Saturday, February 23, 2008


When I walked up the warmly lit main isle way of the barn at 7 pm last Wednesday, the 13th, all I could see at first was Grant's vet truck and a small group of somber teary eyed people. Then? My eyes slid sideways, and seeing through the bars of the double-sized box stall, I saw what had to the be hip of an ancient milk cow inexplicably poking through
the skin of a horse.

Only it wasn't the hip of an old milk cow, it was the hip of a black horse. The whole hip joint was visible, the enveloping muscle had been used for sustenance, and had reached the bottom of the barrel, literally. I moved closer, and the image got worse as his spine soared above his ribs - I had forgotten how deeply in the body the ribs at their junction with the spine were buried - for his rib cage, to the spine, had also sacrificed its muscle to keep life going. His neck? Mostly bone but some muscle.

Then I got to his eye, which was surprisingly bright and as liquid-deep as any live horses eye... that amazed me, I had expected to see death or a wish for it. But everything that was still vital, still horse, was here, held quietly in this eye that was so innocently relieved, so accepting of all that his rescue entailed. That eye said "Whew! I'm okay now. The good people have come back."

Nobody was talking except Grant, who was instructing the volunteers, who were in the stall, with the horse. Everyone else was quiet, aghast. One of my fellow boarders got a soft brush and began gently brushing him, and his head dropped as he gave a deep sigh. Grant glanced through the bars and commented "He really likes that - keep brushing him! He was a stallion, once." Wondering how he knew, we all looked, and he had dropped, and yes, he had once been a stallion.

Later, someone found a lip tattoo, and looking at his eye, at the skin around his mouth, I speculated that he might only be 6 or 7 years old. We later found out that he was 5, fresh off the track in August. He still wore his racing plates, and his feet had barely outgrown them. All his energy went to staying alive.

Grant asked me to make a hot mash with electrolytes and a little Senior, and, holding the bucket as he ate, his soft eye would pause its concentration on the mash for a semi second to look at me, and I lost my heart to him. He had pipe stream diarrhea, and was a candidate for founder, so Grant cautioned that he had a very slim chance of making it. This horse has the sweetest most open eye and soul you can imagine. We were trying because an angel had paid $400 to rescue him. He is extremely lucky.

Cowboy, thank you for not breaking our hearts... thank you for living. Thanks to the woman who bought you for $400 to get you out of that place, thanks to LP and her crew, and particularly to Grant. Thanks to people who drop change in the donation jar.

Cowboy, you've taught us that foolish hope isn't foolish after all, and that if all we have is a good attitude, it's often enough to get one through life's most desperate of times. Sometimes that angel *does* appear, when all hope should be lost. Sometimes the miracle does happen. Sometimes a horse with no chance at all, a horse with a body score of .5 out of 0-9, survives the odds. All it takes is the right attitude, and the right group of saviors.

Folks, if you see one of CHANGE's donation jars at a feed store or tack store, remember Cowboy and donate help us with the Cowboys of the future. Saving the horses that are savable costs money, and your pocket change makes a huge difference. What you've given so far allowed us to give Cowboy this chance. Again, thanks.

Read Cowboys story here:

Thanks in advance, Linda


Katie said...

I put a link to Cowboy's blog in Argus' blog, so that all of Argus' fans can follow Cowboy's journey, too.

I hope he continues to improve, and am sending my best wishes.

Katie, Argus' foster mom

Laura said...

In just 18 miraculous days, Cowboy's weak body is responding slow and steady. Instead of lifeless eyes and a wobbling body, Cowboy's eyes are clear glossy and alert. His careful feeing regimen is tended by 5 different volunteers each taking a shift and watching his body responses.

His hooves are cool now and not reacting. Linda Cowles gently trimmed them and then repacked them into styrofoam pads. And now with growing glimmer of health, the pads have been removed during the stall rest.

He now vocalizes to his human caregivers with soft nickers of anticipation. "Room service, please" "Another meal, please" We all chuckle when feeding him. He's training us very well. But we live to serve.

Cowboy's rampant body fungus is receding, too. With regular gentle scrubbings in his stall, leg by leg, neck then head, each part of his skin carefully worked to stop the skin eating fungus.

Like clockwork, the meals keep coming. We counsel with Dr Miller each few days on our medical and feeding regime. His advice and teachings have been critically important to each day of this horse's survival. Cowboy's body and internal organs are highly sensitive and fragile. Every day we see a new horse emerging. Brighter, interactive, curious and muscle reappearing. We will add more photos to his website soon so that folks can witness this miraculous progress.


Anne said...

You folks are heroes! Thank you for saving this horse.

I'm curious: What sorts of things do you feed him?

Megan said...

When are you going to post more about Cowboy? He has a very big fan in Iowa who wishes she could meet him and give him some TLC.

tina FCD said...

I don't own horses and know nothing about them. But I do feel compassion for any animal that is abused or neglected. A huge thank you for taking care of him.

I posted a link to your site also from my blog.

tina FCD said...

ooops. That's not the blog I posted it on. Sorry.