In better days, Flora, the retired race horse, grew old alongside the children. They grew up riding her, and she became their pet.
But in her old age Flora, now 29, fell on hard times. The MSPCA’s law enforcement team rescued her on March 23 from a Merrimack Valley stable where she was found “emaciated, dispirited and depressed,” and brought her to the Nevins Farm, according to Rob Halpin, spokesman for MSPCA-Angell.
“Flora arrived with her back covered in open sores and with an ulcerated left eye that will require medical treatment,” Halpin said. “Moreover, she had been continuously bred by a stallion stabled with her, leaving her broken in both body and spirit.”
The Nevins Farm staff is helping her mend, and hopes to make her comfortable and happy again. But at the end of a winter that took its toll on the horses as well as the other animals. They need people’s help. Flora’s medical bills will probably top $1,000, and she’s only one of the needy cases.
In a 10-day stretch at the end of March, the MSPCA accepted eight horses – all in need of medical care. The farm came under pressure, Halpin said, due to an “unprecedented period of animal surrenders that have severely strained space and financial resources.”
“We typically receive 10 to 15 horses in the first three months of the year,” said Melissa Ghareeb, equine and farm center manager for Nevins Farm. “But we’ve taken in 13 in the last three weeks, with more on the way. It’s very difficult to house the animals while also scrambling to find permanent homes.”
Plus, the barn only has 22 stalls, Halpin said. Ideally, a new forever home is the happy ending Ghareeb’s staff would like to give Flora.
Halpin said many of the owners who surrendered their animals had been unable to afford hay. In a normal winter, the horses can graze in the pasture, so the owners do not have to spend so much to feed them. But this winter, the snow buried the pastures and covered up the food supplements. Some people couldn’t buy enough hay to make up the difference.
According to Ghareeb, Flora is “one of the saddest sights we’ve seen in a long time.”
“This is a horse who raced for years, was cherished by children who grew up riding her and who deserves to live out her remaining years in a safe and healthy environment,” she said. “We will do all we can to make that happen for her.”
Margo Ann Sullivan is a pet columnist who has written for ZooToo, and numerous publications in New York and in New England. She’s had pets all her life, starting with a rescue collie named Lollypop. The Gabby Dog column chases the news that helps pets and people. It also chronicles the adventures of Gabby, the peek-a-poo, and Asia, the tabby cat, and their many pals, hitting the high spots between Providence, RI, and Manchester, NH.