Saturday was a busy day at the barn as three new rescues came in. You can read more about them on the home page and on our Facebook page. I was there to muck and feed so I had a chance to run around taking pictures of the new guys so I could put them on the site. It's always heartbreaking to see a neglected animal, but the good news is that they have basically landed in Horse Heaven. I can't imagine anyone who could take better care of them than Debora and her staff. It seems that a lot of horses hooves are really neglected so with her experience, Debora is able to help them immediately. She also has a lot of helpers and friends who contribute their talents to caring for the rescues.
A lot of what goes on at a horse facility is feeding the horses and cleaning up after them. The basics! I did a lot of that the past couple of weeks and the cool thing about doing both tasks is that you get to be in the pens with the horses. The more time I spend there, the more I'm getting to know the personality of the different horses, and those personalities really come out at feeding time! You find out who the bossy ones are, who the polite ones are, and who is impatient.
I didn't get a chance to post last week because we were busy getting ready for our booth at the Bitterroot Celtic Games, which took place on August 21 & 22. It was so much fun! We took Nikki, four mini-horses and Brighty the mini-donkey to the games to help promote interest in the Wings Sanctuary. The animals were set up in a pen next to the Wings booth so people had a chance to feed and pet them. It was so great to watch people's faces light up when they saw the horses.
I was really pleased this week to be in a position to offer the use of a Pulsed Electro Magnetic Frequency (PEMF) machine to Wings. This is a technology that sends a pulsed charge of energy through a loop that can be placed on the body. The energy charge vitalizes the cells, allowing for cell waste to leave the cell and nutrients to enter the cell. This can be a big help in healing tissue of any kind. The portable unit I have is ideal for working on horses as it can be moved to the barn easily. On Monday, Debora and I worked on several horses.
I didn't do as much at the barn this past week as I was out one day, but a few weeks ago I got a chance to learn a new task - mineral cups. Just like it sounds, these are cups full of different minerals that are given to the horses with their feed to supplement their nutrition. It's really helpful to have a bunch of these made up ahead of time, so the person doing the feeding can just grab a cup and add it to the feed. This is the kind of extra care that I love to see.
I've been getting to do more horse handling, which has been a lot of fun. Since I don't have much horse experience I'm just going slow and trying to pay really good attention to what I'm doing, what the horse is doing, and what the experts are telling me. I started out with Scooter, who is fairly new to the facility. I went to his pen, got a halter on him and led him to the washstand, where I washed his arthritic knees with cold water. He didn't like it too much, but it was to help reduce inflammation. Next, I took him into the barn and did a little grooming and a little massage.
The Donkey Whisperers: Three of our volunteers - Mary, Terri and Ann - have been coming by regularly to help socialize the BLM donkeys. These are donkeys who have been captured in the wild and sold at auction. Some of our donkeys have been with a previous owner and have had some human contact and training, and others came to Wings straight from the auction and are being socialized here.
The goal is to get them to the point where they can be haltered and led, so they can be moved, trained, fed or treated for injuries or nutritional deficiencies. If you can't approach the donkey and halter it, you're not going to be able to provide the care it needs. Mary had heard about Mama, Baby and Sissy coming to the facility and wanted to help with the socializing, which she says is not always easy.
With the start of the hot weather season the horses and donkeys slowed down a bit this past week. I got there on Wednesday to find the seniors and the donkeys having "a bit of a lie-in," as the Brits like to say. As the day got hotter most of them were hanging out under their shelters. I was wishing I could do the same, but I was trying to get all the flower and garden beds watered. Even in adverse weather the chores still need to get done, so hats and suncreen are essential. :-)
It's never dull at the barn because there's always some interesting job to do, and you're almost always within sight of a horse or a donkey. I have to tell you, these donkeys are just adorable. I was mucking during our volunteer work day and when I went in to the mini's pen the donkeys were having a bit of a feast. Usually they follow me around wanting treats but today it was all about the feast! I had to take a picture of them because they are so cute. They make me wish I had the proper fencing to take a couple of them home with me. :-)
Laura Weise is a Wings volunteer who lives in Stevensville and will be bringing you stories of life at the barn.