On Sunday, July 25, the Kosciusko Police Department received a call about horses that appeared to be in poor condition being ridden within the city. Police Chief Herbert Dew said officers found the horses tied up, restricted without water or shelter, and appearing malnourished. Some were riddled with wounds.
Once a seizure warrant was signed, the department contacted Rocking R Ranch and Rescue, a nonprofit organization located in Kosciusko and Prentiss focused on helping equines in need and allowed the organization to pick up the horses. No arrests have been made at this time, and the case is still under investigation.
Joy Withers Reynolds, founder and president of the rescue, said two of the horses had open wounds commonly known as “saddle sores.” Reynolds said these sores are caused by riding the horses when they are thin. She added that the horses sweating in the summer heat does not help the situation.
“You’ve got a saddle sitting on their backbone — there’s no fat up there,” Reynolds explained. “Couple that with sweat and they begin to open all down their spines. One of the mares has a spot in her withers, where the saddle sits on her neck, and those can be really problematic.”
Withers said three horses — named Amelia, Ariel, and Athena, ages 16, 19, and 9, respectively — were picked up at a pasture on Simmons Lane in Kosciusko.
Upon the rescue’s examination of the horses, they discovered Ariel was two to three months pregnant. However, Ariel also had heaves, a chronic condition similar to COPD in humans that causes airway obstruction. Reynolds said the best treatment for the heaves is a steroid shot, but it can cause pregnant mares to abort. The rescue first attempted using a nebulizer treatment and exhausted other options to no avail. They gave Ariel the steroid shot at a low dose and hope the baby horse will survive. Ariel is making a promising recovery.
Like Ariel, Amelia and Athena were exhausted and hungry. Due to their hunger, Withers said the horses couldn’t stop once they started eating.
Athena had multiple marks on her face from being unable to move her head when tied to a tree. She also had a cloudy left eye likely caused from lepto. She was given eye medication, antibiotics, ulcer medication, aspirin, and bute.
Amelia, found tied to a tire, had the worst wounds of the group with a severe sore on her withers, according to Reynolds. Her right, bottom eyelid was torn and hangs a bit. She has been drinking water and eating hay well. When the mare’s dental work takes place, the rescue will give her an “eye lift” to release anything remaining in the eyelid.
The recuse expects all three horses to make a full recovery.
Reynolds and the rescue are constantly learning new things about horses, so she encourages horse owners to reach out to knowledgeable people before owning and maintaining one. The heat and humidity amplify conditions like heaves and make it even more difficult for horses to breathe but Rocking R Ranch and Rescue has found several medications to help combat heaves. Reynolds also warns against tying the animals to a tree where they have no access to water or food.
“If they are not eating consistently, they will get ulcers, which causes more problems. Humans make acid when we eat, but horses make acid constantly because they are supposed to be eating all the time,” she told The Star-Herald. “Always have your horses on hay and water at all times. Reach out to someone if you don’t know, and if you see something, say something.”
Once fully healed, the mares will be put up for adoption. Reynolds said all three should make for good riding horses. She anticipates a slightly longer recovery time for Ariel but foresees them all ready for new homes in six months.
“We have a contract when we adopt any of our horses out that if they ever need a new home, they will come back to us and we will find them one,” said Reynolds. “They can't be sold or auctioned, so they will be safe for the rest of their lives.”