We were told the current owner had 25 or so head horses that he tossed into a grassless pasture, no hay, no grain, no fresh water, just a pond in the pasture. We were also told that she was a hundred or so pounds skinny and that she was completely racing sound but needed some TLC quick.

My owner arranged for payment and had the filly moved from "Ole Pete's" farm (let's just call the previous owner that) and she was boarded for 3 weeks at the agent's farm.

The date approached for her to get on the trailer. She was located in VA, sort of off the beaten path.

It was a Saturday morning when the trailer arrived shortly before I made it to the training center. The guy was very nice and told me he had gone ahead and off loaded her and put her in her stall. I walked up with him to look at her and sign receipt paperwork.
He told me they were worried about keeping her on the trailer longer than absolutely necessary because they felt she may not make it through the day. They had another horse scheduled to drop off first but went out of their way to deliver her to us.

I saw a beautiful grey head sticking out of the stall and went to open the door.
What I saw standing in this stall put me into shock. I didn't know what to say. I was completely dumbfounded.
The horse I was looking at was not the horse whose picture both my owner and I had seen. This horse was a wreck. A skeleton. To top it off, her right front leg was swollen from above the knee on down and she was sore walking on it.

I've seen a lot of skinny horses. I used to help rescue horses in the past. I'm also pretty damned good at looking at a horse and telling you how much weight it needs without having to stick it on a scale.

This mare (for she didn't look like a 4 year young filly, she looked like an old mare) was an easy 400=450 lbs underweight.

Shocked? You should be. This filly is right at 17 hands tall.
During this first bath, which took several shampooings and rinses, I discovered the following:

Upwards of 20+ ticks embedded under each of her "armpits":

A barrage of insects to make proud an entomology professor that was living in her mane, complete with nests. Ulcers were present near her udder and along the inside of her thighs.

Not a single ounce of fat left anywhere on this poor creature. Whatever muscle she still had was just enough for her to walk and stand. She couldn't actually lay down in her stall for the first week.

I could actually stick my upper arm between her butt cheeks and not get stuck.

A week after her arrival, I took more photos during bathtime. She looked even worse then because I had so successfully scrubbed off every bit of rainrot and unhealthy coat she had. Now there was nothing hiding her bones.

Notice the shank attached to her halter. Ms. Skeletar was getting as strong as an ox! Nothing was stopping her. She'd walk right over whatever or whoever was in front of her.

Course, at this point, every trainer at the training center would stop through to view her and wish us luck. Everyone was pulling for this girl. I've never heard so many strangers be so outraged by something done to an animal. "Ole Pete" is lucky he lives so far away.

Her tongue was almost severed from being tied incorrectly. Her teeth had never been floated and she still had a couple of baby caps.

Her feet were a mess. Her legs were a mess. Come to think of it, there wasn't a part of her that wasn't a mess. Cept for her eyes. Those looked good- no infection, no discharge and no injuries or blindness.

What I noticed the most about this girl was her attitude. She soaked up every bit of attention she got. She enjoyed her warm baths (it was summer but I still used warm water because cold water got her shaking like a leaf!). She would gingerly walk across the driveway to stand for her bath and be perfectly still for its administration.

She loved eating grass. And I swear to you guys, she must have been able to understand every word I told her because she responded immediately to any type of positive comment and her spirits were high.

It has taken months to rehab this girl.

Xrays showed that she had an old and healed slab fracture in her RF knee and an old and healed sesamoid fracture in the same leg. Looking at the history we were able to track down for this girl, she raced through both injuries without more than a 30 day break.

I also found out that she was never trained at the track. The "trainer" only swam her a couple of times per week, gave her official works and then raced her. This filly was never fit enough to actually race. Yet she broke her maiden in a 10k Maiden Claimer, going gate to wire in a 9F race at Charlestown.
Charlestown Racetrack is a bullring. It's a small track. 9F at Charlestown is like going around the track 50 times.
Ok, not 50 times, but you get the idea.

The vet came and checked her, shaking his head the whole time. Told me this was a lost cause. This had to be EPM. That she'd never walk sound again. I took all this with a grain of salt because having worked in rescue, I've seen a lot worse than this girl and I honestly did not think it was as bad as he said.
While he was talking, her head went lower and lower and was finally resting up against my chest. Her ears were drooping back and she didn't want to move her head off me.

When Doc went to get his xray equipment, I grabbed her head and told her:
"Honey, don't you listen to any of that. Everything is going to be just fine. You'll be great. You watch, I will make sure that you're going to be healthy and happy and fat again."
Amazingly, she immediately responded and stopped moping.
This is why I say she understands everything. She must! By now it's happened too many times for her not to understand human speak.

Since gaining weight and standing in a stall are not a good way to gain positive weight, after a couple of weeks, I started taking her for walks around the track and property. Her strength was coming back very quickly and before too long, we all realized that she did not have any ground manners.

She was also completely in love with racing. I would take her to the grass and she would stare out over to the track with this far away look on her face.

Cindirelli on August 7- less than a month later. The guy holding her is my good friend Jose.

Notice the lack of mane- I had to roach the whole thing.

We've worked on her feet. I trimmed her myself the first couple of times. Her feet didn't look as bad as they actually were. Below are photos I took after her first trim. Her shoes had grown into the bottoms of her feet.

Above: Right front: not very bad looking, other than her heels being underslung and and crushed. This hoof was also a good bit contracted.

Above: Left Front - a good chunk of hoof wall missing- only so much I could do without making her even more sore. This foot was very run down- broken down a good bit from carrying the bulk of her weight because of the injury to her opposite front leg. Toes gotten long and no heel left.

Above: Right front side view- you can really see how high she is in the heel and short in the toe. There is a lot of flare going half way up the hoof.

Above: : Left front: big difference between the other front- this is typical in a horse who has had an injury- the hoof opposite the injured leg will start breaking down. It's a tell tale sign in TBs- you see a horse with two different feet like this and you're told it is perfectly sound? Well, it may be now but there is an old injury in the opposite leg or hoof- you can put money on that.

Left Front again. Ton of toe.

And one more time.

Let me remind you guys, these photos were taken within a month of her arrival.

Present Day

It's been a pretty long time since her arrival and she's gained a ton of weight. I had started her jogging with extra saddle pads a month after her arrival (a skinny horse needs to gain muscle back- just fat won't only not help but will expose them to the risk of heart failure).

What started off with just a mile, ended up culminating to almost 4 miles per day.
She now jogs a mile and gallops up to 2-2.5 miles. She wants to run so badly, it's like looking at an addict. She is impossible to take off the track. Her shenanigans are unrivalled in that department.

It's time to see if this girl still has it in her. We're looking for an easy race for her- 5k claiming at a mile. She's getting shoes on this week at some point (she needs some elevation on that left front, she looks like a pacer when she's jogging because she sinks so much deeper on the left side on landing). We've fixed as much as we can in the time given with barefoot trims.

After the shoes are on, she's going to have a mandatory official work so that she can be entered. If the weather holds up, I should be able to have her in a race within a month.

This is Cindirelli today:

The photos below were taken by Louie and Anne. You can tell the ones taken by Louie by the missing parts of the horse in the picture.....

So there you have it. Months to undo what one thoughtless, worthless, careless person did to this girl, just by not doing a damned thing.

People who do this to horses go straight to hell. No doubt about it. No ifs, ands, or buts.
And when Ole Pete gets there, I hope the Powers That Be do the same thing to him. Can't wait for those before and after pictures!


Mrs Mom said...


Hot dayum she looks freaking amazing. Awesome job there T!!!!!

Rub that wench from me, and tell her to kick some horsey butt out there on the track! ;)

jackie said...

I second everything Mrs Mom said.

When I see stories like this, I am always most amazed by the heart the horses show. That they can hang on and live in those conditions, nothing but skin and bone, and come out of it healthy and strong and with the desire to run just astounds me. I'm so glad there are people like you who love them enough to do the right thing and bring them back to health.

This is way better than a Cinderella story! What a beautiful girl.

BritnieAnn said...

AWESOME, God bless you all for such a great job with that poor mare. I can't wait to hear how she does in her race!

summerhorse said...

Amazing recovery, I never thought that mare would be sound again! I'm so glad at least a couple of these horses had a happy ending. I wish ours had too! It is amazing the damage one can do by doing... nothing at all. Like oh, feeding, trimming, keeping a caslicks in, dental work? farrier? what is that? I think there are a lot of horses waiting at the gates for Old Pete. And they all have spikes in their new shoes!!!

Shirley said...

What a story! Bless you for the work you put in this beautiful mare. I love that she understands when you talk to her; my stallion does that too. I hope she smokes the competition at her race; she knows her destiny is to run and I hope she runs her way into the record books!