OVER THE RAINBOW BRIDGEOn days we are forced to say good-bye to one of our herd members, we are comforted by the idea that we will someday be met by all of the horses we've ever loved and lost at the end of the Rainbow Bridge. The more horses we rescue, the more we stand to lose. It's a harsh reality, but one we stand by - we will not selfishly keep a horse alive if he or she is going to live in chronic pain. We don't want our horses to just "exist"...we want them to live, thrive and be free of a "normal" that includes pain. HiCaliber has promised our rescues that we would always be loyal to their needs first and foremost. In a perfect world, we would have endless space, endless money and there would be no need for a horse rescue. As you know, we don't live in a perfect world, we live in a place that leaves horses in pain for years. A place that forgets to feed their 4-legged family members. A place where humans would rather send their old, lame or unwanted horses to auction, than pay the money to give it one last act of compassion. These decisions are never entered into lightly and only made after seeking the advice of our team of veterinary professionals, chiropractor, farrier and trainers. It breaks our heart to ever have to put down one of our equine family members, but we are willing to take their pain away, even if at the expense of our own heartbreak.
Following are the horses we have had the privilege of loving and the heartbreak of losing.
"WHIT"Rescued April 2, 2014
Crossed over the Rainbow Bridge on April 9, 2014
Whit was rescued when Forgotten Horses Rescue came across him during another rescue. He was in very bad shape. Unable to take them both they called us, and we agreed to take him. Whit is a far cry from the 8 years old the owner's suggested...probably 20+, and while the age difference wouldn't have made a difference in our choice to rescue him, our hearts get hopeful when a young horse may have a chance at a new life. The old horses deserve rescue as much as the youngsters, but we protect our hearts a little on the oldies, knowing their chances of pulling through are a bit less. This poor old dude was a wreck. He has fractured withers, some spinal fusing, calcified knees, missing teeth, and his feet are soooo sore. He was left without food as "punishment for flipping over on a child" they put on him WITH FRACTURED WITHERS. Punished for a pain response by withholding food - heart breaking. We decided to take it day by day and worst case scenario - even if we have to relieve his suffering via euthanasia - we will spoil him rotten for his last days on earth and shower him with the love and affection he was robbed of for who knows how long. Unfortunately, it became clear that Whit's pain was not going to be manageable and we had to do the only compassionate thing left and let him go with love, dignity and in peace. We are so sorry, Whit, for what people did to you. We hope you left knowing you were truly loved in your final days.
"FROSTY"Rescued from Mike's auction on December 15, 2013
Crossed over the Rainbow Bridge on April 2, 2014
Beautiful Frosty was an Arabian rescued by HiCaliber in conjunction with our friends at Forgotten Horses Rescue who saw her at auction and couldn't leave her behind. She was brought to us underweight and need of all the basic care. She was a very sweet girl and a photographer's favorite as she seemed to enjoy "voguing" for the camera! Unfortunately, things were off from the beginning. Our suspicions and fears were confirmed when our veterinarian determined her to be neurological. As the months progressed, so did her deterioration. She seemed to have a disconnect with eating and continued to lose weight, and her symptoms worsened as she began getting stuck out in pasture, tripping and dragging her legs. Unfortunately, her condition was deteriorating rapidly and there was nothing we could do to improve her. Run free, beautiful girl!
"FLYNN"Rescued by HiCaliber Horse Rescue: January 11, 2014
Crossed over the Rainbow Bridge: March 10, 2014
Flynn was rescued from Mike's Auction with the help of Randi V. when HiCaliber outbid the Killbuyers. Registered as "Warren's Big Gold," 2007 Thoroughbred gelding by Chant For Gold and out of Perilous Flyer (by French Sasafras (GB). Last race 12/21/13 at Los Alamitos. Flynn was SO sweet and still had race plates on, like he was dumped straight from the track when it became evident he wasn't going to cut it. Our beautiful boy Flynn, who had turned 7 on March 3, was found dead in his stall one week later on March 10, 2014. We are dumbfounded and have no clue what could have happened to cause this healthy, young horse to die overnight. Flynn was a silly boy who stole the hearts of all who met him. A volunteer favorite, he had a bright future ahead of him with many people who were already interested in adopting him. We already miss him.
Run free, sweet Flynn.
"PRINCESS"Rescued from slaughter: October 2012
Crossed over the Rainbow Bridge: January 11, 2014
Princess was rescued from a Kill Buyer's feedlot in Fallon, NV in October 2012 by a friend of HiCaliber and joined HiCaliber's herd a few months later. She was a sweet, gorgeous young Arabian and an incredibly safe trail partner. Everyone was stumped as to how she found her way to a kill pen awaiting slaughter. Not long after she arrived we began to see issues of lameness and set out to correct it. X-rays confirmed the presence of sidebone and she also had a bone chip in her right front. Corrective shoeing was done and while expensive, we were happy to think that there was a remedy for her lameness and discomfort. Unfortunately, supplements and corrective shoeing didn't seem to help and she got progressively worse. For the better part of a year HiCaliber worked with our veterinary and farrier team to find a way to take away her discomfort but it was not meant to be.
As much as we love her we had to do right by her and let her go. R.I.P. pretty girl. xo
"HOLLI"Rescued: September 15, 2013
Crossed over the Rainbow Bridge: January 11, 2013
"Holli" (named for the city of Hollister, where she was rescued from) was a sweet five-year-old Appendix mare. This sweet mare was picked up off a "need her gone by today" Craigslist ad. She came to us lame after her poor body was put through the ringer by far too heavy rider. We really thought Holli was going to turn out to be our little Cinderella girl. Her sweet demeanor and Eeyore lip, a soft eye and snuggles for days. Our friend Randi found her on craigslist being offered for $300 by a man with pictures of his (admittedly) 300lb+ self on her young, 14.2 frame. We traveled down to South San Diego and picked her up from a nasty little "ranch" with skinny mama dogs running around with boobs and puppies hanging from their frail bodies. Her owner boasted of her skill going far up the mountain behind us and tried to sell us on the fact she could carry him, so she "must be a good horse." We paid the fee and took her home. Her pasterns were blown, her legs turned inward and everything about her physically shifted her weight backward while she struggled to keep it up front. We found that she had a previously broken rib and a permanently indented girth line from over cinching, and yet some how she still loved people. We pulled off shoes 2 sizes too small and a few trims over due. After several weeks, she still had trouble with her legs drastically turning inward so we put corrective "trailer" shoes on her. She was a mean little brat when it came to the hinds, but we worked her through it in hopes of bringing her some peace. We assumed the brattyness was due to wearing the wrong shoes, previous ill handling or a rightful resentment of a former "farrier" who clearly had no idea what he was doing. She began to get extremely cinchy, so we treated her for ulcers, and then she kept colicing. Her vet exams never went well, we knew she was damaged, but we were praying for a miracle. We knew without shoes she would be in extreme pain physically, but with shoes she was subjected to a solitary life in a stall and she became depressed. Colic battles continued and she began to not want to go on trail on the days she was feeling okay. We had to give ourselves a reality check. What is the long-term plan for this girl? In the end, we realized she was never going to have a reasonable quality of life. Correcting one problem only created others and she was in constant pain or discomfort. So we gave Holli the kindest thing we could, an escape from a life that will forever be painful. We didn't fail her, the people before us did. Our job was to love her, make her comfortable and keep her happy. We can't do one without the other. We gave her the chance to find her way back to earth in a new body, at a new time and hopefully with a better owner than she had before.
"MAKENA" (originally "Daytona")Rescued: August 17, 2013
Crossed over the Rainbow Bridge on September 29, 2013
No matter how many horses we rescue, save, place and love - it never gets any easier to say good bye.
Makena was a pretty little bay mare rescued from a Fallon, NV feedlot by a wonderful woman named Jaime. She was coming to HiCaliber Horse Rescue as a part of our Owner Support Program for transitional boarding; Jaime was admittedly rusty and needed a little refresher before taking Makena on full time. Poor Makena arrived exhausted, defeated and sick. As with any chance we take, we know the cards may not always fall in our favor...and such was the case for Makena, and her rescuer. She was underweight, had a bad upper respiratory infection, and just looked worn down.
After a couple of weeks of good eats and a finished round of heavy medication, Makena was feeling good, gaining weight and developing her own little personality. She was a soft and delicate horse, but had an confident and pushy streak if you gave her the chance. With each day she grew more and more healthy, was looking beautiful but Jaime noticed that Makena occasionally had a weird mis-step about her. We checked Makena out but didn't find anything entirely significant. Her joints looked a little big as many older horses display, but her gait was fairly normal aside from a strange “paddle” from behind. We promised to keep our eye on it, and with increased handling, we began to notice it too. As with many horses who come from neglectful situations, we thought maybe she had an abscess or her soles were sore due to a recent trim. We gave her some bute for a few days, but it didn’t seem to be getting any better.
A lameness exam was done, and it was noted that her mobility was significantly decreased on her left front leg. It was painful to stand on and she showed clear signs of discomfort. Jaime opted to have X-rays taken and the results were upsetting. Sadly, the X-rays revealed that Miss Makena had extreme arthritis in her knee. Considering the severity of it, Dr. Grove informed us that Makena would never be ridable. It sucked that she wasn't going to be ridable, but Jaime made a commitment to Makena, and was going to see it through. Makena was set to stay here and we would work with Dr. Grove to get her comfortable and we would do what we had to because that's just what responsible animal guardians do - we take care of our pets. We see them through the rough spots even when we can't ride them.
As the days went on, she continued to gain weight. She looked amazing, but the more weight she gained, the more stress was added to her knee and the harder it became for her to walk. Her weight and balance shifted to the back end. We put her on medication, supplements and prayed that she would find comfort through our efforts. As summer wrapped up, the nights got colder. (Mind you, we live in San Diego. Cold isn't cold, but it was clearly cold enough.) Makena started having trouble in the mornings showing signs of pain and discomfort. We increased her pain meds, and then watched our happy girl, slip back into a quiet and resigned version of herself. Inseparable from Kasatka, another feedlot rescue she had bonded closely with, her friend stayed near her and chased off other horses who tried to take their hay. Kat protected Makena from the more pushy horses so her friend could eat without the discomfort of movement.
As the next couple days passed, she began having more trouble walking. We switched medicines and knew that horrible phone call to Jaime was coming. The more pressure she had on her hind end, the more her rectum and vagina were showing signs of impending prolapse. Our vet continued to monitor the situation, and as any good veterinarian would do, he suggested that we consider putting her down. So we did the right thing by her, we gave her an amazing last week to her life, spoiled her, loved her, thanked her and grieved for her. We made her warm oatmeal with apples, lots of carrots, and probably way too many hugs. We've cried, second guessed ourselves, pleaded with fate, and got angry...and then we realized...just because it's not the way we planned it, she was still rescued – Jaime’s goal from day one.
Jaime promised to rescue her and she did. Without complaint, without selfishness and without regret. She rescued her from pain, from decline, and from an impending winter that had already been unkind to her achy bones. She stepped up and rescued her from the result of being failed by her previous owner, the asshole who turned her over to auction, knowing damn well that Makena would likely end up on someone's dinner plate. We saw her through life, despite it only being 45 days with us. We did what we said we would do - take care of her, be kind to her and ease her pain. Jaime and I cleaned up someone else's mess as we so often do in rescue...and we did it in love.
And while our hearts are broken, and our hopes no longer, we find comfort in knowing that we gave her as much love, compassion, friendship and loyalty that you could possibly fit into a little over a month. We stayed with her until the end. We didn't dump her, or complain, or toss her aside. We did what all good people should do - see their horses to a dignified end to their life, no matter how long we've “owned” them.
We love you Makena. Thank you for trusting us, for loving us, and reuniting Jaime with her dream of owning a horse – she chose you, of all the horse’s she could have picked, it was you. Thank you for facilitating our friendship, and teaching us all a beautiful lesson, that even though you’re broken…you still hold value. Thank you for being a friend to Kat, a friend to us, and a patient soul to all who tried to help you. Be free, beautiful girl…we will see you again, where you will wait for us at the gates of heaven with the others who left us all too soon.