Just prior to the founding of Denkai, I took in a wonderful and adorable miniature horse that we named Sweet Pea. She quickly became a major reason for my founding Denkai.
I happened to be at a PetSmart Adoption event in Fort Collins which is where Sweet Pea’s owner found me. She was the daughter.. and by daughter I mean fifty something years old, a miniature human herself..of an elderly woman who was one of the nutrition representatives at the store.
This tiny woman came over to me and she says..she has a miniature horse and the poor thing can’t get up to walk she won’t eat and is no longer able to drink and she’s worried about her. Could I come take her and give her a new home?
Now really?? So many things made no sense to me so I asked a few questions and was able to get a bit more information out of this woman. Apparently Sweet Pea had not had a farrier in for freaking ever and she couldn’t get up because her hooves were in such bad shape she could not walk on them..It was painful!
OMG! I had to do something about this and so found myself out at this woman’s farm the next day. What I saw when I found Sweet Pea was absolutely heart breaking. Her front hooves were curled up the back of her legs in the shape of a U. Her bones were fused together from having been like this for so long that she no longer had any rotation and it was utterly painful for her. Did I mention this super genius of a person paid $3,500 for her so that she could neglect her to the point of near death? SERIOUSLY!
Of course I took Sweet Pea home and thanks to the help of a then incredible farrier, we began to work on turning her life around so that she could walk comfortably again. Lots of massaging, pain meds, and trims to her hooves that would go on for more than a year to get her back to as good a place as we could were the future.
Sweet Pea was only 7 years old at the time. Visitors, volunteers and especially my boys loved her, she was a sanctuary favorite and lived a good life with us for another six years before we had to put her down due to the neglect she had suffered so many years before. It had caught up with her and her quality of life was diminished, there was no longer an ability to keep her comfortable. This was one of the most heartbreaking decisions for me, she was our heart and soul.
Turning back time just a bit – after I took in Sweet Pea, I was contacted again in 2005 by this same woman. She had yet another miniature horse, same story, it wasn’t getting up to eat and drink and she was afraid it would starve to death.
This time, it was the dead of winter. Below zero temperatures and snow had fallen 72 hours prior to her call. She wanted us to take this little horse in also. So I did what any curious animal rescue folk would do on a cold winter day.. I told her I would head on over to check it out.
The scene that Denkai’s then farrier and I walked into was unbelievable to say the least. The miniature horse this woman had called about was dead and a baby. It had laid down in its tiny igloo of a shelter and starved to death all alone. In the new-fallen snow it was obvious that nobody had been out to feed this baby or any of the other animals, four more mini horses, llama ,and goats in several days. None had any water, the troughs were all frozen solid ice and had been obviously for days. The animals were all starving to death and there was no feed on the property.
And that baby mini horse? That baby had been dead for more than a day. This woman knew that when she talked to me. I truly believe that she was trying to get us to clean up her mess so that she wouldn’t get in trouble with animal control.
We left the property and I called animal control immediately to file a report and send photos. Once this woman figured out it was me who had turned her in she was of course furious and I was called so many names I lost count. In the end, she agreed to surrender all of the animals to us. We picked them up, brought them to Denkai, recovered every one of them and found homes for them all.
As for the owner? Nothing was ever completed on her case, she didn’t get so much as a slap on the hand. The photos below were taken long after they had arrived with us, their condition had improved tremendously by this point sadly.