January 27, 2013

Willow Update

Willow comes home in a week!  I've been so busy trying to finish personal and work projects...  I almost feel like I'm nesting. :) 

It has been six days since any of us have witnessed Willow struggle to swallow or choke at all.  It doesn't mean she hasn't, but Martha feels so optimistic that we haven't seen it.  I must admit, so do I.  Maybe the EPM medicine is kicking in, and the choking is getting better because it was EPM related... we just don't know.  We do know that she never had EPM or swallowing issues when Nancy owned her, so somehow the choking developed over the last four years.  Of course now we know she has EPM, ulcers and of course the starvation & muscle wasting (from the EPM) too.

I don't think I've ever mentioned this before... maybe because it's too painful to even think of for me.  But once someone asked the farmhand at that awful dressage trainer's farm what they would do when Willow would choke... how they would handle it.  Their reply:  "We punch her in the throat."   I think part of my heart died when I heard that... and I feel sick thinking about it.  Sick. And so so sad.  It's a miracle Willow even lets us near her now when she is struggling...  amazing that she trusts us and lets us gently massage her throat and hug her and sing to her during these times.  Punch her throat?  That kills me... :(

Another thing we learned was that Willow was found in a tiny paddock far away from the herd that was left to fight and mate freely in the field.  It's probably a good thing that she didn't have to fight for the little food or water that she had.   We are thinking that is why Willow doesn't seem to bond with any of the other horses and seems to want none of them anywhere around her (or me).  For that reason, we have decided that in the interest of keeping her stress level at a minimum, we are going to keep Paloma and Charlie in a separate pasture / barn for now.  Willow will have her stall, dry lot and large pasture and can come and go freely.  And I think I might set up a table and in the stall next to hers which opens to her pasture.  I can bring my laptop and work out there sometimes in between feedings and hug time. And when I'm in the house I will still be able to see her from the windows or the balcony off of my office.  ♥  I just wish it were already spring.

I will be feeding Willow four times a day and administering medicine and/or supplements twice a day for now.  It's going to be a lot of work for me, but hey... I get to spend more time with my girl, and that's a good thing.

I pray that the EPM goes away as it should... and that the choking was somehow caused by it and goes away too.  That I can nourish her back to a weight good enough that I can start doing hill work with her to help build back all the muscle she has lost. And mostly, I pray that she will be happy and feel safe here.  I am scared and excited at the same time...   but I know in my heart that I can do this. ♥


  1. She is so lucky to have you loving her are caring for her. I hope you have someone to help you.....three kids, a cat (or more?), two healthy horses, and one struggling to heal is a lot of responsibility. In fact, I hope you have LOTS of help :) Make sure to take care of yourself so that you can continue to take care of everyone else as you so beautifully and obviously do. :)
    Best Wishes to all of you

  2. i am so happy that she is coming home and i will be reading the blog to keep up. Maybe you could get her a goat or sheep for company.

  3. Thank God she has you. I am so happy to know she will never be mistreated again in her lifetime. Animals are amazing creatures to still have trust in people after abuse. that made me sick too.

  4. My heart has been so touched by your story - I have always loved horses - never had one, just get to photograph them whenever I get a chance. Willow is truly blessed to have you in her life! Love can make all the difference... You are also an inspiring photographer!

  5. what was she being fed that she would choke repeatedly? soaked beet pulp is an excellent food and can really help choke prone horses. The should never be fed "extruded" feeds or pelleted feeds. Perhaps this is a management issue?

    1. Hi, it's not the feed that was making her choke. There is actually a medical condition called "Choke"... Also she had a cyst removed from her esophagus... although we are not sure either one was causing it. We tried everything... and belive it or not the soaked beet pulp made her choke the worst. She is on an organic feed, free hay & grazing and hasn't choked in weeks. We think now that the EPM was effecting the nerves in her throat... but now that it's dying off, her nerves/ muscles are strengthening. :)