Abused horse recovers

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Phoenix arrives at Falcon Ridge Equine Rescue in Valley Center due to severe neglect. Anza Valley Outlook/Courtesy photo

An emaciated horse, seized from a property in Anza by Riverside County Department of Animal Services, is recovering at Falcon Ridge Equine Rescue in Valley Center. The chestnut stallion, named Phoenix, is responding well to a special weight-gaining diet and light exercise.

“Phoenix arrived Thursday, Aug. 6, directly from Riverside DAS officers,” Nicki Branch, rescue president, said. “They said he was with an owner who taught him to dance in Anza. Though we don’t know his age yet, he is older and scored a 1 on the Henneke Scale when he arrived.”

The Henneke horse body condition scoring system is a numerical scale used to evaluate the amount of fat on a horse’s body. It was developed in the early 1980s by Don Henneke at Texas A&M University with the goal of creating a universal scale to assess equine’s body weight. Phoenix scored the lowest possible score. The stallion was in very poor condition and needed care.

“His special needs are the fact he is emaciated, is older and is a stallion. He has been eating alfalfa hay and just started on equine senior feed,” Branch said.

The rescuers had to start slow, using the University of California Davis Refeeding Syndrome Guidelines of small portions of alfalfa only.

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Phoenix shows progress after one week with healthy food and attention at Falcon Ridge Equine Rescue. Anza Valley Outlook/Courtesy photo

“We don’t know if he is sound or not, but he is appearing to start to limp on his left front, most likely from the weight gain. He will be seeing the farrier soon. Now that he is eating heavier rations of hay and senior feed and getting small portions of exercise, we will stay on this regime until he is up to weight. It should take at least two months. After he is up to weight and once the vet determines his age, we will have him castrated if he is 25 years old or younger,” she said.

After another two months, Phoenix will be assessed for how he rides under saddle, if he is found to be sound. If not, he will become a pasture pet/companion horse only. Once it is determined he can be ridden or not, he will be placed up for adoption. If he is too old to castrate, he will stay at Falcon Ridge, as they do not adopt out stallions.

“He is one of a kind, a true phoenix,” Branch said. “Right now he is trying to woo Charm, a thoroughbred mare in the pasture behind his stall. She thinks he is just OK, probably too old for her. Only later will his true personality come out. Right now he is a little cranky when you go to get him out of his stall, but once haltered he is fine, but acts like the stallion he is when he walks around the ranch.”

Falcon Ridge, is a nonprofit, humane equine organization, sanctuary, rehabilitation and training center for the horse. Nestled in the rolling foothills of North Valley Center in San Diego County, Falcon Ridge Ranch was founded in 2002 in order to provide the care, rehabilitation, training and temporary or permanent home to unwanted, abused, neglected or slaughter-bound horses.

Horses arrive at Falcon Ridge from many counties in southern California. New arrivals get the proper veterinary care, nutrition, chiropractic, training or surgery they need to improve their lives. Many of these horses have been saved from euthanasia, slaughter or from extreme neglect. During rehabilitation, the horses are exercised and properly socialized with other horses and people.

It is the mission of Falcon Ridge Equine Rescue Inc. to improve equine physical, emotional and mental well-being so that their lives are enriched, and they have a positive, healthy future.

This program is made possible by a grant from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

For more information about Falcon Ridge Equine Rescue Inc. and to stay informed on Phoenix’s recovery or make a donation, contact them at Falcon Ridge Equine Rescue, P.O. Box 1500, Valley Center, CA 92082, call them at 760-742-0285 or visit www.falconridgerescue.org. Nicki Branch may be reached at nickbranch@aol.com.

Diane Sieker can be reached by email at dsieker@reedermedia.com.