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A good man will take care of his horses and dogs, not only while they are young, but also when they are old and past service.
~ Plutarch
Rescue and Rehab
SHHS offers a lifetime home where abuse and neglect are a thing of the past.
Leo ~ Thoroughbred Gelding
 
We found Leo in a cow pasture. He had pretty much been left to die, but I just couldn't let him stay out there and starve to death without trying to do something to help him.
 
Following is a condensed version of Leo's story.
 
It is unfair that this beautiful, intelligent, sensitive creature, who gave so much in his lifetime to his humans, wasn't even given the comfortable retirement or humane euthanasia that he deserved.
 
In loving memory of Leo!
 

This is Leo on the day that we
discovered him in the cow pasture.
I took a few pictures "just in case."
Then I called the sheriff. June 2008.
Leo's Story....
Leo ended up in this cow pasture because his owner didn't want to put him down herself so she asked her friend to do it for her. The friend figured that if he was able to get around and eat that she would just wait and see... So she put him out in a pasture with a bunch of cows and several other horses to fend for himself.

That is when we found him. We spoke with the sheriff's department and then contacted the new owner. Thankfully, she agreed to let us help him. This series of pictures was taken while we were waiting for the Coggins to come back so we could move him legally. She allowed us to come on the property and feed him 3 times a day and doctor his wounds.
We had to fight off a couple dozen cows and two other horses every time we fed him. I had to use my truck as a shield so he could eat in peace. Once at the sanctuary, Leo was treated like a king. He had the run of the property and all of the volunteers loved him and babied him; Leo was definitely a special guy.
He thrived under all of the attention and good nutrition. Initially we fed him 5 small meals a day. As you can see by the pictures below, he began to put on weight and was really starting to look good. In August, we took in a 34-year-old Quarter Horse mare named Royal and the two of them bonded almost immediately! Read the story of Royal and Leo's initial meeting here.
Royal and Leo
In September, Leo developed an abscess in his right foot, which set him back a bit, but he pulled through it and continued to do well. Then he developed an abscess in his left hind foot. I was out of town for several weeks and Dutch and Pat soaked and wrapped his foot tirelessly.
With both his left front and right hind feet compromised, it was impossible for him to stand to have his hooves trimmed. Without even asking, our volunteers were there ready to help hold him up so we could try to get him trimmed in order to relieve the pain.
The left hind abscess blew out at his heel bulb, but he didn't show any relief from the pain; then the coronet at the front started to swell as if it was another abscess. We treated it every way that we knew to treat it and it just got bigger and bigger and never drained like a typical abscess.
Under the assumption that it was an abscess, our vet told us to keep soaking it and apply ichthammol dressing to try to draw it out.
It was very painful for Leo. He couldn't walk at all for over two weeks. I couldn't stand him being in pain any longer, so I had the vet out to do "something!" It turns out that it wasn't an abscess; it was pythiosis. The vet opened and debrided the wound as best he could. It seemed to give Leo some relief from the pain and by the next day he was scooting around the yard a bit. We were all very hopeful.
Known by many names, including pythiosis, phycomycosis, Florida leeches, Gulf Coast fungus, and swamp cancer, the disease caused by Pythium insidiosum is bad news. Lesions on the limbs are characterized by the formation of tumor-like masses with fistules and serosanguineous discharge. Pythiosis is caused by the aquatic fungus, Pythium insidiosum, and is common in the tropical to subtropical areas of the Gulf Coast region of the United States, South America, and Australia. It normally infects aquatic vegetation and organic debris. (HorseAdvice.com)
 
You can see the pain in his face. It was unbearable for all of us.
I know this picture is difficult to look at. This is the reality of the abuse and neglect that happens all too often. Our purpose as a sanctuary is to give these horses a voice and help stop the abuse, be it passive abuse out of ignorance or intentional cruelty.
On Christmas Day I found Leo lying down with Royal standing near by. He had actually been walking around the day before. We had such high hopes that he would regain his strength and be able to fight it, but now he was in such pain that he couldn't even lie up on his sternum. When I looked at the bottom of his feet, he had blood draining out of several abscesses. It was time to make the decision I had been dreading.
Leo