Copyright © United States Equine Rescue League, Inc. All rights reserved.
NC Triangle Region

February 17, 2012:
USERL is assisting a county with a sad case of neglect, and transported 4 to shelter and safety this evening.  One was already dead on the property, with several of these not far behind.  All four are in severe malnourished condition, with one mare possibly being pregnant.  They are weak, lethargic and were at a time of great need to find help immediately.
They were transported to a Triangle Region Quarantine/Rehab foster farm and are being monitored carefully. 
The 3 youngest have not been handled so care has been taken to keep their stress levels down while they transition to a new environment and become accustomed to being handled.   Each one will be calmly separated and haltered with a break-a-way in the following 24 hours and then examined by a veterinarian first of the week unless problems appear before then. 
Thus far, they have handled their transport well and are settling in for the evening. 

USERL wishes to thank Durham County Animal Control for their diligence and persistence in this case!  Also thanks to the transporter to go get them and bring them to safe place before this weekend's storm.   
USERL shelters 4 horses from County Cruelty Investigation
February 18, 2012:
All four are settling in, being fed small quantities of orchard/timothy hay to get them slowly accustomed to food again.  The older mare that appears very pregnant is doing very well transitioning to the hay.  The three younger ones are having a tougher time adjusting to it, but slow and easy is the best course so they will continue to receive many small amounts of hay through the day.  The colt with the medicine hat marking has a tough time getting up when he lays down to rest, so he will be watched carefully in case he needs assistance. 
Later in the afternoon, the filly was calmly separated from the colts and haltered with a break-a-way.  After a nice rest/break, she was transported to another nearby Quarantine/Rehab foster farm.  As the colts get stronger and feel better, they will begin to act like stallions.  So the decision was to move her before they begin to get more active, and before the storm comes tonight.  This will ease the burden of one farm monitoring 4 difficult rehab cases simultaneously as well.
Volunteers and community neighbors are on standby if any go down and cannot rise on their own, particularly the white colt.  The colts were calmly herded into the barn stalls by days end, in anticipation of the cold weather and storm. 
On left, the two colts rest and have a snack after being moved into a barn stall before being separated.  On right, two share a small meal of hay.  They are being fed small amounts of hay every two hours and observed for any problems.
The mare appears to be heavily pregnant, but is dangerously thin to carry a foal full term, and unlikely to be able to produce milk for a foal in this body condition.  She can be handled easily, so this helps with her transition.  The mare will be monitored closely and a veterinarian will confirm pregnancy on Monday.
This is the filly separated and transported to another Quarantine/rehab farm today.  She is feral, but was not difficult to catch and halter due to her depleted energy reserves.  Care is being taken to not stress the younger, feral horses while they adjust to their new surroundings and being handled, as well as having food again.
February 19, 2012:
Very busy day, so only one picture.  Warm sunshine from Saturday turned cold and wet for today.  The white colt laid down in his stall this morning and could not get up on his own.  After a few attempts on his own to get up, he was worn out and gave up.  Volunteers, neighbors and community help arrived to lift him back up!  Thanks for the quick assistance!

Because of his severe weakness, he was started on an extruded feed concentrate last night in very small quantities every few hours in hopes that the calories will help him be able to get up on his own.  It's a difficult balance between needing to feed him good nutrient dense calories versus feeding too much too soon, but we have found that there is little choice when they are this weak and cannot stand up well after lying down.  They must have the calories from feed concentrate to get ahead and gain strength.  Luckily, there are feeds that are alittle gentler on their systems, so the colt is now on feedings every two hours.  It appears to be working as he was able to get up on his own the next time he laid down, with only alittle help from his caregiver.
The others continue to do well in their transition.  The filly at the other Quarantine/Rehab farm is reported to be doing well, but weak and lethargic.  She has very slow reflexes, so she is being monitored closely, too.
February 20, 2012:
The white colt remained up all evening and is eating well.  He has been receiving low doses of Banamine to assist him with any discomfort.  He continues to eat well, only sometimes stopping before completely through with his small meal.  He is obviously being handled quite frequently since he went down, and is dealing with it very well.  When they were picked up Friday night, this colt would bite if you even tried to touch him.  Whether too weak to fight us, or realizing we're helping him, he now stands quietly for everything from his Banamine to his exam for the vet this morning.
The mare was also examined and checked for pregnancy, and as feared, is about 9 months pregnant.  She is doing well on hay and has begun feed concentrate, too.  Hopefully, we'll have a few months to get her body weight up before the foal is born.  She will not be allowed on pasture to prevent fescue toxicity.  She is a very sweet mare:)
The mostly black colt, due to all the care the other colt required yesterday, did not get his halter on yet.  He's not as lethargic as the other two feral ones, so he'll need some work to be handled safely.  He will be worked with in the morning to get his break-a-way halter on and a few quiet lessons, and then vet will return for his exam.
This is going to be a very expensive group of horses to rehabilitate.  All are in very poor condition, with one being pregnant.  Two are colts that will need to be castrated later when they are healthier.  But for now, they need hay, feed, bedding and vet and farrier care - and lots of it!  Below are ways you can help them recover and give them a second change at a full life in a loving home.  All donations of funds or hay/feed/bedding are tax deductible!

Paypal Donation to USERL online:

Checks can be mailed to:
9660 Falls of Neuse Road
Suite 138 Box 300
Raleigh, NC  27615
Direct donation to veterinary care:
Neuse River Equine Hospital
Mailing Address :
P.O. Box 1417
Wendell, North Carolina 27591
Phone: (919)365-6044
Direct donation to hay and feed supplier:
Jones Farm Hay & Feed
200 Social Plains Rd
Middlesex, NC 27557
(919) 427-4963 (cell)
(919) 404-5123 (store)
On left, the colt pouts about taking his medicine. 
On right, he's over it and eating again:)

February 21, 2012:
The colt was able to stand on his own today with no assistance after several naps, yeah!  He still acts sluggish but we're moving in the right direction.  Below is a photo of him napping. 
The other colt was worked with in his stall over 5 short sessions today to halter him.  Grady Creech of Wakelon Farms came for the sixth session and halter is now on!  He's a good boy, just very scared and clueless about what he's supposed to do.  Short sessions will continue to get him safe to handle and lead.  The other colt, as he gets stronger, will also have training sessions but we'll have to wait on those for now.
The mare is doing very well, eating great and now on freechoice hay and working up to good portions of feed concentrate 4 times per day.  She's beginning to "bag" up alittle today, but hopefully its just a response to the nutrition and we still have time to get her stronger before the foal is born.
The colt having issues gettin up on his own got up by himself several times today!  Above is a photo of him napping, which he does frequently.
The last colt now has his halter on!  At first he wasn't too happy about it (left), but after a treat and some scratches he smiled for the camera (right).

February 22, 2012:
The medicine hat colt was quite perky this morning, compared to before.  So definitely seeing an improvement in his energy level and he contines to be able to stand on his own!  Training sessions continued with the other colt, who has decided that grooming is a wonderful "task". 
The pregnant mare is doing great, and is bagging up.  Hopefully, it's just a response to good nutrition.  But the changes today alone are raising flags.  She is now on video monitor, as  the colt has been, and we will update her progress daily.  We really hope she has at least a month to get her weight up.  She is already looking better.  Pregnant mares are primed for weight gain, so are quick to respond to good nutrition. 
We will update daily as we are getting alot of response to their well-being (thank you for the many thoughtful prayers!).  Below are pics of the mare on quarantine turnout on a beautiful mild weather day today!
The pregnant mare enjoys a beautiful winter day in warm sunshine eating freechoice hay to her hearts content. 

February 23, 2012:
Volunteer help from today helped get horses groomed and some special TLC.  The pregnant mare was different in her attitude yesterday and today, acting anxious and sweating some and eating slower and even leaving some food.  She didn't appear to be colicking as she had good gut sounds.  She continues to be watched carefully for signs of impending foaling whether full term or alittle early.  Hopefully it was just the crazy weather that has her unsettled.
Below, she gets walked and is allowed to graze just alittle.  She got a good grooming from head to tail and thoroughly enjoyed it!

February 25, 2012:
The colt that was down earlier this week, laid down this morning and got too close to a wall to get up on his own.  He panicked and exhausted himself after several attempts to right himself.  He was pulled to the middle of the stall and stabilized before being lifted by volunteers to stand.  It was much easier than earlier this week, with only his hind end needing help to get up.  So his strength is improving little by little; he just needs room to go forward when getting up as it's still a scrambling effort for him. 
Yesterday, he was taken on a short walk.  Shorter than anticipated as he tired quickly.  Hopefully, later next week he will be strong enough for more turnout which will help him strengthen his muscles.
The other colt is doing very well and has improved in his handling.  The pregnant mare is back to her normal eating habits today, but will continued to be monitored carefully, too.  The sweet filly at the other quarantine barn is also improving, slowly but getting there.  She still has slow reflexes but is steadier on her feet than earlier this week.

Thanks so all that have donated, and come out to help with their care!  We are keeping it to only a few volunteers at a time to keep things quiet for them (lots of noise/activity is stressful for the two colts as they've never been in a busy farm atmosphere before with lots of people).  Keeping their stress down has been key, but as they improve more people will be allowed to be at the barn at one time - it will be good for them! 
Above the colt rests and eats his breakfast, waiting for some volunteers to arrive to help him back up.
On left:
After being assisted back up, a grateful look of relief! 

On right:
Back to eating - his only job right now!
Click photo above to watch a video. 

February 26, 2012:
The filly is progressing well and gaining energy reserves on her feeding program.  She is now strong enough to go out in a quarantine paddock at the foster rehab farm.  She is very shy, but inquisitive and willing to learn.  Her reflexes are improving, too! 
The black colt is doing well with handling lessons and has had fewer problems with refeeding.  He is scheduled to move to a farm of a wonderful foster after he clears quarantine, barring no medical issues occur.  We are very excited for him on this next important step of his rehab!
The medicine hat colt had a rough weekend.  We are unable to do what we would normally do for horses in his condition, which is to house him outside in a large grassy area so he has plenty of room to maneuver forward as he attempts to stand up after laying down.  The weather just hasn't been cooperative.  He's been very sore since getting cast in the stall corner Saturday morning after a failed attempt to stand up and panicking, and is on additional meds to help with inflammation.  A followup vet consult Monday morning is scheduled for him.  He continues to be fed very small meals every few hours as he tires easily chewing/eating.
The pregnant mare has returned to her usual calm demeanor.  We are grateful her anxious attitude and bagging up Thursday and Friday didn't result in delivery of the foal.  She very much needs more time to get stronger before having the burden of providing milk for her foal. 

Below are photos of the filly during her paddock turnout today.  The short leadline is a catch lead, although she's not hard to catch with food.  As her rehab progresses, she will be able to have short training sessions for gentling/ground manners. 

March 1, 2012:
It is with a heavy heart to report that the medicine hat colt, who had been named "Taipa", was humanely euthanized early this morning. He had progressed some in his first week, but organ damage from his difficult life continued and his liver was shutting down. He was also fighting an unknown infection and his weak circulatory system just couldn't keep up with it all. He stopped eating and drinking midday yesterday, so his reserves were getting weaker and weaker. We did not want him to suffer so the decision was made. We thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers for him these past few days, and for their support in our efforts to help him.  Your support did help Taipa to at least have a peaceful ending rather than suffering in a field alone. That means so much to us, and especially to Taipa...

Taipa was taken for a necropsy to determine what else is going on, as he hasn't followed any of the re-feeding issues we see (at first we thought so, but last night it was definitely an inflammatory response).  We want to determine any appropriate treatments for the other three, particularly the filly who has also had some of the same blood test results (but not as dramatic as Tapai thus far).  All will remain in quarantine which may be beyond the routine 3-week quarantine, until final results of the necropsy and tissue testing in case it is an infectious source. 

A fifth horse from this same group is coming into our program tomorrow.  He was the only one not in very poor condition (he is in "fair" body condition).  We will update with pictures of him, and of the other three as soon as volunteers get some much needed rest from the past few days.  Again, thank you to all for your support.  Medical expenses continue to be very high for this group, so donations are welcome to help with their costs and treatments.  We currently have a ChipIn Fundraiser Raffle of a beautiful framed print to raise funds for this group and others in our program (i.e. "Newman").  Details are on our homepage.
The medicine hat colt, named "Taipa", which means Spread Wings in Native American Miwok.  He is spreading his wings now painfree - thank you for that gift of a peaceful ending for him.

March 10, 2012:
Taipa's loss was a hard one; he fought a good fight!  But he's leaving behind a legacy for others:  The NC Veterinary Medical Association has granted an award to USERL - NC Triangle Region to purchase a Large Animal Lift and electric hoist to install in the rehab barn for future cases such as Taipa's.  The lift would not have saved Taipa, but certainly makes caring for horses such as him more efficient for volunteers/caretakers, as well as safer.  USERL thanks the NCVMA for their award!  The lift and hoist are being ordered now and will be installed hopefully in the coming month.

A fifth horse from this group is now in our program.  The alpha stallion, who was the only one in fair condition, is now at the quarantine/rehab farm.  He will be castrated soon to ready him for adoption.  He is a sweet boy, not too difficult to handle for a stallion.  So he should make a great gelding!  He has been evaluated by a trainer already to help transition him to better ground manners and is doing well.  Pictures of him will be coming soon!

The filly continues to gain ground in her recovery, slowly but surely.  As long as she continues reaching goals of improvement, she is succeeding!  She is such a sweet girl and enjoys her turnout and good rolls!  We will have photos to post of her this week, so check back soon!

The pregnant mare, now named Aiyanna, is doing very well as her abdomen grows and weight is gained.  She is very sweet and loves her spa treatments from the volunteers!  We will post updated pics of her this coming week.

The colt, now named Court Jester ("CJ"), is doing great, too!  His weight gain has been steady and he's doing very well with ground training to become a nice domesticated boy.  A volunteer, Barbara Cohen, has taken a special interest in him and has been coming out to work with him, groom, etc.  Grady Creech of Wakelon Farms comes weekly to work with him as well.  CJ is responding very well to small daily work sessions and is now leading very good and learning to trust humans as partners.  Below are some pics of CJ with his number one fan, Barbara, during a recent visit and session.

Expenses for this group continue to be very high!  Please consider a donation or a sponsorship for one of them:)

March 21, 2012:
Update for week of March 20. 2012:  Necropsy results for the colt showed Salmonellosis as the source of his illness the last few days before he was euthanized.    Therefore, quarantine was extended with the others to ensure they didn't break with the illness.  They were exposed prior to coming in, with the colt already progressing with the illness upon arrival.  The care he received helped delay it, but due to the incredible stress he underwent prior, the illness overcame his ability to fight it.  We are grateful we were able to end his suffering peacefully before the illness brought him incredibly suffering. 
All of the horses show an immune response, and are assumed to be exposed as well.  Luckily, all the others are doing good, with the filly still struggling but improving.  She's not shown any signs of illness progression, slowly improving; so it is hopeful that will continue for her full recovery.  The pregnant mare is doing very well, energy is up and she has settled in and not showing any signs of impending labor as she was the first few weeks.  We're grateful she's holding on to the foal to give more time for it's development as well time to improve mom's health.  The foal is active and can be seen kicking on the sides of her abdomen - so all is well thus far.  The colt, Court Jester, is doing great both in weight gain and in his training!  He will be moving to his foster home next week to continue his rehabilitation.

Also, an additional horse was accepted into the program from the case - an 8 year old stallion - who arrived March 2nd.  He was the only one in fair condition of the 7 live horses in the case, being the alpha male in the herd.  A family member was going to take ownership but then decided not to.  So he was surrendered to the county who in turn asked USERL to take him into our program.  He is sweet, and basically behaves well for a stallion.  Just needs manners!  Having been in quarantine already for 5 weeks between the county and USERL, and being in fair condition, he was castrated yesterday to begin his new life as a pleasant gelding.  He's a cute fella and very friendly, so should transition to a non-breeding lifestyle well.  Below are photos of a few of them.  More photos will be posted of the others soon!
The pregnant mare is doing very well with weight gain, with noticable "growth" of her abdomen.  Photos left and right show her during her turnout.  She is still camera shy, but getting better at smiling for the camera.  Very sweet and truly grateful for attention and grooming.
The new one from the case, an 8 year old stallion.  We let him settle in for a few weeks and then scheduled castration, which was done yesterday.  Very sweet disposition, but definitely knows he's a stallion!  He should transition easily to being a gelding after the hormones quiet down.

April 18, 2012:
All the horses are doing great!  The filly has been the slowest to rehab, but is improving with a slow increase in feed as she has been slow to eat (as the colt was).  The pregnant mare, Aiyana, is doing very well with no signs of labor since the first weeks of quarantine.  The colt, Court Jester, is doing great in his foster home.  And the stallion, Takoda, is doing exceptional in his training (especially considering the female hormones have erupted for spring heat cycles at the rehab barn!).  Above are photos of the stallion (now gelding), "Takoda", during turnout in mid March.  Current photos of all will be posted this coming week, so check back!

In addition, the "caretaker" (not the owner, who is battling cancer and was not able to check on his horses) has been charged with animal cruelty in this case.  Court is pending and we will update on results as they come in!

Here are some Before and After Photos of all of them! 
Above and Below:  Aiyana at intake (quarantine) February 18, 2012.
Aiyana gave birth to a beautiful filly on May 3, 2012!  They are featured in the USERL 2013 Calendar.  Both are being fostered with intent to adopt.  Aiyana was the only one in the group that had been handled, and is actually trained under saddle as well.
Photo courtesy of Chariot Creative.  
Kimama on February 15, 2012 during investigation.  And 1st day of quarantine below on February 18, 2012.
Kimama on May 17, 2012 before leaving for her new foster home.
Below, update photo from foster on August 22, 2012.  Kimama has been adopted into a loving home!
Court Jester during investigation on February 15, 2012.
And, below, during 1st week of quarantine/rehab on February 21, 2012.
Court Jester after rehabilitation on June 2, 2012.
CJ is now adopted and has finished training for cart/wagon!
Takoda came in later on March 21, 2012.  He was in better condition, but a barely handled 8 yr old stallion.  Below, on April 18th, Takoda lets off some steam during turnout.
Takoda during turnout on August 8, 2012.  At this point, he's gone through basic ground training with flying colors and is now ready for socializing for herd turnout.  Takoda, as with all the horses in this group, is super easy to train!  He is the only one of the group left to adopt out.  Takoda is on a waiting list for training with some of the fabulous trainers that donate their services for our horses!  So look for news on his success in 2013.